It works much like a giant pencil sharpener - insert the vegetable into the slicer and twist-twist-twist to shave ribbons off the vegetables.
There are four pieces included - three are for cutting, with blades for small, medium and very large ribbons. The fourth piece with three prongs holds the vegetable as it gets shorter - or, if you're using something small to begin with, like a radish.
Because of the size of the opening, you're limited to vegetables that will fit. So, zucchini, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, and other smaller-diameter vegetables are fine - figure 2 1/4 inches or less. Giant baking potatoes, rutabagas, and those baseball-bat sized zucchini are a no unless you cut them to fit.
Just for giggles, I cut a potato into a square shape to see how the slicer would handle non-round vegetables, and it worked just fine. The strips that it cut as it worked through the edges of the square were short, but once those points were gone I got long strips - pretty much continuous - of potato ribbons from the rest of the spud.
Just like the larger spiral slicing machines, you end up with a small uncut core of vegetable - AKA, a snack for the prep cook - but the core from this was smaller than the core from the machine I have, so you end up with more usable shaved product.
The firmness of the vegetable in question makes a difference in how well the slicers work. Carrots, zucchini and radishes were fine, but I had a cucumber that was verging on soft and it didn't slice as well as I hoped. Another firmer cucumber was fine, however, and probably more likely what I'd want to serve, anyway.
|Radish, re-curled. Yes, I do play with my food sometimes.|
I'm sure Chef Morimoto could carve zucchini into ribbons with a chef's knife, but normal mortals probably need some sort of a tool. The advantage of this one over a spiral-cutting machine is that it's small and simple, and the pieces nest for more compact storage. The downside is that it takes a bit more effort than a machine.
If you're going to be making zucchini fettuccine a regular part of your family's diet, then a spiral-cutting machine might be worth the storage space. But if you're looking for a fun and easy tool for making garnishes, crazy salads, fun vegetable side dishes, and an occasional veggie-pasta meal, this definitely makes more sense.
Cleanup was easy - all the parts are dishwasher safe. When cleaning the blades between vegetable types, I rinsed and used a bottle brush to dislodge bits from the blades, and that was simple enough. Although it's made mostly from plastic, it seems pretty durable - I've dropped pieces a few times with no damage - so barring any encounters with a lawnmower or pit bull, they should last quite a long time.
The product was supplied for the purpose of a review on Serious Eats; this was previously published on Serious Eats.