A Chef and his Knives

A Chef and his Knives

Chefs from all over the globe know that even with all of the culinary talent and know-how in the world, a chef has nothing without the proper tools.  Having the right equipment always makes a job easier and will likely yield a better outcome, and using quality knives with freshly sharpened blades are no exception.  They make cooking a delightful experience, giving the chef more precision and control as they whip up their masterpieces in the kitchen.  On the other hand, inferior quality knives and dull blades not only shred and tear the food you are cutting, they can be downright dangerous and can lead to accidents.  From mincing fine herbs and garlic to chopping vegetables, a great knife is perhaps the most versatile and important tool in the kitchen.

Here is everything a good chef knows about selecting and caring for his or her knives:

Materials Matter

Materials Matter

The modern knife has, thankfully, come a long way from the primitive tools of our ancestors.  Knife construction consists of a simple blade and a handle.  The blade consists of a tip, back, cutting edge and bolster, and the handle can feature a full, ¾ or half length.  Handles are typically made of wood or plastic and choosing one over the other simply depends on personal preference.  As for the blade material, hard steels are generally better because of their ability to stay sharp for longer periods.  While options were once limited to hard carbon steels that would rust easily or softer stainless steel, modern advances have delivered high carbon stainless steels that are quite hard and durable yet resistant to corrosion.  

The RIght Fit is Essential

The RIght Fit is Essential

Although there is a wide variety of knives available on the market that suit specific jobs such as cutting bread or filleting meat, a chef’s knife is the most universal tool you can own.  However, it must feel balanced and natural when you hold it; otherwise you won’t use it no matter how well made or expensive it is.  Decide on a blade length you feel comfortable with (blades between 8 and 10 inches are most popular although shorter is ok) and learn how to hold it properly.  You should definitely test out the knife in your hand before you decide on buying it.  The right fit will feel snug when you grip the handle.  Be sure to find a knife that works well with your hand size.

Maintaining Your Investment

Maintaining Your Investment

When you decide to purchase one or several quality knives, commit to taking care of these expensive tools.  After all, with proper care, they really can last a lifetime.  Keep them clean by hand washing followed by immediate drying, and ensure the blades are always sharp before use by sharpening with a stone.  Store your knives with blade guards on, and stick to using wooden or rubber cutting boards.