Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Miss a question? Go here.
As the popularity of cooking continues to rise, so does the host of products on the market that claim to make kitchen tasks easier, faster, and the latest in -- well, whatever.
With so many out there, ranging from must-have to "Just pick up your knife!," what's been the biggest gadget regret for Valley chefs and restaurateurs? What's yours?
Chef Tim Fields El Santo Restaurant + Patio Bar
A garlic press. That's what the side of a chef's knife is for.
Chef Payton Curry Brat Haus
Tongs. They're great for flipping meat and things on the grill; however, our farmers would cringe if they witnessed their lettuces being tossed around by these lobster claws. Keep in mind that the handle on the oven door is just that, it's a handle to open the door, not ever as a place to put the tongs.
Chef Andrew Nam Stingray Sushi, Jimmy Woo's Asian Bistro, Spanish Fly, Geisha A Go Go
A mandoline. It made everyone lazy when doing prep work.
Jay Bogsinske Chef de Cuisine, District American Kitchen & Wine Bar
The PolyScience Anti-Griddle. When I first got it, I noticed there was a rattle, but I had to keep using it because of a menu item. When I changed the menu and was able to take the machine in, the company wanted $1,200 to fix their $900 Anti-Griddle, even though it was a manufacturing issue.
Romeo Taus, Chef and Owner, Romeo's Euro Cafe
VitaMix Super Blender! $450 and used every once in a while. Immersion blender for a fraction of the price is a work horse in the kitchen.
Michael Monti Owner, Monti's La Casa Vieja
I'm a sucker for technology. When we put in what seemed like a boldly over-qualified six-tap draught beer system in 1994, I signed up for these electronic flow meters that were going to compile all of these insanely minute statistics on how much of each type of beer we were pumping at each time of day, etc. Useless. Never have seen any benefit from it. Seemed like a great idea at the time.
Chris Osborn Owner, Cadillac Ranch
A grill top smoker tray. They just don't compare to traditional smokers or even smoker pans to use in ovens or on burners.
David Viviano Chef, The Westin Phoenix Downtown
A Cryovac machine for the hotel. The rules and regulations in Maricopa County are extremely strict. It's collecting dust in my storeroom.
Eric Flatt Co-owner, Tonto Bar & Grill/Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House
Flies are a big problem right now. How do you get rid of them without swatting them? I did some investigating and bought a fly vacuum. Looks like a light saber from Star Wars only it's for "Fly Wars." Charged it for 24 hours as directed and put it to the test. Problem is this thing doesn't suck! Yes, that sucks and was a waste of 50 bucks.
Silvana Salcido Esparza Chef and Owner, Barrio Café and Barrio Queen
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Gadgets? I'm not that kind of chef. I'm lucky I have a can opener. Biggest regret is not having a kitchen big enough to have some regrets.