All posts in “Home”

Last-Minute Shopping for a Whiskey Lover? Get These Glasses and Be Done With It

Last month at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC), more than 40 judges named Henry McKenna Single Barrell the best whiskey in the world over hundreds of Irish, Japanese and Scotch offerings. The win was considered a major upset (it’s only the second bourbon to win the award) in whiskey circles, with some questioning how it won at all.

Lurking in the background of the spirit world’s biggest event was a honey pot-shaped glass — the only glass SFWSC judges can use when judging for the competition. Available on Amazon for $22 (set of two), it’s nothing like a traditional whiskey snifter.

Called the Neat Glass, the short, fat cup was designed with a singular premise: smell is everything. The Neat Glass site spells it out plainly: “Humans detect over 10,000 aromas but only five tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami). You don’t taste raspberries, you smell raspberries and taste sweet. Add mouth feel (oily, dry, temperature, texture, minty, hot) to get total flavor. Flavor = Aroma + Taste + Mouth Feel. Flavor is 90% aroma.”

The Neat Glass runs opposite the traditional Glencairn, where a narrow top opening flushes the nose of a whiskey more directly to you; the Neat Glass, on the other hand, uses an outward-flaring rim. This is to fight off ethanol, the enemy of accurate spirit analysis, which numbs the nose and shrouds aromas; it’s why blenders, distillers and spirits competition judges water their whiskey down before drinking. And it’s the reason the glass looks like a cocktail glass ran into a Belgian beer glass.

The pitch goes like this: the wide bowl allows more surface area for swirling the juice, which agitates the liquid and forces it to evaporate from the glass, and the wide rim allows for ethanol diffusion, thereby creating a clearer nose and — if you buy the aroma-over-everything premise — a clearer idea of what you’re drinking.

Is it all talk? You be the judge.

Will Price is Gear Patrol’s home and drinks editor. He’s from Atlanta and lives in Brooklyn. He’s interested in bourbon, houseplants, cheap Japanese pens and cast-iron skillets — maybe a little too much.

More by wprice | Follow on Email

What If I Told You One of the Year’s Best New Products Is Bespoke Fertilizer?

This story is part of the GP100, our annual roundup of the best products of the year. To see the full list of winners, grab the latest issue of Gear Patrol Magazine.

In March of 2019, a United States District Court ordered Bayer AG, owner of Monsanto, the maker of the popular herbicide Roundup, to pay $80 million to a 70-year-old defendant who claimed the product caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Though regulatory agencies in the U.S. and Canada have stated that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup and similar weed killers, is not a carcinogen, some studies have suggested there is a link between the compound and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and it is currently facing sweeping bans in multiple countries.

The science is still out on glyphosate’s link to cancer, but the controversy raises an entirely reasonable question: Is it really worth using such a questionable chemical compound to kill a few dandelions?

Coulter Lewis doesn’t think so. After purchasing a home, Lewis was dismayed to find that the options for lawn-care products at his local Home Depot were limited to pallets of chemical-ridden pesticides and herbicides.

“The challenge is that is that people really lack a lot of experience with lawn care, and if you’re going into a store, there aren’t a lot of choices,” Lewis says. “The way we’re told to take care of it is in this very antiquated, brute-force kind of way, where we’re covering our entire property in pesticides and herbicides just in case we have a problem, rather than addressing things as they arise.”

Having cofounded an organic snack company with his wife, Lewis saw an opportunity to do something similar in the lawn-care industry. He realized that as consumers become increasingly conscious of what they put in their bodies, the same thing could happen with their grass. And given that lawns blanket 40 million acres of the U.S. — more than corn, wheat and fruit trees combined — there’s room in the market for new takes on lawn care.

Sunday is Lewis’s solution: for $150 a year, the startup sends customers regular intervals of bespoke natural lawn-care products via mail.

“What we’re doing is taking some of the most innovative tactics from golf course and high-performance turf areas, where they’re trying to be more natural,” Lewis says. “We’re trying to bring that level of control and data-driven action to the household for the first time.”

To do this, Lewis hired Frank Rossi, a professor and turf scientist who managed some of the country’s most high-profile grass at places like Yankee Stadium and Lambeau Field. Together, Rossi and Lewis built a system that could be tailored to every lawn in America.

Sunday relies on a combination of soil data, historical climate data and satellite imagery that, according to Lewis, is clear enough to see spots and patches in the grass.

“We live in a quantitative world more than ever now. Access to data needed to characterize growing environments remotely is available,” Rossi says. “Data on light, soil and water conditions can be used to inform not just the products best suited to [a customer’s] needs, but best practices for them to have a successful lawn. Our focus on simplicity recognizes most lawns need small-batch blends of mineral nutrients and biostimulants to be successful.”

When a customer signs up for Sunday, they receive a kit to take a soil sample. From there, Lewis says Sunday will test the contents of the soil to determine what vital nutrients might be missing and needed to better promote the health of the grass. Customers then receive products — which are comprised of materials like organic food waste from grocery stores and seaweed — that are meant to fill in the gaps.

“[Soils that have] adequate organic matter and permit drainage, hold nutrients and support vibrant microbial life are important,” says Rossi. “There are issues where it doesn’t matter where you are — you need adequate light, good soil and good drainage.”

Sunday’s core belief is that a properly grown and maintained lawn is fully capable of rooting out issues like excessive weed growth on its own, but knowing that this approach isn’t infallible, it also produces a spot-treatment organic herbicidal soap and an iron-based dandelion killer.

It can be tempting to write Sunday off as an organic lawn-care subscription box, but the company’s considered, data-driven take on lawn care presents a genuinely new way to care for a backyard, a take Lewis believes to be helpful beyond a tidy yard.

“Almost nobody is an expert in this area, and that’s okay,” says Lewis. “That moment of being in Home Depot and feeling totally lost can be disparaging, because you feel like you should know what to do but you don’t. We’re all about providing that kind of comfort.”

Consistent: Three shipments a year
Location sensitive: Uses GPS data to assess sunlight deficiencies
Clean: No glyphosate used in any product
Price: $129+

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

The 10 Best Home and Kitchen Products of 2019

This story is part of the GP100, our annual roundup of the best products of the year. To see the full list of winners, grab the latest issue of Gear Patrol Magazine.

At their flashiest, the best home products err on the quiet side — a kitchen knife from a famous bladesmith, a neo-Scandinavian accent chair and the best coffee you can drink from a can. At their most mundane, they maximize utility — an instant-read kitchen thermometer, an ultra-affordable smart bulb and fertilized designed with the help of data. Disparate in name and use, the year’s best home products still share one thing in common: they make every day just a little bit better.

Products are listed alphabetically.

Burrow Nomad Collection

The couches in Burrow’s updated Nomad collection are what happens when a company listens to its customers. Since the brand launched in 2018, consumers have wanted the option of lower armrests for more comfortable napping. They’ve also asked for a sturdier USB charging port built into the base, a chaise and — here comes the big one — leather. So Burrow responded in kind by giving them all of the above. How’s that for customer service?

Material Options: Leather or upholstery
Sizes: Club chair to sectional sofa
Assembly: Approximately 20 minutes
Price: $995+

Further Reading
The 16 Best Sofas and Couches You Can Buy in 2019
The Best Couch on the Internet Now Comes in Leather

Casper Glow Light

The year’s best sleep accessory was designed to wake you up. The Casper Glow syncs with users’ sleep schedules — it dims as you doze off and gradually lights up in the morning — but its true calling card is the ability to function as a motion-controlled flashlight away from the nightstand. With long battery life and variable brightness levels, it also functions as an mood light for reading or “Netflix and chill” in the other room.

Color Temperature: 2,700 Kelvin (warm)
Shell Material: Polycarbonate
Battery Life: 7 hours per charge
Price: $89 (single), $169 (pair)

Dosist Dose Dial

Dosist’s sublingual mint tablets aren’t like other edibles. They’re not gummies or confectionary. They don’t taste good. And they don’t get you stoned — which is kind of the point. Each one carries a small, controlled, predictable dose of cannabinoids, which gets you just the right amount of high, every time. Sublingual consumption also means you don’t have to wait an hour and a half for one to kick in.

