Knives, Chef’s Best friends
- One of the most common questions I’ve heard about people in the culinary trade is,”why do chefs carry around that big bag of knives, do they not have any in the restaurant they work at?”Another good one I’ve heard is,”Why do chefs have to spend so much money on knives?” If you’ve ever asked these questions to a friend or even yourself, this blog may contain the answers you’ve been curious about. And yes, some restaurants have knives but usually not the ones needed for the job.
Every chef knows his or her knives. Any professional chef usually carries around their own set. The relations ship between a chef and their knives is almost similar to that of a samurai in the sense that hey use blades as an extension of them selves. Almost everything is cut in one fashion or another, from meat to vegetables and with out their knives a chef can’t do much.
The difference between chef’s and samurai (aside from the extensive bushido training) is that chefs carry about six knives, where as samurai carry two swords. They do both care for their blades in a similar manner. To give you clarity on the different uses of these knives, I wrote a quick list of the names and uses of each blade.
Boning Knife – This one is pretty obvious from its name. The Boning knife is used to remove bones from cuts of meat. It has a flexible, thin blade that is usually around 5-6 inches long. Ones with a stiffer blade are better for thicker meats like beef and pork.
Bread Knife – This one is quite direct as well. The reason for the serrated blade is to cleanly slice bread without crushing it. It also differs from other knives when it comes around time to be sharpened, this one I advise taking to a professional.
Carving Knife – No, this is not for your Jack o’ lantern. The Carving knife is made to slice meat and cut away from bone. The length of this blade ranges from 8-15 inches long.
Cleaver – This one you might recognize from a horror movie, the Cleaver is designed to hack through meat and bone, without bending, breaking, or splintering the bone. It’s generally about 6 inches long and has a wide rectangular blade.
Chef’s Knife– This knife is like the samurai’s katana. It’s used primarily for everything that you want to cut from veggies to meat and anything else you can think of. The blade might vary 2 -3 inches but is usually about 8 inches in length. This blade comes in 3 different shapes depending on if it’s German, French, or Japanese.
Paring Knife- This one is like the samurai’s wakizashi sword. A paring knife is another one of those all-purpose instruments and can be used in almost any kind of intricate cutting you can think of like peeling, skinning a mushroom, or removing the veins from a shrimp. The length of this knife is fairly small ranging from 2-4 inches long.
The reason that they carry around this weight is because knives are the chef’s tools of trade. Chefs tend to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on these tools so of course they carry them around to make sure they stay safe. They spend this much to make sure their blades are quality, and every good chef knows if about the quality not the quantity.
The biggest point spending a large sum of money on knives is so they don’t need to be constantly replaced. A good knife, when treated correctly can last a lifetime. One thing even good will require is sharpening because of time that razor edge can become blunt. To fix this problem, either a chef will sharpen their knives themselves using a wet stone, or simply take their collection to a professional knife sharpener.
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