They say that chefs draw inspiration from flavors, not strict recipes. If that’s true, then my inspiration is garlic, always and forever. Heads of garlic are always on the grocery list, and I opt for six cloves when a recipe asks for four. I’ve smelled it seeping out of my pores from a prior meal in spin class, and I don’t hate it. I love the sharp bite and how it feels in the back of my nose. I love smearing roasted garlic across toast. I love it all.
The one thing I don’t love about garlic is peeling those little guys. It feels like endless scrabbling away with my fingernails, trying to get that last shred of skin off of the clove so I can go ahead with my culinary masterpiece — which is where this weird rubber log my husband found in the gift shop of a restaurant comes in.
All you have to do is pop the whole clove into the tube on the counter, push the whole thing down with your palm, and roll. The sides of the tube grab onto the skin and rip it off, and out tumbles your perfect little peeled garlic clove. Then all you have to do is rinse the tube, cook your meal, and enjoy your vampire-free life. Simple. I can no longer imagine making vegan white-bean aïoli, Chrissy Teigen’s cheesy garlic armadillo bread, or Frankies’ tomato sauce any other way. Yes, you’re about to remind me that you can smash a clove of garlic with the flat side of a knife and then pick off the splayed skin, but how does that stop me from getting itty-bitty nonsense stuck underneath my nails — or preserve a pristine un-smashed clove of garlic? No, only my silicone log will do.
Chef Craig Koketsu of Quality Eats loves this humble garlic press: “What I like about it over other garlic presses is the grip — it’s sturdy and flexible, making it easy to smash the maximum amount of garlic with not that much effort. It’s also super simple to clean — all you do is just remove the peel afterward (the latest versions come with a scraper).”
The world’s best vegetable peeler according to chef Jordan Andino is the Kuhn Rikon: “I love the flexibility — it curves around whatever vegetable you are peeling. You can peel using the entire blade — other peelers don’t allow you to do that. It’s super light. It’s easy to clean because it has no nooks, and easy to store because it has the hole, so you can hang it on a hook. And this design — it’s the most comfortable way to peel, and you don’t have to worry about nicking the end of your fingers, which is a problem with those stick peelers.”
The Benriner mandoline is a favorite of chef Gabriel Kreuther: “The setup is very simple: There’s the regular blade on one side, which allows you to get a precise, consistent cut. On the other side, you can add attachments to adjust the size of the cut. There’s one for a julienne, a dice, a chop — all in one piece of equipment. I use it for all my garnishes and salads, and no knife has ever created a better julienne.”
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