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Knife Guide

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
After years of watching cooking programs on TV and observing cooks in restaurant kitchens, I've noticed that one can divide these "professionals" into two groups: those who know how to use knives and those who don't. I find it almost embassing to watch a cooking program where the host has losy knife skills. This got me thinking that when you buy a knife there's no manual for use — there's no instructions. Most of the professionals I've talked with who went to cooking school have told me that they received no special training in knife skills and care. Those that learned on the job say they had to pick up whatever information they have on their own.

So I decided to write a little manual about knives and their use. And since everyone has a different idea as to what the best knives are and how to use them, this my be my most controversial article to date. If you're interested (or curious), click here for the article.
post #2 of 27
Interesting post boulud.

My first class in 1978 at J&W was Moter skills.
This is we recieved our knives and knife roll bag ($65) back then for a complete line of russel dexter blades and the wrap.

First we had a detailed introduction to knife safty,then we went over every type of knife that was in our kit,there name and use.
We were instucted in the care of the knifes ETC.
We then started learning the proper way to hold a knife.

Then off we went to learn all the fundemential cuts,bruniose,juliene,batton.macidone ETC.Believe it or not this class lasted two weeks and there was a hands on final. (I passed)

I do understand your concern and enjoyed your imformation on your site. I don't know...maybe to much is covered in culinary school and less is paid to basics.
How to use a knife,proper cooking techniques,ordering/recieving
Sanitation and the like.You can't garnish a cake if you can't bake,you can't finish a bordalaise sauce if you can't make a fond de veau.

anyway I'm rambling on:chef:
cc
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #3 of 27
great observation bouland....

i too had basic knife skills as my first class in culinary school. besides learning the uses for various knives, we also were taught how to use a whetstone and a steel, and what they did to the knife. my experience was almost the same as yours capechef, only my knife roll was F. Dick brand and cost $75.

i would think most culinary school grads had similar experiences.

the problem with many of these T.V. chefs, though, is not that they don't know how to use a knife...but that they're out of practice. by the time you get to t.v., you've been schmoozing people, writing and costing recipes and cookbooks, doing appearances, and expediting (when you're actually at your restaurant) for so long that doing a brunoise is pretty far from your daily routine.

so when they actually have a knife in their hands on t.v., these guys are like "what's this?" like a new dad holding his infant. put a cell phone or a palm pilot in their hands and they'll probably seem more in their element.
eddie
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eddie
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post #4 of 27
Excellent article, Bouland. Most of my knife skills were derived from watching Pepin on TV.

One question on care. How often should a frequently-used knife in a home kitchen be sharpened? I use the steel liberally, but have always been nervous about using the stone too often, having had as a bad example a friend who could reduce a chef's knife to a slicer in a year or two. As a result, my knives are probably less sharp than they might be.
Dave Bowers
"First, slice an onion..."
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Dave Bowers
"First, slice an onion..."
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post #5 of 27
Very cool stuff Bouland! As a weekend warrior, I realized a couple of years ago just how important knives and knife skills were. I was using supermarket knives and doing unspeakable things to food. I have upgraded both my cutlery and my competence. I even took a knife skills workshop with an instructor who feels the same way you do. I now find that once torturous tasks, like dicing vegetables, are now relaxing, almost therapeutic. When cooking in groups I always volunteer to prepare copius quantities of mirepoix:)
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
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"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
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post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
DaveB: I sharpen my knives when they seem to need it. The steel only "refreshs" an existing edge. Once the edge is worn or damaged, it's time to sharpen the knife. If you use a reciprocating diamond honer, such as the one illustrated in the article, you won't be removing much metal when you sharpen your knives. It is coarse whet stones that grind away the metal. Some people are now using "steels" coated with a fine diamond abrasive as sort of a middle ground before putting the knive to a sharpener.

KyleW: I agree, there's a certain Zen to preparing large quantities of mirepoix!
post #7 of 27
Many culinary activities are zen, making bread, pastries....
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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post #8 of 27
Thanks, Bouland. After reading your article, I decided to get myself a diamond hone.
Dave Bowers
"First, slice an onion..."
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Dave Bowers
"First, slice an onion..."
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post #9 of 27

Keep it sharp.

Hey Bouland great thread . I guess Ill add my 2 Pesos and state that I feel knife skills are one of the most important things you can master as a true working chef . Unfortunatley I was unable to go yo culinary school but I apprenticed myself to some very good european chefs at the start of my career and I was given proper direction from the get go . This ability to use a knife with speed and skill has helped my carreer tremondously.
I know how frustrating it is to see a T.V. chef who does not know even the proper knife for the job , or an attempt at using a steel
properly(OK Im going to say it , I saw Martha Stewart try to use a steel and it was scary).
As far as knife brands go I realy like Forschners . Most chefs in my area use them and for heavy knife work I just love the balance .
the easily maintaned sharp edge and the feel of it in my hand .
I think I am getting a little emotional now but my knives are my babies and I take care of them and they take care of me.
Happy Holidays.. ;)
The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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post #10 of 27
Thank you, bouland, for the wonderful article! I'm no chef, but I love cooking and have always known that my knife skills were woefully lacking. You've given me a wealth of information to help me begin with- thank you again! :)
If you don't ask, you'll never know.
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If you don't ask, you'll never know.
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post #11 of 27

