Good knives make all the difference

Posted on Analysis Mar 2010 - by Tandoori Magazine
Good knives make all the difference

Kitchen knives that are good and sturdy can make all the difference in a restaurant kitchen, says Andy Varma of V8 Gourmet Group.

Knives form a major part of any restaurant’s kitchen. Most restaurant owners think that the kitchen staff can ‘manage’ with cheaper knives.This is a bad decision as it compromises the safety of the kitchen staff. A blunt knife or a knife with a light steel blade is dangerous when there is a serious amount of work in the prep for lunches and dinners.

German forged steel is considered the best in the world, and one British story that sticks in my mind, using the German forged steel, is Robert Welch. With its roots in an 18th century silk mill in Chipping Campden, in the Cotswolds, for over five decades the Robert Welch British design team has been creating UK’s most exclusive line of cutlery and knives.

Robert’s humble beginnings started at The Royal College of Arts in 1955, which eventually led to an MBE and title of Royal Designer for Industry. We look for local produce which brings in England’s finest in the kitchens, so I think it’s time we look at our industry to support local designers and equipment suppliers in dire economic times. Not only are they talented, but also many are ‘best in class’ as one can see that their products are used by the best all around the world.

I happened to meet Robert Welch at a meeting and asked him about all his products. I was amazed at the quality of his knives and stainless steel cutlery. He sent me a set of samples to try for myself, and here is my report on the products.

10cm Vegetable Knife: Online price: £25: This was the first one I tested. The handle was well balanced, and the knife’s blade was very sharp. I liked the feel of the knife and the design was really aesthetically pleasing. Turning vegetables was also good and peeling, and skinning of fruits and vegetables was easy. I really liked the way this knife peels, chops and dices for smaller and delicate work.

17cm Santuko Knife: Online price: £38: I do quite a lot of chopping and dabble in Asian cooking, so when I got to test this knife, it was fantastic! The design is based on practicality, where the handle sits up high, and the blade sits down firmly on the board. This one is beautifully balanced and has a good long blade to get the juliennes cut finely.

Very good for onions, garlic, carrots, turnips, and okra. Some of you glide the knives without fully lifting the blade from the chopping board, and I sometimes glide the knife too when I slice onions. This one did offer a bit of a resistance when slicing on the board. When I chopped, lifting the blade off the board, it was perfect!

20cm Cooking Knife: Online price: £40: The cooking knife is the chef’s prized possession, and this beauty won’t be left on the kitchen table, as its liable to be nicked by jealous juniors in the kitchen! The angle on this blade minimises fatigue on the blade, so it will last much longer. I liked this knife very much, and it is the preferred length for chefs who are used to working a bit during prep work in the kitchen.

12cm Cooking Knife: Online price: £27: This cook’s knife has a sturdy shorter blade, and also has a curved edge which makes them cope well with blade fatigue. I quite like this short blade and found it very useful for dicing and chopping smaller amounts. Check out their website for the whole range of knives, cutlery and flatware in stainless steel.

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