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Carbon knives in the professional kitchen...

Wed May 16, 2012 3:00 am

Alright everybody I'm looking for some opinions!

I just got into nice quality japanese knives about a year ago and the whole time a couple people I work with say that carbon knives are too much of a hassle in a restaurant atmosphere.

Due to the reactivity of the metal...what do you all think?

Re: Carbon knives in the professional kitchen...

Wed May 16, 2012 5:27 am

Go to YouTube and watch the videos of Saltydog55252

Re: Carbon knives in the professional kitchen...

Wed May 16, 2012 7:24 pm

i have a tojiro nakiri that is carbon steel. I really love the way it cuts and how easy it is to sharpen, but I do feel like I am having to constantly take care of it. I don't know if this will get easier in time. I have heard talk of a "patina" that develops. I kinda know how this works, but I don't really get how it stays, considering that we wash our knives constantly.

If anyone else has any advice on this, I'd love to hear it as I sometimes get tired of the constant "is it dry?" thoughts that run through my mind.

Re: Carbon knives in the professional kitchen...

Wed May 16, 2012 7:50 pm

I like to force a patina on carbon steel knives, the way Fowler does on some of his custom knives. This is common practice among sportsmen with high quality hunting knives made from A2 steel, such as those made by Chris Reeve and Bark River. Mark Richmond has an excellent video explaining how.

Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlnyjpEs32I&feature=plcp

Re: Carbon knives in the professional kitchen...

Thu May 17, 2012 12:23 am

Re: Carbon knives in the professional kitchen...

Thu May 17, 2012 2:32 am

WickedSharp, I have watched salty's youtube vids and watched the forced patina video. Now from what I understand the forced patina puts a bit of a barrier in between the steel and food correct? This way it will have a little more fight against the bad patina (rust)? Is it practical to use a carbon knife in a professional kitchen, or would I lose a lot of time in caring for the knife?

Thanks everyone for the input thus far!

Re: Carbon knives in the professional kitchen...

Thu May 17, 2012 3:04 am

All carbon steel knives oxidize. Like cholesterol, there is good and there is bad oxidizing. The steel on a knife can oxidize fast, or slow, depending on the acidity of the food that it is cutting, moisture, humidity and knife care. You want your carbon steel to oxidize slowly, and to develop a patina, which is “good” oxidizing (a patina can be different colors, but color is generally not so much a color stain from food, but different rate of oxidizing from the chemistry of the food). A patina does, in fact, develop on all carbon steel knives, and a patina does protect the blade. In effect, a patina is a uniform lightly “rusted” blade that does not pit the steel, and which inhibits fast “bad” rust. Red rust is the bad stuff, because it forms fast, leaves pits in the steel, and thus degrades the quality of the blade. So yes, a patina protects the blade, and a blade properly cared for will develop a patina over time. Forcing the patina simply allows you to control how the patina looks, and also inhibits fast rusting.

As to whether it is practical in a restaurant or other commercial kitchen, it certainly is, if you care for the knife properly. My first cooking courses were in Chinese cooking, and I learned to cut most everything with a cheap highly reactive carbon steel Chinese cleaver. When I moved on to courses in Italian and French cooking, I continued to use the cleaver as much as possible, partly because I was living in poverty, and partly because I liked the cleaver.

I will attach a couple of YouTube videos of two restaurant cooks, “Salty,” who owns a restaurant in Wisconsin, and PCKitchen, who cooks for a high brow country club in New Jersey. These guys are “serious” professional cooks, in much the same way that some guys are “serious” on the street. They both have a number of videos on YouTube, and you should watch all of them. They use carbon steel with no problem. So can you. It is more than just practical to use carbon steel in a restaurant. Watch these videos, and see what I mean.

Re: Carbon knives in the professional kitchen...

Thu May 17, 2012 3:05 am

Re: Carbon knives in the professional kitchen...

Thu May 17, 2012 3:07 am

Re: Carbon knives in the professional kitchen...

Thu May 17, 2012 3:10 am

Here are a couple of videos of Salty and PCCKitchen using Carbon steel knives.
Last edited by WickedSharp on Thu May 17, 2012 2:52 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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