By Melissa Lee
In January 2019, I taught a public knife skills class at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. I had many more male students than female students. I asked each of them to introduce themselves and tell me why he or she was there. Many of the guy’s girlfriends or wives had bought them the class as a gift. I was intrigued by the fact that their significant others weren’t there. They simply sent their men to me and hoped I could transform those guys into better cooks!
I’ve noticed many men enjoy cooking for their partners. It’s a way for them to get social approval and express their masculinity. If your father is this type of man, don’t miss my kitchen gadget shopping guide. I am not writing this under a sponsorship of any brand or company. My list is inspired by years of teaching male students how to cook.So, without further ado, here are my top five kitchen gadgets that are great for foodie dads. You can totally trust me!
#1 Hedley & Bennett Apron $$$
I absolutely LOVE aprons from Hedley & Bennett for many reasons. First, they offer the most playful colors. You can definitely find the color combination that speaks to your dad’s personality. Even better, you can pay an additional $10 to get them embroidered for your dad. How about “super dad” or “avid baker” or his name to add a personal touch? They don’t just look good, they are durable. I have used mine for years. I wash them every week, and they are still in great condition. They also come in different sizes and lengths for different body types. And I love the adjustable ring around the neck and the pockets on the apron. The Hedley & Bennett Apron is the most practical and visually appealing apron you will ever find for your dad.
#2 Epicurean Nonslip Cutting Boards $$
The Epicurean cutting board is my favorite chopping board because it is dishwasher safe, nonslip, and plastic. The great thing about a plastic board is it can be successfully sanitized of bacteria in the dishwasher. Because wooden chopping boards may look much nicer than plastic, for being practical, I suggest the wooden-colored Epicurean cutting board. Epicurean also offers boards with no silicone grippers. They are perfect for the dad with a minimalist style. One thing to keep in mind is to place a damp paper towel underneath the chopping board, so it will not move during chopping.
#3 Bench Scraper $
I cannot live without this tool in my kitchen. Many of my students are amazed at how much they can do with this little tool that cuts and divides dough. I also use it to chop butter and cut pasta dough. And if you want to teach your kids to cook, it’s safer for children to use the Bench Scraper than knives.
Remember to keep your chopping board clean and organized all the time. You need to constantly scoop the ingredients you’ve chopped into the prepping bowls, so you have plenty of space on your board to prepare more food. I use the Bench Scraper to scoop vegetables, nuts, and chocolate. You can also use it to scrape excess flour and dough from the work surface.
The Bench Scraper makes cleaning so much easier. It’s truly amazing. If you don’t scrape flour from your work surface and just wipe it with a damp towel, it gets hard to keep your work area clean. Keeping your workstation organized and clean is the first step if you want to cook like a professional chef at home.
I suggest you get a dough cutter scraper with measurements etched into the blade in both centimeters and inches. With the horizontal and vertical markings, you can use this to measure both length and thickness.
#4 Thermapen $$$
I carry my Thermapen like an American Express Card. I never leave home without it! And so do many chefs I know. This is not a pen for you to write or draw. This is the best food thermometer you can have in your kitchen. The Thermapen is rated number one by Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen because it can get an accurate temperature of your cooked food in seconds. And just like the aprons from Hedley & Bennett, the Thermapen also come in many different bright colors.
If your father enjoys cooking or grilling meat, this is the PERFECT gadget for him. It is very important to check the temperature of certain kinds of meat. Chicken, especially whole or bone-in, can be tricky to cook since it’s oddly-shaped. And unlike beef or lamb, which is okay to eat rare or medium rare, you want your chicken cooked through to avoid getting anyone sick. If your dad enjoys grilling and loves chicken, this gadget will come in very handy for him.
I wouldn’t recommend you use the Thermapen when you make an ice-cream base, cook sugar syrup to soft-ball stage, or deep fry tempura. An infrared thermometer is much safer for those activities. And one important thing to remember when you use the Thermapen is NEVER SUBMERGE IT IN THE WATER. I did it once, and my favorite Thermapen and my heart were both broken at the same time.
#5 Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer $$$$
If your dad is an avid baker and enjoys making pizza or bagel dough from scratch, the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer is a must-have for him. If your dad loves making soft and chewy cookies, this tool will make his work so much easier. If you have a lower budget, a hand-held mixer is another option. This is also perfect for whipping cream and creaming butter and sugar.
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Chief Entertainment Officer
Melissa is 100% MIT (Made in Taiwan), where she worked as a food writer. She’s also worked alongside renowned chefs like Ming Tsai and Joanne Chang, honing her craft and gathering stories along the way. Part story-teller, part educator, and part food lover, Melissa brings a special blend of experience, skill, and enthusiasm to her work. She blends her Asian background, her new home of New England, and love of food and culture to bring joy, optimism, and inspiration to food lovers and fun-seekers everywhere.
What sparked your passion for the industry?
The desire to make things by hand. For me, cooking is more than food—it’s a lifestyle. From baking pies with my young daughter to teaching students how to make sushi—cooking is at the core of many cherished memorable events. My mission is to empower students to create delicious memories.
In your opinion, what’s the most important course?
Well, I usually take a peek at the wine list first. I like tapas style, so the course doesn’t really matter. Cheese and charcuterie are always a good place to start. And since I’m a pastry chef, there is always room for dessert!
Bill Gates is picking up your tab, where would you go?