Unitasker Wednesday: Chef’n Garlic Zoom

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

I want to start with the obvious, and that is the name of this product. Most multi-tasking or high-utility kitchen products have simple names that begin with lowercase letters: skillet, oven, knife, plate. A good sign that something might be a unitasker is when its name is cutesy and trademarked: JerkyXpress, Plater Grater, Nostalgia Cotton Candy Maker. By all accounts, the Chef’n Garlic Zoom is destined for unitasker greatness based on the fact that it includes a random apostrophe and the word zoom:

It looks innocent enough, yes? It’s not very large and wouldn’t clutter up your kitchen too much. And, it probably even works (although the reviews on Amazon aren’t what I would call “glowing”). However, I fail to see how it is better than a KNIFE, which you probably already own. Here’s how you use it:

  1. Peel skin off garlic clove. (Which, I think most people do with a knife.)
  2. Open Chef’n Garlic Zoom and put in your clove of garlic.
  3. Close up the device and roll it along the counter.
  4. Open it.
  5. Remove the center blade.
  6. Use your finger or a small spoon to scoop out the garlic. (Anyone else guessing that getting the garlic out is a bit messy?)

How is this easier than chopping up garlic with a knife? When you use a knife, all you do is peel the garlic and chop it up. You can even rinse off the knife and use it on a carrot! or broccoli! or fish! I almost feel sorry for the little Chef’n Garlic Zoom. Almost. Thanks to reader Gabe for finding us this adorable unitasker.

44 Comments for “Unitasker Wednesday: Chef’n Garlic Zoom”

  1. posted by Matt Fetissoff on

    Adorable: yes. Not worth the effort to use: yes.

    My mother in law got me one, so I admit to owning one as it was a gift. I used it once and deemed it too much trouble to be worth the effort.

  2. posted by momofthree on

    Once I smash a garlic clove with the side of the knife on the cutting board, it is so easy then to chop, mince, dice or whatever term you choose.

    I would rather hand wash a knife and cutting board than attempt to clean that blade thing and the case. (we don’t have an automatic dishwasher–no room in the kitchen)

  3. posted by ll on

    I have one of these. I use it a lot, especially if I have more than a clove to cut. I find it easier than using knife and getting garlic fingers. Getting the garlic out is a bit of a hassle, though if you don’t mind losing some, you can just bang it on your hand while closed, and then open the little door to get most of it out. It rinses clean really quick and stores unobtrusively in a utensil drawer. Worth it for me!

  4. posted by Sarah on

    I have one of these, and I hate it, because I’ve never been able to make it go.

    Not until this step-by-step demonstration, posted as satire, did I realize I’m not using it correctly.

    Could I feel more stupid? Probably not.

  5. posted by Allison on

    It’s interesting that garlic seems to have spawned so many unitaskers: the peeler, the press, the Chef’n Garlic Zoom, the roaster, the aluminum bar to remove the smell from your hands.

  6. posted by Sarah on

    My mother in law picked one of these up in Target the other day. My father in law and I chuckled at her. If I’m going to have a garlic unitasker, I’d rather have a garlic press, but to be honest I never use that, either.

  7. posted by Philip on

    I second momofthree’s approach. What’s wrong with banging the garlic with the flat of the blade (the skin simply falls off afterwards) and then chopping it up.

    For those who don’t like the smell of garlic on their hands, it rather makes me wonder why they’re cooking with it. Surely garlic breath is more offensive?

    We normally brush our teeth or rinse with mouthwash to hide the smell on our breath, what’s wrong with washing our hands?

  8. posted by Kendra on

    I just buy a jar of minced garlic. No hassle, no mess.

  9. posted by whyioughtta on

    I’m stuck on the “Chef’n” part…what does it mean? Is the ‘n’ an abbreviation for ‘and’ (which makes no sense…Chef and Garlic)…? Is it an abbreviation for “chefing”…a verb which does not exist but maybe should…? I’m more confused by the name than by the product.

    Plus anything that looks like a toy that would attract small children but contains a blade is just creepy.

