Why do Chefs Carry their own Knives?

Why do Chefs Carry their own Knives?

“A kitchen without a knife is not a kitchen.” - Masaharu Morimoto

As you’re thinking about culinary school, it might seem that one set of knives are as good as another. Why would a chef need to carry their knives around with them, when whatever kitchen they’re heading to should be well stocked? But these tools are the key component to cooking and a knife is simply not interchangeable.

What’s the Difference between Knives?

If you have large hands, using a knife made for someone with smaller hands might prove to be uncomfortable and imprecise for you. Also, if you knife cuts a certain way, picking up another knife which is not as sharp or well cared for as yours might not produce the same results or could take some getting used to. Time you might not have in a professional kitchen.

Knives are also made out of different materials. Whereas one chef could prefer a knife made out of carbon steel, another could swear by a more durable alloy. There are lots of opinions about which knife is better, but it usually comes down to personal preference for the type of food you’re making.

So Knives can be Different, but What Do You Use them For?

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Here are just some of the types of knives you might encounter while learning more about culinary arts. Keep in mind, these are only the most common types of knives used in professional kitchens. There are many more intended for specific tasks!

  • Chef’s Knife: the most common knife a chef will use. They can make a variety of cuts with it, including slicing and chopping.
  • Santoku Knife: similar to the chef’s knife, this knife has a drop point, allowing for more precise cutting.
  • Utility Knife: this knife is commonly used for fruits and vegetables, as well as trimming excess fat from meats.
  • Paring Knife: coming in many different styles and sizes, this knife is perfect for small vegetables and fruits.
  • Boning Knife: used for fabricating meat, this knife will help you break down an entire animal for your recipe.
  • Meat Cleaver: a big job calls for a big knife. This knife is perfect for dealing with large cuts of meat.

Why Are there so Many Knives?

Now you know a little about chef culture and what kind of knives are available, you might be wondering why simply so many exist. The truth of the matter is that chefs will have to prepare everything from the largest cut of beef to the smallest herb garnishes.  You could use a pairing knife to fabricate a leg of lamb. You could also use a meat cleaver to slice a decorative strawberries for a cake. But why would you, when there is a much easier and precise tool to use?

How Should an Aspiring Chef Care for their Knives?

If you’re thinking about culinary school, it’s always a good idea to prepare for what you’ll be doing in the classrooms and kitchens. Knives should always be cleaned to the specifications of the manufacturer and according to Health Department standards. Keep track of your knife set as it’s easy to misplace smaller knives or mix them up with your classmates’.

It might be tempting to buy an expensive knife set right away, in hopes it will make you cut like a professional. But your culinary school will probably have recommendations or even provide knives for you. Also, trying out several different types of knives will give you a chance to see what kind you really like, so you’re not stuck with an expensive, but ultimately ill-fitting knife set.

And finally, be careful when taking your knives to different places, other than the kitchens they were intended to be used in. Especially when you’re traveling on a plane.

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