Stupid Kitchen Tools Video: Michael Ruhlman Had Something to Say

by on February 22, 2012

Michael Rulhman “Had Something to Say” – Stupid Kitchen Tools

We’re back with new episodes of the Had Something To Say video series! Michael Ruhlman visited us at our studio and we spent a few hours together stirring up some heated conversations about everything from kitchen tools to Ruth Bourdain. Amy Scattergood, editor of Los Angeles Weekly Squid Ink and food writer for Los Angeles Times Food, makes special appearances as the “voice of reason” to keep Michael in-check and accountable for his opinions.

Stupid kitchen tools is the topic at large and round wooden spoons are on Michael’s hit list. Watch the video to understand how he makes his case against round wooden spoons.

I, Todd, do have a disclaimer for the opinions expressed in the video. Diane and I both love Michael. He’s a great writer, lover of food, challenger of ideas, and a man/father/husband who we respect to no end. He listens and thinks heavily with his heart and mind together.

Collaborating with Michael on these personal video projects is nothing but joy. Want to love what you do? Then surround yourself with people who share your same creative energy and make something. And most times I see eye to eye with Michael. Most times…

His attacking of the rounded wooden spoons is warranted from a cooks perspective, from one who spends more time caressing the innards of a pot or pan. Yet obviously the man doesn’t bake much.

I’m one of those rare few who both love to bake and love to cook from the hip. Maybe it’s from being born on a zodiac cusp, who knows? But having spent significant time shuffling in both the pan and the mixing bowl, there are times when a rounded spoon trumps a flat edge.

Round bowl, round spoon. It works. Straight sides= square peg in a round hole, and since 90% of of the flat tipped wooden spoons also have straight sides, they become that square peg in the round bowl and they just don’t scrape the curve of the bowl well. Poor lonely flour being left untouched by the flat sided spoons.

Still, I agree with him to a point and if I had to choose between only a flat edged wooden “spoon” or a rounded edge spoon, I’d have to go with flat. But I don’t have to choose. I can have what I want and I want both. Or even better, my all-time favorite stirrer is a silicone spatula with a nice curve on one edge, and a nice flat tip and straight other edge. The best of both worlds.

Since I do admit that I half agree with Michael, I give him this round. Grudgingly.

Yet we’d love for you to weigh in on the round edge wooden spoon debate? Use them for kindling or do they have a legitimate roll in a kitchen’s artillery?

-Todd

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 zorra February 22, 2012 at 7:02 am

Is still prefer wood over silicone round or flat… ;-) Think environmental!

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2 Helene February 22, 2012 at 7:58 am

I love flat wooden spoons, only use them now. My rounded one are sitting in the kitchen drawer and I don’t use them anymore. Really like watching this video this morning :)

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3 Bri February 22, 2012 at 7:59 am

I’m with Michael, they’re not that useful. Full disclosure: I still have round spoons in my kitchen but often wonder why. The tool I reach for the most for cooking is a flat edged wooden spoon. For baking, I tend to grab a silicone spatula. It cleans the sides and bottom of a bowl better than a hard spoon could ever dream of and is dishwasher safe.

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4 LiztheChef February 22, 2012 at 8:12 am

Love all the passion about wooden spoons – I love mine…

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5 chris February 22, 2012 at 8:23 am

Every kitchen MUST have a wooden spoon with a square/flat end. Period. My favorite tool!

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6 Cookin' Canuck February 22, 2012 at 8:34 am

I love Michael’s passion and intensity about wooden spoons! After watching this, I went into my kitchen and counted my wooden spoons. There are four round ones and only one flat-edged spoon. I must say that Michael made a compelling point and, the next time I’m in a kitchen store, I will be replenishing my flat-edged spoon supply.

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7 Sally February 22, 2012 at 8:54 am

There are a lot of stupid kitchen tools that could really get me going, but I kind of felt sorry for the old-fashioned rounded wooden spoon in this rant. I’m usually much more practical than sentimental, but there’s a certain beauty about those rounded spoons. As you said, and I agree, for COOKING, you need a flat edge to scrape the bottom of the pan, but what about baking? I concede that those heavy-duty silicone spatulas are pretty cool, but I still want to stir the first stages of my thick dough with a wooden spoon in my big old bread bowl. Sometimes I actually want to be unplugged, and I know not everyone has a Kitchen Aid. So, I’m not ready to give up on a grandmother-y icon. I believe it’s a draw.

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8 pat February 22, 2012 at 9:55 am

I have a couple of flat-bottomed (and one flat-edged) wooden spoon. I really like them. Watching this video has given me another idea: I think I’m going to take a saw to my round wooden spoons, and flatten them on the end. Why not? What will I lose?

