WHAT HOME-COOKING GADGET COULD YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT?

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Gordon Hamersley, Chef/owner, Hamersley's Bistro, Boston

"I could not do without my cast-iron braising pot. It's a 15-quart, very heavy, black cast-iron pot with a lid, and I bought it years ago. It's what I cook all my braises in. It's just this fabulous piece of equipment that conducts heat beautifully. You can lower the heat in your oven to almost nothing and it cooks beef stew, lamb shanks, or veal osso bucco in a wonderful way."


Ana Sortun
, chef/owner, Oleana, Cambridge

"Every time I'm going to cook at someone else's house, they never have a pair of tongs, and I'm always wishing I had mine. A good set of heavy tongs, not those silly little clippy tongs, but a good, heavy, stainless pair. They're great instead of using your hands, particularly when you're using hot things. They're much more like your hands, better than a spatula or a fork or a spoon."

Christopher Kimball, founder and editor, Cook's Illustrated magazine, based in Brookline

"I have a custom-made chef's knife from a guy in Washington. He makes custom knives, and that's my most prized tool. It has a bird's- eye-maple handle. It's made of just a carbon steel blade. not high carbon stainless, which means they don't stain but also means I can't really get a sharp edge. This is just more old-fashioned. It's a thinner blade, but it's twice as sharp as a regular knife."

(The "guy in Washington" is Bob Kramer of Kramer Knives, Ferndale, Wash. 360-312-8244 or visit kramerknives.com.)

Tony Maws, chef/owner, Craigie Street Bistrot, Cambridge

"A Le Creuset high temperature spatula. I have two of them, actually. One looks like a regular spatula, and the other one is shaped like a spoon. Because they're high temperature, you can take them into a saute with hot fat and they're not going to melt. They're easy to clean, and the one that's shaped like a spoon, you can taste stuff out of it."


Jo Anne LeBlanc
, executive chef, Delfino Restaurant, Roslindale

"I find my Cuisinart very helpful. I don't do a whole lot of cooking at home, but when I do, that's the thing I use more often than my knife. Mashed potatoes, gravy, soup - oh my goodness, they're great for soup - tapenades, hummus, chopping garlic . . . "


Michael Scelfo
, executive chef, Dedo Lounge and Bistro, Boston

"My copper pot that I got when I was in Paris. It's sentimental, and it's super heavy, and I cook everything in it. It's a copper risotto pan with a heavy iron handle. I got it on my honeymoon. I remember we bought three or four of them and at first didn't know how we were going to get them back here. Then we ended up stuffing them into our suitcases, and they were so heavy, but I'm glad we did. "