Restaurant Equipment & Supply

Everything You Need to Know About Professional Chef Knives (Part One)

Nov 4, 2013 9:08:14 AM

Know Your Knives

Knives are capable of assisting users in a wide array of projects. For some people, knives are just like any other utensil, but for others, they are an extension of themselves. Knives should be treated with respect and handled with care. They are to be cleaned properly and sharpened to an optimal degree. In some cultures, it is considered disrespectful and rude to touch a chef’s knife. I learned this firsthand the hard way. For many professional chefs, knives are a prized possession. It is best to leave them be or to ask for permission before even touching them.

Buying a really good knife is like looking for a new car. As with any investment, you should do thorough research prior to making the purchase. Read reviews to get customer feedback from people who have used the product and find out what material it is made from in both the handle and the blade. The manufacturing process, durability, maintenance and storage capability should also be taken into consideration by potential buyers. If possible, touch it, feel it, and hold it in your hands. This may sound trivial to some, but every knife has a particular feel to it, which is based on the weight of the blade or the material from which the handle is made. It is always a good idea to be able to handle a knife before purchasing it.

Storing a knife properly is vital for several reasons, most importantly being the safety of others. Proper storage will also help the life expectancy of the blade by preventing it from getting nicked, dinged or bent when not in use. There are many ways to store a knife safely, the owner just needs to figure what method works best for them personally. A magnetic knife strip is one option, but I prefer other techniques for a few reasons. The blades are still out in the open for any splashes or spills that may occur, which can be frequent, especially in highly trafficked areas. Using a magnetic strip can put a strain on the blade depending upon the material from which it was made. The blade could potentially snap when the strip is pulled off. In my opinion, a knife block is the best option as far as “community” knives go, but it can be considered unsanitary. A similar item that some restaurants use is a knife rack. The main issue here is the slots are already pre-cut and some have bottoms, so if you have a particularly wide or lengthy knife, it may not fit.

For professional chefs who own their own knives, it would be beneficial to invest in a knife case or bag. I like the bags better just because the cases look similar to a suitcase and tend to be bulkier. The knife bags usually come with elastic straps that secure the knives in place or a little pocket that you can slide them into. You can then wrap up your little bundle and be ready to go. The cases may come with a foam or plastic interior, where you can basically clip the knife into its own little sheathed slot. All of this is completely preferential.

Cleaning a knife seems simple, right? Well, that depends. Nowadays, many people run everything through a dishwasher. Knives should never be tossed into a dishwasher alongside the rest of the utensils. The chemicals used in most dish washers are abrasive and can be damaging to the knives. Also, if you use a commercial dish washer with a booster heater, those extremely high temperatures could be detrimental to the blade. The best way to clean a knife is the old fashioned way with soap and hot water. Sanitizing it afterwards is a necessity as well. Wiping the knife clean after each use is a good practice to maintain, because it minimizes the amount of dried particles that can become encrusted on the blade. It is always wise to dry the knife off in order to prevent water spots and rust, which may occur depending on the material of the blade. Cherish and take proper care of your knife and it will certainly cherish you!

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