Longtime New York-based chef and restaurateur Marc Forgione has been busy. Last year, he opened his latest restaurant, One Fifth — a collaboration with his father, the chef Larry Forgione, that serves up Italian small plates — and consolidated his three establishments under the banner of Respect Hospitality. Next on the docket? This summer, he’s slated to relocate his namesake restaurant to a nearby address in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood.
In the middle of it all, Forgione took a moment to speak with SPY about the one tool he uses every day that doesn’t break the bank: a basic vegetable peeler — specifically, the ones available at restaurant supply stores in New York, which are similar to versions on Amazon so you can add to cart now.
Your choice is about as basic as it gets for a vegetable peeler. Why?
I’m not day-to-day cooking on the line like I used to be, but back then, you always kept one in your back pocket. There’s a lot of fancy stuff out there — and I own a lot of fancy stuff, trust me — but I don’t care how fancy any company makes a vegetable peeler. The best ones are a dollar, though I think they might have gone up to $1.89 now. You used to be able to get one for 50 cents.
So you just grab them at the restaurant supply store?
Sometimes I’ll be cooking, even in my own restaurants, and I’ll ask if any of the cooks have a peeler I can use. They’ll give me one that has a special grip on the side or is made out of rubber. But I just don’t think any technology has helped when it comes to peelers.
Just the essential little plastic handle with a thin blade, right?
Yeah. They come in different colors. Red, black, yellow, green – try any of them. I recommend you go buy a $10 peeler, get some carrots, and then you tell me which one is best.
As someone who’s done a lot of peeling, what possible advantage could a more expensive peeler give you anyway? Seems like it’s all technique.
I don’t want to hit on anybody that makes peelers. I’m sure they would tell you [a more expensive peeler] has a better grip or a more durable blade or maybe it’s sharper. But I would say put your money where your mouth is. When I was a young cook, we used to do dumb things in the kitchen — we would have races to see who could peel 10 carrots the fastest. Everybody had some kind of different peeler.
You didn’t see any kind of cool performance enhancements? No super-fast peeling from the special premium peeler?
Nope. Though I don’t remember if I always won. But to this day, if somebody gives me a peeler that’s not one of the simplest types I used in the restaurant, I’m just like, “Bah, what is this?”