Introduction to Knives

Learn the basics of knives with Carla Hall of Top Chef New York. She’ll show you different types of knives and their uses; how to care for them, sharpen them and the essentials to look for when selecting knives that are just right for you.

Learn the basics of knives with Carla Hall of Top Chef New York. She’ll show you different types of knives and their uses; how to care for them, sharpen them and the essentials to look for when selecting knives that are just right for you.

Read the transcript of this video
[MUSIC] Hi, welcome to Top Chef University. I'm Carla, finalist from Top Chef New York. Our first course is all about the basics and this is Lesson Four, Knives 101. Now stay sharp and pay attention. Knives are one of the most important tools in a kitchen, and often a chef's most prized possession. A high quality sharp knife makes most work in the kitchen much easier. But it's also much safer than a dull, poor quality knife. These are some of the most common types of knives that you've probably seen or heard of. Here is what each of them looks like and what they're designed for. The Chef's. Chef's knife is a multipurpose knife and the one knife to have if you could only choose one. Usually eight to ten inches long, giving it a decent weight and leverage. It's fantastic for slicing, mincing, chopping, just about anything, from herbs to vegetables to seafood and beef. The paring. The paring knife is a much smaller knife that is used for detailed work or smaller jobs, such as coring, peeling, or trimming. And like the chef's knife, it is an essential in any knife collection. Santoku. The Santoku, which is a Japanese term, is similar to a chef's knife but usually slightly shorter and distinctively has a scalloped edge on the face of the blade. This helps reduce friction when slicing so things don't stick to the blade. The santoku is a very comfortable knife to use especially when slicing up vegetables. Bread. A bread knife is a speciality knife that has a serrated edge with more pronounced teeth. This is particularly useful for cutting through tough crusts on bread and funnily enough At the other end of the spectrum soft food like a tomato as the teeth will cut through the ingredients without tearing or slipping. Boning, a bone knife has a thicker sturdier blade. It's shorter with a narrow tip for working through tough gaps and around bones. Filleting. A filet knife has a distinctive flexible blade, ideal for bending against the pressure of a bone or cartilage, and extracting nice, clean boneless filets of meat, such as fish. Hence the name filleting These are just some of the main knives you'll see around. But there are a host of others too such as cleavers, utilities, and carving knives. But these are the essentials. And they will get you through just about any task in the kitchen. Knives can be a big investment, so it's important to take of them and maintain a sharp edge. There are a couple of ways to do this. After each use I like to give them a few runs on each side of the honing still. This aligns the small teeth on a blade and will keep the knife sharper for longer. Honing is a great day to day habit to get into but sooner or later the teeth are gonna wear down and you will need to give them a new end. So I'm gonna put my steel here, so you can see it, and then I have my knife at a 20 degree angle, and you see, I move down the steel. And if this is new to you, you can at least see your angle, now so periodically you'll need to sharpen the knives on a stone. Depending on your stone follow the manufacturers instructions. For this stone, I want to put a little bit of honing oil. Cause this oil is going to take the particles that are going to come off the knife and keep them from going into the stone. So I'm pressing at a 20 degree angle, pressing my knife from the tip to the base And turn it over and you're gonna do this about ten times on each side. Wipe the blade down and you'll see the fine particles that have been shaved off resulting in a new sharper edge. So now you know what some of the different knifes are and how to look after them. But what do you actually need for your kitchen and your personal needs? For me, a good quality chef's knife is a must for everyday use in 90% of your tasks. I'd also like to have a good paring knife and maybe a serrated knife for breads and soft vegetables, as there's no substitute when it comes to cutting through the crusty exterior of a delicious loaf of bread. Choose knives that feel comfortable. The knives should sit nicely in your hand and the weight should be heavy enough to assist you in cutting through items, but not so heavy that you're labored or your movement is restricted. Now, there are many types of materials that knives are made out of such as carbon steel, stainless steel or even ceramic and high carbon. Each has its own characteristics. For example, some were more stain resistant and robust, but then are heavier and harder to sharpen. And others are lighter, and consequently more fragile. Again, it's all about your personal needs, and your style of cooking, that will determine what characteristics you need in your knives. And that is Knives 101. A little later on in the course, we'll get into honing your knife skills. But we wanted to first make sure you knew what the different blades were before you started wielding them like a samurai. Take a look at the knives that you already have at home and make sure they're the right ones for you. In the next lesson, we'll continue to talk gear. With pots and pans. [MUSIC]
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Introduction to Knives


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