Insider guide: history of kitchen utensils

March 1, 2017 / DECORATING, Insider Guides
Jamie Oliver Pestle and Mortar

A brief history of kitchen gadgets


Kitchen kit has changed a lot over the past half-century. Here, Corin Mellor, creative director of David Mellor, picks the gadgets that epitomise each decade of kitchen design history. How many do you have?


1970s The electric carving knife This a perfect example of the 1970s obsession with labour-saving gadgets. Ironically, a good-quality knife would have done the job far more quickly and easily than an electric one.


1980s The microwave oven Although invented earlier, microwave ovens really took off on the UK domestic scene in the 1980s, helped by the launch of ‘ready meals’. The new cooking technology typified the consumerism and optimism of the period.


1990s Philippe Starck’s ‘Juicy Salif’ citrus squeezer. Tens of thousands of people – including myself – bought this essentially useless juicer in the 1990s, but perhaps function wasn’t the point. Starck himself said of the product that ‘it’s not meant to squeeze lemons, it is meant to start conversations’.



2000s Jamie Oliver’s granite pestle and mortar Celebrity chefs had become a huge part of British food culture by now. Oliver’s pestle and mortar had an honest, rustic appeal that mirrored a move during this decade towards less-fussy food preparation.



2010s The Spiralizer Perhaps influenced by the molecular gastronomy movement, people are becoming more interested in exploring innovative ways to present food. This gadget allows you to create striking-looking dishes without Heston Blumenthal’s skills.