Knives are considered one of the most important tools in the kitchen, and chefs typically have a range of knives in their tool kit, each with a specific use. The skills needed to use these knives are also some of the most important competencies a chef will learn. Knife skills are essential for professionals who want to improve food quality, efficiency and safety in the kitchen.
Good knife skills help improve the quality of the food by ensuring uniform cooking times and making dishes look nicer. When preparing vegetables to be cooked, it is important to cut them all the same size to ensure even cooking for the best food quality. If they are uneven-sized pieces, they will cook at different rates, potentially leaving you with a burnt small piece and an underdone large piece. Ingredients that are uniformly cut will also have a much greater appeal to diners. Elegant cutting techniques are guaranteed to elevate a club’s cuisine and presentation. The most commonly used knife cuts are large, medium and small dice, brunoise, mince, batonnet, allumette, julienne, fine julienne and chiffonade.
By learning to use a chef knife properly, a chef will be ergonomically correct in the kitchen, resulting in efficient preparation and a reduced risk of injury. The correct way to cut with your knife is to always keep your knuckles in front of your fingertips at all times. Stabilize the food with your thumb and pinky. In addition to strong knife skills, it is important to have a good-quality knife. Having good sharp knives is critical to success, as it will not only contribute to keeping you safe, but it will also save you time in the kitchen. A good-quality knife is a good size and weight for the user with a sharp edge that can be easily restored. You’re looking for a knife that gives you a smooth and fast rhythm as you’re cutting.
Using the right knife for the right job doesn’t just improve the quality of cuts, it’s also a safety measure that will prevent injuries while also saving time and effort in the kitchen. There are many different types of knives needed in the kitchen, but the most common used by a chef are a chef’s knife, paring knife, boning knife, carving knife, and a bread knife. A chef’s knife and a paring knife are the most important when practicing essential knife skills. Typically between 8 and 10 inches, a chef’s knife is one of the most frequently used and versatile tools in the kitchen. With proper technique, using this knife places less stress on the body by using larger muscle groups (the shoulder) rather than only the muscles of the hand and wrist. A paring knife is ideal for making small cuts and detail work, as the blade is no longer than 3.5 inches. Using this knife as a primary method of preparation over prolonged periods of time is not efficient and can also put stress on small joints, such as the wrist, which could lead to injury.
Over time, a chef will develop accuracy, speed and eventually be able to unconsciously think of the correct way to use a knife. Learning how to hold and use a knife correctly will not only help a chef work more safely, but will also enable a chef to work faster and more efficiently in the kitchen.