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What 5 Celebrity Chefs Can’t Live Without


We asked celebrity chefs what kitchen tool they couldn’t live without—and their choices say so much about them. Take Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, for example, and his choice of not one, not two, but three beautiful sushi knives: His flawless knife skills are, after all, nearly synonymous with his name. For the four-time James Beard Award-winning chef, Andrew Zimmern, he goes with the classic and dependable mortar and pestle. Meanwhile, executive chef/restaurateur Judy Joo and Chopped judge Marc Murphy chose the ever-versatile microplane. Former Man v. Food host and chef Adam Richman went straight for the immersion blender. Find out why they chose their respective tools below:

Andrew Zimmern: Mortar and Pestle

Chef Andrew Zimmern knew he could go with his one good knife, pan, or electric tool, but instead he chose one of the oldest kitchen tools around: the mortar and pestle. (Let us be specific: it’s over 37,000 years old 😱.)

“This changes my game in the kitchen,” Andrew said. His first trick with his mortar and pestle is turning whole cumin seeds into fresh ground cumin.

“Buying whole cumin seeds is better than buying cumin seeds that were ground up three years ago in a factory,” he continued. “Add a little heat to them in a pan, toast ’em, bring out those essential oils, and then grind them.”

The mortar and pestle allows you to bring out the flavor without adding heat to it, unlike a spice grinder. Andrew’s second trick includes making a quick paste that can go in a salad or eat on its own with a big hunk of bread. All you need for his favorite emulsion is cumin, salt, pepper, egg yolk, lemon, lime, anchovy, and olive oil.

Donate to one of Andrew’s partners & philanthropies here.

Judy Joo: Microplane

illustrations of popular chefs

Chef Judy Joo can’t live without her microplane and we don’t blame her. “It’s so versatile, I use it for absolutely everything,” Judy explained. Her favorite ways to use the microplane include grating garlic and ginger down. “Ginger is quite fibrous, the microplane breaks off all of those fibers that you don’t want in your food.”

You may not think about breaking out the microplane for spices like nutmeg and fresh cinnamon sticks, but Judy highly recommends you try. Instead of relying on ground up spices, you can easily grind your own for better flavor. Judy uses her microplane the most for hard cheese like parmesan.

“You get nice, gorgeous, fluffy cheese curls,” Judy said. “It melts so gorgeously and really quickly because they’re so thin.” (Uhm. YES!)

One last piece of advice from Judy: Don’t forget to replace your microplane every few years if you want yours to be sharp and remain sharp!

Donate to Judy’s charity of choice, the Tory Burch Foundation.

Masaharu Morimoto: Knives

illustrations of popular chefs

Of course Iron Chef and king of knives Masaharu Morimoto chose his Japanese knives—which he dubs his “weapons for Iron Chef.” His three favorite knives include the usuba knife, deba knife, and the yanagi knife.

Morimoto first picked up his usuba knife and perfectly shaved thin sheets off of vegetables like radishes, cucumbers, and carrots. “Cucumbers are easier [to shave] because they’re softer,” Morimoto explained. Next, Morimoto showed off a pointed carving knife, called the deba knife. It’s perfect for butchering fish and can slice through a fish head…which he did in seconds.

Finally, Morimoto pointed to his yanagi knife, a long thin tool that effortlessly slices fish to make sashimi and sushi, and, yes, he also does this effortlessly. If you’re looking to buy Morimoto’s knife off of him, get in line: “When I do this a lot of people ask me ‘Chef can I buy your knife?’ and I say ‘I tell you next time, OK?” he joked.

For more information about Masaharu, check out his website.

Marc Murphy: Microplane

illustrations of popular chefs

Chef Marc Murphy has a lot of tools in the kitchen that he could go on about, but he finds himself reaching for the microplane the most. “I use it to get the zest of a lime, of a lemon, of an orange, of a grapefruit, all sorts of things,” Marc said.

It’s the perfect way to use the entire fruit, he explained. Another way Marc uses his microplane is for garlic: Once it’s grated, you can scoop the garlic paste out, add to olive oil and create a simple dip for bread.

Marc’s favorite way to use his microplane is for hard cheeses like parmesan or pecorino. “We always say in the kitchen, if we’re making a caesar salad or something like that, and you want to top it off with some parmesan: Let it snow,” he noted.

Donate to Marc’s charity of choice, Surfrider Foundation.

Adam Richman: Immersion Blender

illustrations of popular chefs

Chef and TV host Adam Richman immediately went for his one and only stick blender. (He actually has two though, because he’s such a big fan, btw.) “I love it because you can stir with it, pulverize. I use it for mashed potatoes, tomato sauces,” Adam said.

His favorite recipe is a simple tomato sauce with herbs, pepper, onions, garlic, red wine, and tomatoes. The immersion blender can handle mashing a can of whole tomatoes in minutes, making a homemade tomato sauce nearly as easy as microwaving a jar of pasta sauce. (We won’t judge if you do the latter.) Adam’s end result is an entire pot of smooth, delicious sauce that we now *must* get the recipe for.

Donate to Adam’s charity of choice, No Kid Hungry.

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