Thursday, February 12, 2009


Jean's little adventure at the Restaurant Warehouse got me thinking about something near and dear to my heart: Equipment. Good tools are a essential to professionals like myself and HawaiiChef and there is no reason those people not in the business shouldn't have the same access to all the toys we get. :)
That being said, I will try to post a different item every week as well as my recommendation on where to purchase it. Some things may surprise you, and I hope that we can share our stories and learn from each other. :)

First off, knives. This is a mixed bag since there is no one size fits all but there are three basic knives you should have: a chef's knife, a paring knife, and a serrated/bread knife.
As far as a chef knife goes, you have to find what works best for you, which means picking it up and holding it. Got small hands? Don't get anything over an 8 inch blade and look for something that isn't too heavy. You might think heavy equals durability, but if using your knife to cut just one tomato tires your hands out, it's too heavy. This is one area where you should splurge, since the best names and the better varieties will cost money.
And as a side note, as nice as they are, stay away from a ceramic knife as primary knife. I own one, love it, but hardly use it. It's great as a splurge item, but my day to day knife is the same one I've had for almost 10 years.

Paring knives: Buy cheap and buy Asian. Some of my favorate paring knives have come from Korean/ Japanese groceries and are commonly called "fruit knives". They usually come with a cover, which is a wonderful bonus because it keeps the blade from getting dull.
Serrated/Bread knives: I don't care what ANYONE says, you cannot sharpen a serrated knife. Buy cheap and plan to pitch it when it goes dull. You can also see if a knife sharpening shop will grind the serrations off, leaving you with a carving type knife. Target has a cheap line of Henkels and the serrated knife is only $10.

Any other knives are just bonus. A good chef's knife can do just about anything when used properly. The only other type you might want to invest in is a fillet/boning knife and that is only if you want to clean your own fish or meats. Otherwise, save your money :)

Comments? Questions? Flames? :)


  1. Hey L3, Thanks for posting this. Your note about size (so, did you just say size does matter?) reminded me that Sara Moulton prefers a big 12" chef's knife, and she is a small woman with small hands. So, it seems to me experience and number of hours behind the handle will influence your choice as well.

    Now, about sharpening -- do you sharpen your own knives, or do you have someone else do it? how frequently do you sharpen them? And do you have any experience with the Chef's Choice electric sharpeners?

    Thx, 007

  2. (dons her lab coat and best Q voice)
    Well 007 I'm glad you were finally able to pull your attentions away from the admittedly lovely Princess Hikitte and her stuffed berries to ask a reasonable question..

    Sorry.. The nerd in me couldn't resist. :)

    I had forgotten about Sara and her giant knife. It's been so long since the Food Network has had REAL chefs on it. You are correct, experience does have a lot to do which knife to choose, knowing your own body and level of skill are important.

    I think it was our friend HawaiiChef who said if you are using anything over a 10 inch blade, you are just trying to make up for SOMETHING. (and if he didn't say it and my memory bites, it sure as heck sounds like something he would say)

    Personally, I found anything over a 10 inch blade, and especially a heavier knife tends to up my level of fatigue faster than my ole faithful. (an 8 inch Global)

    Now for sharpening, it really depends on how often you use your knives and for what. When I was in school I did actually take my knives to someone to sharpen them for me because I didn't have my own stone, or honestly the time to deal with it. (The guy was awesome as well, a story for another time) Now I try to sharpen at least once a week, sometimes two and I use mine almost every day. The biggest things you can do to help preserve your nice sharp edge are using guards when you store your knives (if you don't have a block or magnetic strip) and honing your knife. For most knives, a quick run on a steel will bring the edge back in line as long as it hasn't seen heavy useage. If you don't own a steel, you can use the professional's trick: flip a ceramic mug/plate/bowl over and use the unglazed "foot" to steel the blade. Wipe the mug/plate/bowl and knife clean and proceed with your day. :)

    As far as electric sharpeners, I haven't used a Chef's Choice since I was 16,didn't know anything besides BAM, and the thing was older than I was. Needless to say I put a big nick into the first knife I tried on it. BUT that isn't to say that a hand held sharpener isn't a good thing. Global, Furi and I think even Wusthoff now make little hand held human powered sharpeners that allow you to quickly run your knife through and get a nice sharp blade without too much hassle or skill.

    Now, on your way and do TRY not to lose the Aston Martin in the Thames again, hmm?


  3. You're never going to let me forget the Aston Martin are you? Really, it was used and it was just a car ... an appliance really, practically a worn-out refrigerator ...