Toys for Chefs

The fellow foodies critic opportunity for March 2011.

Tectum 2010. Hardback. 432 pages. RRP £50. Available from Amazon

“Toys for Chefs”, erectile edited by Patrice Farameh, allergy | is, as the cover says, the ultimate wishlist for foodies and, whilst I can probably live without most of the “toys” in this fabulous book…….. if money and space were no object, I’d have to have nearly all of them!

My first browse resulted in gasps of pleasure and whoops of delight and a second more detailed look was no more disappointing.  It is a beautiful book, one whose 431 glorious colour and black & white pages might need a heavy worktop to carry it – but do keep it away from sticky fingers!

“Cooking is not Chemistry.  It is an Art”, says the strap line of the book and, between its pages, you will find kitchen equipment in all its art forms – architectural, shiny, quirky, high tech, innovative.  These are tools that have been influenced by chefs and designers “to bring the cooking experience to another level”. 

If you are looking for gadgets, well, you will find them here, from clever detachable Cristel Agate pan handles to digital cookbooks and beyond (my husband was thrilled to see a Chrome Hearts potato peeler just like his well-loved ancient version), but this book is full of so much more. 

I never knew that a complete kitchen could classify as a “toy”!  But what joy!  There’s the Z Island Multi Media Kitchen from Dupont Corian, by architect Zaha Hadid (featured in the Guggenheim museum) “to cook up a mood as you cook up a meal”; then there’s a futuristic collapsible kitchen.  And there are sinks, taps, fridges and everything else between the extremes of whole rooms and small utensils.

There’s the conceptual, such as The Teleport Fridge, and the sci-fi – The Cocoon cooker designed to “grow” meat, thereby curbing the destruction of animal populations – alongside the practical, such as the Tefal Actifry, and Smeg, Aga and other icons.  Gorgeous high end glossy is combined with a few gimmicky items such as the “bloodstained” Evidence Knife and the half-drumstick half-spoon set of wooden Mix Stix from Fred & Friends, perhaps the perfect gift idea for the musician-chef friend who has everything?

The photographs are stunning – a seductive angle on a knife or a misty fork, as well as beautifully lit kitchens.  The short descriptions give an outline of the concept behind each “toy”, not too much detail or narrative, so this never detracts from the overall impact of the object or the photograph, giving enough to keep the imagination active and the pages turning.  In three languages (which gives the book a global feel as well as appeal), descriptions include makers and designers names along with website references.  No indication of price ranges here – well some are only concepts right now – but that’s not what this book is about. It’s more about design, ideas and discovering the unexpected.

The introduction by the chefs Peter Goosens, Sergio Herman, Wout Bru and Roger Van Damme says, this is a book for “dreamers, amateurs and top chefs” and any one of these could find ideas for their living space or inspiration for their cooking experience by browsing the individual sections, which divide the book into categories such as appliances, dinner ware, interior and design and luxury foodstuff.  Even a read of the index in the introduction to each section is wonderful – the Appliances index reveals The Diamond-Studded Fridge, The Egg Food Prep Unit and The Transparent Toaster. 

Or you could just flip through it at leisure, discovering something new each time and making your list.  My own favourite Toys For Chefs were a Yushikin Global Knife and a laptop-sized folding barbecue; or perhaps it was the Takeaway sink and the Alessi Mami Pasta Set; no sorry, it was the Wusthof Knife and the kitchen in a cube.  Oh gosh – it really WAS almost everything……..

If the chef’s equivalent of a coffee table book is a designer butcher’s block book, then this is it.  And, if the items themselves don’t quite fit the purse, no matter – just look at this fabulous book and covet them instead.

My Foodie Forks Rating: A definite 5 Forks

Reviewed by Gill from Cambridgeshire

(picture: Amazon website)

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