Sunday, January 11, 2009

Random Reflections VIII: LCB Knife Kit

Last night I was hanging out in the dining room with some of my housemates and watching some of the Basic Cuisine students practise turning vegetables -- this was their first week at school, and they were taught how to turn carrots and mushrooms.

As I watched my housemates use their paring knives and bird's beak knives, it occurred to me that, as a pastry student, there are many items in my Wusthof (actually, it is "Wüsthof" or "Wuesthof") knife kit that I do not use (or seldom use). I decided to go through my knife kit and see what they were.

In the next three photos, you will see the equipment list that I received from Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa (click on photo to see a larger image).

When I first got the list, I had no idea what some of the terms meant (e.g. exoglass spatula 30cm). It was part of the learning process to figure out the official names and common names of the tools -- the list gives the official names of the tools, but the chefs often had common names for them. For instance, the exoglass spatula 30cm is better known to us as the "white plastic spatula" (for making pâte à choux), which we use in lieu of a wooden spatula (because wooden spatulas are apparently not as hygienic).

Here, you see the knives and kitchen tools that we get in the knife kit. I found that I mainly use the tools on the left side of this photo - just about everything from the extreme left, up to the vegetable/fruit peeler. The tools on the top and right of the photo are probably more for cuisine students.

Common names [and official names] for the tools (from left to right): offset spatula 25cm [bent spatula], flat spatula 25cm, bread knife 26cm [super slicer], chef's knife 23cm [forged cook's knife], paring knife 9cm, bird's beak knife 7cm [forged turning knife], kitchen scissors, peeler, [crimper], [channeling knife], [forged meat fork], [apple corer], [cleaver 16cm], [melon baller], [sharpening steel 26cm]; (the 3 tools at the top of the photo): [zester], [forged filleting knife 18cm], [forged boning knife 14cm].

(From left to right): LCB piping bags, white spatula [exoglass spatula 30cm], brush, [digital thermometer], whisk 25cm, plastic scraper, piping tips/nozzles, silicon spatula, trowel, décor comb. The last three items were not included in the kit - I had to buy these "extras" myself (either from the supermarket or from the LCB boutique). The blue silicon spatula, which I purchased from Loblaws, is useful for scraping dough or meringue from the mixing bowl, the trowel is used for tempering chocolate, and the triangular décor comb is used for making chocolate decorations.

The chefs here don't really care where you buy the extra tools from, as long as you have the tools required to do the job. Many of us have other useful tools in our toolkits as well. I actually have a microplane (for lemon zest), a small sieve (to strain lemon/citrus juice), icing spatulas of different sizes, a lighter (for lighting the torch for crème brûlée), extra pastry brushes, pastry/pizza cutter, stainless steel ruler, spare piping bags, etc. in my toolkit.

These are the piping nozzles supplied in the knife kit. I discovered that, so far, I have only used the two plastic nozzles on the right -- the St-Honoré tip and the E6 star tip -- and a couple of the round stainless steel ones. Chef H usually asks us to use the 10mm round tip for piping (creams, lady fingers, dacquoise, choux pastry, etc.).

Not shown in the photos here are the trussing needle, table fork, soup spoon, coffee spoon, and the digital scale. The scale supplied in the kit is Salter digital scale Model 6055 (5kg capacity), which requires two CR2302 (3V) batteries to operate. It is a very useful kitchen scale, and I have used it in every single practical class, as well as the production kitchen. I always carry spare batteries in my toolkit for it.

The balloon whisk and Wuesthof knife case are shown in this post:

So, that's basically a quick overview of the tools I carry to school with me every time I go to class or production kitchen. I don't use the Wuesthof knife case that came with the knives because it is too small for extra tools, and because things can sometimes fall out of the pouches -- a housemate lost her trussing needle that way; I have a large metal toolbox for all my tools, including all the optional extras, now. [Aside: The metal toolbox only cost me about CAD$20 from Walmart South Keys.]