Cooking Lessons: How to Pick the Right Knife

Spend enough time cooking and the vast assortment of culinary tools becomes overwhelming. You might start to think that the ideal kitchen would have endless storage space and electrical outlets for all the equipment necessary to cook. The one culinary item that chefs utilize the most is the knife, and a good culinary school instructs chefs about all aspects of this tool.

Culinary Cutlery 101

  • Types of Knives: The knife's place of honor in the kitchen arises from its versatility. A knife-wielding chef can chop, slice, dice, mince, julienne, fillet, carve, trim, and cube. Different culinary tasks require specific knives, such as the chef's knife, paring knife, carving knife, utility knife, serrated knife, boning knife, cleaver, or the santoku knife.
  • Knife Construction: A quality knife will outlast the chef, so culinary students learn to select a good instrument by studying the parts of the knife and learning about balance and weight. Other related topics are blade materials and how and where the knives are manufactured.
  • Knife Safety: The best feature of a knife, its sharpness, can also be its downfall. Many fingers have been the casualty of poor cutting skills. Culinary instructors teach the proper holding technique of the knife, the correct hand motions when cutting, and the position of the fingers holding the food.
  • Knife Care: A sharp knife is critical for food preparation and safety. Part of keeping a knife in top form involves cutting on wood or plastic surfaces so not to damage or dull the blade. Sharpening knives is crucial in culinary education, and so students learn the proper technique and tools required. Cleaning knives and storing knives are other subjects chefs will learn.

Observe any professional chef handling a knife and the technical training is evident. The excellent instructors at culinary schools teach the fundamentals of knives and all other relevant kitchen equipment.