Peelers…

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

Peelers...

Peelers...

…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).

Comments

  1. There is no question – this peeler is stunning.

    I adore it – almost as much as my Wushof Knives. It’s a pleasure to use and is so efficient that peeling is fun. I have peeled a lot of potatos in my life (including for cabins with 40+ people in them). This is easy on your wrist, your hands and is really worth the hype. Buy a few – they will surprise others at how well they work and you will never go back.

    No better analog peeler exists. LOVE it.

  2. ……….hhhhhmmmmmmm…i am not so sure….me thinks that the williams and sonoma peeler might be stiff competition.

  3. swissjourno says:
  4. Two other very similar peelers are the ‘Swissmar Stainless Steel Peeler, Stainless Steel Blade’ (UPC 056975504463) and the ‘Rosenhaus Swiss Pro Peeler, Carbon Steel Blade’ (UPC 079686044660).

    Zena makes three similar peelers – The Rex Economy Peeler (Aluminum, with tempered steel or stainless steel blade), the Rex gold plated peeler, and the Star Economy Peeler (stainless steel handle and blade), plus the Rapid and Slim plastic handled peelers.

    http://www.zena.ch/e_metall.html
    http://www.zena.ch/e_kunst.html

    Here’s an article on the Zena Rex peeler.

    http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/search/Result.html?siteSect=882&ty=st&sid=7133842

    I don’t have any of these peelers (or the following), but I just wonder how any of the above peelers compare to either a ‘Kyocera Ceramic Perfect Peeler’ or a ‘JML Pro Ceramic Peeler’.

    Has anyone compared any or all of these peelers? It would be nice to know the strengths and weaknesses of all of them.

    • Hey Steve,

      Thanks for taking the time to add a comment – we get so few and it’s always great to see that someone’s interested.

      We haven’t tried the others – I’m thinking that we may have to have a peeling competition at a house party come the summer! I have used a lot of different peelers over the years between working at day camps and our hunting cabin where peeling 50 pounds of potatos in a single seating can be commonplace. I have tried many different peelers and knives and I have never found anything that works as well as these (I would guess that the manufacturer isn’t as important as the design and that the Swissmar would work just as well as our Zena). I have caught myself inventing reasons to peel things because I like these so much! Let us know if you try any of the above and enjoy!

      joel

  5. Jennifer says:

    I have 8 potato peelers in my drawer and only one is a Star by Zena. I bought it at a Home and Garden show about nine years ago. I have since bought or been given others but I always use the Star.
    Now if my children are helping in the kitchen they fight over who gets to use it. The one who gets the Star inevitably stays twice as long as the others. Just last week I found my three year old under the kitchen table with the Star peeler and a large potato. Yes, the floor was covered with peels and we had potatoes for supper. No , I didn’t take a picture.
    I found your blog after typing in Star peeler.
    I’ve finally decided I need to by a few more.

  6. Tried this peeler and loved it then one day well the spreader bar disintegrated and the peeler hardly works now. Tried to sharpen it but to no avail. Time to toss it out I guess as I can not find a sales place for the product.

  7. Wow. This post and its comments are detailed and bordering on fanatical, and if you’ve ever peeled more than one vegetable you’ll know why! But I’m way out of my league here. I’m pretty happy with my Swiss Kuhn Rikon (white plastic handle) that looks similar in design to yours (blade-wise). I threw my old one out in the compost one day (I think) and it vexed me for weeks until I did the right thing and bought a new one. (I was in denial). I love that there are some people in the world who find it as annoying as me to have an inferior peeler. Especially when it’s carrot canning month!

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