Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Amanda Cohen
Photo by Stephen Elledge.

Amanda Cohen

Chef, owner (Dirt Candy)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm a chef and I own Dirt Candy, a vegetable restaurant in New York City.

What hardware do you use?

The two most important are my phone and my knife. I'm not picky about knives, but I like a basic 6" chef's knife and I'll use it until the blade wears out. I've gotten them out of gift bags, I've bought them from W├╝sthof, I've stolen them from other kitchens, I'll take them wherever I can find them. I live on my iPhone 6 - email, texts with staff, talking to suppliers. I've got a MacBook Air that doesn't have a working period or comma for all my book keeping. And downstairs we have a massive HP Laser Jet Pro CP5225n that is constantly breaking and being a pain in my butt for printing all our menus. I'm on my feet in the kitchen at least six hours a day so my shoes have to be right. I wear Dr. Martens 20-eye knee high boots.

Cooking vegetables is harder than cooking meat because vegetables have a higher water content and they don't contain their own fat, and fat carries flavor. So I have to put them through the wringer to make them fun. I use Benriner and Kaiten spiralizers to turn potatoes and zucchini into noodles, we've always got three Excaliber Dehydrators running, as well as three VitaMixes (and a bunch of back-up ones for when their motors inevitably burn out). To keep the temperature down at the original Dirt Candy (which only had 8 tables) I installed CookTek induction burners instead of gas. I became a total convert to induction and the only downside is that they keep breaking all the time.

Our fun new toy is the Kinematica Hex-it Homogenizer which makes the smoothest sauces I've ever seen. You make a sauce with this monster and that sauce will never break.

And what software?

I use Gmail for email, Webhook for the restaurant's website, Shopify for online sales. I've been working with LeeBros using their handheld POS system almost since they began and even though we drive each other crazy, by now we're like an old married couple. I use OpenTable for reservations, and I use Excel and QuickBooks for all my accounting.

What would be your dream setup?

The biggest piece of hardware I use is my restaurant, and this one is so much bigger than the original Dirt Candy (60 seats as opposed to 18) that I can't imagine having anything better. I just wish I had more room for recipe testing, but prep is so intense it takes up every nook and cranny of my kitchen all day long. The main software I use is my staff, and that can be overwhelming, especially because at the original Dirt Candy I had six employees and now I have around 30. They're great, but taking care of them, keeping them motivated, training them, and supervising them is a huge job. It's worth it, but I would be lying if I didn't confess there were moments when I just want to resort to monkeys.