  10. posted by Magchunk on

    I will admit to owning a garlic peeler (the rubber kind that you roll the clove in) because I grew up with one and I use it whenever I use garlic (and man, I LOVE garlic). But even as much as I hate mincing and chopping, I don’t see the need for another contraption like this. Maybe if it peeled AND chopped?

    I also wanted to say that I really enjoyed your commentary on this unitasker. Funny but straightforward.

  11. posted by Celeste on

    We’re Cheffin’, yes indeed we’re Cheffin’. LOL

    Smashing garlic with my wide knife is way too much fun to lose out on. When I am concerned about garlic fingers, I use a butter knife to scrape the minced garlic off my knife. I economize time and money in lots of ways, but when I cook I have no problem dirtying every dish in the kitchen. ;o)

  12. posted by Anita on

    Breaking news: garlic is quickly becoming the Barbie of all serious chefs. One can hardly claim greatness in the kitchen without keeping up with the latest trends in garlic housing, garlic “dressing” and garlic accessories. If you truly love your garlic, you’ll get this little “garlic car” and take it for a ride on your kitchen counter.

    I have a strong dislike for garlic (in both taste and smell), yet in some recipes I do like a hint of it (odd, I’m aware). I’d almost be tempted to buy a device that allowed me to peel and mince garlic without having to smell it throughout, and without getting the smell on my hands… but then I remember my grocery store sells little jars of minced garlic, and all is right in the world.

  13. posted by Kate on

    i’m with Kendra. Every once in awhile I’ll buy, peel, chop, etc. the garlic, but find that the jarred kind works just fine for me. Granted, I’m no gourmet chef, but I don’t really find much taste difference and it lasts a lot longer and is a lot less hassle.

  14. posted by Gabe on

    Several methods for removing onion or garlic smell from hands.

    I use the ‘stainless steel spoon rubbing hands/fingers under cold running water’ method. Works for me… and requires no extraneous consumables. Knocks off maybe 80-95% of the smell which is plenty good for me.

  15. posted by theo on

    I also own one of these. I am not too ashamed of it either. If you look at your past Wednesday posts, this garic tool is pretty iffy as a unitasker. Its only ability it to chop something into little tiny bits, but that something can be anything. Ive used it with onion, shallot, ginger, nuts, all sorts of small things I want cut itty bitty.

    I have pretty strong knife skills, but cutting 12 cloves of garlic with a knife takes much longer than just using this thing 6 times.

    At less than 6 bucks, its not exactly a bank breaker either. I’m sure you can find something more useless than this…

  16. posted by Jeanne Edna Thelwell on

    The weird thing about this is that you have to peel the garlic first. That’s the most tedious part of the process and, if you use the knife-smash method, the garlic is half-chopped already.

  17. posted by Annie on

    Gosh darn it, this one actually looks fun. Must. Resist. The. Urge. To. Buy.

  18. posted by Kelly on

    OMG, I love this thing. I love fresh garlic and I hate mincing. I second theo – it’s wonderful for shallots and onion as well. And it’s not that hard to get it all out of there, a few good taps dumps it right into the pan. And it cleans up completely in the dishwasher. Plus, I can let my toddler help out with it. He loves to roll it. In fact, I am big fan of the entire Chef’n line – they have lovely collapsible measuring cups and such. Usually I am behind 100% on your unitaskers, but I love my garlic roller.

  19. posted by Brandon Green on

    And I thought I took my garlic seriously…

  20. posted by Kev on

    I’m with Gabe – get really cold water running, rinse the knife, then your fingers, then run your fingers over the flat of the knife. Garlic smell, gone in seconds, and the knife is ready for chopping the next thing.

    My rule for gadgets is, if the net amount of time I save using the gadget is less than the amount of time I have to spend cleaning the gadget, then the gadget isn’t worth the trouble. So I have no use for garlic gadgets; I haven’t seen one yet that cleans well, with or without a dishwasher.

  21. posted by Gabe on

    @theo – I would take that challenge. By the time you peel your 12 cloves of garlic and run the Zoom six times… I don’t see where that is any faster than mincing the garlic with a knife.

