This is Chef Staples, where professional chefs dish on the gear they couldn’t cook without. This week: Chef David Lee of Planta restaurants
Planta restaurants are vegan, but David Lee himself is not. Lee, the executive chef and co-owner of Planta, tries to eat a plant-based diet, as in he avoids meat and meat by-products , but doesn't eschew them completely. His dietary habits changed around two decades ago after a health scare and it's been a majority of plant-based foods for him ever since. After cooking in Toronto fine dining restaurants, Lee opened Planta to expand the population's ideas on plant-based food and to make food that is sustainable for the earth and for the human body. With five locations across Toronto, Florida and New York (with three more slated to open soon), Lee has a lot on his plate, but he still took some time to give us a look at what cooking tools he can't live without. From glass straws to a $1,000 countertop pizza oven, these are the Lee's must-have tools for the kitchen.
Oxo Good Grips Tabletop Spiralizer
"A spiralizer is actually how I got my daughter to start eating more fruits and vegetables. Zucchini, carrots, squash, cucumbers and beets all make for excellent spiralized produce, and the colors are more vibrant when prepared this way."
Alessi Squirrel Nutcracker
"As the executive chef and co-owner of a collection of plant-based restaurants, a good nutcracker is essential. Nuts are incredibly versatile and can add depth and texture to a dish. Alessi's Squirrel Nutcracker is definitely on the more expensive side, but its tabletop feature is sturdy and keeps hands safe. I always say you know an item is worth it if you can get it down to $1 a day, or less! I use this several times a week, plus the squirrel is cute. "
"Unless you have a brick oven, a wood-fired bubbly pizza is near impossible to achieve at home. Traditional home ovens don't get hot enough to produce that chewy, bubbly crust. Enter Breville's Smart Oven Pizzaiolo. We entertain at home a lot, and pizza parties are a weekly occurrence. This oven is amazingly compact and reaches higher temperatures than normal home ovens, so our family pizza projects have taken on a distinctly restaurant-worthy quality the last few months."
Alink Glass Straws
"At Planta, we strive to implement sustainable practices across our operations and that's a mission I bring home with me too. These glass straws are sleek, come with cleaning brushes, and instantly elevate any beverage.
"Mason jars are another great way to make your kitchen a little greener, especially because they're so versatile. I use mine as water or wine glasses, and to store homemade jams, vinaigrettes or other salad dressings."