Measured: 3.7mg of cannabinoids per mint
Tablets: 30 per Dial
Available: California
Price: $30

Further Reading
The Next Big Thing in Cannabis Are These $1 Tablets

Elemental Beverage Co. Snapchilled Coffee

Even the best coffee go bad, and the culprit is always the same: oxygen. Elemental Beverage Co., makers of a new range of shelf-stable coffees that come in cans and bottles, get around the problem with a proprietary technique called “snapchilling” that cools hot coffee fast enough to ensure the beans’ original flavors aren’t destroyed by oxidation. Even the snarkiest of coffee snobs in your circle will be impressed.

$30 (6-pack) https://elementalbeverage.co/collections/beverages
Single Origins: Burundi, Ethiopia, Colombia
Shelf-Stable: Stays fresh 4 to 6 months
Available: Online
Price: $30 (6-pack)

Further Reading
Finally, Someone Made Canned Coffee That Doesn’t Suck

Ikea Fyrtur

Smart blinds have always been a tough sell, but not because it wouldn’t be nice to ask Siri, Alexa or Google to let in the light every morning before leaving bed. Starting at $129, Ikea’s new battery-powered blinds require no electrical installation and can be controlled independently or as a group — meaning users can ask their virtual assistant to simultaneously raise or lower blinds in different rooms. The blinds are another example of what the 76-year-old company has always excelled at — popularizing the unapproachable. From designer chairs to niche gastronomy, its new smart blinds are no different.

Designer: David Wahl
Sizes: 8
Availability: Only sold at Ikea stores
Price: $129+

Kramer Shokunin Series

Only Bob Kramer could make a $1,600 knife seem like a steal. From his Bellingham, Washington, workshop, Kramer, widely regarded as America’s greatest living bladesmith, makes knives from scratch using custom-made steels, precious metals and artful handworked designs. His new Shokunin series, meanwhile, features kitchen knives made for more people. Available with fixed prices starting in the mid-$1000s, the knives are released in batches that feature different blade styles; so far, he’s released a nakiri vegetable knife, a santoku and a chef’s knife. To be clear, these are still Kramer knives, and they include many of his trademarks — wide bevels worked paper-thin at the edge, heavier-than-normal weight and incredibly high-hardness carbon steel.

Featherweight: 7.5 ounces
Tough: 62 Rockwell hardness score
Sick Handles: Cocobolo bamboo or blackwood handle available
Price: $1,600+

Further Reading
America’s Best Knife Maker Just Released His Most Affordable Chef’s Knife in Years

Sunday

Editor’s Pick

It can be tempting to write Sunday off as an organic lawn-care subscription box, but the company’s considered, data-driven take on lawn care presents a genuinely new way to care for a backyard. When a customer signs up for Sunday, they receive a kit to take a soil sample. From there, Sunday tests the contents of the soil to determine what vital nutrients might be missing and needed to better promote the health of the grass. Customers then receive products — which are comprised of materials like organic food waste from grocery stores and seaweed — that are meant to fill in the gaps. For $150 a year, the startup sends customers regular intervals of completely bespoke natural lawn-care products via mail.

Consistent: Three shipments a year
Location sensitive: Uses GPS data to assess sunlight deficiencies
Clean: No glyphosate used in any product
Price: $129+

Further Reading
Want a Plush Green Lawn Without the Cancer? Buy This

ThermoWorks Thermapen IR

Thermapen has long been the first-choice instant-read thermometer for chefs and pitmasters of all stripes and skill levels. It’s faster and more accurate than its competitors; plus, the digital display rotates automatically for easy reading. And though it was already the best kitchen thermometer money could buy, ThermoWorks upgraded the design with a pro-grade infrared sensor. Use it to track heat levels in all the places you’d rather not put your hands — like a cast-iron skillet.

Margin of Error: Accurate to 1 degree Fahrenheit
Efficiency: Temperature reading in 2 to 3 seconds
Probe Length: 4.3 inches
Price: $139

Further Reading
The 25 Best Kitchen Gifts for Chefs and Foodies

Vipp Furniture Collection

Vipp’s new furniture lineup feels immediately Scandinavian. Its industrial appearance lends itself well to the sharp, minimalist lines you’d expect from a Danish designer while still highlighting natural materials, offering up a deeply cutting-edge take on a familiar genre of interior design. While other high-end furniture makers employ similar techniques, it’s Vipps uncanny ability to draw a cohesive conceptual line between an 80-year-old trash can and luxe modern furniture that makes this one of the best home-design releases of the year.

Selection: Sofas, chairs, coffee table
Materials: Powder-coated aluminum, upholstery and leather
Available: Online
Price: $950+

Wyze Bulbs

Not everyone wants to drop $50 on a single smart bulb. Thanks to Wyze, which burst onto the scene last year with a $20 smart security camera, connected lighting can be had for about the cost of a six-pack. The Wyze Bulb undercuts offerings from Philips Hue and Lifx with an $8 dimmable LED bulb that’s compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant. No hub required.

Life Expectancy: 20,000 hours
Color Temperature Range: 2,700 – 6,500 Kelvin
Lumens: 800 (60 watts)
Price: $8

Further Reading
Wyze Is Selling an $8 Smart Bulb
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Why Every Cook Needs to Ditch Their Wood Cutting Board for a Rubber One

In the opening paragraphs of Pete Wells’ New York Times review of Dirty French in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the restaurant critic-of-record describes the restaurant through a series of observations: neon pink lights, a wall-length mirror shipped from France and waiters donning limited edition Jordans. “Dirty French is one cocky restaurant,” Wells writes. “It can also be an immensely enjoyable one.”

Helmed by Chef Jordan Terry, Dirty French is not a subtle place. But Terry, who rose from meat cook to sous chef to executive chef, isn’t as fanciful as his restaurant. Where the chef’s menu is covered in elevated french bistro classics like mushroom millefeuille and terrine of foie gras, his kitchen is stocked with better versions of the gear you have at home. From buying deli containers in bulk to a cutting board that beats out wood and plastic, these are the things Chef Jordan Terry couldn’t live without.

Rubber Cutting Board

“This isn’t some thin, plastic malarkey. It’s a solid, beautiful and terribly functional cutting board. It’s heavy and made of rubber, which is so much kinder to your blade, absorbing the metal instead of fighting it like a plastic one. And unlike wooden cutting boards, that’s all that it absorbs. It cleans up like a champion and it’s significantly faster than other boards; your blade just bounces back, ready for more. Bonus, you can use a scrubbing pad to take it down if it gets pockmarked or stained — no need for a sander like with a wooden one. They are just a joy to cut on.”

ChoiceHD Deli Containers (32 oz.)

“I use these for everything: storage, portioning, mise en place, sweet tea during service, to make lunches for my wife — they really are the backbone of the kitchen. They come in different sizes, but they have universal lids. They are reusable, they are cheap, they are sturdy and with a roll of masking tape and a sharpie, you can keep everything in them labeled and organized.”

Hall China 1-Quart Jars

“We each have our own and store all the tools we will need for service: like spoons, spatulas, tweezers and whatever else we might need. I love having a few extra around, filled to the brim with spoons for cooking and tasting. They are quiet, elegant and a great way to keep everything you need within arms reach.”

Opinel Oyster Knife

“Never will I have to break my keys opening oysters when I find myself in this situation (which has happened more than you might think). It’s beautifully made with a smooth and strong handle and a stout blade that flies through whatever size oysters you stumble upon, and fits comfortably in your pocket. Just don’t forget it’s there when you go to city hall to get a marriage certificate… they don’t care about your reasons.”

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

I Want All the Gear in This Internet-Famous Chef’s Kitchen

Matty Matheson is a former professional chef, a frequent guest on Vice’s Munchies and former host of a pair of Viceland food shows. But more than anything, he is a very loud, very Canadian cook who likes the Grateful Dead. His most recent endeavor is his personal Youtube channel, Just a Dash, where he’s posted videos with names like “Drop Acid & Butter Baste Steaks” and “Larb is Goooood.” And it just so happens Matheson’s kitchen is absolutely stacked with some of the best cookware money can buy. From a grail-worthy handmade skillet to a world-famous knife, here’s a small selection of Matheson’s preferred cooking gear.

Gray Kunz Sauce Spoon

These spoons are the kitchen version of “if you know, you know.” They’re slightly longer and deeper than your standard spoon, so you’re able to hold more liquid from a few useful inches further away from hot sauces (or, in this case, butter). Get one and never look back.

