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Nothing to fear with kitchen gear: 'America's Test Kitchen' guide to tools, gadgets

Gear Heads, Lisa McManus and Hannah Crowley are on the lookout for the best kitchen tools.
Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen
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America's Test Kitchen
Gear Heads, Lisa McManus and Hannah Crowley are on the lookout for the best kitchen tools.

Whether you're banging nails into a two-by-four or whipping up the perfect soufflé, there's no substitute for having the right tool for the job.

And one way to keep the chef in your home happy is to make sure their kitchen is stocked with the right kitchen gear. But with so many slicers, dicers, cookers and fryers — how do you know what works and what might leave a bad taste in your mouth?

Lisa McManus and Hannah Crowley, executive editors for America's Test Kitchen Reviews, have written a new book titled, Kitchen Gear: The Ultimate Owner's Manual. It's full of reviews and tips. They spoke with Morning Edition's A Martinez about the essential tools every chef should have.

Here are some interview highlights

The one tool no chef should be without.
Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen / America's Test Kitchen
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America's Test Kitchen
The one tool no chef should be without.

A good, sharp knife

Lisa McManus: "What meal does every recipe start with? Chop something up. Unless you're cooking something prepackaged, you're going to have to cut something. So why not start with something that works and that's comfortable for you?

McManis recommends an eight-inch chef's knife by Victorinox. She says, "It has a nice, grippy, black plastic handle. It has a very narrow, thin, sharp, precise knife. And there's some good clearance under the handle. So, if you have large hands when you're cutting, you're not banging your knuckles on the cutting board."

Is costs $40 and McManus says performs as well as some $300 knives.

A safe and gentle cutting board that helps keep your knives sharp.
Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen / America's Test Kitchen
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America's Test Kitchen
A safe and gentle cutting board that helps keep your knives sharp.

Never use a glass cutting board

Hannah Crowley: "The best choices are plastic and wood. You should never, ever, ever use a glass cutting board. They will instantly dull your life. You can literally destroy a beautiful edge every knife in about 10 cuts on a piece of glass. Glass boards are decorative, but never use them as a cutting board."

Advice for people looking to buy a new gadget or tool for their kitchen

Lisa McManus: "A lot of stuff that is seen on TV or on Instagram is just made to be eye catching and it's not actually simple, functional, durable. You know, you don't want something with a billion parts. You're going to lose them. You have to clean them. You have to dry them. It's great if it looks good, but we want it to work."

Hannah Crowley:" Ask yourself, do I already have this? For example, if you have a convection oven, you basically have an air fryer, you know? And so, I've talked to several relatives and friends out of getting air fryers.

The second question I'd ask is, will I use this? I don't really bake. I have every single baking pan you could need because I thought that's what one should buy for a kitchen. So, do you bake cake at home? No? Maybe leave that or give it to your friend who you know loves to bake."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barry Gordemer is an award-winning producer, editor, and director for NPR's Morning Edition. He's helped produce and direct NPR coverage of two Persian Gulf wars, eight presidential elections, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and hurricanes Katrina and Harvey. He's also produced numerous profiles of actors, musicians, and writers.
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