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January 14th, 2020 Chef Chat- Knife Sharpening 101

Aylmer explained to the residents the need for having sharp knives in the kitchen.  It all begins with safety being of utmost importance.  A sharp knife does the work with very little effort required from the cook.  A dull knife requires more effort from the cook (more pressure being applied) and this can lead to accidents.  All cuts that occur in the kitchen are the result careless behavior, or safety procedures being ignored.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, when a knife is properly sharpened a superior quality of food is often achieved.

Let’s begin with the steel, a steel is used to keep the knife edge maintained with a sharp edge, technically the steel does not sharpen, but removes small imperfections on the knife’s edge. It is used by the chef throughout the day to hone a fine edge. Two types of steel were introduced, one being the carbon steel and the other being the diamond steel. Old school verses new school. The steel is also magnetic, this is so the small metal filings that come off the knife stay on the steel. 

Then, Aylmer demonstrated the three sided wet (water) stone method, which takes some time to master.  This method begins with a coarse stone of 100 to 500 grit for dull knives, then moves to a medium grit of 500 to 1000 grit, for the next stage after the coarse stone, and finally to the fine grit of 1000 to 20,000 grit.  This method achieves a superior edge on the knife.

The next method was the belt sander, which is a series of belts much like sand paper. The belts also range in grit from coarse grit to fine grit, similar to the three stone method.  Aylmer likes the belt model better because it is a much faster method, although he admits that it does not yield quite as sharp a finished product. The Belt sander also has a leather belt which is used to polish the blade to a very sharp finish.  The leather is the same as the strop that is used by barbers when preparing for a clean shave.

After Aylmer demonstrated the sharpening process, with a very dull knife, and then he did the paper test to show that the knife was indeed sharp after he was finished.  Aylmer also, cut a series of tomatoes and onions to show that the knife was much more efficient after the sharpening. 

Thank You Aylmer

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