Learning from a Master
Years ago I worked with a chef named Hosch. He was an extremely talented chef, very quirky, and one of the funniest people I have ever met. I quickly came to understand the meaning of a belly-laugh and laughing until you cry. He kept his coworkers constantly entertained, all the while imbuing us with nuggets of culinary wisdom. His knowledge was vast, standards clear and high. Learning from Hosch was like running through a warm, summer rain shower; delightful.
One year I invited Hosch and his family to join my family for Thanksgiving. Can I just insert here that it is a bit intimidating inviting a chef like him over for a meal? I still remember opening the front door to greet them. There stood Hosch with a rolled bundle in his arms. When he unrolled this bundle in my kitchen, there lay all of his favorite knives.
“I don’t go anywhere without my own knives,” he informed me. This has been a lesson learned for me. Invest in a few good quality knives and sharpen them correctly (Trust me, I have wrecked a couple of very nice knives from sharpening them at the wrong angle). When I first saw Hosch standing at my front door with his own knives, I thought this was both ridiculous and funny. Now, however, I do the same thing.
The Best Knife
If you are going to be doing a lot of chopping, having a sharp knife not only speeds up your work considerably, but it is also safer. A dull knife can be a dangerous thing. Also using a wide blade for chopping is much healthier on your hands and wrists.
How do I pick my favorite knife? It is a little like picking a favorite flower. I cannot. Each knife has its own uses. A bread knife is perfect for neatly slicing those crusty Breadico baguettes. A paring knife is the perfect size for getting garlic cloves ready to mince. The six inch and eight inch chef knives are what I use for chopping.
That fancy chef knife with holes down the blade is a vegetable knife, and the holes serve to release the suction that can build up when chopping large, wet vegetables. And then there is that monster knife. My friend Tami picked that up on a trip to China. It’s just the right choice for making quick work of cutting up a large roast or anytime you need to cut through bone. The Chinese use this type of knife for cutting through whole, large fish to slice them into steaks.
My takeaways from Hosch: Invest in the right knives for the type of cutting and chopping you need to do, keep them sharp, bring them with you at all times, and infuse laughter everywhere.