Right at the top of every chef’s or home cook’s wish list is a really good knife. The only piece of equipment more basic to cooking is the human hand, thus all kitchen knives should be treated with respect and care.
by HOST Magazine
Today’s knives are descendants of tools used hundreds of thousands of years ago. While a primitive flintstone knife of the Stone Age may not seem to have much in common with a stainless steel knife of today, what is the same is a sharp edge on a hard substance.
To a chef, nothing is more important than his knife. It is not only an extension of his hands, but also an extension of his personality. The knife is a chef’s paintbrush. Whether it is used to delicately slice paper thin vegetables, to crush through bones and tendons, or simply to remind those around to “get out of your kitchen”, knives are the most essential kitchen tool. A good knife is an investment and treasure that should, with the right care, last a lifetime. It is also safer to work with than an inexpensive and lightweight tool that will rapidly become dull and prone to cause kitchen accidents.
But what makes a good knife? There are a few things to look for, and a few to avoid.
Look out for high-carbon, no stain steel. These knives will require some care; wash by hand, never run them through the dishwasher, and dry them completely as they can rust. It is necessary to take the time to sharpen them yourself, and have them sharpened by a professional now and then. Low quality stainless steel blades are not recommended. These blades will keep their shine, but will soon lose their edge, and are too brittle to be sharpened. They would have to be discarded once they get dull.
The best knives boast only a two-part construction: blade and handle. That means, there are fewer, and in some cases, no parts to get loose, fall off, or come unglued. When looking at the knife, the eye should be able to follow the back of the blade, as the blade turns into the tang, uninterrupted, right to the end of the blade. In a poor quality knife, the blade may only extend a few inches into the handle, and will inevitably fall out, usually right in the middle of carving that holiday bird!
The handle is really a matter of personal taste and style. The choices range from earthy wood, sleek synthetic and bacteria-resistant plastic, to grip-enhancing silicon, and one-piece, über-modern steel. Regardless of the material, a well-designed, ergonomic handle will feel just right when you pick it up.
In cooking, it is said that great meals start with great ingredients. That philosophy is also true for knives – it is all about material. Top quality knives are forged using the highest quality of finely polished stainless steel. Though other materials, including ceramic, have recently been introduced to the manufacturing process, stainless steel remains the preferred choice for most chefs. Knives should always be kept as sharp as possible. Working with a dull knife causes one to use more pressure, which increases the risk of the blade slipping while cutting. Some chefs prefer to work on a wood or plastic cutting board. These types of surfaces give to the blade, unlike a glass or ceramic surface, which helps retain the edge.
It is also important to always store knives in a knife block or secure tray when not in use. A Chef’s Attaché Case provides the ultimate in knide and culinary tool storage. It is for those discerning few who want to protect their valuable knife investment in the most discerning way. Knife rolls are ideal for storing and transporting knives and culinary tools from one location to another. Knife rolls can be placed inside bigger tool kits to protect knives from hitting other culinary tools.
Kitchen tools, too, should be treated with tender loving care.
HOST Magazine is published thrice annually, and features an in-depth look at the Hospitality and Food & Beverage Industry, and is distributed to decision-makers, and covers the latest industry news, innovative design concepts, product highlights, and more.
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