Making the Cut

By Katie Faulkner

Great knives are any chef’s best friend.
We asked these local experts to share their best tips about their favorite knives to help you stay sharp in the kitchen.


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Roger Burrows, CEC, Regional Executive Chef, Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Cimeter Knife

“Often used for cutting primal loins of meat, this knife derives its name from the cimeter sword of ancient Mongolians, which was a medieval saber. It’s magnificent for butchery because it is able to slice effectively without having to use the entire knife. The curved edge extends the length of your cutting surface and allows you to cut through anything with ease. These knives come in different sizes. For cutting a filet mignon, I’d opt for the 10-inch, for a ribeye or larger, go with the 12-inch. This is, without a doubt, my favorite blade, because I use it for cutting our steaks all the time.”

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Joseph Black, Executive Chef, Hennen’s Chattanooga

Miniature Cleaver

“My favorite knife in the kitchen is the miniature cleaver because of its all-around practical uses. It is safe for a beginner because it keeps your hands further away from the cutting surface. I use the miniature cleaver for everything from herbs to vegetables and meat. By far it is the most used knife in my bag.”


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Regina Johnson, Executive Chef, Back Inn Café

Paring Knife

“I find myself holding my paring knife more often than any other knife. It is generally geared towards peeling, coring, and cutting smaller fruits and vegetables, but can also be used in other tasks such as trimming meats that will be butchered for dinner service and deveining shrimp. Taking care of my knives and keeping the blades sharp and in good condition is also very important. You never want to place a paring knife or any knife in the dishwasher. Always hand wash and never allow anyone to use your knife for anything other than its purpose.

“To devein a shrimp using a paring knife, make a shallow cut along the back of the shrimp from top to bottom, exposing the vein. Using the tip of the paring knife, remove the vein, rinse the knife, and place the shrimp in a container of water.”


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Dao Le, Executive Chef, Eleven

10” Chef Knife

“My favorite knife to use is my Dalstrong Shogun Series 10-inch Chef Knife. I always look for balance in a knife, and this 10-inch chef knife has excellent balance. It also retains its edge well – meaning it stays sharp for a long time.

“I take care of my knife by keeping it sharp, keeping the sheath on it, and keeping it clean. I simply use a soft cloth and warm soapy water to clean it. Never leave them in the sink or dishwasher! All my knives are sharpened once a week, using a fine grain sharpening stone. Then I rinse them with cold water and use the honing steel. It is a little time-consuming, but when you invest in quality knives, you want to keep them in perfect condition.

“Every chef’s primary tools are his or her knives. If they are not constantly well-maintained, it makes it difficult to perform well. They are as crucial to the job as our hands.”

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Jason Greer, Executive Chef, SideTrack

Fillet Knife

“I use a fillet knife constantly. Filleting a fish is a practice-makes-perfect skill. Start with a cleaned, gutted, and scaled fish. Gather a sturdy cutting board, kitchen towel, and a sharp fillet knife. You will want to make a cut across the body right behind the gills. Now make a cut across the tail piece of the fish at the very end right by the fin. Next, turn the fish so that you are looking at the backbone. You will essentially connect the dots between your first two cuts while tracing a line down the backbone with your knife. Use long, sweeping cuts to pull away the flesh from the bone. The knife should do all of the work. Remove the fillet and flip the fish over to repeat the process.”


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Fernando Elias, General Manager, Rodizio Grill

8” Butcher Knife

“We use the 8-inch Passador Butcher Knife to be exact. It is a special knife designed exclusively for Brazilian churrascaria-style steakhouses. This knife is made by a Brazilian company located where churrascaria restaurants first originated. Fortunately, this knife only requires minimum maintenance. It must be originally sharpened on a whetstone, and after that, the butcher (or ‘passador’) must only keep the knife sharp by using the ‘chaira’ (a knife sharpening rod).”


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Andrew Hennen, Pit Master, Bones Smokehouse

12” Slicing Knife

“Here at the Smokehouse, we swear by one knife – the 12-inch slicing knife. It’s what we like to think can take an average brisket to something amazing. When carving brisket, it is important not to tear the meat. Shorter knives are usable, but if you want a flawless slice, you need to use something that can handle a brisket’s magnitude. The shorter the knife, the more cuts you’ll have to make, which can cause unevenness.

“Granton edges (dimpled edges) on the knife also add to quality. The Granton edge catches juice and fat, which helps maintain a thin, even slice. It’s a great feature to have when cutting fatty pieces of meat.”


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Patrick Halloran, Executive Chef & Owner, Hummingbird Pastaria

7” Chef Knife 

“I use the the 7-inch Shun Classic Asian Chef’s Knife. It is an affordable, versatile tool that works beautifully for everything from butchering chicken to cutting vegetables with ease. 

“When sharpening, use Japanese whetstones with a minimum 1,000 grit and a maximum 8,000 grit, if you want to put a mirror edge on the knife. Whenever you use a steel or a stone, always pull the knife backward instead of pushing it toward the sharpened edge. This is because Japanese folded steel reacts differently than forged steel does. With proper care, this knife will take the work out of your kitchen prep.”


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Jeff McLain, Executive Chef, Mt. Vernon Restaurant

Honing Steel   

“First thing’s first – whether it’s German, Japanese, artesian, or something you found at grandma’s, if your knife is not sharp, it’s worthless – and possibly even dangerous – because you’ll struggle more to make cuts. A honing steel’s purpose is to keep your knife functional and your fingers intact!

“Every time you use your knife, it develops little waves in the edge. This is why you suddenly can’t “ginsu” those tomatoes like you did last week. It’s not that your knife is ruined, it just needs a little maintenance. Using medium pressure, run your knife in an upward and outward motion on the steel at approximately a 22-degree angle. Be sure to do both sides equally (about seven times each). This will work for most knives that aren’t Japanese (which usually require a whetstone). Doing this before and after each use should keep you looking like a pro!”


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