    Used it for onions? Please don’t take offense to this – but in my entire life I cannot recall ever only needing enough fine diced onion to fill a thimble!

    But really – 12 cloves? Mince them in the food processor and put the saved $6 towards a decent wine. 🙂

    I think part of my issue with the product is that it attempts to solve a problem that doesn’t really exist.
    (ie. I already have other methods/tools available with which to produce the same end result. Efficiency savings I think are questionable at best.) It’s just product marketing to a gadget enamored segment of kitchen/cooking enthusiasts.

    How about an egg separator? Is that more useless?
    I have no need of one as tipping the egg back/forth from each of the egg shell halves works just fine. (one can also use a slotted spoon or even -gasp- your fingers to accomplish the same task.)

  22. posted by Carol on

    @ Gabe – While I agree with most of your comment, I do disagree on the egg seperator. Transferring an egg back and forth between shells is consider “unsafe”. You pick up bacteria (or something) that way. The slotted spoon however might work. I haven’t tried that. My egg seperator is small though so I’ll keep it.

    Regarding the unitasker, I gave up on all food processor/chopping gadgets ages ago. It seems like it takes more time to clean the stuff than it would have taken for me to use a knife and cutting board in the first place. If you really need minced garlic in a hurry buy the jarred stuff. It doesn’t taste as good to me but it’ll do if you’re in a hurry.

  23. posted by SandyPie on

    I admit, I too own on of these, sometimes my hands cramp really bad and holding the knife and keeping the garlic neat enough to effectively chop is difficult for me, seeing this I thought would help my aching hands a little. But alas I can not get it to work, so I’m out 7 bucks and have learned my lesson. I agree with others on the need to purchase food processors and stuff, it’s just easier and faster to do it by hand, but gosh darn that thing is cute and the success others have had with it makes me wonder if I shouldn’t try it again. Oh- I guess my nose is broken because I have little problem getting the garlic smell off my hands, I just wash my hand with some Dawn dish detergent and don’t think twice about it, best stuff on the planet that Dawn!

  24. posted by WilliamB on

    Garlic presses aren’t unitaskers – you can press ginger in it as well. It’s a duotasker!

    More seriously. I have pretty good knife skills and even chop and grind my own meat, nonetheless I find mincing garlic (with knife or press) to be surprisingly time consuming. Maybe it’s the amount of garlic that I use because I really like the stuff! So for the time being I compromise by using jarred minced garlic.

    If you do the same be sure to get garlic in oil and not in water. The chemicals that make garlic garlicky dissolve into water and disappear, but do not dissolve into oil. (Pity because I could go through a quart jar of chopped garlic in a couple of months.)

  25. posted by Kirk on

    For mincing lots of garlic, couldn’t you just use a food processor? I have a mini one that I use when making pesto.

    But I usually just use the side of a meat cleaver to smash the garlic and strip off the outside.

  26. posted by Jez B on

    Hey I use one of these – it’s great and not that messy (all goes in the dishwasher).

    Only snag is you don’t get that ‘Goodfellas’ vibe of thinly slicing the garlic… 🙂

  27. posted by BG on

    Love your Unitasker Wednesdays!

    After step 1 – removing skin from garlic
    step 2 – place skin in Rachel Ray’s Garbage Bowl


  28. posted by Rachel on

    I really hope none of my family members buys me this Unitasker just because I love to cook. I already have a garlic mincer: it’s a big sharp knife, and it works really well. If I need very, very finely minced garlic I add some coarse salt and scrape it against the board with the edge of the knife. Voila — garlic paste. It takes almost no time.

  29. posted by knitwych on

    I saw something like this in a store recently, and found myself on the verge of bursting out laughing. I use a flat river rock about 6 inches long to pop garlic out of the skins (light whack), then to smash the cloves flat (hard whack). Then I do the rest with knife work. Takes me all of…ooh, gosh, maybe 90 seconds to reduce 1-5 cloves of garlic to a suitable consistency. The river rock then goes into the dishwasher (fits into one of the silverware basket slots), and it lives on the windowsill when not in use. I paid nothing for my rock, and I feel safe in saying that it will last me for the rest of my life.