Microplane

The single most ubiquitous product in kitchens was not made for cooks, but for carpenters. Fortunately for the folks behind the Microplane, its ability to grate cheese and zest fruits is unmatched.

Peugeot Pepper Mill

One pepper mill to rule them all. Peugeot’s pepper mill can be found in chef’s kitchens and your grandma’s kitchen. It comes with a lifetime guarantee, it’s elegant and it just works. Yes, $46 is a lot to spend on a pepper mill, but this one’s worth it.

Finex Cast-Iron Skillets

On the counter behind Matheson sits a stack of Finex’s strange but well-loved cast-iron skillets. They’re heavier than most modern cast-iron pans and sport a machhined smooth cooking surface, a unique octogonal shape and a spring coil handle. Even though the company is owned by the affordable cast iron makers at Lodge, they don’t come cheap.

Blanc Creatives Carbon Steel Skillet

This is a deep-cut of a deep-cut. It’s carbon steel, not cast iron, so it’s a little bit lighter but carries similar searing power and heat retention. But this one is made by hand by Blanc Creatives, and, sadly, you can’t buy one just like it anymore. The brand recently ceased hand-hammered cookware production in favor of a more mechanized process. Its original pans can be found under the Heritage collection on their site, but they’re all sold out. Its new line is available for (slightly) lower prices.

Bob Kramer x Zwilling Carbon Steel Knife

By all accounts, Bob Kramer is America’s greatest living bladesmith. He designed these knives with Zwilling in the same shape and style of the bespoke blades he sells for tens of thousands of dollars at auction. Even at $300, these are the most affordable Kramer-designed knives on the market.

Mauviel Copper Cookware

I can’t be 100 percent certain those are Mauviel pots, but knowing all the other outrageously nice gear in the kitchen, it’s likely. Copper cookware is, bar-none, the most expensive cookware you can buy. The material is expensive and its ability to heat up and cool down extremely fast is unique and useful to chefs and home cooks who know what they’re doing. Mauviel’s copper pots are cookware flexes.

Mother Dirt Has the Ingredients for a Great Holiday Gift

Mother Dirt was founded in 2015 by MIT scientists with a patented bacteria and a mission to bring your skin back to a natural state of balance with clinically proven products. Their products tackle problem…

Instant Pots Are on Sale During Black Friday. These Are the Models to Buy

There are now quite a few Instant Pot models, and once you decided it’s time to give them a shot, you’ll want to know which model to go for. This is our guide to the Instant Pots we most recommend — and the ones we don’t.

Instant Pots You Should Buy

Best Instant Pot: Instant Pot Ultra

Key Features:
• Tons of preset cook times and temperatures
• “Ultra” mode allows customization — temperatures, pressure, cook time
• Full LCD screen
• Automatically adjusts to elevation pressure differences (after one-time user input)

Other than the Instant Pot Max, this is the most recent and decked out Instant Pot. It’s also the one with the most useful features to offer beyond what’s expected out of a multi-cooker.

Other than the basics — plenty of pre-set cook options, steaming rack, ample powers, etc. — the Ultra boasts an easy-to-read LCD display (most helpful for displaying the progress of your meal, from preheat to pressure release), the most customizable cooking options in any Instant Pot (this is the “Ultra” function) and a helpful knob.

It’s also the only Instant Pot (again, other than the Max) that takes your altitude into account with cook times and pressure levels (you will have to input your rough elevation level before first use), something new pressure cooks often forget and become confused by. (Note: though the Ultra has a “Sterilize” button, we can’t recommend it be used for sterilization. Currently, there are no official guidelines to sterilizing in an electric pressure cooker.)

The Ultra is available in 3-, 6- and 8-quart options, and typically retails at $120, $150 and $180 respectively. It does go on sale every few months or so, but usually not a steep sale like you might see for our alternative recommended model.

Best Budget-Friendly Instant Pot: Instant Pot Duo

Key Features:
• Preset cook modes aplenty
• The first and cheapest Instant Pot to offer high and low-pressure cooking options
• Frequently discounted

The Duo is the best Instant Pot for most people. It lacks the Ultra’s LCD display, a few of the preset cooking modes and an array of custom recipe options, but the loss isn’t enormously significant from a functional standpoint. The Duo allows pressure cooking on high and low settings, something lower-tier Instant Pot models do not offer, and though its utility isn’t as wide as the default high-pressure setting, it is excellent for boiling eggs to a tee and delicate fish. Upon release, the Duo was also the first Instant Pot to feature a yogurt preset, something all more premium Instant Pots feature.

It features the “keep warm” preset — a helpful addition if you’re finishing another part of your meal elsewhere — and features a slightly upgraded pressure release system (it’s still a flawed design, given you are still putting your hand right next to the valve). Finally, a small but clever slot cut into the handle allows the lid to sit upright on the pot instead of your countertop.

The Duo is available in the usual 3-, 6- and 8-quart options, and typically retails at $70, $100 and $110 respectively. The Instant Pot Duo goes on sale frequently on Amazon, with price dips as far down as $60 for the ever-popular 6-quart model.

Instant Pots You Shouldn’t Buy

Instant Pot LUX



There is nothing wrong with the LUX model, it just lacks one or two features that its successor, the Duo, has. The Duo allows for pressure cooking on high or low levels, the LUX does not. The Duo has a yogurt preset, te LUX does not. The Duo also has that nifty lid holder built into its handles, where the LUX does not. Are these game-breaking features? No. But the LUX is only a few dollars less expensive, and the added features are well worth the extra $10 to $15 you’ll spend on getting the Duo instead.

Instant Pot Duo Plus



In brief, the Duo Plus adds the following to the regular Duo model: a mini-LCD screen, a sterilization function and a few other odds and ends that aren’t entirely noteworthy. As noted previously, there are no official guidelines to sterilization in electric pressure cookers, so we can’t recommend using this functions yourself, and the LCD screen is nice, but not $50 or so nice. The Duo Plus also goes on sale more irregularly than the Duo, and is not discounted as deeply. If you really want the LCD screen, just go up to the Ultra model and use the more useful add-ons unique to that model.

Instant Pot Max



The Instant Pot Max is the most expensive Instant Pot to date — $200 and up. It’s supposed to cook faster than previous models, but in tests cook times were not significantly changed from older models to the Max. We can’t recommend the canning functionality, as the National Center for Home Food Preservation has not properly verified electric multi-cookers as a safe method of canning, writing “We do not know if proper thermal process development work has been done in order to justify the canning advice that is distributed with these pressure multi-cooker appliances. What we do know is that our canning processes are not recommended for use in electric pressure multi-cookers at this time.”

The sous vide function does work well and consistently in our tests, but the best upgrade for the Max is its hands-free pressure release system — requiring a push on the screen of the machine to open the valve (it offers different levels of release as well: immediate, delayed and burst).

Black Friday Steals 2019 [Updating Regularly]

Welp. Here we go again. Black Friday / Cyber Monday / Cyber Week–aka the busiest shopping time of the year. As with every year that has preceded it, there are plenty of great things on…

        

Instant Pots Are Going to Be on Sale During Black Friday. These Are the Models to Buy

There are a now quite a few Instant Pot models, and once you decided it’s time to give them a shot, you’ll want to know which model to go for. This is our guide to the Instant Pots we most recommend — and the ones we don’t.

Instant Pots You Should Buy

Best Instant Pot: Instant Pot Ultra

Key Features:
• Tons of preset cook times and temperatures
• “Ultra” mode allows customization — temperatures, pressure, cook time
• Full LCD screen
• Automatically adjusts to elevation pressure differences (after one-time user input)

Other than the Instant Pot Max, this is the most recent and decked out Instant Pot. It’s also the one with the most useful features to offer beyond what’s expected out of a multi-cooker.

Other than the basics — plenty of pre-set cook options, steaming rack, ample powers, etc. — the Ultra boasts an easy-to-read LCD display (most helpful for displaying the progress of your meal, from preheat to pressure release), the most customizable cooking options in any Instant Pot (this is the “Ultra” function) and a helpful knob.

It’s also the only Instant Pot (again, other than the Max) that takes your altitude into account with cook times and pressure levels (you will have to input your rough elevation level before first use), something new pressure cooks often forget and become confused by. (Note: though the Ultra has a “Sterilize” button, we can’t recommend it be used for sterilization. Currently, there are no official guidelines to sterilizing in an electric pressure cooker.)

