Amanda & Merrill

The Elusive Spoon

June 25, 2010


- Amanda

I love spoons, and yet the perfect cooking spoon has eluded me. I've wanted one that doubles as a tasting and stirring spoon while cooking and a serving spoon for when I'm plating the food -- one that's small enough to maneuver around a narrow saucepan but large enough to handle stirring a pot of risotto. Stainless steel spoons tend to have handles that are too long and heads that are too round. Wooden spoons are usually thick and not precise enough for spooning a sauce over a plate. I have bought countless spoons (including, yes, that expensive Ferran Adria one in the photo). I have thrown out or given away many of them. I have been mad at my spoons!

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Last week, my luck turned. At a cooking class at a Publix supermarket in Sarasota, Florida, I spotted the chef using the *perfect* spoon. It was made of stainless steel, with a short handle and a longer, more narrow head, which is good for scooping up sauce in the corner of a pan, and for tasting. Even better, it was wide enough to serve as an effective stirring tool. I raised my hand and asked about it. "Aisle 2," the chef said. Minutes later, I had my spoon, my Publix spoon, and it cost me all of $3.50. Well, more like $20, because I bought 5 of them to share with all of my food52-mates.

Do you have a favorite spoon? If so, do tell.


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jccampb October 27, 2010
I'm looking for a different spoon and have been for years. If you ever happen to catch the Jacques and Julia cooking at home in the episode about beef bourguignon? Chef Pepin pulls out a stainless steel overized spoon with a large bowl on one end? and a much smaller spoon on the other end with (of all things) a slot up the handle so that you dip out a taste from your pot and you rock the spoon up and taste out of the handle end.
I have had no luck anywhere .. -sigh- jccampb
jgsamson July 14, 2010
Any idea whether one can ORDER Publix' spoons online?
Amanda H. July 31, 2010
I looked for it online, but didn't have any luck. You might want to just contact the company and see if they'll sell one to you!
witloof June 29, 2010
i couldn't cook without a flat wooden spatula. i use that for everything. spoons, not so much for some reason.
MissGinsu June 27, 2010
Love the spoon discussion. A good spoon is an important companion in the kitchen!

I actually discovered that I really like cooking with the Martha Stewart line of big spoons I found at KMart. They were reliable and inexpensive tools I used when I worked as a restaurant line cook, and I'm still using them now in my home kitchen.
Julianna June 27, 2010
I've had spoons made for me. Wooden ones that is. I have some spatulas (turners) that I bought 15 years ago. I still have two. My ex called recently to say hers (she took two-we bought 5 at the time) were ruined and did I have one to spare. HA. I'll share my child with her but not my perfect spatula. Sorry.

I also remember being taught you never leave a spoon in the pot while the food is cooking. Metal gets hot and wood can transfer flavor...
paseo June 27, 2010
This is too much - I am a spoon freak as well and must have twenty of the dam(n) things - always was looking for the perfect one until I found the same one you did some years ago. It is indeed perfect perfect for all the things you mentioned and since I have small hands I do like the shorter handle. Have no idea where I found it unfortunately since I have never been to Publix but do have the same one with a pierced bowl - they really are great. I also second the use of ice tea spoons for tasting.

Love this site by the way and sometimes learn a lot from the comments of posters.
ody June 27, 2010
This reminds me of when my mom found her perfect spoon! It was maybe 15 years ago, and the spoon was from Williams-Sonoma, long-handled stainless steel, with a perfectly sized bowl. She requested two of them for Christmas, and I think she got a spoon each from 4 different people, none of whom had understood the concept of a perfect spoon; they'd all gone out and bought one that looked more or less the same as the perfect one but was probably cheaper. They were NOT the same---long handles all, but too deep, too blunt, too small, basically, not perfect. Luckily, someone did get her exactly the right ones, because Williams-Sonoma doesn't make them anymore; I still consider stealing them every time I visit. The long handle is key for someone who cooks in volume. So I know exactly what I'm looking for, and in the meantime I content myself with paddles (I'm a huge fan of $2 bamboo paddles from asian groceries!) and the great fortune of pans that pour driplessly, but I'm definitely making a trip to a Publix next time I get anywhere near their territory.

In a similar vein, I've been on the lookout for what I've come to call "the magic pan" for years---a large fry/simmer pan with two small handles, which I imagine would live on my stove and receive daily use. Calphalon's "everyday" pan is the perfect shape but they don't make it big enough for me and my giant quantities of food. I just happened on an online picture of All-Clad's 13-inch braiser, which looks like it might well be the magic pan. If anyone has one I'd love to hear what you think of it.
thirschfeld June 27, 2010
I like all the talk about spoons but just as important are the pots and pans with rounded edges where sides meet bottoms so all these great spoons can get to all the nooks and crannies.
teapot June 27, 2010
My all-time favorite is an olive-wood 'spootle' that I bought at the Idea Factory in New Orleans ( - it has a narrow straight edge perfect for getting into corners and a deep enough bowl to scoop up a good size taste, and it gets better looking the more I use it. Not too long of a handle, or too thick, which is important when you have small hands!
TomFreeland June 27, 2010
I have several favorites. Currently, the best is a relatively big wooden spoon made by a local (from Clarksdale, Mississippi) craftsman. It's got a relatively deep bowl, a square end, a nice curve to the handle, and a notch in the handle that allows it to be set on the pot you're stirring. It's perfect for cooking roux, jambalaya, risotto and the like.

