Chef’s Knives: A Cutting Relationship
We all know how essential chefs are at LSG Sky Chefs, but what’s indispensable to them? Since it’s World Chef’s Day, we thought we’d find out! Here’s a question for you, and no, it’s not a trick. What is the most important relationship in a chef’s professional life?
If you didn’t answer “knife”, we’re sorry to say that you failed the test – but don’t worry, we didn’t know either until we had the opportunity to find out more from Chef Stefan Grammel.
“When you go to work in a restaurant, they provide you with everything – your uniform, your apron… everything except your knife. You’re expected to bring that with you,” Stefan said.*
“It’s a very intimate relationship,” he continued, “You can’t just use someone else’s knife; you have to ask for permission first.” Why so possessive, you ask? That is because each knife has been moulded, in a sense, to fit the owner’s preferences. When picking a knife, chefs choose a handle and bolster that are not only comfortable in their grip, but fit well with the size of their hand. Smaller hands might prefer a thinner handle.
Furthermore, the blades are sharpened according to the chef’s cutting style. Stefan kindly imparted his wisdom to us: “There’s the push style, where the stroke goes away from the body; there’s the pull style, where the stroke goes towards the body, and there’s the push-pull, a combination of both.” And to top it all off, there’s the preference of short and longer blades.
But why is it all so important? Why do chefs place so much emphasis on the balance, weight and length of their knife? It’s simple, said Stefan. “If you think about it, no matter what recipe it is, no matter what you’re cooking, you will always need to cut something. Even if you use a peeler to peel a carrot, for example, you will still need to cut it later. You will always need your knife.”
The intimate relationship starts right from the beginning as even apprentices are expected to bring and care for their own knives. It’s been 26 years and Stefan still has his first knife – a Dreizack he keeps at home. “Why would I need to throw it away? It still works perfectly for me and my style.”
Even at home, the knife-chef relationship persists to some extent. His family can use the knife for cooking, but only if they use it properly, of course! After all, as Stefan said, “The knife is like an extension of our arm. A painter has his paintbrush; a chef has his knife.”
*At the LSG Sky Chefs kitchens, this is a little different since the chefs are provided with a set of knives that always remains in the kitchen, but even so, the knives are a chef’s during the work shift