My second product review for GSI Outdoors – this time I get to play with their Gourmet Kitchen 11. It’s an 11 piece kitchen tool set. It is also….brilliant. This sleek, compact and lightweight kit is almost all you will need for a weekend camp kitchen. You need a knife as this kit doesn’t come with one, but there is an extra slot in my kit where you could easily fit a paring knife or a smaller kitchen knife. (As an aside, the GSI Gourmet Kitchen 24 does include a knife.) At an MSRP of $39.95 and online prices as low as $31.00, this is a pretty sweet deal.
GSI kitchenware is like the innovative camping version of the Transformers. Collapsing, folding, stacking, compact camping gear is offered for backpackers and car campers alike. The Gourmet Kitchen 11 is super lightweight, which makes it perfect for a backpacker measuring 11.7”x7.7”x2.0” and weighs 17 ounces. As I write this, my tablet sits next to the set. They are exactly the same size. Maybe that will give you a better mental picture, as I am no good with visualizing measurements. I think this is pretty impressive, my home kitchen tools weigh more and they don’t pack like the GSI set does. Looking inside the set I found quality items that folded, collapsed and organized into a nylon outer case.
First there was a small dual sided cutting board that was marked on each side: one side marked for meat, the other side for vegetables. Great idea to help avoid cross contamination of food and utensils. The board is big enough for most vegetables and easily accommodates a medium sized chicken breast. The board also has a “gutter” (I call it a groove) to contain juice run off so your table stays cleaner.
Below the cutting board were two 2 ounce Polypropylene condiment bottles which came with squeeze caps and a twist off cap on a lanyard. There is a space on the side of the bottle to write the contents and date which is a great idea, but be sure to write on it before you fill it. Not saying that I did that or not, but it’s a good tip. I would imagine that you could even reuse these bottles if you wash them out well enough. GSI even thought about cleanup. A nylon scraper, a scrubber pad and a camp towel are included. You have to find your own volunteer to use them though.
Next, a pivoting spatula, spoon and a telescoping whisk are included to take care of most cooking mechanics. Although I do not prefer a flat whisk (which is what is included), this one does the job nicely. It isn’t great for a very heavy sauce in my opinion, but camping is not usually the place where you do “heavy sauces”. It is, however, fantastic for light sauces and scrambling eggs. When I first used the pivoting spoon and spatula, I found them tricky to pivot back to the “storing position”. I think this was mainly because I was afraid I was going to break them, but I soon became more familiar with them and love this feature. I particularly liked the spoon, which doubles as a ladle. Stirring into the corner (or sides) of my pot was not a problem. Sometimes things can become stuck there and some spoons have trouble reaching into the bottom edge of pots. I just flipped the spoon over and used the top part of the bowl to get into that bottom edge. The spatula included is a slotted spatula, which is a big plus. This allows you to drain off excess fat from your food before transferring it out of the pan. The only thing I did not like about the spatula was that it has a serrated knife edge. This is strictly a personal preference. I know it can be useful if you want to cut open food in the cooking pan to check for it is done, and I know plenty of people who love this feature.
Moving on, GSI includes a 2 stage spicer. This is two individual shakers that screw together, each having two sides. Each spicer has a pour spout and a shaker spout. It also comes with a waterproof cap to keep your spices dry. Neither of these containers is overly large, they hold just under 1 ounce, but it would probably be enough salt and pepper for a weekend getaway. Also, you can add more containers to expand the number of spices available to you at camp because these beauties screw together. It’s the culinary version of Voltron. The more you hook up, the better it gets!
I also thought that like most of the kits from GSI, there is extra room for adding some of your own touches. I fit two pot holders, a knife and a small pair of tongs and could still close the case. Then I added two small paperback cookbooks. Alas, only one would fit comfortably and it also made the pack pretty heavy compared to the “off the rack” version. It was at this point that I wondered what my home kitchen utensils would weigh. I gathered a dish towel, salt and pepper shaker, my whisk, spoon, spatula, scraper, cutting board and scrubber. It weighed a little over 1 ½ pounds, but took up more space, measuring 15x9x4 (ish) and nothing was collapsible or neatly organized. With the kit from GSI, there is also the added convenience of having a dedicated kit already packed and waiting for you when you decide to hit the road.
So if you are thinking about kitchen equipment for a short weekend, this kit really fits the bill. It’s super lightweight, packs easily, and has a durable carrying case. They have also eliminated the need to raid your home kitchen for utensils for your next trip. Useful, practical and innovative; the GSI Outdoor Gourmet Kitchen 11 set a really great addition for your next camping adventure.