Essential Knives & Knife Techniques for Cooks of Every Level

Posted by Amanda Delatorre on

This video, beautifully produced by Eater, features Chef Paul Liebrandt discussing the essential knives and knife techniques for cooks of every level. Featured are Chubo’s Takeda, Kagekiyo, Takamura, and Saji Takeshi knives.

Video Transcription

I am Paul Liebrandt, and these are the essential knives you will need in your kitchen.

Essential Knives and Knife Skills

When you enter a kitchen, the variety of knives there are can be overwhelming at times. But, I have chosen four essential knives for you to use in your kitchen today. These four knives are what you would need to do—I would say ninety percent of all tasks given.

1. Slicing Knife

Pricing: $100 and Up

Starting with the slicing knife. Slicing knives, as you can see, are always generally much longer than a bladed. And are used for slicing fish, slicing meat—depending on the meat—and it can be used for vegetables as well, but generally [it’s used] for protein work. I don’t hold the knife like this: [clenching handle with entire hand] like a, like a baseball bat—no. I go up, I put my [pointer] finger [in the notch between blade and handle] so I can have, balance, on here. I like to feel the nice balance of the knife, feel the length of the blade, and my hand fully on the handle.

2. Chef’s Knife

Pricing: $80 and Up

The second knife is what’s known as the chef’s knife. The chef knife can be used for fine detail as well as for general preparation of chopping or slicing. As you can see, we have a beautiful array of chef’s knives right here. Varying shapes, but the style is very different from the slicer. The shaft is obviously much thicker. You’ve got more heft on the heal of the knife. Instead of a long slice, you can get more of a cut or a chop.

3. Petite Chef’s Knife 

Pricing: $50 and Up

The third kind of knife is the petite knife, which is a smaller version of the chef knife. So, this is something for—you could use this for vegetable work. This is very good for anything small you’re going to be chopping or shaving.

So, it’s always better to cut something cleanly like lettuce or an herb than it is to tear it—because you bruise it.

4. Paring Knife

Pricing: $50 and Up

And then the fourth knife is the paring knife—the very small petite knife. This is used for vegetables, fruit—anything that requires a small blade where you’re doing a shallow cut, and you’re not cutting where you have to do long cuts. This is very good for, like, small, delicate, fine cuts.

We’ve got a lovely radish, okay. Same idea, [the paring knife] is very good for cleaning.

Knife Technique

Practice makes perfect when it comes to knife skills. It really does. When you cut something, it’s not just focusing on the item that you’re cutting—it’s your shoulder movement, how your body is positioned, how you stand is very important, how your shoulders line up with the board with the knife and the symmetry of your body. Watching your wrist, watching how your elbow moves when you do it, watching the front of the knife and the back of the knife is very important. Little things like this help to just make you a, just overall a good technique. I want you to remember it’s not just a chop and slice.

—End Transcript—

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