Cut to the Chase: Let's Talk Cutlery

Cutlery sets are common to every commercial kitchen but not every foodservice staffer knows the proper role of each knife in their sets.

Foodservice operators use their knives to slice, carve, or pare a variety of fruits, vegetables, and meats for all dayparts. By understanding the purpose of each knife, foodservice operators can make their cooking experience much more effective and efficient.

Following is a refresher course on the purpose of each knife and the best way to use it.

Chef's Knife

This knife is a favorite among chef's because of its versatility. The chef's knife ranges in length from 6-to--12 inches and in width from 1 to 1.5 inches. Cooks use it to slice, mince and chop vegetables or cut through thick pieces of meat.

Paring Knife

Ranging between 2.5 to 4 inches long, the paring knife offers more control than the chef's knife. Additionally, the pared tip makes it great for removing seeds from fruits and vegetables, deveining shrimp, removing corn from the cob, and finely cutting garnishes. The paring knife can do a lot, but anything involving meat is best left to a chef's knife.

Utility Knife

With a length between a paring knife and a chef's knife, the utility knife—as its name might suggest—tries to do it all and can be a viable substitute for both the paring and chef's knife. The utility knife can slice and chop soft fruits and vegetables and has no problem cutting melons or grapefruits. It's important to note that the utility knife cannot offer the control of a paring knife or the strength of a chef's knife. Depending on the food being prepared, those qualities may not matter and the utility knife would be a perfect fit.

Boning Knife

This knife is 4 to 8 inches long with a narrow blade that allows the user to easily remove bones from meat, fish, or poultry. Boning knives curve inward to give users precise control when removing bones. Word to the wise, if you are cutting bones out of thicker meats make sure the boning knife has a stiff blade; with fish and poultry it should have a more flexible blade.

Bread Knife

The serrated bread knife was first introduced at the World's Colombian Exposition in 1893 in Chicago. Thanks to the bread knife's deep ridges along the blade, which can range from 6 to 10 inches, it can slice through bread without crushing and tearing it. The bread knife is also great for cutting through harder surfaces like watermelons.

Meat Cleaver

After its brush with stardom in a variety of horror films, the cleaver with its heavy, wide blade has returned to what it does best: cutting meat and bones with one swift strike. The meat cleaver is often used for big jobs like cutting large pieces of raw meat that prove to be too much for the chef's knife.

The days of blindly grabbing a knife from your cutlery set are over. You're smarter than that now.

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