The Ultra is available in 3-, 6- and 8-quart options, and typically retails at $120, $150 and $180 respectively. It does go on sale every few months or so, but usually not a steep sale like you might see for our alternative recommended model.

Best Budget-Friendly Instant Pot: Instant Pot Duo

Key Features:
• Preset cook modes aplenty
• The first and cheapest Instant Pot to offer high and low-pressure cooking options
• Frequently discounted

The Duo is the best Instant Pot for most people. It lacks the Ultra’s LCD display, a few of the preset cooking modes and an array of custom recipe options, but the loss isn’t enormously significant from a functional standpoint. The Duo allows pressure cooking on high and low settings, something lower tier Instant Pot models do not offer, and though its utility isn’t as wide as the default high-pressure setting, it is excellent for boiling eggs to a tee and delicate fish. Upon release, the Duo was also the first Instant Pot to feature a yogurt preset, something all more premium Instant Pots feature.

It features the “keep warm” preset — a helpful addition if you’re finishing another part of your meal elsewhere — and features a slightly upgraded pressure release system (it’s still a flawed design, given you are still putting your hand right next to the valve). Finally, a small but clever slot cut into the handle allows the lid to sit upright on the pot instead of your countertop.

The Duo is available in the usual 3-, 6- and 8-quart options, and typically retails at $70, $100 and $110 respectively. The Instant Pot Duo goes on sale frequently on Amazon, with price dips as far down as $60 for the ever-popular 6-quart model.

Instant Pots You Shouldn’t Buy

Instant Pot LUX



There is nothing wrong with the LUX model, it just lacks one or two features that its successor, the Duo, has. The Duo allows for pressure cooking on high or low levels, the LUX does not. The Duo has a yogurt preset, te LUX does not. The Duo also has that nifty lid holder built into its handles, where the LUX does not. Are these game-breaking features? No. But the LUX is only a few dollars less expensive, and the added features are well worth the extra $10 to $15 you’ll spend on getting the Duo instead.

Instant Pot Duo Plus



In brief, the Duo Plus adds the following to the regular Duo model: a mini-LCD screen, a sterilization function and a few other odds and ends that aren’t entirely noteworthy. As noted previously, there are no official guidelines to sterilization in electric pressure cookers, so we can’t recommend using this functions yourself, and the LCD screen is nice, but not $50 or so nice. The Duo Plus also goes on sale more irregularly than the Duo, and is not discounted as deeply. If you really want the LCD screen, just go up to the Ultra model and use the more useful add-ons unique to that model.

Instant Pot Max



The Instant Pot Max is the most expensive Instant Pot to date — $200 and up. It’s supposed to cook faster than previous models, but in tests cook times were not significantly changed from older models to the Max. We can’t recommend the canning functionality, as the National Center for Home Food Preservation has not properly verified electric multi-cookers as a safe method of canning, writing “We do not know if proper thermal process development work has been done in order to justify the canning advice that is distributed with these pressure multi-cooker appliances. What we do know is that our canning processes are not recommended for use in electric pressure multi-cookers at this time.”

The sous vide function does work well and consistently in our tests, but the best upgrade for the Max is its hands-free pressure release system — requiring a push on the screen of the machine to open the valve (it offers different levels of release as well: immediate, delayed and burst).

If You’re Short on Oven Space, Get One of These and Use It Well Past Turkey Day

Every few years, a kitchen gadget, appliance or tool captures hearts and minds. From the Microplane in the mid-’90s to the Instant Pot in the 2010s, when kitchen products become a cultural phenomenon, they blow the hell up.

The Instant Pot’s success was directly born from a successful Frankenstein integration of a pressure cooker with seemingly infinite other kitchen appliances, but it alluded to buying interests mutating with deeper societal shifts. Namely, rise of smaller living spaces — the result of the growing cost of developing land — and longer working hours. We don’t have the cabinet space to keep a dozen unitaskers around or the time to assemble a meal on the stovetop. The “next Instant Pot,” if there’s going to be one, will likely follow this path. The kitchen appliance industry’s best bet? Super microwaves.

“The microwave oven is in more than 85 percent of kitchens and used frequently every day. There are not a lot of other appliances out there with those stats,” explains Catherine Ruspino, Breville’s general manager of cooking. “One microwave downfall has been food results. Generally people have ratcheted down expectations and made do, so of course we see a lot of companies trying to solve that problem.”

Ruspino is referring to a wave of new mini-ovens primed to fight for your countertop space. Brands like Hamilton Beach, Cuisinart, Breville, Anova Culinary and Instant Pot itself have unveiled their takes on it, each armed with its own toolbelt of presets and cooking styles. But all aim to accomplish similar feats: more cooking options per square-inch, faster cook times and faster preheat times. From air frying microwaves to commercial steam ovens made for the home, these are the next generation of countertop appliances.

Buying Guide

Hamilton Beach Digital Sure-Crisp Air Fry Toaster Oven

Debuted at IHHS 2019, Hamilton Beach’s take on the trend is peak Hamilton Beach. That is to say it’s suspiciously affordable and just a bit different than what other kitchen appliance heavyweights are doing. Its Sure-Crisp oven works as a traditional toaster oven, an air fryer and a rotisserie. The space on the inside of the machine is too small to cook some whole chickens (the roided-up grocery store variety), but fits smaller chickens, cornish hens and other small rotiss-able meats just fine. Use the air fry function on frozen food instead of a conventional oven — it’s faster and it’s not going to change what ends up on the plate.

Instant Pot Vortex Plus

Instant Pot’s take on the next Instant Pot is a cube-shaped machine with a slew of useful presets. The machine boasts air fry, roast, broil, bake, reheat, dehydrate and rotisserie smart programming. Moreso than the Hamilton Beach machine, it has the potential to completely replace not only a microwave, but a conventional oven.

De’Longhi Livenza

A pricier version of what’s come before with a handful of useful features thrown in. The Livenza toasts, bakes, broils, reheats and keeps things warm, plus a handful of food-specific preset modes for cookies, pizza and so on. But it also comes with an app that delivers hundreds of recipes designed for the device, heats up significantly faster than traditional ovens (and most of the new ones on this list) and, thanks to what De’Longhi calls Heat Lock System, doesn’t put off as much heat outside the oven.

Cuisinart AirFryer Toaster Oven

Cuisinart’s multifunctional oven is similarly stacked with cook modes, but it boasts one thing the more affordable options don’t: slow cooking. Its temperature range is 80 to 450 (the widest of the aforementioned ovens), and it’s able to maintain those temperatures far longer than cheaper options. Plus, it’s got a preset function for proofing dough and making jerky.

Breville Combi Wave

Breville’s Combi Wave could take the place of your microwave and oven in one fell swoop. It’s a convection oven, an inverter microwave and, yes, an air fryer. It has more smart programming capabilities than all the previous ovens combined to go along with a number of standard presets (including “melt chocolate” and “soften butter” options). On its “Fast Combi” setting, it uses a broiler, convection oven and microwave heat sources simultaneously. It’s also got a satisfying quiet-closing door.

Anova Precision Oven

Anova’s inclusion on this list isn’t quite fair. For one, there’s no set release date for the product, and it’s not necessarily gunning for your microwave. Instead, the company that makes reall killer sous-vide circulators is making a sleek-looking steam combi-oven. Steam combi-ovens are staples in commercial kitchens thanks to far more precise heat conductivity and temperature stability, but due to a lack of well-priced, countertop-sized versions, they’ve yet to take hold in the residential space. No specs or pricing info are available yet.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

How One of the World’s Most-Popular Knives Is Made

The village of Laguiole is perched high on a plateau in France’s Massif Central range, in the heart of the Aubrac countryside. It is filled with stone houses with gray-shingled roofs that are blanketed with snow in the winters and overlook colorful fields of wildflowers in summer. According to the official census, some 1,200 people live in Laguiole, but one local put the number closer to 500; a single walk through the quiet, picturesque cattle town is enough to believe it. Bakery windows are painted with bulls’ horns, and the brawny silhouette of the local Aubrac cow appears on much of the town’s signage. A large brass bull stands in the town square.

Milk from the Aubrac cow is used to make the local unpasteurized blue cheese, Tome de Laguiole, which is certified by the French government with a designation of appellation d’origine contrôlée, or AOC. This official stamp guarantees specific quality standards and geographic proximity, and acts as a certificate of authenticity for well-known French products — wines, butters, cheeses — both inside and outside France. But Tome de Laguiole is, at best, the region’s second-best-known export.

