Isaac Toups, the man behind the celebrated Toups’ Meatery in New Orleans, first purchased the Thermapen thermometer for a very staid purpose: to make sure all his food was up to sanitation code, temperature-wise. But he quickly realized it was an indispensable tool — a fast, sleek, high-precision thermometer that can be used to measure the temperature of anything, from meat to broth to the ambient air.
At Toups’ Meatery, Toups uses the Thermapen for almost every single dish — he says it’s the difference between perfectly plump and overcooked crab cakes, nicely set and runny crème brulée, and of course, snappy and rubbery sausage. “You need something that it super accurate, and works in a couple of seconds,” he says, unlike a mercury thermometer, where precision and speed are perennial problems.
Even other electric thermometers can be a pain: They require recalibrating, or reading tiny numbers off of a dial. The Thermapen involves zero readjusting, and the temperature quickly and clearly displays on the side of the device.
Plus, it’s water-resistant, and in the two years that Toups has had it, he has never had to change the battery. And even if he did, “it is one piece with no compartments to lose,” he says. “Even if you drop it, nothing is going to come loose.”
Most cooks have multiple thermometers for various uses — a candy thermometer that is glass, a meat thermometer with a sharp poker. But the Thermapen “works for baking, sugar work, charcuterie work,” Toups says. “Any thermometer I need is on me.”
Others may be attracted to the Thermapen’s compactness and bright range of colors to choose from. “But I don’t give a shit about that,” Toups says. “The fact is: I don’t have to worry. I can pull it out, stick it in whatever I want a temperature of, wipe it clean, and put it back in my pocket.”
Buy ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4 Thermometer, $99