Knife DNA 101

The Cutting Edge the sharpened, honed edge of the blade. It should be razor sharp. Chef’s knife blades come in varying degrees of curvature, designed for various tasks, such as cutting, slicing, filleting, butchery.

The Back, or Spine, is the long side opposite the sharp blade. This is where you hold your non–knife hand when rocking the knife back and forth for rapid mincing. It can also be used as a makeshift bench scraper for moving pieces of food around on your cutting board. Never use the knife cutting edge for this.

The Tip is the sharp point at the end of the blade. It’s used for precision work.

The Heel is at the bottom of the blade. In Western-style knives, the metal thickens significantly at the heel. This is to make it easier to grip.

The Bolster is the part of the blade that meets the handle. It is thick and heavy, providing a good balancing point for the blade and the handle. The center of mass should be somewhere near the bolster, so that you can rock the knife back and forth with minimal effort.

The Tang is the extension of the blade that runs through the handle. It provides balance as well as sturdiness.

The Handle is where your hand rests if using the handle grip, or where your three smaller fingers rest if using the blade grip. Handles can be made of wood, polycarbonate, metal, or various exotic materials.

The Butt is the fattened section at the very bottom of the handle.


Culinary Fun Fact: What is a Moderate Oven?



Oven Temperatures

                                      ºF                     ºC                      Gas Mark
very cool                     250–275           130–140                ½–1
cool                              300                    148                         2
warm                           325                    163                         3
moderate                    350                    177                         4
moderately hot         375–400           190–204               5–6
hot                                425                     218                        7
very hot                      450–475             232–245               8–9


Thinking Of Opening A Restaurant: Equipment


Large Appliances


Open Burner: Direct, adjustable heat.

Flat Top: Thick Steel plate over the heat source that provides indirect heat.  Requires flat bottomed cookware and time to adjust settings.

Ring Top: Concentric rings and plates that can be removed to expose the burner.  Indirect or direct heat.  Has a higher BTU than an open burner.

Conventional Oven: Indirect heat source located at the bottom with adjustable shelves.

Deck Oven: Food is set directly on oven floor.  Single or multiple levels available.  Think pizza oven.

Convection Oven: Fan blows hot air through oven allowing food to brown more efficiently.  Often used for pastries and baked goods.

Combi Oven: Temperature, moisture content and air flow may be controlled.  Used for cooking and holding food.

Salamander: Open Box like apparatus with heat source located in roof.  Generally used for intense browning (glacages)

Grill: Heating source (built in or added) is located below a heavy duty cooking rack.

Walk-In Refrigeration: Used for cold storage or freezing.

Reach-In Refrigeration: Larger version of a home refrigerator/freezer.

Under Counter Refrigerator and Refrigerated Drawers: Used primarily around the work areas.  Some drawers designed to hold specialty products such as fish.

Small Appliances

Ber Mixer: Immersion blender either electric or battery powered.

Electric Blender: A machine that purées, Emulsified and crushes. Composed of a solid housing containing motor base and the blending jar  Never fill more than 2/3 full.

Electric Food Chopper or Buffalo Chopper: Heavily built machine with a rotating bowl that passes under a hood where vertical blades chop the food.

Electric Food Processor: Heavy motor encased in plastic or metal housing with a detachable bowl and cover and various blades with specific functions.  It can chop, blend, mix, purée, knead, grate, slice and julienne.

Electric Meat Grinder: Freestanding motor housing, as well a feed tray, and blades of varying sizes.

Electric Meat Slicer: Substantial machine with a metal encased motor as the foundation and a circular cutting blade attached.

Mandoline: Hand slicer supported by folding legs with a number of different sized blades used to cut vegetables into a variety of shapes, sizes and thicknesses.

Steam Jacketed Kettle: Used to make large quantities of stocks, soups, sauces and pastas.  Two quarts to one-hundred gallons.  Steam circulates through the kettle walls to provide heat.

Tilting Shallow Kettle: Large stainless steel unit with a hinged lid for making large quantities of sautés and braises.

Hand Tools

Channel Knife (Canneieur): Small Knife used to channel fruits and vegetables into decorative patterns.

Chef’s Fork: Longer handled, longer toned fork that keeps the chef’s hand from the heat.

Chinois: Conical strainer with a handle.

Chinois Etamine: Bouillon strainer.  Constructed with fine metal mesh.

Perforated Chinois: Used when fine straining is not necessary.

Food Mill: Metal basket utensil with interchangeable discs and hand crank used to separate solids from skins, seeds, etc.

Kitchen Scissors: Sturdy shears to cut butcher’s twine. Or kitchen paper or for trimming fish or poultry.

Needle Nosed Plyers / Tweezers: Used to remove fine bones from fish.

Parisienne Scoop: Melon baller.  Used to cut fruit or vegetables into small balls.

Pastry Spatula: Long thin spatula used to assist in cake decoration.

Ricer: Basket or cone shaped utensil with small holes and a plunger used to force small foods into grains.

Scales: Essential in pastry making.

Scrapers: Numerous styles:

Metal Bench Scraper: To clean off workspace.

Plastic Bowl Scraper: To remove dough from mixing bowls.

Spatulas: Large metal ones used to flip vegetables, meat, poultry.  Rubber, composite, wood spatulas also used for various techniques.

Spider: Long handled device with a shallow almost bowl like shaped disk of mesh or perforated wire.

Spoons: Wide variety of sizes and shapes and materials.

Stem Thermometer: Measures degrees through a metal stem two inches from the tip.

Tamis: Used for fine straining of liquids, aka tammycloth.

Tongs: Helpful in turning, lifting and plating food without puncturing it.

Trusing Needle: Long skewer like needle used to truss poultry.

Vegetable Peeler: Small fixed or pivoting blade with a handle used to peel vegetables and fruit.

Whisks: Thin, flexible wire whips used to incorporate mixtures. Balloon whisks have large somewhat spherical centers to incorporate air into foods such as egg whites.

Your Knife Roll


Chef’s (or French) Knife: Used for chopping, slicing, dicindand filleting. Blade 6-14 inches.

Utility Knife: Used for coring vegetables and slicing tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables.

Boning Knife: Used to bone various meats and poultry.  Blade is 6-7 inches and curved.

Fillet Knife: Used to fillet fish.  Flexible blade.

Slicing Knife: Used for slicing large cuts of meat or fish. Blade 12-16 inches.

Paring Knife: Small blade Used for peeling and turning vegetables.

Serrated Knife: Bevel edge blade for slicing breads.

Honing Steel: Hardened, ridged rod to keep blade aligned.

Sharpening Stone: Stone in a variety of grits used to sharpen knives.