Laguiole’s most famous product by far is the distinctive slender knife of the same name. Originally a multitool for peasants of the Aubrac Plateau, Laguiole knives are found in the world’s greatest restaurants — and also in cheap faux-French cafés, small-town steakhouses and bargain homegoods stores. You can buy a set of eight on Amazon for $21.99, with the option for next-day shipping, or a single handcrafted piece made over the course of two days for several hundred dollars. This is because there are relatively few limits on who can use the Laguiole name. Officially speaking, there is no such thing as an authentic Laguiole knife.

Pierre Jean Calmels invented the Laguiole droit (“straight Laguiole”) knife in 1829 while working as the village blacksmith. It was a basic design meant for farmers; the handle was carved from the Aubrac cow’s black-tipped horn or ivory and the blade came to a central point. Later, Calmels updated his design, adding a fold-out trocar, a slim surgical awl used to puncture a cow’s rumen to relieve bloat. The blade was lean and slightly curved.

When the Industrial Revolution drove local farmers into the cities of Toulouse, Lyon, Marseille and Paris, they carried their Laguiole knives with them. As the design gained popularity, it picked up other distinctive embellishments: forged handle bolsters; designs chiseled along the spine; a Shepherd’s Cross hammered into the handle; and a hand-engraved bee fitted atop the spring. A corkscrew, for sommeliers and picnickers. Today, all are hallmarks of the iconic French folding-knife style. But the Laguiole knife is just that — a style. Although widely recognized, neither the Laguiole design nor the construction is protected by the French government, European Union, or any other entity. Numerous companies around the world — in China, Pakistan, even other parts of France — churn out cut-rate versions stamped with the same name, and there’s no one to say that they can’t. Those knives, the kind you buy as a wedding gift for your cousin, are imprinted with the Laguiole name, but not its soul.

Virgilio Muñoz is one of the best craftsmen in France. This is not simply hometown bravado: Muñoz, a master bladesmith at Forge de Laguiole, is one of few to hold the title of Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, or “one of the best craftsmen in France.” He has been making knives for nearly five decades, and when I meet him on a snowy January day, his hands are covered in oil and metal rubbings. Ebony, mammoth ivory and reef coral line his workbench, set to be transformed into handles. When asked about the importance of making knives in France, he corrects me. “Not made in France,” Muñoz says. “Made in Laguiole.”

In the scorching, oily heat of the Pit, the name for the downstairs level of the Laguiole plant, another man in a burnt apron is shouting over the incessant crashing, telling me to stand back.
“Very hot!” he yells.

The cheap Laguiole-style knives sold in big-box stores are mass produced, punched from sheets of low-hardness steel and then sharpened and assembled in bulk. Forge de Laguiole, as the name suggests, owns and operates its own forge, a massive furnace used to melt and shape metal.

The Pit is removed from the quiet, finesse-driven work of the craftspeople upstairs. This is where Laguiole blades are cut from sheets of bespoke T12 steel, sourced from the French steelworks Bonpertuis, then blasted in an induction oven at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the crude blades are glowing red with heat, a three-man team uses a large mechanical hammer to drop 600,000 pounds of pressure onto the metal, a process that seals cracks and breaks apart impurities.

To harden the steel, blades are dipped by the basketful into a hot oil bath. I watch the man in the burnt apron use a long, hooked pole to open the door of a large box, unleashing a searing blast of heat. Inside sits a basket stuffed with knife blades, everything glowing the same lava-red; the man uses the hook to pull the basket over the vat of super-heated oil and 10-foot flames shoot up, engulfing the metal.
“Makes them strong!” he yells.

After the blades are cooled in a separate quenchant oil, they’re sharpened and polished by hand. Then, Muñoz and his team of handle-makers, engraving artists and smithies go to work.

In a long room, workers in chainmail aprons cut bone, horn and wood to handle length and work them into shape on leather wheels. Each handle is punched with tiny pinholes that will be fitted with the rivets that hold the knife together; the ancient symbol of the Shepherd’s Cross is added to the wood by hand. The hardware — springs, rivets and liners — is crafted from the same premium steel as the blade, unlike lesser models which opt for cheaper metal or plastic.

From there, the knife is passed off to one of five engravers who will hand-chisel the spine with ornamental decorations, a process that takes a half-hour for each knife; each engraver will finish just a dozen or so knives per day. The blade is then leather-polished hilt to tip, re-sharpened and presented to the inspection team, who check the weight balance, folding action and polish. Rejected knives will go back for more work. In a typical day, Forge de Laguiole produces around 100 finished knives.

Despite its old-world craftsmanship, Forge de Laguiole is not an ancient company born in a time immemorial; the brand was founded in 1987. But this was not an attempt to capitalize on a famous name. It was a bid to preserve it.
Forge de Laguiole is the only coutelier that makes, machines, finishes and assembles every piece of their Laguiole-style knife in its place of origin. It employs more than 100 knife-makers, metalworkers, sales people and support staff in Laguiole. Thierry Moysset, the brand’s CEO, speaks grandly of the Forge’s mission. “It is cutlery, yes. But it’s also culture, it’s heritage and it’s history,” Moysset says.

All types of manufactured goods can be protected: by governments and also the World Intellectual Property Organization, which issues “Geographic Indications (GI)” based on a location’s historical relationship to and reputation for the things that are made there. Forge de Laguiole knives do not have GI protection, but the brand is attempting to obtain it; Moysset says such designation would not only allow customers to buy knives backed by a certified quality guarantee — as with the local cheese — it would recognize history and help preserve it.

But among the world’s best chefs, particularly French chefs, true Laguiole knives need no higher recommendation. Michelin-starred cooks like Eric Ripert, Gérald Passédat, Sébastien Bras, Alain Ducasse, Guy Savoy, Pierre Gagnaire, Anne-Sophie Pic and Jean-Georges Vongerichten have all used the cutlery in their restaurants, and Laguiole has produced custom orders for clients such as Montblanc, David Yurman and the New York Yankees. The company is not looking to gobble market share or triple its output; the forge is running hot.

On a quiet snowy day in a mountain town with as many cows as people, it is easy to recognize what Laguiole is trying not just to preserve, but to export: a slower, more considered, more lasting view of the world.

“Modernism has not yet invaded this part of the country,” says Moysset, “and changed the way we do things, and live.”

A version of this article originally appeared in Issue Nine of Gear Patrol Magazine with the headline “The Way of the Knife.” Subscribe today.

Why Every Kitchen Absolutely Needs a Japanese Chef’s Knife Sharpener

If you’ve been in Atlanta in the last decade, there’s a strong chance Linton Hopkins has fed you. The chef and partner behind Holeman & Finch, Restaurant Eugene, Hop’s Chicken, H&F Burger and, most recently, C. Ellet’s has a knack for taking relatable dishes and making them exceptional (H&F’s freakishly hyped burger is the best example). But the James Beard-winning chef’s favorite gear doesn’t follow this line of thinking. From the benefits of a Japanese whetstone to the infinite versatility of a cast-iron skillet, these are the things Chef Linton Hopkins couldn’t live without.

Wüsthof Tri-Stone Whetstone

“The Japanese Whetstone has the ability to sharpen knives, while being meditative. Having sharp knives allow you to get better in touch with the tool which improves your cooking ability.”

Wüsthof 5-Inch Tomato Knife

“I love this specialty knife for cutting tomatoes and other types of fruits. It has the able to smoothly cut through the fiber of the fruit while keeping it intact. Its sharp end points are impeccable for cutting out a core or little imperfections of the fruit.”

Field Cast-Iron Skillet

“The possibilities with a cast iron skillet are infinite: from paella to steaks. On a desert island, this is the one item I would take with me.”

Mauviel Potato Steamer

“This steams perfectly every time, I use it almost daily. In addition to any size potato, there is great diversity with what else you can steam, like broccoli, cauliflower and beets.”

