The Chef Basket is a "cooking dynamo" with dozens of kitchen uses, according to the commercials. The actor using it in the infomercial quickly demonstrates several uses (not quite dozens) of the wire-mesh device. It easily handles heavy loads of potatoes, and flawlessly boils then safely transfers noodles from a pot of boiling water to a serving dish.
Reviews we found tell a different story, though. On the positive side, users say, the wire-mesh device collapses flat for easy storage, and it serves as a good steamer. Otherwise, reviewers find little else good to say about the Chef Basket. It's flimsy and the basket's holes are too large for pasta. So disgusted was YouTube kitchen tester Jack Scalfani that he stops his test midstream. Vowing to return it immediately to the store, he laments, "If I can only cook rigatoni, this basket's useless." However, not all reviewers are disappointed. A tester in one TV report says "… overall it was pretty good, the infomercial was pretty right on." She is clearly in the minority though.
Amazon.com user reviews, though mixed, lean toward the extreme negative end of the scale. Even many of the "positive" reviewers highlight the Chef Basket's flaws. The most revealing test is Scalfani's, which illustrates the Chef Basket's greatest flaws: its poor fit in the pot and holes that are too large for cooking most types of pasta.
1. WXIA (Atlanta)
Reporter Karyn Greer asks viewer Christy David to test the Chef Basket. David likes its compact design and says it makes a "perfect" steamer, but it's not a very impressive strainer -- most of the elbow macaroni she placed in the device fell through the holes. She also notes that while it makes a good colander for washing vegetables, she has concerns about the structure's durability, calling it "wobbly." Although David gives it "one thumb up and one down," Greer notes that one of the station's directors owns one and really likes it, giving it "two thumbs up."
Review: Try it Review: Chef Basket, Karyn Greer, May 24, 2011
2. KIDK (Idaho Falls, Id.)
KIDK reporter Tommy Noel asks baker Shannon Hill to test the Chef Basket. It didn't work well for small pasta but did transfer other foods -- such as large pasta, potatoes and steamed vegetables -- easily from the pot to a dish as seen on the TV commercial. Hill concludes that "overall it was pretty good, the infomercial was pretty right on."
Review: The Chef Basket, Tommy Noel, January 31, 2011
Not far into his review, Jack Scalfani abandons testing and cautions viewers, "…don't buy this, this thing's a failure." Before losing most of his penne pasta through the basket's holes, he complains about its poor fit in the pot saying, "My evaluation is already a failure because you should never fill a pot of water to the top."
Review: Chef Basket (product review), Jack Scalfani, April 22, 2011
Reviews among users commenting on the product's Amazon.com page are mixed, but most are clearly disappointed. Even among the favorable reviews, customers say that there are many pots that don't fit the Chef Basket, and sometimes the device gets very hot even though it's not supposed to.
Review: TeleBrands Original Chef Basket, Deluxe, Contributors to Amazon.com