What's in My Bag

What’s in my bag? — Robert Blackburn

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What's in my bag? issue #55

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Robert Blackburn is most at home playing with fire and knives. The son of a mildly autistic real estate attorney, he led an over privileged yet under loved youth in Marietta, GA. Mentored by Nebula winning author Brad Linaweaver while in high school, he worked hard at becoming a writer before realizing he had shockingly little to say. After dropping out of the University of Georgia, he spent a few years clerking in book and record shops before embarking on a 30-year odyssey running commercial kitchens, a career arc retroactively burnished with glamour by the unfortunate celebritization of the trade. Most recently, he spent the Covid-19 lockdown writing a 157-page training manual for cooks at the Last Resort in Athens, GA. He has a degree in Computer Networking and once found himself hip to hip at a public urinal with Forrest J Ackerman. Prior to tzzhe suspension of international air travel, he and his lovely wife had the great pleasure to dine at St. John in Smithfield, London and enjoyed it very, very much. Shamefully on Instagram @thehorridchild.

About the bag

Chrome Chef’s Knife Roll ($125) I have a trunk full of knife rolls of various sizes, materials, and vintages. The Chrome is the latest. It is a reasonable size for my current needs, looks sharp, and is extremely durable. I also carry a 5.11 Tactical RUSH Delivery LIMA 12L messenger bag ($99) to store a variety of small wares and cords.

What’s inside the bag

Thermapen Mk4 ($99)
The gold standard for digital instant read thermometers. This one is outfitted with a glow-in-the dark magnetic boot ($13), which is very handy in spite of the fact that most of the stainless steel in a commercial kitchen is austenitic. And what wouldn’t you want to glow in the dark?

Heartwood Forge Custom 6 ½” Prep Knife ($635)
I was on a waiting list for nearly two years for this knife, and it was made to my specification. I was looking for a tool that would enable me to do everything I could do with a 8″ Chef’s knife as well as the detailed hand work for which I would normally use a paring knife. The blade is high carbon steel, and the Japanese Wa style handle is walnut, burled maple, and brass.

GIR Mini Spoonula ($8)
The vast majority of home and commercial spatulas are not very useful. They are either entirely to rigid or ridiculously floppy. GIR products live in that seemingly impossible to find Goldilocks Zone. Cannot recommend highly enough.

Thermapen TimeStick Trio ($35)
Although I possess the deeply ingrained sense of time that one develops after years of working in kitchens, age and the demands of mulitasking have led me to be an evangelist for timers. This is one is excellent, allowing you to have three separate counts running up or down, in your pocket or on your station (more magnets).

-- Robert Blackburn 06/24/20