Caitlin McMillan, the executive chef of Philadelphia falafel destination Goldie, has a bone to pick with large cooking utensils.
“I think home cooks struggle with these giant utensils that people say you need in your home, like giant tongs and giant spatulas,” says the 2018 Eater Young Gun. “When you are cooking two small pieces of protein at home for you and your partner, you don’t need giant equipment to be successful.” Plus, it’s genuinely hard to flip two fillets of fish or chicken breasts with a large pair of tongs, and you often end up tearing whatever you are grabbing.
Instead, McMillan relies on a much smaller utensil, the Ateco 4.5-inch offset spatula. She initially started using this mini spatula, also sometimes referred to as a palette knife, in pastry class in culinary school, but quickly realized that it had uses far beyond dessert, particularly for cooking at home in smaller batches.
She uses it when searing off a single portion of meat and fish, or for transferring cookies from a baking sheet to a cooling rack. Because of its miniature size, she says it creates a more personal cooking experience. “I am attached to this feeling of being close to the food,” she says. “Putting this little palette knife under a piece of salmon to flip it just feels closer and more intimate.” Another benefit of the knife’s petite nature is that it’s truly ideal for frosting a cupcake or buttering a muffin or piece of toast because “you can get into those nooks, and you have more control,” she says.
Also, the knife is super portable — McMillan keeps it on her person (when she’s in the kitchen, at least) most times.
When it comes to cooking utensils, she adds, “you just want something that is soft and polite.”
Buy Ateco 4.5-Inch Offset Spatula, $4.60