  30. posted by Ericka on

    It should never take six steps to chop garlic.

  31. posted by Another Deb on


    We have a house full of rocks, due to being unable to resist pretty objects on the trails and being science geeks. Now I can make at least one non-tasking rock into a garlic smasher! Thanks!

  32. posted by Silas on

    I imagine it would make a good way to get kids into the kitchen and out of the way (as long as they don’t drive too far with it).

  33. posted by Judy on

    I bought this garlic chopper. I found it very difficult to use. It was not worth the $10.00 I paid for it. After a few times trying to get it to work I put in in a bag with stuff I was giving to the Salvation Army.

  34. posted by Michael on

    I had one of these and it was a pain to clean, although it did make minced garlic quickly and easily. Nowadays I use a slap chop–quite possibly the greatest invention since birth control.

  35. posted by Gabe on

    That is very interesting! I would like to know more, could you provide a source where you read or heard that information regarding egg contamination risk?

    Best I can find is the FAQ from the American Egg Board.

    Sections 4 & 5 specifically cover the process by which all eggs are cleaned, sanitized and protected before arriving in a retail setting for the consumer…

    Now I suppose if one receives eggs direct from a farmer, bypassing the normal processes that occur between the chicken and the grocery store… I would agree there is probably some risk present.
    I’ll look some more later.

  36. posted by JJ on

    @Gabe: I’ve seen eggs in the grocery that still have bits of chicken poo on them, so I would still be careful about contamination.

    The garlic press makes great play-doh strings for hair etc. It was also one of my son’s favorite toys as a child when he moved up from pot drums and pan lid cymbals.

  37. posted by Sheryl on

    My first thought when I saw this was “hamster ball”…

  38. posted by Carol on


    Just saw your reply.

    On the site you linked I found this:

    “3. My friend passes the egg yolk back and forth from shell half to shell half when separating eggs. Is this the best way to separate eggs?

    No, it’s not. Bacteria are so very tiny that, even after washing and sanitizing, it’s possible that some bacteria may remain in the shell’s pores. The shell might also become contaminated from other sources. When you break or separate eggs, it’s best to avoid mixing the yolks and whites with the shells. Rather than broken shell halves or your hands, use an inexpensive egg separator or a funnel when you separate eggs to help prevent introducing bacteria. Also use a clean utensil to remove any bits of eggshell that fall into an egg mixture and avoid using eggshells to measure other foods. ”

    It was a bit hard to locate that on the site but it’s there.

  39. posted by Gabe on

    Thanks Carol!
    I must have overlooked that in my early morning haze (along with the cold medicine I’m on). :-/
    I will use a spoon from now on.

  40. posted by Karyn on

    What advantage does this have over a garlic press? Except, of course, that I’ve never risked cutting my fingers to ribbons using a garlic press.

    If I want finely “minced” garlic, I use a garlic press, something I consider as much of a “staple” item in the kitchen as a knife or a vegetable peeler. If I want my garlic sliced or coarsely chopped, I use a knife. And if I were wanting to use enough garlic to ensure that no amount of bath water could begin to dissipate my B.O., I’d do what others suggested and throw the peeled cloves in the food processor. 😉

  41. posted by Nat on

    Curious. Are the people who are concerned about bacteria on egg shells using their egg whites raw? I hardly every eat raw eggs. Guess I make tortes more than I ever make mayonnaise. Anyway, if you’re going to cook it, won’t the bacteria be dead?

  42. posted by Beste on

    For the garlic smell, after brushing if you still have the after taste, I would suggest to chew a little bit fresh parsley and swallow or chew little bit of ground coffee and rinse the mouth off. As for the fingers, mincing a piece of lemon in your hands and rubbing will help. :))

  43. posted by Onepot on

    Oh, I can only imagine what a royal pain in the derriere it would be to clean this thing.

  44. posted by sally on

    its for making the eggs fit the corners of very small sandwiches

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