Head Cuisine Chef at Le Cordon Bleu London, Eric Bediat, has prepared a guide for everything you need to know about knives and knife skills.
Success in the kitchen relies on a number of ingredients – a great recipe; the best quality produce you can source; and of course, having strong knife skills. Often, even the most proficient of home cooks cut corners when it comes to the knives they use, and the way in which they are used. Here is your guide to all you need to know.
- Choosing a knife suitable for the task allows slicing and cutting with precision, speed, safety and will always improve your technique.
- To improve your knife skills, initially practice slicing or cutting in slow motion then increase your speed over time.
- The placement of your fingers on the product being cut is very important, ensure you are placing your fingers correctly on the ingredients and ensure you build good habits.
- There are many ways to use and handle a knife and these will differ depending on the size and shape of the product you cut, slice, fillet, bone out, chop.
READ MORE: Le Cordon Bleu: A Perfect Steak
Types of Blade
- Stainless steel: The cheapest option, and the most durable but requires regular sharpening between jobs.
- Carbon steel: More expensive, requiring less sharpening between jobs. It tends to rust and react with certain acidic foods and is a more fragile metal.
- Damascus steel: Traditionally these knives are very expensive and require even less sharpening between jobs. It is made up of several types of steel to give a modern water pattern.
- Ceramic: Not a steel. Ceramic is expensive, requiring no sharpening. These knives are extremely fragile.
- Knives must be stored with the blades pointed the same way in drawers or bags; very neatly and always clean.
- Knives must be held by the handle only and the index finger should never be on the back of the blade.
- To ensure knife safety, the workstation must be kept in order so that it is organised; if knives are not needed, they must be put away. In addition to this, hand movements must be carefully thought through.
- When using a knife, you must not be distracted easily and always remain aware of the dangers when using a knife.
- We try to avoid walking with a knife and if we must, the blade should always be pointed down to the floor.
Caring for your Knives
- Knives must be cleaned after each use. Try detergent and hot water before drying and putting away.
- Knives must be kept sharp to avoid having to put more pressure on the knife, which can stifle your knife skills.
- The use of the steel for sharpening is for regular maintenance only.
- If the edge of the blade becomes too thick, a sharpening stone or knife sharpener can be used.
- To ensure your knives last a lifetime, use them on chopping boards only and never directly on a workstation, especially not one made from marble or metal.
Perfecting your knife skills can transform a good cook into a really great one. Vegetables can be prepared in a variety of ways; julienne, brunoise, chiffonade – which adds a real elegance to the finished plate. Butchery becomes a far less daunting task; a leg of lamb can be butterflied and stuffed, ideal for the barbecue; a whole chicken can be jointed making it far more cost-effective than buying individual portions.
Le Cordon Bleu London offers a dedicated Knife Skills Workshop, where under the guidance of one of their Master Chefs, you will learn the essentials and perfect your technique. For more information, click here.
Le Cordon Bleu London
Le Cordon Bleu is the leading global network of culinary arts and hospitality management institutes, dedicated to providing the highest level of world-class programmes. Le Cordon Bleu’s place in the industry plays an integral part in the success of its thousands of students who graduate each year. Aside from the teaching chefs, wine experts and lecturers, who have all been recruited from the best 5* hotels and Michelin-starred kitchens around the world, students also have the opportunity to watch esteemed chefs from the industry during exclusive live demonstrations at the school. Le Cordon Bleu’s world-renowned reputation has built fantastic relationships with hotels and restaurants who are keen to employ Le Cordon Bleu graduates.
Graduating from Le Cordon Bleu can lead to a number of amazing career opportunities including a business owner, head chef, food journalist, food stylist or sommelier. Across the globe, Le Cordon Bleu has had many notable alumni such as Julia Child, Mary Berry, Peggy Porschen and Yotam Ottolenghi. Other more recent alumni to note have included Adria Wu, Rachel Khoo, Tess Ward and John Whaite.
Find out more here.