Lisa Hackworth, product and marketing specialist, The Wasserstrom Co., Columbus, Ohio, offers a few tricks of the trade that can help operators pick the right cutlery for their businesses.
FE&S: What are the primary considerations when purchasing cutlery?
LH: It’s important to think about who will use it since everyone has their own preferences, whether it is a line cook or experienced chef. Also, different knives are used for specific purposes, so the menu and application are factors that should be taken into account.
FE&S: How do forged blades differ from stamped blades?
LH: Knives with forged blades tend to be pricier. This type is created with one piece of steel, cut and beaten into shape. As a result, the blade is sturdier and the bolster is heavier, which equates to a longer service life. The downside is this knife can’t be sharpened all the way to the end, and forged blades’ hardened steel isn’t flexible or bendable. Stamped knives are more like a cookie cutter type, with the same thickness throughout the knife. It’s made in an assembly line production so it is less expensive than a forged knife. In the past, stamped knives were considered lesser quality than forged, but that’s no longer the case. Still, most of the top-rated knives are the forged type, and there is a greater variety of these available.
FE&S: What should operators consider when choosing knife handles?
LH: If the knife is being used in the back of house, health department regulations need to be taken into account. Wood handles, which can harbor bacteria, and stainless steel handles, which can compromise a good grip, are not common in commercial settings.
FE&S: Are there staples when it comes to cutlery?
LH: The cutlery an operation requires depends on the applications and items being prepped. Most commercial kitchens need at least one chef’s or Santoku knife for slicing, dicing and mincing. Santoku knives are more rounded at the end and an inch shorter than chef’s knives. An assortment of paring and utility knives is typically required. In some cases, specialty knives, like a roast beef slicer or offset sandwich knife, are needed. Bread cutting will necessitate a serrated knife, which also is preferred for other items, like tomatoes. The blade thickness as well as the weight and feel of the knife are important since this tool is an extension of the user’s hand.
FE&S: Are there differences between domestically produced and imported cutlery?
LH: European knives tend to have more of a curved edge for those who prefer to cut with a rocking motion, while Asian knives are slimmer with a straighter edge.