Preparing food, and particularly chopping food, is a challenge for people with limited fine motor skills or other difficulties using their hands or fingers. Here’s a review of one product that may work for some people who like to cook, but who find conventional slicing and dicing too difficult or cumbersome. Fair warning, though — this device isn’t for everyone.
The principle behind Williams-Sonoma’s “Professional Multi-Chopper” is much like the idea behind the vegetable cutter written about in this previous GearAbility post. Both come with a set of blades and grids, allowing different variations in cuts for food. The multi-chopper, however, comes with a large (8 cup) chamber to collect cut food, and its larger size allows faster processing of larger quantities.
There are a couple of tricks to using it. First, this chopper requires a fair amount of downward pressure, best achieved by pressing flat with both palms on the top and pushing quickly. Some people may find it easier to apply the necessary leverage by setting the chopper below their waists (on a chair, for instance) in order to achieve the necessary force. People with limited arm strength might find that the pressure required is excessive, though.
Secondly, the upper girds can be tricky to remove. There’s a button on the top of the pusher that theoretically makes it easy to pop out the grid, but, in my experience, this simply doesn’t work. Instead, I find myself gently rocking the grid, from the underside, to remove it. This does not really require any dexterity, but does require the ability to hook a couple of fingers under the edge, and move them firmly and gently up and down.
Thirdly, it’s prudent to do some experimenting so that you learn what works best in terms of technique. It would be fabulous if this device could slice a whole onion with one swift push, but it won’t. You’ll find that cutting onions in half first is a much better idea. It’s also important to make sure that whatever you’re chopping is well-seated on the blades, and centered, too. For soft foods like mushrooms, it’s smart to gently press the mushroom onto the blades before pushing them through.
That may seem like a pretty daunting list of caveats, but setting those aside, this is a great tool for rapid processing of a wide variety of foods. One of the grids and cutters cores and sections apples; another one sections lemons and limes beautifully. After damaging my fingers several years ago, I couldn’t do either, but this chopper makes quick work of both jobs. As soon as I learned to use it, I found myself reaching for this device frequently, and now it’s a staple tool in my kitchen.
There’s a helpful video on Williams-Sonoma’s website demonstrating the chopper (and, if you watch carefully, inadvertently illustrating just how difficult it is to get that grid out of the pusher).