Restaurant kitchen knives can be the best friend or the worst enemy of a chef. They are one of the prime factors that decide the sight, taste, and texture of the dish. Perfectly cut and sharp knives play pivotal roles in increasing the kitchen production just as blunt, inappropriate knives can only decelerate the whole thing, keeping guests waiting at their tables! There are several essential factors to consider while buying knives for the restaurant kitchen. In this article, we will discuss what to look for while buying kitchen knives. Apart from that, if you want to understand what the different types of restaurant kitchen knives used by chefs are, read this Guide To Kitchen Knives.
What To Look For While Buying Restaurant Kitchen Knives
Restaurant kitchen knives are an essential piece of equipment. Knives that you provide to your chef will determine the speed of operations in your kitchen. Blunt and worn out knives will make it difficult to work and increase the time required to do the simplest of tasks thus increasing the customer wait time and decreasing the able turnover rate. Hence, it is imperative that you treat restaurant knives as an essential piece of equipment. Read below to know about the things to consider while buying restaurant kitchen knives.
While purchasing restaurant kitchen knives, a sharp edge is the most sought after detail to take into account. Not only sharpness makes knives easy to cut but, they help in maintaining the consistency of dishes prepared. Evenly diced vegetables, meat, and other ingredients are cooked evenly and take the same span of time to get prepared. Moreover, blunt knives that take more pressure to chop and thus, lead to more finger cuts and bleeds than sharp knives, contrary to common belief. On the other hand, a sharp knife requires less effort and moves quickly.
According to Chef Tapan Mukherjee,
The knife should be easy to hold and comfortable to use. Look for a knife with a sustaining edge as you don’t want to spend your time taking it re-sharpening every few days.
With continued use for a due course of time and wear and tear, even the sharpest knife loses sharpness inevitably. Therefore, it’s a must to re-sharpen the knives regularly. This is where the knife blade material comes into play. We have discussed this below.
When it comes to the blade, many factors come into play. Hardness, strength, resistance to corrosion etc., must be taken into consideration while deciding the knife blade. Gamut varieties of metal prevail in blades; carbon steel, stainless steel, tool steel, and alloy steel are the most commonly available these days in this segment. However, two mostly used blade variants are:
(i) Stainless Steel Knife
Stainless steel is the most popular type of metals used owing to its cheaper price rates and high corrosion resistance. It also doesn’t require much maintenance. However, they are softer and lose their sharpness faster as compared to other blades.
(ii) Carbon Steel
Another popular blade choice of chefs is carbon steel; these blades are comparatively easier to sharpen and deliver high performances. Moreover, carbon steel knives require less frequent sharpening.
3. Build of the Knife
The build of the knife is also a vital factor to consider while buying knives.
- Firstly, look closely at the knife to examine how well the handle is attached to the blade and how balanced it is.
- Secondly, the weight of a knife must also be taken into consideration. A heavy knife, no matter how sharp, would be difficult to use.
The design and build decide the safety of the knife and should be chosen carefully to avoid any accidents.
Celebrity Chef Micheal Swamy says,
How well is the handle attached to the blade and how evenly balanced it is at the centre, is essential for the knife. The metal of the blade should go all the way through the handle and not just to the fraction of the handle. A knife with welded bits and joints is not a good knife”
The handle is extremely important for a knife because that decides the grip on the knife. The handle can be broadly categorised into three types:
(i) Wooden handles knives
Wooden handles are known to provide the best grip, but they require much care. They are also more brittle and absorb microorganisms.
(ii) Plastic handles knives
Plastic knives are tougher and last longer. They can be easily cleaned and are low maintenance. However, plastic handles being slippery, do not provide much grip and cause occasional slips and cuts that you need to guard against. Most chefs strongly dissent using plastic knives.
(iii) Composite handles knives
The third type is composite knives. Since these types of handles are made of wood and laminated by plastic resin, they offer combined benefits of wood and resins. No wonder why, most chefs love to use and recommend composite knives that also don’t let the tool catch microorganisms, making them more clean and hygienic as well.
Knives also largely vary in different sizes and functionalities. For example, a boning knife is much smaller and sleeker than a big chopping knife. Hence, you need to purchase knives according to your roles in the restaurant kitchen. Being a restaurant owner or manager, you should be aware of the knife size your chef is comfortable to use and prefers. A person having worked with small knives would face difficulty in handling bigger knives.
Image Source: Ask Chef Christy
How to Take Care of Restaurant Kitchen Knives
The knife is an essential part of your kitchen and requires proper care. With continued use, knives lose sharpness, and they need to be honed before and after use with sharpening steel.
Top Chef Award winner Chef Chiquita Gulati of Gulati Spice Market says,
Keep knives clean by hand washing and keep them dry when not in use. This will help avoid any contamination or rusting. Carbon steel knives need oiling from time to time. It is ideal to store them in a wooden block or on a magnetic strip upright to avoid any accidents Use the right kind of knife for the task at hand. For example, do not use a fish knife for chopping etc.
Chef’s Favorite Restaurant Kitchen Knives
Choosing the knife depends on the usage. There are knives available for each function, such as chopping, slicing, peeling, boning etc.
- Chef Chiquita prefers the chopping knife over the others as it is versatile and easy to use. She recommends the Swiss Victorinox and says that she has been using it for an over a decade now, and it is still serving her well.
- Chef Micheal Swamy is partial to the 10-inch Chef’s knife and the small sized Chinese Cleaver. He recommends using Wusthof.
- Chef Tapan Mukherjee picks knives that are “easy to hold and comfortable to use. Look for a knife with a sustaining edge as you don’t want to spend your time taking it re-sharpening every few days.”
One more thing you should consider while buying a restaurant kitchen knife is that a chef’s comfort level with the knife is directly proportionate to his/her productivity. Therefore, take your chef or head chef along to let him/her try the knife before purchasing it. Slice tomato and see how thin you can go without juices left on the board or dice an onion to see how fine the cuts are. Along with the comfort level and sharpness, you also need to consider how safe the knives are.
Restaurant kitchen knives are usually forgotten among all the other types of equipment, but that does not mean that they do not require just as much care and attention. That being said, every piece of equipment does not just require your due attention while you are planning to buy them. Maintaining your restaurant equipment is equally important. Read this Guide To Restaurant Equipment Maintenance to know how to keep your restaurant appliances up and running.
So, what’s your take on these points? Share your ideas of buying knives – we love to hear and learn more.