The Chef Wizard: Love it or Hate It

A few years ago, my late father-in-law decided that each of his son’s families needed a very special gift – for some reason, he chose the Chef Wizard, a hybrid kitchen tool that is touted as a multifunctional, essential utensil for any cook. None of us were ever sure if the Chef Wizard gift-giving bonanza was an expression of Dad’s sense of humor or an expression of his opinion about our cooking skills, but every one of us were sure how we felt about the new addition to our kitchen. We either loved it – or thought it was the most useless tool on the planet.

The Chef Wizard itself is not a complicated or especially impressive tool. It consists simply of a plastic handle that attaches to curved wires. The entire tool opens like a set of tongs, so that the wire portion may grip, lift and turn foods. When locked closed, the Chef Wizard functions as a spatula or whisk. Take your pick.

I wasn’t particularly excited about this gift, however amusing it might have been to picture Dad in front of some home shopping channel, dialing to order a case of Chef Wizards with a cackle. We tossed it into the utensil drawer with all the other gadgets, figuring it would rise or fall in the “survival of the fittest” environment of my kitchen: the tools that get the most use live at the front of the drawer, while the useless, broken or just plain unusable pieces of junk eventually migrate to the back of the drawer. In this Darwinian arrangement, the losers finally meet the sad fate of falling out the back of the drawer into the bin below. When a utensil shows up down there, it’s probably been a few years since we saw it last and it typically gets removed to the recycle bag in hopes it will find new life as something people actually need.

To my surprise, the Chef Wizard began to make regular appearances topside. In fact, it rarely made it back into the drawer at all. I began to observe that the Chef Wizard was becoming part of a pairing that made perfect sense – it was involved in a union with my ToastMaster toaster oven! The new couple functioned as one. Finally it was possible to reach into the oven without scorching a single knuckle, no matter how far back the toast might be. Our teenager found he didn’t need to employ a butter knife in the removal of a misbehaving slice of pizza. I no longer had to try to fit a puffy oven mitt into the toaster oven for arrangement of piping hot baked potatoes, or send in a fork for retrieval of a bagel. The Chef Wizard expanded its duties to include teaming up with the microwave now and then, primarily for transferring baked potatoes to the toaster oven.

I observed this useful pairing with surprise – I would never have predicted that this gawky, weird looking object of kitchen ridicule should turn out to be the only utensil that is allowed to remain, permanently, on my kitchen counter. I just don’t know how my kitchen would ever be the same without our Chef Wizard.

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