Two others came from Chinese restaurant supply houses in Atlanta. One is small, has a very broad, shallow bowl and a wooden handle, and the other is pretty large and has a deeper bowl (and looks hand-hammered). Both are great for dishing things up, the former particularly things like rice dishes, the later from big pots of soup or beans.

I've not been that attached to a metal spoon, although I have a medium large on that looks like it could turn up in a school cafeteria kitchen that I got decades ago and is still heavily in use.
Amanda H. June 27, 2010
You are a spoon specialist -- love it!
Renée (. June 27, 2010
I love Publix's utensils! Their store brand pie servers and cheese knives are the best. People seem to think you have to spend a lot of money to get great quality cooking tools, but I think the truth is, that the boutique places sell what looks good, and stores like Publix sell what works good (well?). You get my point. :-)
Amanda H. June 27, 2010
I do get your point. I know what you mean -- these finds make me feel better about the world.
KLL5 June 27, 2010
I completely understand having very specific needs and requirements from seemingly simple items. I understand most of your logic about the perfect spoon, but I have a question about one aspect of it- the material. Metal spoons get got when left in a pot, and sometimes even when stirring. Do you put the spoon aside when you are not stirring? Do you ever leave it in a pot?
Amanda H. June 27, 2010
I always set a small plate next to my stove for resting spoons, meat thermometers, etc. Sometimes I set spoons on top of the pot, but as you can see in the photo (see wooden spoon, far left), they can end up scorched.
KLL5 June 27, 2010
The perfect spoon depends on one's kitchen set-up. My stove is build into a cabinet in a corner so there is no room for any side dish action for my spoons. I guess that is why I use wood. It is so fun to revel in the minutia
lastnightsdinner June 25, 2010
I have spoon envy. Spoons are kind of a *thing* for me - I started to collect them when we were still in New York, taking trips to Fish's Eddy and other stores that sold random shapes, sizes, and patterns, and I'm looking forward to mining the antique shops and flea markets around New England to find even more. I've yet to find a favorite, but you can be sure that the next time we're in Florida I'm going to check out the local Publix to find one like yours!
Amanda H. June 27, 2010
It's a painless splurge -- and glad to learn we share a spoon obsession!
rharrison June 25, 2010
I don't know if I have a favorite, but I have appropriated a few stainless steel rice paddles from my mom, who bought them in India. The best one resembles your prized Publix spoon, but is a bit wider at its widest point and less concave -- a rice paddle with an extended, triangulated head. From the looks of it, I'm not sure if I'd care for the flat handle of the Publix version; mine has a roundness that makes it very comfortable to hold and it also appears to be lighter in weight, more streamlined in looks. I imagine similar ones can be purchased at Indian/Asian grocery stores. Cheap and always useful. Free, for those of us with moms who will give them up.
Amanda H. June 25, 2010
Yes, the mom-shop is always helpful! I rely on my mother for steel cooking forks.
Ms N. June 25, 2010
I have about a dozen woden spoons and spatulas that I have used for many years--can't cook without them--I taste with a teaspoon--always have an old sugar bowl full of them next to the stove.
Amanda H. June 25, 2010
Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a chef in NYC, keeps tiny plastic spoons at every station for his cooks to taste with. Like your sugar bowl idea.
Rhonda35 June 26, 2010
LOVE the idea of tasting spoonds in an old sugar bowl. I now know exactly what to do with the pretty antique one I've kept for years, despite it's missing lid.
EmilyMcKenna June 25, 2010
The Kunz Spoon--it's the best there is, in my opinion.
aargersi June 25, 2010
My mom has a Publix right up the street, I will ask her to look for one for me too! Brand name?
Amanda H. June 25, 2010
The label said Publix on it, and there's no brand stamp on the spoon itself.
ellenl June 25, 2010
Amanda, please--who is the manufacturer of the spoon? Many thanks.
Amanda H. June 25, 2010
Please see my above response!
thirschfeld June 25, 2010
This sounds so much easier than what I do. I have always bought the long handled stainless steel restaurant supply kind and cut the handle to the length I like and then redrill the hole for hanging it up. I have made short handled slotted spoons, too. Isn't Publix great!
Kitchen B. June 25, 2010
Thirschfeld.....this is where men and women differ. Never have I considered shortening a spoon to any length...... I ? the way men think!
Amanda H. June 25, 2010
I love that you made your own spoons -- that's dedication!
Rhonda35 June 26, 2010
Wow! THAT is determination!