June 16th, 2008, by Francesca
My culinary arsenal includes three whisks, that I use differently for specific tasks not because of training, but personal preference.
My school kit came with a large oval whisk – the kind you most often think of when hearing the word "whisk" – so I assume this makes it the de facto recommendation of Le Cordon Bleu. Or maybe it's the deal they have with their chosen supplier (yes, I am cynical), who knows. Regardless, if you had to have just one whisk, you'd probably want this one, for its versatility.
This smaller whisk I like for stirring reduction sauces, béchamel, and pan gravies.
And this one… well, I'd like to tell you that I had a clear plan when I bought it, but the truth is that I saw it one evening while shopping for a chinois at Sur La Table, and bought it on an impulse. The guy working the late shift that day told me that it's good for eggs and I took his word for it. As it turns out, some of the young sales people at Sur La Table are graduates from my school (hmm… what does that say about job prospects?).
After trying it out, I love it to get emulsions started. For me it makes the starting phase of sauces such as Hollandaise and mayonnaise easier and faster, then I switch to the large oval whisk, especially if I am making a good size batch.
After a few weeks of culinary school, my take on things is that you'll find as many arguments in favor of a particular tool as you can find against. It really comes down to what works for you. You may not be aware of why you prefer something, but I bet you have a good reason for it: the size of your hands, right- or left-handedness, the task to be performed, the amount of food being processed, the size of another tool or container, old habits…
So, don't take my word for any of this and try things out for yourselves!