Yes, we live down the street from a fairly well known local strip club, this post is NOT about the lovely ladies at Jilly’s.
This post is about the best vegetable peeler you will ever buy (and the only one you will ever need) the Zena Star peeler
…but let’s back up a bit.
First of all, I bought it at a design store. Sw pe is one of my favorite stores in Toronto. Full of the best design books and best design(ed) ‘stuff’. You can get a 15lb coffee table book on Bauhaus, beautiful children’s books, an umbrella by Merrimeko, every variety of Moleskine notebook, the latest design magazines…and iconic kitchenware. The little card next to the Zena Star peeler proclaimed that “you’ll be able to tell the professional chef from the celebrity on the Food Network if they’ve chosen this tool”. Thinking that one day maybe Joel will have his own cooking show (only half joking of course), and I wouldn’t want him mistaken for a celebrity I picked it up as a little gift, even though we have two vegetable peelers at home and i’ve never really given a second thought to either of them.
Now I originally started this post because I am sure that this is one of those amazing things that lives happily in both the food and design world – adored by people obsessed with either or both. But it’s also a fantastic example of a great ‘Recession product’, it costs well under $10, works amazingly fast and flawlessly, really comfortable to hold, and described on the Zena website as “particularly robust and indestructable” it seems you will have it forever.
It has only 3 parts, manufactured just outside of Zuric out of all swiss materials by a company that employs about 10 people and is owned by the inventor’s grandson.
What I didn’t know was that in 2004 it had a commemorative swiss stamp…
…and up until February 1st 2009 it had the absolute best ‘Brand Ambassador’ a company could hope for: Joseph Ades (75 when he died) was originally from Manchester England, but the ‘Gentleman Grafter’ demonstrated the peeler on various New York street corners for so many years he became a celebrity. He would draw a crowd of onlookers with his performance and showmanship. His story is facinating….so facinating that in 2006 Vanity Fair did a full feature of him, in one of the videos I found on YouTube he waves a laminated copy at onlookers laughing that Julia Roberts is on the cover and he has a whole 4 pages inside. On February 6th of this year there was a memorial at the Union Square Greenmarket where people paid tribute by peeling carrots and potatoes and where his daughter Ruth announced that she was going to be taking over the ‘family business’, she has been sighted doing exactly that in various locations around New York.
If you see the Zena Star peeler in your travels pick one up (i’ll be looking for Ruth on my next trip to NY), worth every penny for the design, functionality and the story.
(i’ve added some of the YouTube videos in our vodpod link on the site).