Tools They Use: Ermanos Executive Chef Matt Kraiss

Tools They Use takes a look at local food artisans, such as chefs, bakers, brewers, and more, with a simple photo displaying signature items and favorite tools.

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Chef Matt Kraiss' tools at Ermanos (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Chef Matt Kraiss’ tools at Ermanos (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Korean Salt and Gochugaru

“I stumbled upon these brands under instruction of a random Korean lady when I was at Lee Lee shopping for kimchi ingredients. She pointed me in the direction of this salt and was very adamant of it. She told me which fish I want my fish sauce derivative of. This is the texture you need the red pepper to be. She was very cool.”

Mortar and Pestle

Mushroom powder is an easy way to add savory complexity to dishes.

“For harder things, I like a steel mortar. For softer spices, I use a wooden one.”

Kimchi and fermented pineapple

Kraiss’ fermentation obsession at Ermanos began with the standard napa cabbage kimchi. He used the fermentation batch from the kimchi to experimentally ferment unique ingredients such as pineapple.

“The fermented pineapple is so bubbly and explodes like Pop Rocks in your mouth.”

Knife Bag

The knife bag and Ermanos apron were both custom-made by a fellow employee who sells apparel under the moniker Qmulative.

“Everything is so serious in the kitchen all the time and I’ve always been such a comic book fan. It’s nice when I open my bag, I’m reminded that it doesn’t have to be so serious and you can have fun while cooking food.”

Microplane Grater

This grater was a birthday gift from chef Tucker Hartford. Kraiss mostly uses it for fruits and seeds, nuts, nutmeg. He prefers the grater without the handle.

Pastry Brush

This brush is primarily used for plating with the ahi tuna kimchi dish.

Pressure Release for Fermentation Jars

“If you want a fully carbonated fermentation, don’t use it. This is specifically for not breaking your lids. If you leave your mason jar for over two weeks without one, you will break the lid. The fermented pineapple doesn’t use it.”

Calphalon Katana Cutlery 6-Inch Chef’s Knife

Kraiss sharpens this knife with a whetstone at the beginning of every single shift.

“That’s my right hand knife. I like the versatility of the six-inch”

View Calphalon Katana 6″ on Amazon

Benriner Mandolin Slicer

“This is the machine that makes the kimchi. I like it because it’s important that each vegetable is cut differently for how it’s going to be texturally after it’s fermented. You want a certain crunch or explosiveness from the vegetables. The pineapple is cubed so it explodes like that. Same with the daikon radish.”

View Benriner Mandolin Slicer on Amazon

Chef Matt Kraiss at Ermanos (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Chef Matt Kraiss at Ermanos (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit and his Instagram @jackie_tran_.