From safety issues to food quality, a high-quality commercial kitchen knife is without doubt the most important piece of equipment in the kitchen.
When properly sharpened, maintained and protected, good knives can be counted on to perform well, slicing effortlessly, precisely and safely. An investment in your love of good food and cooking, a professional knife set will pay handsomely in dividends, rewarding you with enjoyable and safe performance year after year.
Choosing a High-Quality Commercial Kitchen Knife
When choosing a high-quality commercial kitchen knife, look for one constructed of high-quality materials. Carbon steel is prized by many chefs, but these knives do require extra maintenance and care. Some of the best commercial kitchen knives are made of high-carbon stainless steel, which will not rust, and offer good edge retention and easy maintenance.
Stamped vs. Forged
The primary factor in the price of a good knife comes down to whether it is stamped or forged. Stamped knives are generally inferior to forged ones and are typically machine-made. While there are some stamped knives made of better-quality materials and well-designed blades, once you try forged knives you’ll never look back.
Forged knives are constructed of heated or melted metal that is then shaped into a blade. Made of premium materials by expert craftsmen or sometimes specialized machinery, forged knives are easier to use and perform better. They are well balanced, feel solid in your hand and will hold an edge longer than a stamped knife. With proper care, forged knives will last a lifetime.
When choosing a knife that you will use frequently, opt for the highest quality option you can afford, even if that knife is a higher-quality stamped knife. One of the more budget-friendly ways of stocking your kitchen with a professional-grade knife set is to look into a knife exchange or knife rental service. Not only will your kitchen be fully outfitted with high-quality knives that might otherwise be unaffordable, but these services will keep your kitchen’s knives as sharp as possible for you.
The Right Tool for the Job
Like other jobs, using the right tool for the right task applies to commercial kitchen knives. For most who work in a kitchen, your primary knife will be a “Chef’s Knife”. Exceptionally versatile and useful, a Chef’s Knife will work great for meats, fish, vegetables and fruit, whether you’re chopping, mincing, slicing or dicing. A combination of a deep, stable heel, a finely sharpened tip and a rocking curved blade makes this knife indispensable in the kitchen.
Second in your collection of restaurant knives will probably be a Paring Knife. Smaller than a Chef’s knife, a paring knife is ideal for small food prep that a chef’s knife is too large for. A paring knife makes it easy to hold small food in your hand as you cut it, such as trimming strawberries or peeling apples. Intended for delicate work, these knives take less abuse than your chef’s knife will, but is still a valuable tool to use, so you’ll want to choose a good quality one.
While there are numerous knives for numerous uses, an 8-inch bread or serrated knife will make an ideal number three in your professional cooking knife set. Useful for much more than bread, its serrated edge is perfect for fruit and vegetables with tough rinds and soft centres such as pineapple, melons, squash and even tomatoes. These blades slice easily through cakes and bread without mashing them and are perfect for crisp cuts in wraps and sandwiches. While their sharpness is long-lasting, due to the nature of their blades, bread knives must be professionally sharpened.
Once you are ready to grow beyond the basics, there are many other knives available to round out your professional knife set including utility knives, Santoku knives, boning knives, filet knives, slicing (carving) knives and more, and kitchen shears too. Each offers great features that make them ideal for specific uses and tasks.
Commercial kitchen knives are constructed of quality materials, ensuring their reliability, sharp edges and ease of use. Thoughtfully designed, restaurant kitchen knives are designed for performance and to perform specific tasks.
As proper knife use, honing, cleaning, and storage are essential to keeping your commercial knife set in good condition; set aside some time each week to keep them at their best.
Regular maintenance varies between knives but is critical for both performance and safety reasons. If you don’t have the time or skill required to maintain your restaurant-grade knives, you may consider enlisting the services of a restaurant knife sharpening service or a knife exchange. These professional services often offer a knife-swap service, ensuring that you have a continuous supply of freshly sharpened commercial kitchen knives, without the time-consuming hassle of maintenance, and the upfront expense of purchasing a commercial kitchen knife set.