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

This $13 Amazon Buy Is One of the Most Underrated Tools in the Kitchen

Chef-owners of Los Angeles’ Piccalilli Macks Collins and Bryan Kidwell are fine-dining chefs who don’t really like fine dining. They met at New York City’s fanciful now-closed French-Vietnamese restaurant Rogue et Blanc, became best friends, ran a cult-favorite food truck in LA and opened Piccalilli, which is somewhere in between the two. Their gear, however, is laconic. Of the seven items the tandem recommended, none break the $30 mark. From the most underrated kitchen tool there is to tweezers that look pretentious (but aren’t), these are the things Chefs Bryan Kidwell and Macks Collins couldn’t live without.

Microplane

“This is great for zesting citrus, cinnamon, nutmeg and hard cheese. In fact, it’s one of the most underrated tools in the kitchen. It makes for great visuals on the plate, as well as equal distribution of a garnish on the dish.”

Choice Green-Striped Kitchen Towels

“They’re faster than using pot holders and, overall, just super cheap and easy to clean. Keeping a clean kitchen is super important for both professional chefs and home chefs; keeping it constantly clean with the help of a towel will keep the crumbs, grease, sticky stuff and, most importantly, bugs away.”

Kuhn Rikon Swiss Peeler

“Has an easy grip, is lightweight and is great for professional kitchens; plus, it’s cheap. They’re called speed peelers for a reason; being so lightweight and easy to grip, they enable faster, more efficient even peels.”

Stainless Steel Chef Tweezers

“These are great for all-around cooking in the kitchen. They look pretentious, but once you use them, you will never go back to tongs. A great tool for flipping foods on grills, pans and in the deep fryer, as well as helping incorporate sauces in pastas.”

Fine Chinois Strainer

“This tool is great for smooth purées and for straining very fine foods, stocks and sauces. Fine dining restaurants use them all the time both in front and back of house. Also, finding the perfect ladle to help pass the food through the chinois is a must.”

Silpat Mat

“A nonstick silicon sheet tray liner is great for baking, sweets, tuiles and anything you don’t want to stick. It can withstand high temperatures, is easy to clean and it’s reusable, so you don’t have to use parchment paper.”

Benriner Japanese Mandolin

“This is lightweight and easy to use, great for even slices and with three widths for julienne. It’s super efficient and saves a lot of time. Beginners do need to practice and take it slow because the blade and teeth for the julienne setting are very sharp, especially with a brand new mandolin. Any professional cook would be lying if they said they haven’t cut themselves using one.”

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

17 Tools That Pro Chefs Can’t Cook Without

There are no gear testers more rigorous than the commercial chef. Can openers, skillets, thermometers, mixing bowls and all manner of other essential gear are put through the ringer night in, night out. So when chefs talk about the gear they couldn’t cook without, we listen. Here are the kitchen tools four pro chefs can’t get enough of.

Daniel Huebschmann


Gibsons Restaurant Group, the restaurant empire that Chef Daniel Huebschmann helms, is immense. It spans four states and 14 kitchens. It’s the first and only restaurant group to have its own USDA Certified Angus Beef Program. Huebschmann’s job, like his gear picks, is commercial. In other words, there are no tweezers counted in his essential kitchen gear setup. From a cheap pair of extra-long tongs to the only charcoal grill you should buy, these are the things Chef Daniel Huebschmann couldn’t live without.

Vollrath 12-Inch High-Heat Tongs

“Size does matter in this case. If you are using tongs over an open flame, you’ll want to keep a little distance and the 12-inch length on these tongs allows you to keep an appropriate distance. The added bonus of the coated tip gives you the option to use these on scratch sensitive surfaces as necessary. The coated handle is very helpful when gripping the tongs and it allows you to move large format food around easily. It’s best to use a nonstick pan on a side burner (gas grills) to sauté some vegetables while grilling steak.”

Wüsthof Stainless-Steel Metal Skewers

“These skewers are both stylish and functional. Not only do they look sexy when placed on a platter and presented with meats and vegetables, but they are also highly functional. The shape of the handle allows for very easy gripping.”

Kitchenaid 3-Burner Propane Gas Grill

“For a cost-effective grilling machine, the 3-burner unit does the trick. It provides even heat distribution with Kitchenaid quality and design that performs. I would not advise going smaller unless space is an issue. You can grill and slow roast a variety of sizes for home BBQs. The cooking surface on the 3-burner is large enough to allow for indirect heat as well. The side burner that allows you to sear and sauté is an added bonus that simply can’t be beat.”

Big Green Egg (Large)

“For charcoal grilling and smoking, this is my weapon of choice. While similar size and shape charcoal grills offer high-temperature searing and even heat distribution, the Big Green Egg has an edge. Not only does it get hot, and it does get smoking hot, it also offers extremely even heat distribution and retains its heat for an extended period of time. This allows for killer smoking and grilling of larger items like turkeys and beef briskets.”

Ayesha Nurdjaja


Contrary to popular belief, the gear most chefs use isn’t anything fancy. In fact, it’s usually the opposite of fancy — more chefs opt for affordable gear that gets the job done than material luxuries. Ayesha Nurdjaja is part of this camp. The Italian-Indonesian executive chef of New York City Eastern Mediterranean restaurant Shuka, Nurdjaja’s kitchen essentials are, save one splurge, all around $30 or less. From the perfect paring knife to pencils designed to write on metal, these are the things Chef Ayesha Nurdjaja couldn’t live without.

Victorinox Serrated Paring Knife


“This small knife is a powerhouse. It can cut through artichokes and cherry tomatoes, comes in fun colors and is a nice and inexpensive gift to give to any chef.”

Sharpie Peel-Off Marker


“These pencils are my main expediting and labeling tool. With no stress sharpening, I am always using it to mark tickets or jot down a quick note.”

Oxo 5-Pound Food Scale


“I am a recipe-driven chef. At Shuka, when we make a new dish the first thing we do is write a recipe and weigh the ingredients so we can ensure consistency. These small scales are easy to wipe down, keep accurate measure and help me cost out my dishes with ease.”

F. Dick 10-Inch Honing Steel


“This steel does a great job keeping sharp knives honed. Whether I am slicing raw fish or portioning lamb, this steel is a gem. I have had mine for over 8 years and it has been a great addition to my knife kit.”

Le Creuset 9-Quart Dutch Oven


“This was the first (and maybe only) expensive pot I treated myself to after graduating culinary school. I treat it with such tender love and care; it’s the Ferrari of kitchen equipment. It is so easy to use this pot to make soups and stews, braise meats or create any one-pot wonder meals. It is super durable, retains great heat and is sharp looking.”

Kiminobu Saito


Off Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles’ Sherman Oaks neighborhood, Chef Kiminobu Saito’s sushi operation is both extremely serious and not-so-serious. Saito’s Sushi Note, open summer of 2018, manages to blend a hang out atmosphere with millimeter-perfect cut sushi, a wicked wine list and what are essentially rice tater tots (topped with fresh fish, naturally).

But don’t mistake Chef Saito’s whimsical restaurant for a casual approach to Japan’s most famous cuisine — he has been at this for decades, and his gear shows it. Namely, his knife, which he bought more than 20 years ago and is still going strong (he sharpens it weekly). From an indestructible knife from a famous bladesmith to a sharkskin wasabi grater, these are the things Chef Kiminobu Saito couldn’t live without.

Honyaki Yanagi Knife

“My favorite knife is my Honyaki Yanagi. I purchased it in 1997 in Japan. It’s made using the same technique used with Japanese swords. You can even see the impressions left by the heat and pounding process. My father had a passion for swords and ceramics, and I grew up with an appreciation for this style of craftsmanship. It’s the knife I treasure the most, and I use it as my main knife. I use it for sushi, sashimi and especially for breaking down large fish and turning them into smaller filets. As for care, I keep it very simple; I sharpen all my knives once a week, spending about 30 to 40 min on each knife. Then I keep them dry and in a case when not in use to avoid rust and dings to the knife.”

Tenzo Sharkskin Wasabi Grater

“One essential tool in the kitchen is my wasabi grater. Made of shark skin, the fine surface makes for a creamy wasabi paste. I prefer using fresh wasabi root, as opposed to powdered wasabi, to keep the traditional flavors intact. Not to mention, there are many unnecessary additives in powdered and tubed wasabi. I use fresh wasabi for all my sushi and sashimi, but it can also be used for steaks. One of my favorite recipes is to mix fresh wasabi into soy sauce, then use that mixture when searing steak. You can also add a pinch of the fresh wasabi on top before serving. The root is much milder and will not be overwhelming to the dish.”

