Tools of the Trade

This Chef Can’t Get Enough of a $40 Japanese Cooking Accessory


April 6, 2020 Home By Photo by Henry Phillips
Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

This story is part of our Summer Preview, a collection of features, guides and reviews to help you navigate warmer months ahead.

Michael Hamilton sits impatiently — but politely — on the edge of a maroon velvet sofa on the second floor of Little Ways, his new restaurant in downtown Manhattan. Hamilton would rather be downstairs, eating his spicy-noodle lunch and preparing for service. This isn’t to say the restaurant is without charm. Like its popular sister restaurant, The Flower Shop, Little Ways is an ode to 1970s New York City. But Hamilton, an English chef who trained under Gordon Ramsay, Daniel Boulud and Raymond Blanc, is more at home in the kitchen.

An eclectic menu that includes schnitzels, tuna conserva, deviled eggs and venison tartare belies Hamilton’s no-bullshit approach to cooking. Like his mentors, he focuses on execution over flair, a trait that informs the gear he uses during service each night. From a $6,000 ice-cream machine that doubles as a meat grinder to his no-nonsense apron, here are the tools Hamilton wouldn’t cook without.

Benriner Mandolin

“Lots of kitchens have those big fucking donkey mandolines that take up half the kitchen, but we use these little Japanese mandolines that keep a better blade and are a lifesaver for cooks in a small kitchen. This is Benriner’s updated model, which keeps the blade at the exact same level no matter how much you push through it.”

Mortar & Pestle

“The old mortar and pestle. We like using it as it allows us to mix serrano chili and limequats for a crudo dish we’re running. We feel that it’s a better way of mixing ingredients together, capturing more oil out of the two ingredients that would otherwise be lost in a traditional blender.”

Ultra Bag Flexible Sieve

“It’s a handy tool for straining sauces, consommés and nut milks. It’s a far tighter mesh than a standard chinois, allowing for a clearer product. Super handy and easier to store than a bulky chinois, too.”

Chang Beer

“I’m a wino by trade and the restaurants have great lists, but after five or six hours in a bloody hot kitchen, we just want cold beer. Chang’s a good Thai beer that hits the spot. We keep it in the back of the fridge for the end of the night.”

Carharrt Apron

“I don’t wear this heavy fucking thing because I think it looks cool. I lose my keeps, pen, cake tester, everything all the time. This apron has so many damn pockets it is impossible to lose anything, because I’m always holding it on me. I sweat like mad every night in it.”

Pacojet 2 PLUS

“At Little Ways, we use it to ‘spin’ ice cream, sorbet and sherbet to order. No need for churning every day. Also, from a production standpoint, we can just put raw products in the beakers, freeze and spin to make a sorbet. It saves us a lot of time. You can purchase different blades, too, which can grind or spin up meat for use in sausage and stuffings.”

A version of this story originally appeared in a print issue of Gear Patrol Magazine. Subscribe today.

25 Chef-Approved Kitchen Tools Under $25

Slice, dice and serve like a commercial chef on a budget. Read the Story

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Will Price

Will Price is Gear Patrol's home and drinks editor. He's from Atlanta and lives in Brooklyn. He's interested in bourbon, houseplants, cheap Japanese pens, and cast-iron skillets — maybe a little too much.

More by Will Price | Follow on Contact via Email
Start Your Week
with Daybreak
Productivity hacks, coffee recommendations, workweek style inspiration and more.

By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy and to receive email correspondence from us.