Do you know your paring knife from your boning knife? Your filleting knife from your chef’s knife? Most people don’t. So while we are waiting for the finishing touches to be put on The Stone Grill’s new restaurant premises in Blackpool, let’s look at the most important implement in the kitchen, the knife.
No chef worth their salt would ever be without their knives. The first set you buy as a student is like a rite of passage. The signal that things are about to get serious and that you are embarking on a career in one of the most competitive industries on earth. It is also an exciting time, a time when you learn the essential foundation skills you will carry with you for the rest of your career and when you get a glimpse of the huge range of skills and specialities you can pursue.
Knives are also good at cutting stuff. So let’s take a quick look at the main knives you might find in your kitchen.
A bread knife is generally long and straight with a serrated blade to saw through bread and create a clean cut. It should only be used for baked goods so as not to dull the blade.
A boning knife has a thin blade that is very sharp and very strong. Its purpose is to separate meat from bone with as little waste as possible and it does it very well. It takes a little practice to use one properly, but it’s a skill that will last forever.
A carving knife is a long, very sharp knife with a pointed end, ideal for cutting meat. Some chefs prefer a smooth blade to slice while a few actually use a serrated blade to saw. I think the smooth blade gives a better result but it is down to personal choice.
A chef’s knife is a general knife that you take everywhere and can do a bit of everything. You often see Marco Pierre White resting his on his shoulder. It is long, with a medium thick blade, large enough to cut meat and large ingredients but not too large that it is unwieldy.
Often incorrectly referred to as a cleaver, the Chinese knife has a large rectangular blade. The Chinese use it for everything, but the rest of us use it for chopping vegetables. The weight of the blade makes going through dense ingredients a breeze.
As one of Blackpool’s premier fish restaurants, our filleting knives get a lot of use. These knives are very sharp with a flexible blade that can be used both gently and forcefully. As good on its side as it is cutting down, it is an essential tool for anyone who cooks fish.
The paring knife is a smaller blade used to prepare vegetables. It has a strong blade with a sharp end that can be used as much as a tool as a cutting blade.
Those are the main knives you would find in any restaurant kitchen. Join us next week as I talk you through how to buy your own kitchen knives.