Yamakawa Rice Warmer

“The rice warmer is one of my most essential tools in the restaurant. It’s an electric warmer that holds its temperature for as long as you need. The older styles were not electric, which meant you had to keep the lid on as much as possible and cover the rice with a towel. And once the temperature went down, I wasn’t able to reuse it. I now have peace of mind knowing that I can work an entire service without my rice being compromised.”

Electric Seaweed Crisper

“I want my seaweed to be as crispy as possible, which I achieve using my electric seaweed container. It’s very low tech (it heats the seaweed with a small light bulb!) but it makes a world of a difference. In fact, any store-bought regular seaweed can get much crispier using this. Once you open a bag of seaweed, the moisture in the air will make it soggy, but this container stops that from happening. Many other Sushi Note chefs have actually broken their seaweed when making hand rolls because of how crispy it is.”

Jordan Terry


Helmed by Chef Jordan Terry, Dirty French is not a subtle place. But Terry, who rose from meat cook to sous chef to executive chef, isn’t as fanciful as his restaurant. Where the chef’s menu is covered in elevated french bistro classics like mushroom millefeuille and terrine of foie gras, his kitchen is stocked with better versions of the gear you have at home. From buying deli containers in bulk to a cutting board that beats out wood and plastic, these are the things Chef Jordan Terry couldn’t live without.

Rubber Cutting Board

“This isn’t some thin, plastic malarkey. It’s a solid, beautiful and terribly functional cutting board. It’s heavy and made of rubber, which is so much kinder to your blade, absorbing the metal instead of fighting it like a plastic one. And unlike wooden cutting boards, that’s all that it absorbs. It cleans up like a champion and it’s significantly faster than other boards; your blade just bounces back, ready for more. Bonus, you can use a scrubbing pad to take it down if it gets pockmarked or stained — no need for a sander like with a wooden one. They are just a joy to cut on.”

ChoiceHD Deli Containers (32 oz.)

“I use these for everything: storage, portioning, mise en place, sweet tea during service, to make lunches for my wife — they really are the backbone of the kitchen. They come in different sizes, but they have universal lids. They are reusable, they are cheap, they are sturdy and with a roll of masking tape and a sharpie, you can keep everything in them labeled and organized.”

Hall China 1-Quart Jars

“We each have our own and store all the tools we will need for service: like spoons, spatulas, tweezers and whatever else we might need. I love having a few extra around, filled to the brim with spoons for cooking and tasting. They are quiet, elegant and a great way to keep everything you need within arms reach.”

Opinel Oyster Knife

“Never will I have to break my keys opening oysters when I find myself in this situation (which has happened more than you might think). It’s beautifully made with a smooth and strong handle and a stout blade that flies through whatever size oysters you stumble upon, and fits comfortably in your pocket. Just don’t forget it’s there when you go to city hall to get a marriage certificate… they don’t care about your reasons.”

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

This Japanese Chef’s Knife Could Last You Decades

Off Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles’ Sherman Oaks neighborhood, Chef Kiminobu Saito’s sushi operation is both extremely serious and not-so-serious. Saito’s Sushi Note, open summer of 2018, manages to blend a hang out atmosphere with millimeter-perfect cut sushi, a wicked wine list and what are essentially rice tater tots (topped with fresh fish, naturally).

But don’t mistake Chef Saito’s whimsical restaurant for a casual approach to Japan’s most famous cuisine — he has been at this for decades, and his gear shows it. Namely, his knife, which he bought more than 20 years ago and is still going strong (he sharpens it weekly). From an indestructible knife from a famous bladesmith to a sharkskin wasabi grater, these are the things Chef Kiminobu Saito couldn’t live without.

Honyaki Yanagi Knife

“My favorite knife is my Honyaki Yanagi. I purchased it in 1997 in Japan. It’s made using the same technique used with Japanese swords. You can even see the impressions left by the heat and pounding process. My father had a passion for swords and ceramics, and I grew up with an appreciation for this style of craftsmanship. It’s the knife I treasure the most, and I use it as my main knife. I use it for sushi, sashimi and especially for breaking down large fish and turning them into smaller filets. As for care, I keep it very simple; I sharpen all my knives once a week, spending about 30 to 40 min on each knife. Then I keep them dry and in a case when not in use to avoid rust and dings to the knife.”

Tenzo Sharkskin Wasabi Grater

“One essential tool in the kitchen is my wasabi grater. Made of shark skin, the fine surface makes for a creamy wasabi paste. I prefer using fresh wasabi root, as opposed to powdered wasabi, to keep the traditional flavors intact. Not to mention, there are many unnecessary additives in powdered and tubed wasabi. I use fresh wasabi for all my sushi and sashimi, but it can also be used for steaks. One of my favorite recipes is to mix fresh wasabi into soy sauce, then use that mixture when searing steak. You can also add a pinch of the fresh wasabi on top before serving. The root is much milder and will not be overwhelming to the dish.”

Yamakawa Rice Warmer

“The rice warmer is one of my most essential tools in the restaurant. It’s an electric warmer that holds its temperature for as long as you need. The older styles were not electric, which meant you had to keep the lid on as much as possible and cover the rice with a towel. And once the temperature went down, I wasn’t able to reuse it. I now have peace of mind knowing that I can work an entire service without my rice being compromised.”

Electric Seaweed Crisper

“I want my seaweed to be as crispy as possible, which I achieve using my electric seaweed container. It’s very low tech (it heats the seaweed with a small light bulb!) but it makes a world of a difference. In fact, any store-bought regular seaweed can get much crispier using this. Once you open a bag of seaweed, the moisture in the air will make it soggy, but this container stops that from happening. Many other Sushi Note chefs have actually broken their seaweed when making hand rolls because of how crispy it is.”

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

3 Premium Kitchen Tools Absolutely Worth the Money

Good news for your wallet: not every kitchen tool is worth a premium price. The bad news? Some wares most definitely are. Here’s why, along with recs.

Dutch Oven

Le Creuset 5.5-Quart ($319)

Why: A good barometer to consider the value of a high cost item is its potential longevity — will you be using this thing 10, even 25 years? Premium Dutch ovens are not cheap, and they are probably marked up beyond what is a totally fair price. But the best will last you decades.

In general, what separates the more frugal options (like Lodge, Cuisinart and Cuisinox) from the premium category is the enameling. The way in which it’s applied, in how many layers and the quality of the porcelain all matter. When done right, this enameling will survive the odd encounter with a metal spatula (please, use plastic or silicone), rapid cooling (this can cause “crazing,” or cracks in the enamel) and anything else you might throw at it.

Unfortunately, you’ll be hard pressed to find information on enameling methods, quality control standards and whatnot from the brands themselves, but from our testing three brands stand out (including one you’ve likely not heard of).

Ones to Buy: First, do not under any circumstances buy an oval Dutch oven — your burner is not shaped like an oval, and so your cookware shouldn’t be either.

The industry is ruled by two time-tested French brands. The first and larger brand, Le Creuset ($319), has been making Dutch ovens for nearly 100 years, and vintage pieces from those early days are still in use. Staub ($272) is the other, and it sports a heavier, tighter-fitting lid (this means moisture doesn’t evaporate as easily). The last, Milo ($95), is something of an anomaly. It has not been available long enough for us to know if it will last as long as our two other suggestions, but the samples we’ve been testing since day one haven’t shown any signs of wear and tear.

Chef’s Knife

Mac Professional Series Chef’s Knife ($145)

Why: For less than one subpar block of knives (of which you’ll use two or three, tops), you can get a great chef’s knife that will serve you well for as long as you take care of it. It is the most used and abused tool in the kitchen, and buying a good one not only improves the precision and consistency with which you prepare meals, but also safety.

A quality chef’s knife — be it carbon steel or stainless steel — will be sharper for longer. Generally, if you want something with great staying power, lean stainless, and if you’re looking for the sharpest edges (and an easier time bringing that edge back into cutting shape) go carbon. With either, though, best practice is to wash them by hand, even if it advertises itself as dishwasher-safe.

Ones to Buy: Unlike Dutch ovens, there are many great knife makers. Mac’s Professional series chef’s knife ($145) is a great mix of a thin, Japanese-style blade and weighty western handle design. Global makes a really great chef’s knife called the G-2 ($94), which is a hardy, high-chromium stainless steel knife with a smart one-piece design (it’s weighted perfectly, and there’s no area where materials merge to create room for corrosion). For those who prefer a weightier, pure Western-style knife, Zwilling Henckels Pro series knife ($100) is perfect, as its wicked sharp carbon steel blade attaches to a handle that prioritizes the pinch grip above all else.

