Connect Menu


Monday, September 10, 2012

Knife Skills

Cutting, chopping, carving or however you slice it.. is not my strength (or hubby's) when it comes to the kitchen. Sure we get it done but definitely not the best way or most efficient way. As frequent and fairly skilled cooks, we jumped at the chance to attend a free Knife Skills class at our Williams Sonoma. It even included a complimentary knife sharpening.

Here I will share what we learned so strap on your thinking chef cap.

1. Brands of knives

Our instructor said two of the best brands of knifes are Henckels and Wusthof - both German brands. She was not gaining any perks and I had also heard this previously from various sources when we shopped for our knives several years ago. We have a Henckels set and have been very happy with them.

2. Types of knives

It is important to use the right knife for a particular food not only so it is cut properly but also for safety reasons. You are more likely to end up with a nick or cut when using the wrong knife.

Santoku/Chef's knife. Usually 7 or 8 inches, this is the most important knife in your kitchen.

This is a Santoku, a Japanese style knife.


Because of the flat blade edge,the Santoku is designed for straight up and down chopping motion much like you see on many cooking shows like Iron Chef. Due to this you can chop quite quickly. The little intentions in the blade are called hollow edge and it helps the food fall off the knife when chopping instead of sticking to it.

The regular chef's knife has a curved blade edge so the rocking up and down cut is the proper cutting motion and is popular in french cooking. See how the blade below curves up where the Santoku one was flat.


You do not need both types of chef's knives and it comes down to personal preference when selecting one. Our knife block actually came with both which is nice. Use a chef's knife for cutting hard food like vegetables/fruits such as potatoes, onions, apples, carrots and peppers. We learned a great technique for chopping an onion evenly that I can't to document and share.

Serrated knife. This is usually a little shorter than a chef's knife.

It is a perfect tomato knife. It cuts through the tough skin when a chef's knife would just smush it - you know what I'm talking about. A serrated knife is great for cutting bread or other food items with a tough outside so it can also double as a bread knife if you do not want to also purchase one of those. You would not want to use a serrated knife on the foods you would use a chef's knife for like a pepper because it would tear it.

Paring knife. Normally a 3-4 inch knife great for peeling or carving out foods like pieces an apple or peach. Since it is small it is easy to manage.


Carving knife. For well, carving meat. These are around 8 inches. Most people think of this for Thanksgiving turkey but it can be for cutting a chicken breast or whatever.

Of course there are many more knives but these are the main ones that you would use all the time, especially the first 3.

3. Hand Placement

How you hold a knife extremely important. You want to grip it where the blade and the handle come together and not back on the handle like many, myself included, are guilty of. Keep all your fingers close together and curled in. I have started this since our class and it makes a world of difference.

Here is a great picture I found on how to hold a knife.


4. Honing/Sharpening and Cutting Boards

You should use your honing piece (usually comes with knife sets) after every major use or as needed. Knives should be professionally sharpened about once a year. We definitely need to get into the habit of doing this to keep our knives sharp.

Even though those glass or marble cutting boards look lovely, they will dull your knives with time so you should use wood or plastic. I am so thankful we learned this because we use a large glass board often that sits on the counter instead of pulling out our plastic ones. Of course glass and marble could still be used for serving.  I am going to search around for a large wooden board (perhaps monogrammed!) that we love and stick it on the Christmas list.

5. Washing and Storage

Even though many say dishwasher safe, it is best to hand wash knives to prevent dulling. Clanging around in the dishwasher with high water pressure will certainly do that in a hurry. Never place knives down in the sink for washing due to safety reasons.

It's best to store knives in a block or in a protective sleeve if you don't have a block. Usually if you buy a set, the knife block is included.


I hope this has improved your knife skills! We enjoyed the class and look forward to practicing what we learned. Check out the free and paid classes at Williams Sonoma and other places in your area if that interests you.

Linking up at these fun parties

1 comment :

  1. Cool post! I need to get a few good knives.

    I started my very first "Weekend Warmth" Linky party...and there are no rules. Please join in!


I love your comments and will answer all questions. Note I do approve all comments so it may take up to a few hours before your comment will appear. Thanks for understanding!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...