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9 Tammy February 22, 2012 at 11:45 am

I SO agree…and I do own a flat edged wooden spoon and really its the only one of the wooden I use. I’m throwing out the others today.

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10 Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga February 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I have so many spoons but rarely reach for wood. I like spoons but just use plastic, metal, or whatever is clean :) For spatulas, silicone all the way. Thanks for linking the Le Creuset one that you love…I’ve seen that one and have never popped$ for it but I think I will.

Love that you and Michael can get into heated discussions about all topics in life…including spoons. Now that’s a group that loves to cook and loves food. Love that.

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11 RJ February 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I love my round ones. Use them all the time.

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12 Rodney Washington February 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I have to admit I never ever though much about it until I saw Michael illustrate the point about having rapidly move the spoon about to loosen up the crusty bits from the bottom of the pan. When he did that I instantly got it!

With that said I admit to having two traditional wooden spoons in my kitchen, (none of them flat), I guess I’m going to have to make a visit to Sur La Table soon:-)

PS: Love the black and white documentary style footage. Awesome work guys as always.

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13 Steve-Anna February 22, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Well, I have wooden round, wooden flat, and silicone round and flat, and plastic round and flat. Oh, and wooden salad spoons. Hmmm.

I have to say that the one I reach for the most is a flat, round wooden paddle, really, with a straight edge. It manages to do the best of both – scrape the bottom of a pan without scratching it, or a scrape a pan with curved sides. In fact, I’m wearing it out – maybe Michael can make another one for me!

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14 na February 22, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I disagree. I have one flat and one round spoon and I use both equally. The round spoon is good for scraping the sides of the cooking pan. Since all my pans are round and none of them are polygons, my round spoon comes to the rescue :-)

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15 Jennifer February 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Yes, I use my flat wooden spoon a lot, but I love my old round wooden spoon and will never part with it…how could I possible stir up a batch of brownies with out it?

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16 Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary February 22, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I went and counted too. 6 to 1. Only 1 flat spoon in my kitchen. I have to disagree with Michael on this one. I use my round spoons. Big round bowl of batter…round spoon to get all the edges. Mixing a thick brownie batter…round spoon. I even use one to make pretty shapes on a frosted cake. I do use my flat wooden spoon on occasion, but I reach for my round ones more. Truth.

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17 Laura @ SweetSavoryPlanet February 22, 2012 at 8:44 pm

I am so getting flat edge wooden spoons! I realize I go to a spatula when I need to scrap the bottom of the pan. I am using two utensils instead of one (and washing). Love the video – really made me laugh. I will keep my wooden spoons.

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18 Deanna February 23, 2012 at 10:26 am

I use my rounded and flat wooden spoons for different reasons. If I’m baking I almost always reach for the rounded spoon. Scraping fond? Flat. And a rounded wooden spoon is not even close to being as stupid as the floating egg poacher I saw at Target the other day.

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19 Haris February 23, 2012 at 8:11 pm

That was funny!! Even thought I see his point and I do have rounded AND flat wooden spoons, (both have their purpose in the kitchen), I tend to go more with my rounded spoon, not sure why. Habit maybe. But there is something about the smooth rounded edges of the wooden spoon that creates calm when stiring chocolate in a mixing bowl.

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20 DebbieL February 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Did the video not play for anyone else?

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21 Sarah February 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm
22 JenMarie March 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm

My husband recently (accidentally) broke my flat-ended wooden spoon. I was searching frantically for it when he told me that he broke it. He didn’t think to tell me about it because he figured it was one of those never-used kitchen tools. He thought no one used it! So, we are currently looking for another one.

True story!

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23 naomi March 6, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I’ve been thinking about this. I like round, wooden, spoons; however, that one he held up – not so much. I like big, full, deep, luscious, nicely grained spoons that grow darker with use. I have several, and use them, a lot. They must be of good wood or they wear out and even splinter – like that sad, pale thing Michael showed. I got my favorites at a garage sale over two decades ago, for a dollar each. (It was a sale by a kitchen rep; I should have bought more.) Now, one eating utensil I think more people need – the sauce spoon.One edge is flat, the opposite curves up. You scrap it on the bottom of the plate to get the last of that good sauce. Their one drawback is for they discriminate against hard-core lefties. Or, as it pointed out at the start of the video: best tool, hands and fingers. I don’t think he meant the tongue when he pointed toward his head either but . . .

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24 Emay in PA March 21, 2014 at 9:32 am

Never really thought about it. At my family home, my dad (almost 90) still has “the” wooden spoon that’s seen us through 60+ years of tomato sauce, stews, brownie batter, you name it. It’s pretty flat on the bottom now, but it started out round. heh.

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