Stainless Steel Cookware

All-Clad 3-Quart Saute Pan ($185)

Why: You know that stainless steel skillet you use that always wobbles a bit when it’s heating up? Or the oil always slides down one side? Or maybe food refuses to release from it, no matter how much oil you put down beforehand? These are common issues that stem from cheaping out on your stainless steel cookware.

And no matter how much ground cast-iron cookware, non-stick, carbon steel or whatever else thinks it’s gaining on stainless steel, none will ever supplant its status as the do-it-all cookware. Good stainless steel doesn’t warp and wane so easily (this is usually caused by either overheating a pan or putting a screaming hot pan in water too quickly). It heats quickly and holds that heat more effectively (this is primarily due to metal bonding, which allowed stainless steel cookware to sport fast-heating aluminum cores). All of these attributes are paramount to cooking consistency.

Ones to Buy: For a very long time All-Clad ($75+) has made the best stainless steel cookware on the market, and that hasn’t changed. The company’s founder literally invented bonded cookware, and the company has since perfected it — the pans hold their heat better than cheap skillets, distribute heat better than cheap skillets and somehow release food better than cheap skillets.

Made In Cookware ($59+), based in Austin, Texas, makes a more affordable, similar set of bonded stainless cookware. The only notable difference I’ve found between the two is that All-Clad tends to retain heat more effectively when food is initially placed in it.

Tramontina ($40+) makes similar skillets to Made In, in that they don’t quite match All-Clad’s all-around performance, but are far, far superior than those that come in big box sets at department stores.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Outgrowing Your Ikea Furniture? Here’s What to Buy Next

Like Coca-Cola or Honda, Ikea is ubiquitous. Even if you haven’t personally traversed the labyrinthine halls of one of its stores or scarfed down a plate of its meatballs (now with 84 percent meat content!), you have most assuredly parked yourself on an Ikea chair or sofa in a dorm room, a dentist’s office or a buddy’s living room.

Ikea’s dominance in the furniture sector is a result of good products with bad caveats. The products are great pieces of design that happen to be affordable. But affordability usually comes at the cost of cheap materials and questionable build quality, and many individuals have rightfully leveled criticism at the company for perpetuating throwaway culture in the furniture world.

Moving on from Ikea requires the willingness to invest in furniture — a fundamental shift away from the placeholder mentality that drives us to its stores. But it doesn’t demand we ditch the Scandinavian aesthetic. For those who love the Ikea look but want something that’ll last, here are five upgrades to iconic (and totally ubiquitous) Ikea furniture.

Lounge Chair

The Original: Ikea Poäng

The bentwood frame. The cantilevered seat. The ergonomically-shaped back. The Poäng, designed by Noboru Nakamura, very well could be the poster child for Ikea, given that it’s been continuously produced and sold since Nakamura completed the design in 1976. It’s hard not to love, especially if you have a tendency to rock and bounce in your seat, but its cushions don’t typically age well and the screws in its frame have a tendency to loosen over time.

The Upgrade: Artek Alvar Aalto 406

The 406 almost looks like a dead-ringer for the Poäng, but it actually predates the Ikea icon by nearly 40 years. Designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, has a similar cantilever frame made from solid birchwood and favors a seat made from webbed textile. Admittedly the 406’s price tag is considerably larger than Poäng’s $79 starting price, but the seamless construction of the frame (no exposed screws!) hints at how much better the build quality is, especially given that you don’t have to slap it together yourself.

Shelving Unit

The Original: Ikea Kallax

In 2014, Ikea killed off the Expedit shelving system, an item so beloved by customers that a Facebook group with some 20,000 members popped up to try and save it. Their fears were more or less unfounded, given that the Kallax system that replaced it is essentially identical, save for a slightly smaller footprint on the outside while keeping the same internal dimensions for the cubicles. That fervor goes to show just how useful Ikea’s shelves are. Stackable, expandable and versatile, they can be been used to house everything.

The Upgrade: Muji Stacking Shelves

Muji, the so-called “Ikea of Japan,” is a newbie in the U.S. market. But while it doesn’t have as expansive an inventory as the Swedish store, its products follow a similar philosophy. As such, you can find all the good in the Kallax system in Muji’s own stacking shelves, which are modular and expandable. The difference? Sturdier, heavier, better quality wood veneer surface in oak or walnut, and larger shelf compartments that can accommodate TVs and stereo systems, too.

Bed Frame

The Original: Ikea Malm

Ikea’s Malm bed has been a hit since 2002 thanks to a combo of versatile storage and sleek looks (though you can get a version with no dresser drawers if you so choose). Its design is inoffensively simple, but like many Ikea products, its particle-board-and-veneer construction means minor wear weighs heavy.

The Upgrade: Akron Street Dris Bed

Brooklyn-based Akron Street uses Applacian-sourced solid American White Oak for its furniture, and the Dris bed is made almost entirely of the stuff, meaning it should last longer and imbue a much richer look than Ikea’s veneer. Like the Malm, the Dris is an exercise in efficiency, offering two- or four-drawer configurations, because space never stops being a precious commodity, even as you get older.

Couch or Sofa

The Original: Ikea Klippan

The Klippan, like the Poäng, is another stalwart Ikea design, having been first introduced in 1979. It remains a popular item today because it’s light, compact, can be modified with new covers and, well, where else are you going to get a sofa for under $300? Ikea’s former head of design, Marcus Engman, even called it his favorite Ikea product of all time.

The Upgrade: Floyd Sofa

Floyd’s philosophy is the antithese to the throwaway culture that Ikea inadvertantly promotes. You’ll find heartier construction and modularity (thus, replaceable parts) as the part and parcel of its design ethos. That’s clearly seen in its sofa, available as a loveseat, a three-seater and a chaise sectional; it’s available in a multitude of configurations, but is always space-efficient and visually light.

Coffee Table

The Original: Ikea Lack

Let’s give the Lack credit: it’s astoundingly cheap. But obviously that comes at a cost, because Lack tables have a tendency to wobble and buckle under small amounts of weight pretty much out of the box. It’s also incredibly simple, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it drives home the point that you don’t buy a Lack as a centerpiece for your living room, you buy it as a cheap surface that will do in a pinch. Until it breaks.

The Upgrade: Hay Eiffel Rectangular Coffee Table

Though founded in 2002, Hay launched in earnest in the U.S. in 2018, making its accessible scandinavian designs, well, more accessible to us Americans. While the Eiffel coffee table costs about ten times as much as a Lack, one could argue it’ll last ten times as long. It’s made from powder-coated aluminum and MDF and, like the Lack, it’s simple, making it something that’ll blend in with most interiors offering a blank canvas.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

You Can Buy the Highest-Rated Coffee of All Time Right Now

Dragonfly Coffee Roasters, one of the best coffee roasters in America, just dropped a trio of coffees that will sell out very quickly.

Sourced from a Panamanian coffee farm in the shadow of a volcano, Dragonfly’s Elida Estate Green Tip collection is made up of three limited quantity 8-ounce bags of $100 coffee. The coffee is a Geisha varietal, renowned for exceptional cup quality and tedious production needs, and each of the bags is processed in a different manner.

The hype around these beans is compounded by the roaster, too. The 2019 Roast Magazine Microroaster of the Year is a shoe-in on Coffee Review’s annual Top 30 lists and pushes origin expansion (Myanmar, Yemen, Timor-Leste) more than most of its contemporaries. Plus, Coffee Review scored the Elida Natural bag a whopping 98 out of 100, the highest score ever given on the site. The beans also broke the world record for the most expensive publically auctioned green coffee at $1,029 per pound. “Complex flowers (citrus blossom, ginger blossom, aromatic orchid), bright, fresh fruit (pear, peach, tangerine), sweet cocoa, sandalwood, a hint of candycap mushroom in aroma and cup. In structure, juicy and lyrically bright with a subtly pungent umami base; light-footed, satiny mouthfeel. Pear leads into long, vibrantly flavor-saturated finish,” the site’s review of the high-scoring bag reads.

Dragonfly said bags are “EXTREMELY LIMITED” in its announcement email. They’re available through the roaster’s shop now.