Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News recently asked leading kitchen knife manufacturers about the latest trends and developments in this indispensable kitchen utensil. Here is what they had to say.
Renee Hourigan, Director of Marketing, North America, Swiss Army
Derek Marcotte, President, Wüsthof-Trident of Canada Inc.
What are some of the most exciting new trends, innovations and developments when it comes to kitchen knives for restaurants and commercial foodservice in Canada in 2016?
Renee Hourigan: The Victorinox Swiss Army Fibrox® Pro professional line has become the tool of choice for professionals and has consistently received high accolades in industry product testing. The benefits of design, features, materials, color coding and ease of use are something we refined years ago. Our Fibrox Pro line is hygienic and features a patented, ergonomically designed, slip-resistant handle, which combats slippage even when wet. The combination of lightweight steel and handle results in an optimally balanced knife that reduces hand and wrist fatigue, making it feel less like a knife and more like an extension of the hand. Tapered knife edges are laser-tested, and conically ground to form an exacting 15 degree angle on each side, which is narrower than the industry average and results in a sharper edge that lasts longer.
Derek Marcotte: Many chefs today have knives for delicate precision work and others for the more heavy duty grunt work. In the past, these blades were not interchangeable. The finer knives, originating mostly from Japan, are too hard and thin for heavy duty tasks and the more robust knives for heavy chopping chores, mostly from Europe (Germany), are not sufficiently refined to easily handle refined work. This adds cost and, of course, quantity of blades to the kitchen where cost and space are constantly at war. WÜSTHOF has developed a new cutting edge, PEtec (Precision Edge Technology) that has bridged that gap. By introducing computer-controlled edge application, Forged PEtec knives are now over 20 per cent sharper with double the edge retention. This allows the user to use one knife for precision work, then move to more robust prep work, all with the same blade, never fearing chipping or lack of performance.
What should a restaurant operator or chef be aware of when it comes to purchasing different types of knives?
RH: Restaurant operators need to take food safety into account, and Victorinox Cutlery is recognized by the National Sanitary Foundation (NSF). The NSF seal on our commercial cutlery provides a guarantee that Victorinox knives are made to the highest sanitary standards required by the commercial industry. In fact, the entire Victorinox factory in Ibach, Switzerland, is NSF-Certified, so this seal can be found on most stamped Fibrox Pro blades made by Victorinox. Our stamped knives are preferred by most culinary professionals due to their light weight, balance, and maneuverability. Commercial customers who switch to Victorinox have reported significant reductions in wrist and hand injuries related to repetitive cutting movements. And because of the aforementioned ability of our knives to hold an edge longer, they stay sharp longer, and need to be maintained less often.
DM: WÜSTHOF manufactures more than 80 SKUs in the Classic Precision Forged knife series alone which features 15 styles and sizes of cook’s knives. Although many knives can be multi purpose, there are many more that become quite task-specific, making them the better choice for a particular task. Every kitchen, professional or home, should have a basic larger prep and smaller prep knife. A cook’s knife and a basic paring knife can handle a large chunk of daily menu preparation. From there, it fully depends on what the restaurant specializes in. Carving, Fish Fillet, Boning, Bread are all specific adjectives that clearly lay out what those blades are best at cutting. If a restaurant manages its own butchery, then cleavers and boning knives are essential tools and most likely carving knives for the finished plating. Using the right knife for the right task makes for an efficient kitchen and reduced waste.
What are some of the major factors driving design and innovation in new types of kitchen knives?
RH: Many new designs and innovation in kitchen knives are passing trends. We believe in time-tested quality and craftsmanship and supplying chefs and restaurants with knives they can trust time and again.
DM: Points of production and consistency in quality are driving design and innovation. Consistency in production is so important. Clear paths of quality control are aided with new equipment and machinery in the production background. So when consumers make a purchase, they know with the utmost confidence that the knife they bought today is at minimum as good if not better then the collection they are adding to.
How can chefs ensure they get the most from their knives and similar equipment?
RH: Keeping knives clean and dry is important for longevity. If knives are left uncleaned for longer periods of time with saliferous (salty) or acidic leftovers on them, stains can develop. Victorinox Swiss Army recommends washing all knives by hand. Dishwashing machines are designed to spray water at a relatively high pressure which can jostle the silverware and cause the knives to bang around and dull the edge. For best results, hand wash knives with a soapy cloth and dry immediately.
DM: First, use the knife for its intended purpose. Knives cut food; they are not intended to open cans of tomatoes or burlap sacks with metal strapping. Second, wash them by hand and keep them stored safely. Hand-washing eliminates the chance encounters with something hard in the dishwasher that could potentially chip the edge and proper safe storage not only protects the blades but also the users. Third, keep your sharp knife sharp. Knives cut and they don’t do it so well when they are dull. Further, dull knives are dangerous. These are performance tools and you are only as good as the tool you are using so keep it in peak performing condition. A sharp knife makes for a productive kitchen.