Chef Dez on kitchen gadgets and appliances

By Chef Dez | Nov 17, 2010

Due to a couple of revelations I have had with my food processor recently, I thought it would be appropriate to focus this column on kitchen gadgets and appliances that I find worthy.

I usually opt for the manual alternative to kitchen prep – old-fashioned cutting by hand and elbow grease – but sometimes it is not always the best way.

    Recently, my wife wanted to make a dish from her childhood that basically consists of layers of thinly sliced potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables. These ingredients along with seasonings and chunks of sausage are cooked together to create a single pot casserole.

When it came time to prepare this dish, the die-hard Chef in me reached for my knife, readying myself for the task at hand. “Why don’t we use the slicer attachment on our food processor?” exclaimed my wife.

After some convincing, I decided to give it a try and was quite impressed with the uniform slices and ease of preparation. To be honest it was the first time in the 15 years that I owned this food processor that I actually used the slicer attachment.

    I have also discovered (with subtle pressuring from my wife) that the regular blade of a food processor can also ease the preparation of finely chopping vegetables, as long as caution is used to prevent from pureeing them into oblivion.

    A hand-powered kitchen appliance that I love is my all-in-one apple peeler, corer and slicer. A lip on the edge of ones counter is not necessary as it simply suctions to the surface with amazing strength.

A single apple is pressed onto the hand-crank and all of these tasks are completed with a number of circular revolutions – perfect to speed up pie/crumble making. And the best part is that I purchased mine in brand new condition at a second hand store for only five dollars.

    For small hand tool gadgets, there are a few that I simply cannot (or more correctly, would rather not) live without.

    Olive Pitter – This tool resembles a pair of spring-loaded pliers. It has a circular base to hold an olive on one of the ends, and a prod on the other. When squeezed together, the prod inserts into the olive and pushes the pit through the opposite side. It works great on cherries too.

    Garlic Press – I have gone through many poorly made garlic presses in the past, but there is one brand that has never let me down. I highly recommend the Switzerland made “Zyliss” brand. I have literally crushed thousands of cloves with this brand, for the past six years, without fail.

    Melon Baller – Great for its intended purpose of creating bite-size balls of melon, but works just as well on cheeses and an assortment of fruits and vegetables. Caramelized balls of potato, for example, makes for an appealing side dish.

    Although I do tend to be a bit stubborn when it comes to letting go of my knife skills for a gadget or appliance, the time saved in these circumstances is well worth the loss of Chef’s pride.
Dear Chef Dez:
    I noticed that many Chefs on TV use a flat grater that lies across a bowl to remove zest from citrus fruits. Is the best way to do this?
Charlotte E.
Surrey, BC
Dear Charlotte:

    I actually recommend using a “zester”. It is a hand tool that has five little circular blades at the end. When it is dragged across a citrus fruit, it produces beautiful curls of zest while leaving the bitter pith behind. Although flat graters remove the zest in small bits, and thus prevent further chopping, there is no guarantee that one will not grate too far into the bitter white pith. Besides, the curls of zest make great garnish!

Send your food/cooking questions to or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4.
Chef Dez is a Food Columnist, Culinary Instructor & Cooking Show Performer. Visit him at  HYPERLINK ""

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