Microplane: from the garage to the kitchen  JAN 19 2011

The Microplane grater, now nearly ubiquitous in the kitchen (or at least our kitchen), began life as a tool for woodworking.

"I don't think that even chefs understood at the time what these tools made possible," said Leonard Lee, founder of Lee Valley Tools in Ottawa, Canada. "When you grind a hard cheese, you get little cubes with little surface area. When you use a Microplane and shave a cheese into ribbons, you get five times the surface area."

"And when you maximize the surface area, you put more of the cheese in contact with the taste buds," said Mr. Lee, whose wife, Lorraine Lee, was one of the first to imagine the kitchen crossover possibilities in 1994. "That maximizes taste."

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