TOOLS OF THE TRADE
It’s no secret that in order to cook well, you need three things: fresh ingredients, simple techniques, and a few, high quality tools. As a professional cook you can imagine owning every knife, spoon and gadget there is. The truth is, I am a bona fide gadget fanatic, and at one point or another I’ve had every kitchen instrument you can think of. However, over the years I’ve realized it’s not about the melon ballers, whisks, or chopping appliances, but about having the right tool for the job.
I have been captivated by knifes and kitchen utensils for decades and have enjoyed being a genuine collector of both. High quality, well-made and robust kitchen tools are vital to my day-to-day work, and without them I would be lost. Like anything, having the right equipment makes doing the job that much better. Whether it’s a well-seasoned pan or a casserole dish that’s been passed down through the generations, great kitchenware makes cooking a joy.
CHOOSING THE SET – BUY WHAT YOU NEED VS. WANT
A Chef’s knife is the single most important tool in any kitchen and is used in the creation of virtually every dish. A sharp knife means more control and less slippage when you cut, leading to safer, more consistent slices. Plus, cutting with a sharp knife is just more fun! (Don’t try this at home kids).
For such an important piece of equipment, it’s worth doing a little sharp research to find a knife you will love to use. In my tenure at Colleton River I’ve received a lot of questions about buying the right kitchen knives, and I’m here to answer your questions.
- What knives should I buy? Buy what you need for the task. If you’re thinking about chopping squash, dicing tomatoes, or slicing a steak – you’ll need to go with the Chef’s knife.
- What are considered the best? Forged steel, classic design, German made is a safe bet.
- Is it true – are Japanese knives the best? Depends on what you want to cut. If you’re thinking fish, you have the right idea!
- Should I buy a set? I would only buy what you need! I’m lucky, I have an extensive ‘set’. However, my set was assembled over a long period of time. As I progressed, the additions were various slicers, bread knives, butcher and bonging knives. I started with a 8” Cooks knife and a 4” paring knife! My best advice, whichever way you go (a full set, or individual knives), sharpening equipment is a must have for both!
TAKE CARE OF YOUR INVESTMENT
You finally took the plunge and invested in a good knife – or maybe a few good knives. Either way, you’ve spent good money and your blades deserve a storage place that will keep their edges pristine for as long as possible, and nearly as important as buying the right knives is storing them correctly.
Tossing knives into a drawer along with other kitchen gadgets and cutlery is a bad idea. Not only is it a fast pass to the emergency room should you grab the business end of a blade when you were actually going for the ice cream scoop, but jostling against other metal objects can damage a knife, causing it to become dull or need of repairs. I am telling you there is a better way to store your knives.
- If you don’t mind counter clutter, a knife block helps keep tools organized, dry and sanitary.
- If you do use the drawer method, you can purchase an inlay that keeps your blades safe and orderly. If you like this method, try using blade guards – they work wonders and are inexpensive! Personally, I prefer the bamboo blade guards because they absorb moisture!
CLEANING | CARE | HONING
HONING – The point of a knife is, obviously, to cut things. Therefore, the sharper the knife stays, the better it will do its job. Ideally, you should hone your knife every time you use it (every few days is okay, too). Part of my daily tool and knife ritual includes passing the knives over the sharpening steel to hone the edges.
CLEANING – During the preparation phase I take time to clean and dry knives while moving from task to task. At the end of preparations, I sanitize all the tools with soapy water, dry thoroughly, and then do another quick pass on the steel before storing for the evening. This ensures the knife is clean, sharp and ready for its next adventure.
CARE – Don’t leave it to the air to dry your knives and don’t leave them in your kitchen sink overnight! We talked about this; store your knives properly and you’ll be able to use them again and again!