Tasting spoons are an indispensable tool used by club and resort chefs to ensure consistent quality across a menu.
Whether a seasoned club chef or novice to the club kitchen, one culinary practice is paramount, “season and taste as you go.” And the tasting spoon—”Cuillère à goûter” in French—is the simple yet essential tool used by the chef and staff to taste for seasoning of food during preparation.
Each cook should have their own pan or bowl of easy-to-access clean spoons (note: that’s plural), plus a pan to toss in the used spoons. This aids in the tasting process and also ensures health safety standards are being met.
The preferred size and material of the spoon depend on the chef, some like the inexpensive teaspoon while others covet the large 2.5 tablespoons basting spoon made famous by chef Gray Kunz in the 1990s.
These days there’s an assortment of tasting spoon models. Consider the channel spoon. A large spoon on one side intended to lift out about a 1/2 tablespoon of liquid from the pan/pot is connected to the smaller tasting spoon with a channel between them designed or cooling off the liquid before tasting.
Or consider the tong spoon, whereby one side is a spoon for tasting and the other end a precision tong with a measurement scale for last-minute garnish arranging and adjustments.
And then, naturally, there’s the fork spoon—not be confused with a plastic spork. One end is the tasting spoon, the other end, a classic fork. The two options make it easy for the club chef to taste liquids or heftier/chunky recipe components with a simple twirl or flip of the utensil.
The tasting spoon should be part of the equipment mise en place set up for each station before each shift or service.
Note: The chef’s tasting spoon is not to be confused with the small demitasse size spoons often accompanying mini desserts like mousse, trifle or cheesecakes. Or Asian inspired tasting spoons/plates used to serve one bite specialty appetizers and soup sips.