Cut Above


With the exception of your hands a good knife is the most important tool you can have in the kitchen. Honest. How is your knife? If it doesn't cut the mustard, so to speak, then consider an immediate replacement. If you love your knife not, you just won't get very far in the kitchen.

I use, for almost everything, that one in the middle, a sturdy 8-inch chef's knife (mine happens to be Wusthof). I've had it for as long as I can remember. We've shared some intense moments together. In Ireland, many years ago, upon heading to culinary school there, my elbow was lifted into a back room at the airport when I refused to check my knives in with the other luggage. Like checking in a pet, I simply couldn't understand why I wasn't allowed to keep them by my side. (In hindsight, I see how I was a little crazy.)

Oh, and that's the same knife I sliced well into my thumb knuckle while working as a sous chef in a Japanese kitchen. It's not what you think, I was simply washing the knife in a sink of soapy bubbles, when it neatly slipped out and carved smoothly into bone. To the ER I went.

Anyhow, the cleaver, on the left, came from Gus Janeway. A long ago friend who welcomed my husband and I when we moved to southern Oregon in 2002. We'd literally shoved all of all of our belongings into our Hyundai sedan and drove off from St Paul, MN to Ashland, OR without a job or place to live awaiting us; our dreams and naivete in tact. Gus, and his wife Julia, put us up for a few nights, made us the most delicious Americanos, and gave us this precious tool to begin our kitchen adventures with. I use it when I'm feeling tough, or when I'm working with something tough, like a heavy, seemingly impenetrable winter squash.

The white knife is our young daughter's. Quite a harmless, sturdy little thing, and I don't have to nervously bend over her while she cuts something. Highly recommended; it's advertised for children aged 4+. Let's keep giving our children more tools, more opportunities to work with us in the kitchen. 

Now, consider your own knives. Are they the tools you need them to be? If not, head to a cooking shop in your area and ask their advice; it's a uniquely important investment. And keep them sharpened, using a honing steel, and/or get your knives professionally sharpened 1-2 times per year.