Professional chefs often refer to the benefits of mise en place, French for “putting in place.” In a pro’s kitchen, it involves arranging cooking ingredients and food prep areas to minimize movement and maximize efficiency. Increasingly, kitchen sink manufacturers are making it so home chefs can easily organize their meal preparations around the sink — and they are doing it so effectively, you could find yourself spending even more time in front of the vessel.
There are a whole host of accessories for kitchen sinks, from bottom grids to colanders to cutting boards and much more. The breadth of what’s available makes cooking and cleanup easier and lets you tailor a sink to your personal cooking and cleaning style.
Cutting Boards: Different Ways to Slice and Dice
The Blanco ONE system is marketed as a workstation rather than a regular sink. As the series’ tagline says: “ONE collection, endless stories.” With the many accessory options offered by Blanco and other makers, it seems the configuration possibilities are also endless. Here, a custom ash wood cutting board drops into the center of a D-shaped Blanco sink (many people like the shape because the curve can accommodate big dishes and pans with long handles), so washing and chopping can happen in nearly the same spot.
Mark Hird, senior product manager for stainless steel sinks at Elkay, says that the latest kitchen accessories are designed with an eye to making life in the kitchen easier. The Avado series comes with a cutting board with a cutout for running water or waste. “The idea is that you can chop and prepare food, and swipe the scraps through the hole and down to the disposal,” he says.
One of the most tricked-out sinks on the market comes with an intriguing cutting-board system. The Galley Workstation features a series of sliding and drop-in accessories, including at least two cutting boards made of either bamboo or polyethylene. “I like to have two cutting boards, one for meat and one for vegetables,” says Roger Shollmier, the inventor of the 4-year-old product. “The Galley Workstation always has cutting boards ready and waiting.” The unique system (which can also be used in outdoor kitchens) can include a drying rack, bowls and colanders that slide across the sink’s rim.
Hird says Elkay came out with the E-Dock sinks in an effort to clear the clutter that surrounds the basins of busy people. “The sink has a band around the entire perimeter and magnetic accessories such as a hook, a soap dish, a sponge rack, a utensil holder and a garbage disposal plug that can attach anywhere on the basin,” he says. “The idea is that they can be removed when needed and adjusted to fit how you use the sink.” (Two other Elkay signatures are shown here. The wavy grid keeps blades from slipping through the rack, and the Perfect Drain has no food-trapping lip.)
The Blanco ONE drop-in utensil caddy (seen on the left), is being touted as a way to keep tools both safely out of the way and at hand. The knife block is marketed as a way to keep the blades sharp, and the larger cubby makes a convenient resting place for spatulas, whisks, spoons or other prep items.
Mike Marbach, product manager for stainless steel sinks at Kohler, says that new products such as the Strive system are the result of hours spent observing Americans as they work in the kitchen. “People let us into their homes, and we saw how they prepare food for daily meals and for entertaining,” he says. “The design of systems like the Strive came from that.”
One of the things researchers noticed is that people are looking for a simple place to hang a dishcloth. “Sometimes it was placed over the divider or faucet, sometimes on the edge of the sink, sometimes crumpled on the counter,” he says. “One of the features of the Strive is a dish towel rack that hangs off the sink divider.”
Another hanging rack can hold sponges and utensils.
Bottoms Racks: To Have Is to Hold
The bottom grid is perhaps the best-known accessory (and seen in many of the sinks pictured here, including this one from Franke). It keeps the bottom of the sink from scratching, but many people rinse produce on it as well.
A new breed of rack is rising from the depths of the sink, and it’s more about working hard than protecting beauty. This staggered rack available in the Blanco ONE system has lower and higher levels. One protects the bottom of the sink; the other makes for a more accessible place for washing food or drying stemware.
“We found that people love a large sink basin, but they don’t necessarily love bending over it,” says Hird. “Wire racks that sit on very small ledges in the upper third of the basin [such as the rack in this Gourmet series Elkay sink] bring things closer.”
Rinse Baskets and Colanders: Wash, Rinse, Repeat
Another sink in Elkay’s Gourmet series can be ordered with a full-basin rinse basket. Whether you are washing the Thanksgiving turkey, your garden bounty or a big farmer’s market haul, this supersize basket can handle the task.
Making Sense of the Options
“Research shows that the kitchen sink is the most used appliance in the kitchen,” says Brad Kiel of Franke. “It really makes sense to think all of the options through before making the decision.” One of the options is Franke Oceania series sinks.
Kiel suggests really thinking about how you cook to determine what you need. Most accessories are add-on purchases, so considering your cooking style will help you determine if you need a built-in cutting board or a tray equipped with prep bowls that can double as servers (as seen on this Kohler Stages sink).
Once you have thought it through, Kiel suggests purchasing the accessories when you purchase the sink. “All of them are made to fit specific sinks,” he says. “Buying the accessories when you buy the sink ensures you will have the perfect fit for your model.” (There are some generic products on the market, but achieving a tailored fit is tough.)
Marbach says that checking out online sources and showrooms is a good way to educate yourself about the full array of add-on accessories available.
Storage is a consideration, Hird notes. “When you are buying extra items, you have to think about where you are going to put them,” he says. He also suggests thinking first about the type of sink, and the accessories after that.
“In the past many people haven’t put much thought into the selection of a sink; they chose what looked good or what they had had in the past,” says Cassy Osborne, product manager for Moen sinks. “Today, with all the options out there, choosing a sink that works for you really makes a great difference in how your kitchen works.”