Some celebrity chefs are better known for catchphrases ("Yum-o!") than cooking, so using tools embossed with their names can be embarrassing. But other chefs insist they put their names only on products that live up to their own high standards. We put some of these to the test and found seven that boast famous names and are nothing to be ashamed of.
When Frontera Grill's Rick Bayless talks food, he loses himself in the nuances of his ingredients. His tomatillo salsa features deliciously measured cilantro, not-too-sweet tomatillos, serrano chiles, and garlic. ($4.95, fronterakitchens.com)
Emeril Lagasse, a kitchen-to-TV pioneer, keeps himself on the right side of the branding trend with these well-marbled grain-fed bone-in 20 oz. rib eyes. The steaks, which come air-sealed, need nothing more than a dash of salt and pepper and time on the grill, or under the broiler, to bring out their juices and full flavor. ($74.95 for two, redmarblesteaks.com)
Don't let the cool-blue exterior fool you. This 5-by-5-inch Gordon Ramsay by Royal Doulton roaster keeps mac 'n' cheese hot long after it's taken out of the oven. The dish is made from porcelain, so cleanup is easy enough to keep even Ramsay's frustration at bay. ($20, royaldoulton.com)
4. NONSTICK FRYING PAN
The good looks of this three-layer, 10-inch Emerilware pan (copper, aluminum, stainless steel) — the result of Lagasse's partnership with All-Clad — match its performance. The pan heats quickly but not severely, so pine nuts toast evenly and omelets flip easily. ($69.99, emerilstore.com)
5. PULLED PORK
Immersing a plastic bag of pork in boiling water for 15 minutes may seem unappetizing until you taste chef Art Smith's pulled pork, offered via the Chicago butchers Allen Brothers. The result is smoky, tender morsels coated, not drenched, in barbecue sauce with hints of brown sugar, chili powder, and coffee. ($64.95 for four 16 oz. packages, allenbrothers.com)
6. CAST-IRON SKILLET
Paula Deen's cast-iron skillet is preseasoned, warms evenly, and sustains high heat. With subtle pouring spouts and a long handle that's less likely to sizzle your hands, it's a fine tool for someone seeking to master Deen's buttery, indulgent Southern cooking. ($34.95, pauladeenstore.com)
7. CHEF'S KNIFE
Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto teamed up with Zwilling J.A. Henckels to produce the Miyabi 600S 8-inch chef's knife. The satisfying heft of the ice-hardened, Eastern-style steel blade and the Western-style handle make this chef's knife as versatile and balanced as they come. ($100, amazon.com)
A version of this article appeared in the December 2010/January 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.