Localicious: The Cutting Edge


If you could choose only one piece of cookware for your kitchen, what would it be?

An 8-inch chef’s knife would be your best investment, say local cutlery experts Kathleen Pedulla, Robert Fanno and Bob Kemp, who insist the tool is indispensable for mincing, slicing, chopping, disjointing large cuts of meat and even paring.

The blade of the chef’s knife, also known as a cook’s knife, is pointed, wide, and curved. German-style knives have blades that curve continuously along the cutting edge while French-style knives have a straighter edge that tapers at the tip. Then there’s the especially sharp Japanese chef’s knife, known as a “gyuto.”

“Some women aren’t comfortable handling a large knife,” says Pedulla, who runs the cooking school at That Kitchen Place in Redding. “There are 4 ½- and 6-inch knives with a chef’s knife shape that they may find more comfortable to use.”

Fanno, who runs Fanno Saw Works in Chico, says he asks customers for as much information as they can give him about what they want a knife for. “When they do, I can steer them to the knives I have faith in,” he says, noting that not only the blade but also the handle should be taken into consideration.

Fanno notes that fine knives can be produced from either forged steel (knives made from a single block of steel), or stamped steel (knives that are mass-produced). “The blade and handle on a forged knife are all one piece, and it has about three times more steel than a stamped knife,” he says. “Stamped knives are made from rolled steel and are cut out in a cookie cutter approach. The blade and handle are made separately.”

Bob Kemp of Bob’s Sharpening Service in Mt. Shasta adds that because stamped steel knives are lighter, they are a good choice for people with hand issues. “Both forged and stamped steel knives hold a good edge and sharpen well, so it just depends on what is most comfortable for a cook,” says Kemp, who says he likes to educate his customers about all their options. “I want my customers to know the process I use in knife sharpening and the value of purchasing the best knife they can for their budget,” Kemp says.

Regardless of your favorite style, experts say that wise chefs will take good care of their prized knife. Never soak knives in water. Even dishwashers aren’t recommended, as the agitation can cause damage. Instead, wash knives by hand and dry them immediately.

Knives should be stored on a magnetic wall rack, or in a wooden wall-mounted or countertop knife block. Storing knives loosely in a drawer can take the edge off – or injure someone reaching into the drawer.

Moreover, knives should only be used for cutting on soft surfaces like bamboo, soft plastic or wood. “A cook doesn’t want to cut on glass, hard plastic, Formica or granite,” says Pedulla. “Not only will this dull the knife edge; a knife can easily slip and cut the cook.”

“I tell my customers that a dull knife is a dangerous knife,” says Kemp. It’s advisable to sharpen a knife when it begins to drag while cutting. While home chefs can learn the skill of proper knife sharpening, taking the knife to a professional sharpener like Kemp or Fanno is a better choice. “Proper knife sharpening is time consuming and messy. Knife sharpening kits are available, but a professional charges only about $3 for sharpening an 8-inch chef’s knife,” says Fanno.

Knife skills classes are available for cooks wanting to learn about best knife practices. That Kitchen Place offers classes twice a year taught by representatives from Wüsthof and Messermeister, both companies that manufacture fine knives.

A fine knife can cost anywhere from $40 to several hundred dollars. Pedulla advises customers to invest in as high a quality knife as possible: “Although a fine knife may seem very expensive, with care, it can last a lifetime.”

A Cut Above

Bob’s Sharpening Service
305 S. Mt. Shasta Blvd., Mt. Shasta
(530) 926-6536

Fanno Saw Works
224 W. 8th Ave., Chico
(530) 895-1762

That Kitchen Place
975 Hilltop Dr., Redding
(530) 222-1160

The Galley
551 Country Dr., Chico
(530) 343-8820

[sws_grey_box box_size=”585″]Localicious is a monthly column celebrating healthy food in the North State. If you would like to suggest a food-related idea, business or organization, email us at localicious@northstateparent.com. [/sws_grey_box]

Carolyn Warnemuende
About Carolyn Warnemuende

Author Carolyn Warnemuende has two daughters and five grandchildren, and lives with her husband in Redding. She writes parenting and educational articles, sponsors a school in Uganda, and visits Africa twice a year. She receives great joy in taking daily care of her four-year-old granddaughter who was adopted from Ethiopia.

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