We've all done it. Whether it was irresistible advertising promising us those time-consuming kitchen tasks could be done in the blink of an eye, or the lure of a shiny gadget used to great effect on our favourite cooking show, or the desire to have that "must-have" appliance. Either way, we purchased … and now that gadget or kitchen appliance is sitting in a cupboard, taking up valuable storage space and gathering dust.
Chefs aren't immune to collecting unhelpful kitchen gadgets either, so in the interests of learning from their mistakes, or saving us from making more unnecessary purchases, we asked our favourite chefs to tell us what they consider to be the most unhelpful kitchen gadgets.
Matt Moran, chef and restaurateur, owner of Sydney's Chiswick, North Bondi Fish, Opera Bar and Brisbane's Aria and Riverbar & Kitchen
"I would have to say that for me personally, it's a citrus juicer. I know people love them but we have one at home that just never gets used – by the time you get it out and put all the parts together, not to mention dismantling and cleaning it, it just seems to make more sense to me to do it the old fashioned way."
Mechanical citrus juicer. Photo: iStock
Shaun Quade, chef and owner of Melbourne's Lume
"The least helpful kitchen gadget in my mind is anything that claims "it slices, it dices, it's 20 different gadgets all rolled into one!" I think anyone that is in a kitchen and attempting to cook should at least have a rudimentary grasp on basic knife skills. I mean we're all adults here, we all have access to YouTube. Buy one good quality chef's knife, look after it and there will be no need to ever again buy something off of the Shamwow guy on late night TV."
All in one food slicer and dicer. Photo: iStock
Lino Sauro, executive chef and co-owner of Sydney's Olio Kensington Street
"My most underused and useless kitchen appliance would have to be the microwave. Almost every use of it is widely replaceable with other heat sources. Also, if it's not a high-tech model, it can turn dangerous and be unsafe for your health."
Microwaves make a good plate warmer. Photo: iStock
Frank Camorra, chef and owner of Melbourne's MoVida Bar and Tapas
"As far as useless kitchen gadgets go, there's one my soon-to-be mother-in-law bought me just recently in the interests of making me eat healthier, it's one of those vegetable spiralisers, which I haven't even broken out of the box yet. I just think, if I want to eat zucchini, I'll eat zucchini, I don't need it to be a particular stringy shape. I don't see the point of it personally, I like cooking vegetables, but my knife skills are good enough anyway."
Spiraliser and zucchini noodles. Photo: iStock
Chris Yan, head chef at Lotus Dining, Sydney
"The meat slicer is my most under-used kitchen appliance. In Chinese cooking, we only use it to slice larger abalone. It also looks scary."
A 'scary' meat slicer. Photo: iStock
James Privett, group executive chef of W. Short Hotel Group, Sydney
"The Thermomix has become a glamour item to own, but it has very little day to day use in the average kitchen. As a home cook, it is highly underutilised."
The Thermomix is a waste of money, according to some chefs. Photo: iStock
"I buy most of my kitchen gadgets from Turkey and while I get some really useful stuff, I also acquire lots of useless stuff – like a pomegranate basher which I've never used. Another would be a lemon squeezer – I had the brilliant idea of having them placed on the tables of one of my restaurants and bought 20 of them which ended up being completely useless."
Lemon squeezers might be useless in the kitchen, but they get a workout behind the bar. Photo: iStock
Jordan Toft, executive chef at Sydney eateries The Newport and Coogee Pavilion
"For me, the most useless kitchen appliance is the microwave. It does make a good plate warmer though."
Christopher Whitehead, Executive Chef at Palings Kitchen & Bar at The Ivy, Sydney
"The most useless kitchen gadget or appliance is a Thermomix – a waste of money. Or a garlic crusher."
Morgan McGlone, chef and owner of Belles Hot Chicken in Sydney and Melbourne
"The most useless kitchen gadget is a left handed can opener unless you're like me and left handed."
Stainless steel can opener straight out of Ned Flander's Leftorium. Photo: iStock
Jill Dupleix, food writer and author
"I've just realised I don't use my vegetable peeler any more, which surprises me. I roast carrots and parsnips unpeeled, I boil potatoes in their skins, and I wouldn't peel an apple before eating it. I keep it, though, for the odd stripe-peeled cucumber or to make chocolate curls, and because it would feel weird not to have a vegie peeler in the kitchen drawer."
Leave the skin on for extra fibre and nutrients. Photo: iStock