Culinary School 101: Chef Knives

Culinary school teaches you the value of high quality ingredients, cooking techniques, and cooking utensils. Perhaps the most important of these utensils are the chef knives. There are several kinds of knives and all with a special purpose in the culinary arts world. Here is a quick guide to what is considered the ultimate chef’s knife kit; or the best ones to own.

Chef’s knife – Also known as the French knife, it is the most versatile knife in a chef’s or culinary student’s collection. Used for many mincing, chopping and slicing chores, it can be anywhere from eight to 12 inches in length.

Paring knife – Mainly used for trimming and paring fruits and vegetables, it is the smallest knife in the collection with a two- to four-inch blade.

Tourne knife – You will definitely hear the term tourne cut in culinary school. It refers to cutting veggies into an oblong shape for appearance. The tool of this cutting chore is, obviously, the tourne knife. It is about the same size as the paring knife with a curved blade.

Utility knife – This knife is a little smaller that the chef’s knife at about five to eight inches in length. It is used only for light cutting chores.

Cleaver – A culinary student will have the most fun with knife work while chopping with a cleaver, which is heavy enough to sever bones. It is rectangular in shape and can vary in length.

Boning knife – Separating uncooked meat from the bone is a basic culinary school skill that cannot be completed without a boning knife. It is thinner and a few inches shorter than a chef’s knife.

Slicer – With its long, flexible blade, this knife is used for making presentation-worthy slices of cooked meat.

Filleting knife – Culinary students will use this knife to fillet raw fish. It looks a lot like a boning knife but is thinner since fish is a lot more delicate than other meats.

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