From bacon presses and irons to bricks and stones, cooks have always had a way to compress food, says chef Chris Cosentino. “I just found that all those tools weren’t great.”

Enter the Chef’s Press, a 9-ounce stainless-steel weight with a handle and vents that allow the presses to be stacked and linked. Cosentino, who helms Cockscomb in San Francisco, uses it for the obvious (pressing bacon, steaks, grilled cheese) and the unexpected: to submerge food in brine, to prevent parchment from curling and to compact terrines. He also uses the press to set sheet trays and skillets at an angle, allowing him brown otherwise hard-to-reach areas on various foods.

The press is the invention of fellow Bay Area chef Bruce Hill. It was an idea Hill had for a while, but Cosentino hadn’t held his breath for its creation. “Chef’s talk. Not everything always comes to fruition.” But in 2007, Hill patented the press. Cosentino loves it. “The more I started playing with it, the more outlets I found.”

Williams-Sonoma sells a set of three Chef’s Presses on its website for $24.95.