A professional mandoline looks like a mini children’s slide and has a blade as sharp as a guillotine’s — it’s a tool for adults only. Mandolines are perfect for slicing hard vegetables like potatoes into wafer-line slices for gratins, and with a change of blades, you can julienne vegetables or waffle them. Once you get the hang of using your mandoline, don’t think you can manage without the guard: a mandoline demands precautions and respect. For an efficient tool that’s still serious but doesn’t seem to inspire the need to have a first-aid kit at hand, think about a Benriner slicer.

Dorie Greenspan