Lifestyle & Culture

Kitchen Detail: A Tool You Need

By Nancy Pollard

After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years, Nancy Pollard writes Kitchen Detail, a blog about food in all its aspects—recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources and food-related issues.

Why This Particular Spatula

Lamson line cook spatula in actionExamining the contents of one of the two canisters I keep at hand for everyday  stove-top tools, I realize there is one I pull out almost every time I light a burner. It is called a fish slice, chef’s spatula, or fish turner, but we’ve always called it a line-cook spatula, because the Cuisinettes sold hundreds of them over the years to line cooks in restaurants. Its design is so old (and so useful) that it was mentioned in PG Wodehouse stories in the early 20th century. Jeeves’s employer considered it a worthy wedding gift for friends.

If you never got one as a wedding gift, get one for yourself now.  You truly need this. Its ingenious design allows you to flip eggs or fish fillets with ease. I have even used the sharp edge to divide soft foods in the pan before flipping. The angled end allows for edging under a sticky surface with little fuss. The slots work two ways: Obviously grease or water runs off in the transfer from pan to plate, but the slots also serve as a flat whisk when you want to deglaze a pan to create a sauce. It ticks all the boxes for a perfect spatula. The turner itself is strong but extremely flexible. (I learned the hard way that tempered and hardened high-carbon stainless steel makes a tool more durable and flexible. Anything less is perilous.) The “big toe” allows you to get into the corners of your pan for scraping and stirring. And, sorry Frenchies, you can’t beat it for turning crepes without a tear or a crease.

Lamson Does It Best for Left and Right Hands

And now for the winner design: drum roll please. We tried versions made from silicone-based extrusions and found that they had neither the flexibility nor the thinness that made the traditional design so successful. It needs to be lightweight and razor-thin but sturdy enough to lift hamburgers and pork chops.

Lamson product image of line cook spatula

This is where the American company, Lamson Products, excels. They have two models in a smaller size for both right and left hands (blade is 3×6 inches) plus a Lefty Lamson line cook spatulalarger right-hand size (4×9 inches). The handle we prefer is their POM black one with aluminum rivets. It is heat- and water-resistant so that it is dishwasher safe. It has a full-tang construction unlike some cheaper versions, where the spatula part is glued to the handle and covered with a collar. (Again, hard lessons learned with these.) Lamson also offers a “lifetime warranty,” which, in 30-some years of heavy use, I have never had to inquire about.


Getting Here Was Not Easy

Lamson litho from company websiteLamson’s history as an American manufacturing company is as interesting as that of Sabatier in France (which will be the subject of another blog post). It started as a cutlery manufacturing facility in a low mountainous area in Massachusetts where running water created the power to run the equipment. Since 1837, Lamson-Goodnow became synonymous with high-quality knives and tools in the US. Some of their pieces are featured in the Smithsonian as part of a White House set used when Ulysses S. Grant was president. Lamson-Goodnow had its years of troubles, both natural and financial, until it was rescued by a group of local investors who  wanted to rekindle Lamson as a great American brand. They moved the facilities and upgraded the technology, while insisting on maintaining high standards, instead of trying to compete with cheaper levels of tools.

A Good Deal for Kitchen Detail Readers

As a reader of Kitchen Detail on MyLittleBird, you have access to this offer from Lamson: Take 15% off the price of any of these models when you buy directly from the company. Take advantage of the promo code MLB22 when you check out at their site.

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