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Chris Turner And His Spoons

February 10, 2011

Chris Turner, butcher, pit boss and long-time right-hand man to Rob Levitt came to my attention during my earlier conversations with Rob.  That’s one of the amazing parts of this crazy spoon saga I’m on – I can’t talk to one chef without him recommending another for me to see.  Chris Turner is spoon-obsessed enough to spend his days off haunting antique shops like Lost Eras in Edgewater looking for spoons that speak to him.  This one he’s holding up is saying “William Howard Taft”.  Yep, it’s one of three fun commemorative spoons (below) he found digging around in this box and even comes with a stage coach etched in the bowl.  He passed on these three, but he was entertained by them!

Washington bicentennial, Norma Shearer, William Howard Taft

If Chris had been in the buying mood, he might have considered these three.  One that’s big and heavy, one with a weirdly shaped bowl and one that’s just so tiny.  All oddballs that need a home.

There’s no explaining Lost Eras.  This is an enormous rambling store on multiple levels with amazing costumes, vintage clothes, housewares, stuffed animals.  You name it, including some great spoons.

slotted

This slotted spoon is wonderful for many reasons.  It’s arrow or heart shaped, which is certainly unusual.  It has an ornate, organic handle that you can stare at and never really figure out what it is.  This is how Chris picks his spoons – he wants them to have character, both so that they become part of his kitchen life in a narrative way and, in a practical sense, so that he can keep track of it as his.  No way he’s going to get this confused with someone else’s spoon in the kitchen!  Chris has had this treasure a while and picked it up at Lost Eras.

the knuckle buster

The totem in Chris’ collection, the one spoon he would tear a kitchen apart looking for if lost, is “the knuckle buster”.  This spoon is heavy.  It is great for whacking on a plastic cutting board in the kitchen when he needs the attention of an intern or culinary student.  He didn’t come right out and say he’d rapped anyone’s knuckles with it, uh, no, but it is clearly well-suited to that task if he ever needs to.

More importantly though is this spoon’s lineage.  This is a spoon Rob gave to Chris when they worked at Uncommon Ground together.  It’s clear Chris has a great deal of respect for his mentor Rob.  Chris imbues that story into this spoon.  It is a keepsake he treasures.

These two spoons from Chris’ collection are more great examples of his predilection for ornate.

Do you use spoons much at Butcher & Larder?  “Not so much.  Maybe for stocks.”

This wooden spoon is his go-to for soups.  “Sweat some veg and add your stock.  This is a great spoon for stirring soups.  Reminds me of a classic French saucier standing in the kitchen (use your best French accent and chortle about your soup).”

“I once bought a worthless wooden spoon from Sur La Table – really shallow bowl and a trough down the handle for tasting I guess – just because I wanted to talk to a girl that works there.”

What about that crazy looking spork thing?  “Dunno.  Rob got that somewhere and passed it along to me.  Would be good for stirring polenta.”

The wonderful thing about Chris is how he views the spoon as tradition.  It reminds him of kitchen milestones and wonderful people he’s worked with.  And he even understands himself as part of the process, already willing spoons to Amanda at Butcher & Larder.  “You have to carry on the tradition.  Hang on to your spoons because they’ll have a story to them and be uniquely yours.”

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(The Chefs And Their Spoons story started here: click.)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Hannah permalink
    June 18, 2011 6:56 pm

    Oh how I covet those spoons. I just realized I need to go antiquing to find some. And yes, chefs everywhere can converse about special spoons.
    My favorite is one that my friend “borrowed” from Richard Blais and never gave back many years ago.
    I’m not even allowed to hold it.

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