Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shop Talk - Getting to the point

Photo courtsey - J.A. HENCKELS


Knowing when to use the right knife for food preparation can be as important as the food it's self! You wouldn't use a paring knife to chop a beef primal, nor would you use a cleaver to make a veggie rose. Right now most households have two to three times the knives they need. And of those, three quarters are stored away in a butcher block or worse, in a forgotten drawer never to see the light.So what type of knife do you need?

Well most stores are always willing to sell you a special knife for every possible food that you may encounter. Think back to the Ginsu knifes... Remember them? Remember the sales pitch? "It can cut thru a can and still slice thru a tomato in a breeze!" There is a reason that they sold you not only one 14 piece set, "but if you called now", they would send you another complete set FREE! The reason? They are cheap to make, hard to maintain, if at all, and by the time you realize it, the time has expired to return them (if you could!). Result? A drawer of useless knives.

I, as many other chefs, use one knife as our primary knife. For me it is a eight inch chef knife. But for others it is what ever type they will use.. alot! And that is really the key. The knife that you use the most should be the center ofyour collection. Then build around that knife.

Again for me, I have a chef's eight inch knife, a paring knife, a slicing knife, which is like a chefs knife but not so wide and last, a serrated bread knife. I can slice, dice and de-bone with my chef knife, fillet and slice with my slicing knife, slice small items and make veggie art with my paring knife, and slice a roast or a fresh loaf of bread with my bread knife.
Many Asian chefs are trained to use only a cleaver.. for everything! Again it's about what you are willing to use and make as your primary cutting instrument. If it's not comfortable to use, then the likelyhood that you will continue to use it is almost nill.