The New Boys’ Toys

You’ve tricked out your study, your media room, your garage – so what’s next? Antoine Lewis introduces you to the new frontier: your kitchen.

Let’s face it: men like toys. We may call them by other names: gadgets, appliances, tools, devices, instruments, implements, but they’re really just toys for big boys. Some of us like big, powerful toys that require the expanse of a hangar; others covet device that pack in the capabilities of the Starship Enterprise but fir into a shirt pocket. Our toys are our peacock feathers; they give us bragging rights, not unlike the kid on the playground with his just-on-the-market action-figure hero.

But one space that Indian men have generally overlooked when it comes to cool toys is the kitchen – sure, traditionally not a guy space but it’s becoming increasingly so. With open kitchens becoming the norm in modern homes, and the interiors getting a lot more attention, high-tech tools that blend perfectly with stylish European fittings are finally appearing in store shelves across the country.

This is good news for someone like me. Happy so far with my manual pepper-mill that can be adjusted to grind pepper up to 3 grades of thickness, I’m now in the market for a motorized pepper mill with an in-built LED light – like the one used at the Zodiac Grill at the Taj Mahal Mumbai. But even if you’re not that level of food-geekiness, there’s a world of sleek, cool (and fetishistic) kitchen gadgetry now available for the ordinary guy

Start with the basics: a good knife – undoubtedly one of the most important tools in the kitchen. The Tramontina Damascus 6-inch Chef’s Knife – made from a type of steel once used to make the Damascus Sword, the lightest, sharpest and strongest weapon in medieval times – is exactly the kind of badass implement you want in your hands when confronted with a stubby carrot that has be julienned or a fillet of toro that has to be cut into paper thin slices of sashimi. The characteristic mottled design on the knife face, and the striated layers of steel visible on its edge, also makes it one of the most exquisite-looking culinary tools you can possibly own.

There are few things better on a warm Sunday afternoon than dining al fresco – firing up the barbecue and working the coals with a couple of buddies and some beer on hand. Except, charcoal gets rather messy: it’s a pain to light up and, unless you know what you’re doing, controlling the heat can be tricky. Enter the Weber Summit S-670 Gas Grill, the kind of machine Tim ‘’the tool man” Taylor would approve of. The stainless steel grill has six power-packed burners – including a searing station for those professional-looking marks on your steaks – and delivers the same delicious smoky flavour as food cooked over charcoal, minus the fuss.

If the S-670 is best suited for those who like an interactive cooking experience, then the Miele CS 1223 Induction Wok Hob is for the showman who likes to cook with a bit of panache. Wok cooking, the culinary equivalent of flair bartending, involves a lot of frenetic tossing and stirring over a high flame, making it the most dramatic culinary technique. The bowl-shaped ceramic glass Miele hob not only reaches the same temperatures as commercial burners, it’s also perfectly safe. And its cool, minimalist design is pretty easy on the eyes.

If you’re going to upgrade our culinary efforts, you’ll want to accompany that with great wine. There’s no point buying an expensive Bordeaux first growth, or vintage champagne, and then storing it at the side of your single malts and premium vodkas in the bar. What you, and your wines, need is a state-of-the-art wine storage unit like the EuroCave S059 multi-temperature cabinet. Ideal for a library of about 36 bottles that need to be preserved until the perfect drinking moment presents itself, the S059 has two distinct temperature zones, one for storing and maturing wines and a cooler zone for serving whites.

Speaking of beverages, with gourmet coffees now available at even the most unremarkable coffee chains, simply lugging out the stainless steel filter at the end of dinner isn’t really an option any more. After all, coffee drinkers are a discerning lot. A regular espresso/ cappuccino machine could work for one person but when you’ve got guests with individual preferences, you don’t want to be measuring out coffee grinds for each cup. The sleek, super automatic Gaggia Accademia can make six different styles of coffee at the touch of a button, so you can impress your guests by offering to customize to their taste. After-dinner conversation will have never been livelier.

So there you have it: the tech geek’s kitchen starter kit. Sure, these gadgets will set you back a pretty penny – the grill alone retails for Rs 3 lakh – but there’s always a price for cutting-edge technology. Think of it this way: you’ll be the first guy in the hood with an utterly tricked-out kitchen. And it’s hard to put a price on that.

Published GQ May 2012

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