Unitaskers are kitchen gadgets that have just one use, rather than being versatile enough to be applied to a variety of situations. The term was coined by Alton Brown on the show Good Eats, where Brown was always looking for things that could serve double duty in the kitchen. This is definitely a practical approach and you don’t need a separate gadget for every culinary task when you can do a heck of a lot with a knife, a whisk and a spatula. That said, I think that a lot of these gadgets have their place. If they streamline a job so it saves you a lot of time and you’re going to use them frequently, it is worth adding that “unitasker” to your collection – even if that is the only job they really do!
As a frequent cook and baker who loves to experiment with new recipes and new gadgets, I have a lot of so-called unitaskers in my collection. I suspect that most of the specialty bakeware I own could be called unitaskers in the sense that many have only one specific purpose or only work for one type of baked good. I have a dedicated nutmeg mill (that I use all the time) when I could simply use a microplane. I have a cool-looking watermelon knife that really is superior to my chefs knives for slicing large melons. My belgian waffle maker could possible be used as a sandwich press if I really needed it to do double duty, but I really only have it for making brunch.
I definitely like the fun and convenience of a unitasker every now and then, and I suspect that – unless you have a lot of self control when you’re in your favorite kitchen store – you probabably also have at least one of these gadgets in your kitchen. So it is time to own up: what unitaskers do you have in your kitchen and what are your favorites?