conley6.gif (2529 bytes)

Gadgets galore
Hot, new kitchen devices' popularity on the rise



Counter clockwise, from left: William Bounds Ltd. pepper mill, Wusthof Grand Prix II knife, Architec The Gripper nonstick safe cutting board, Cuisipro measuring cups, Amco Houseworks stainless steel mortar and pestle, Rösle can opener.

Cooking is a hot topic these days and whether you are watching it on TV or rolling up your sleeves to do it yourself, people want to be in tune with the latest and greatest tools of the kitchen. Also in demand are the sophisticated gadgets used by the chefs they watch.

Many of the "wanted" gadgets are made of silicone. Spatulas, hot pads, trivets and even bakeware are made of this must-have material.

"It’s very unique in that it’s durable, pliable and conducts heat," explains Gloria Rosenberg, owner of Gourmet Outfitters Inc., Brookfield and Mequon. "It is so different from what people are used to, that it is one of the biggest things to hit the industry."

Brad Lowry, owner of The Pantry & Home Brewing Depot, Milwaukee, describes it as a heat resistant substance that is flexible, yet has longevity.

A microfiber towel is another new addition to the kitchen. According to Lowry, "It is a super-absorbent synthetic towel that feels like cotton but absorbs five to seven times the amount of liquid."

Rosenberg points out that bamboo is gaining popularity as well. "Whether for cutting boards or knife blocks, this is a readily available resource. It is a beautiful wood that is actually harder than most North American hardwoods."

Aside from these specific materials, grinding, slicing and dicing are leading the way in gadgetry. Mandolines are being used to slice food in a variety of shapes and sizes. People want waffle cuts and crinkle cuts. Some days they want things thick and other days thin. The mandoline covers it all. Others are looking to chop things up with the Santoku knife. It has little dents and a hollow edge that keeps food from sticking and is used by the Food Network’s Rachael Ray.

The Microplane grater is another tool that offers a variety of shapes and sizes for your grating needs. It grates, shakes and stores, and has interchangeable pieces.

Plastic cutting boards offer flexibility for all of this slicing and dicing and are found with color-coded systems to help prevent cross-contamination. Icons identify boards for separate uses.

(From left) Good Grips mandoline slicer, Microplane zester grater, Trudeau syrup dispenser.

People are putting flavor at a premium by continuing to invest in quality pepper mills, which now can be found in more decorative stainless steel and wood combinations. Chili pepper mills and wet salt mills are following in the footsteps of the pepper mill as hot items on the market. To further spice things up, the ancient mortar and pestle is even regaining popularity.

To make an exotic meal you may consider picking up a Moroccan tagine or fondue pot by Le Creuset. Both of these items have been engineered to go on the stovetop to allow for more efficiency.

For more safety and sanitary conditions in the kitchen, consider the Rösle can opener. "It ‘uncrimps’ as opposed to cutting so you don’t have to worry about sharp edges. It is great if you have kids around. Since it crimps, it won’t dull and the mechanism never touches the food, so it is more sanitary," says Benjamin Vanden Belt, owner of Grand Gourmet, Brookfield and Milwaukee.

Gourmet Outfitters, Grand Gourmet and The Pantry & Home Brewing Depot find that people are paying attention to the latest and greatest items available. Whether watching the Food Network or reading Cooks Illustrated, people want to know what’s new in the kitchen. They want sizzling new gadgets for their hot hobby.