umm

I have taking Culinary Arts at a vocational school while in High school and they taught me how to take care of my knives and how to hone it and described everything you should and shouldn't do but they don't do it in college. In college they do the same thing and ppl are required to take sanitation and become ServSafe certified. I am already so I don't need to take it but yea.. we also spent an horu and each knife cut and learned to do it fast
post #12 of 27
The only thing they taught about knives at my culinary school was how to use a steel, the one chef showed briefly how to use a stone but wasnt in depth, he just showed us to go back and forth about 40 times on each stone working to finer stones each tome, which doesnt get your knives as sharp as they could be. being the person that i am i found out on my own how to make knives really sharp on my own on the internet.
post #13 of 27
my first class which was nothing but knife skills lasted 11 weeks. We did it all and pat pat pat i good pretty good knife skills. my tourne could use some practice but its still not half bad.

knife kit cost like $1200 in tution and they are garbage. I ended up buying alot of my own knifes and stuff that more or less fit me.
post #14 of 27
Just your knives cost 1200? We had a package that cost 1200 and that included all books, uniforms, and knives. But the knives were crappy so, like you i end up buy pretty much a new set of knives before externship.
post #15 of 27

knives....

Have any of you guys ever heard of Atlanta cutlery? They make great knives...wondering if anyone ever uses them out in the professional realm.
post #16 of 27
It was the knives with a bunch of stuff, the knife bag, I think the 3 jackets, 3 pants and stuff was included but I might be wrong it might have been a sperate part of the tution.
post #17 of 27
Bouland, I enjoyed your knife article.
post #18 of 27
There are WAY worse people on TV that you could have learned from. Pepin is a freakin' master.
post #19 of 27
Working on some knife skills video for the website... hope to have them up by January.

G.
http://www.legourmet.tv
Free video website for all things food, wine, beer, cheese... Check it out!
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http://www.legourmet.tv
Free video website for all things food, wine, beer, cheese... Check it out!
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post #20 of 27

I've been researching knives ....

For about a 1+ years I've been reading up on knives, quality, metals, etc.
(Yes, I'm anal retentive)


SPECIFICALLY(please), where can one "try out" knives before they purchase?

I'm interested in Shun, Wusthof, Sabatier, and Henckel.

I have not come across any store/dealer that carries all ofthese in order to compare.

But again, my main question is where can I try these knives out?

Specific stores??

Thanks
post #21 of 27
Where are you? I might suggest a store in Saskatoon... but that may not help you if you are in Baton Rouge.

G.
http://www.legourmet.tv
Free video website for all things food, wine, beer, cheese... Check it out!
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http://www.legourmet.tv
Free video website for all things food, wine, beer, cheese... Check it out!
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post #22 of 27
A store that runs cooking demos/classes should be able to help you out. Sur la Table for one. If you have a dedicated knife store in town or nearby, take in some vegies and take some test cuts.

Or sign up for a class and see if you can try out some of the other student's knives.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #23 of 27
William sonoma carries Shun, Wusthof, and i know they used to cary henckel but i dont think they do anymore, atleast you can hold them there and know what they feel like. I dont know any stores that car sabatier.
post #24 of 27
Lee Valley in Canada has teh Sabatier line of knives.

G.
http://www.legourmet.tv
Free video website for all things food, wine, beer, cheese... Check it out!
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http://www.legourmet.tv
Free video website for all things food, wine, beer, cheese... Check it out!
Reply
post #25 of 27
As one that cooks as a hobby, and considering a career change, my foundation for knife skills are rather horrid. But as I learn more I realize that I needed better skills. I actually ran across an interesting book called "Knife Skills Illustrated" ISBN 978-0-393-06178-9. As a result I found that the way I have been holding my knife was wrong all along, and have since been trying to practice the proper way to cut. I though I'd throw it out there for those that want to use a reference guide to how to properly cut foods. And those websites, it definitely helps to see the motions. Let me know what you think of this book.

Now just to get a good knife, other than that Chinese cleaver I use for everything. hehe
post #26 of 27
DaveB-

If you can't find a diamond hone locally,

www.leevalley.com

has them by DMT for around $40 (plus shipping.)

Incidentally, they serve the American market out of Ogdensburg, NY.

Ask to receive their catalogs- they carry more and more kitchen items. Also a big line of gardening tools, in addition to woodworking tools.

Also incidentally, I am pretty sure it was Lee Valley who tipped off the cooking community that the Microplane wood rasp was a dandy kitchen tool, about 15 years ago.

Mike
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #27 of 27
I was fortunate, and I was taught knife skills with my first cooking job. This was probably because they knew how accident prone I am.
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