March 16, 2008

What's in a knife kit?

Not that anyone asked, but I thought it might be of some modest value to see what a cook carries around with him/her. Like anything else, a cook gets used to doing things a certain way, and having their preferred knives and tools gets to be fairly important. A good cook can certainly still perform with unfamiliar gear, but sometimes it's the little things that can make it a good shift or a bad shift.

Sharp knives are a good starting point. Most restaurants have "house knives," but they're usually cheap to begin with, no one takes care of them, they're beat up, dull and used for opening cans and all kinds of unintended purposes. Beyond just getting it done, sharp knives in the right hands mean clean, professional looking cuts, rather than a hacked up, raggedy looking mess. Also, the food cut with sharp knives tends to last a bit longer because it's cut instead of mashed.

Of course, what cooks carry can change quite a bit depending on what is needed for the menu, but I usually carry all of this all the time. When I work a particular station at the restaurant, I pull out different things. But I take the same kit to catering gigs, where you never know what the client will or won't have. And being a gadget guy, I'd rather have the right tool than not.

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