In honor of the Big Game, I thought it might be fitting to recognize some of the Most Valuable Tools (MVTs) in the kitchen.

Can I get a wave going for the Drew Brees of all appliances, the food processor? What did cooks do before the food processor? Spend endless hours chopping, whisking and kneading by hand, that's what.

My poor personal Cuisinart is on its last legs, the base held together with duct tape—kinda like Vikings quarterback Brett Favre right before that interception. Still, my ancient food processor gets a daily workout, especially since I've mastered the art of making mayo; specifically, anchovy mayo that I transform into sublime Caesar dressing. Because January was all about eating salads. (Yes, of course, I know the Caesar is to dieting what Dr. Phil is to mental health.)

How about a big cheer for the Peyton Manning in the cook's quiver? For something wicked sharp and precise, gimme a "K"—that stands for knife! Unfortunately, my knives are strictly third-string—those Henckels might have had an edge at one point, but now they're dull as a clip show of last year's Super Bowl commercials. But here's a game-changer: A buddy has just offered to school me in the fine art of using a stone to put the razor back in razor sharp. Hooray!

Beyond the marquee talent, there are so many bit players that never get the credit they deserve. Let's hear it for the Sharpie and a roll of masking tape! The crazy-simple label-and-date-it system means cooks will never confuse oil for chicken stock, as I did at home last week. (Though I was able to drain most of it off before it liquefied in my lentil soup.)

Please get up on your feet for that slick set of stainless bowls, the workhorse of the well-ordered kitchen. They can take constant banging and keep on going for...forever. Have you ever seen one on the injured reserve? Now, that is a Super Bowl.

While they'll never be featured on the JumboTron during half time, let's put our hands together for the veggie peeler, the whisk, and a big stack of clean tasting spoons. Chefs might get fired up about their new sous vide machines, but meals wouldn't get to the table without those unheralded MVTs.

And, finally, give it up for that place kicker of all kitchen gadgets, the tool that's good for just one thing. The hero of the pastry kitchen: a paint sprayer that gives cakes the most polished finish.

What's the Most Valuable Tool in your kitchen? Will you be using your MVT to help prepare snacks for the mother of all game days?

And who will I be rooting for? As much as I love frisky young ponies, I'll be cranking up WWOZ (one of the planet's coolest radio stations, streaming online) while prepping some oyster po-boys, praying them Saints show the world they're really all DAT.


Serious Eats Gift Guide: Kitchen Essentials

About the author: Former Seattle Post-Intelligencer restaurant critic Leslie Kelly has been apprenticing in professional kitchens since the newspaper folded in March 2009 and chronicling her culinary journey from pen to pan for Serious Eats. She also blogs at and is working on a story-telling project for Northstar Winery following one wine from the vine to the table.


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