Tools They Use takes a look at local food artisans, such as chefs, bakers, brewers, and more with a simple photo displaying their signature items and favorite tools.
Daniel Thomas is Executive Chef at Fukushu Concepts' BIRD Modern Provisions & Bar, scheduled to open in July 31, 2017. Thomas has also worked as a chef at 47 Scott, The Abbey, Jax Kitchen, and J&G Steakhouse Scottsdale.
The Benriner is a favorite brand among chefs for its combination of ease-of-use and sharpness. Use it when a uniform thickness on slices is required, such as in scalloped potatoes or pickled cucumber slices.
Thomas keeps several of these small and durable pocket journals to jot down quick notes.
"I used to pass them out to all my sous chefs so they could do specials, take notes, et cetera, until I found them making notes about me not ordering blackberries. True story. So they can get their own now."
This knife was the first chef's knife that Thomas purchased for himself.
"It's a great lightweight and tough knife that has been going strong and is my go-to for just about everything for six years now."
Cake batter sticks onto the needle if it's not cooked through, but Thomas uses it to test the doneness of delicate fish.
"It was a gift from Jean-Georges when I was promoted to fish station. Kind of a lame gift but at the same time how many people can say they have received a gift from a chef of that caliber?"
"My zester skills came to life while working for Virginia Wooters at The Abbey. Every station had a zester and really helped to incorporate layers of flavors on each dish which is something I still do to date."
Using a fork to shape gnocchi works, though consumes much more time than a gnocchi paddle. Thomas uses this paddle for the sweet potato gnocchi on the test menu.
"Global tweezers are my choice because they are pretty small, almost like an extension of my fingers, so you get really into picking out bones and other unwanted small blemishes."
A fish spatula is delicate enough for fish, but versatile enough for flipping anything else. The beveled edge and flexible yet sturdy metal provide more control than a standard spatula, making it one of the most used tools among professional chefs.
"Global spat is one of those pricey buys, thankfully it was a great Christmas gift. Very comfortable and durable which is what you need while holding something half your shift."
Aside from being fashionable, apron pockets are valuable for carrying on-the-fly tools such as meat thermometers and timers.
"I have six of these. They are pretty lightweight but at the same time extremely durable which works great for moving around in a hot kitchen."
The precision cooker, also known as an immersion circulator, is used to cook foods sous vide. The water bath environment provides exact control for unrivaled juiciness in meats.
"The immersion circulator is something that I tend to use for off-cuts of meat that need some love and can still keep them at a set temperature to assure they are good to be retemped for service." This provides perfect results when cooking a steak sous vide to rare, followed by a brief sear that keeps the rare center with a minimal temperature gradient.
"It's roomy so there's no need to leave certain knives or tools out. The heavy duty material has held up very well with stains and tears."
Jackie Tran is a Tucson-based food writer, photographer, culinary educator, and owner-chef of the food truck Tran's Fats. Although he is best known locally for his work for Tucson Foodie, his work has also appeared in publications such as Bon...