Being left-handed is probably the only thing I would have in common with a famous chef like Paul Prudhomme or Gordon Brown. However, through the years of my professional cooking career I have noticed that a very large number of professional cooks are southpaws. Left-handed cooks must make adjustments and be patient with their right-handed counterparts. It’s a right-handed world, especially in the kitchen.
For everyone, right- or left-handed, keeping a favorite knife sharp is fundamental to its ease of use and safe use. Therefore, it is important for a left-handed cook be the only one using that preferred knife. A right-handed person’s use of a lefty’s knife dulls the blade. This goes for potato peelers, too. Once a right-handed person uses a potato peeler, it’s ruined for a lefty, in my opinion. The thing is, right-handed people don’t seem to care about this sensitive issue, and so it is necessary to have a knife sharpener nearby (and hide your potato peeler) if you happen to be left-handed. This whole issue works in reverse if you’re a right-handed cook dealing with the occasional southpaw in your kitchen territory.
My hands are small, so I have to make adjustments when using knives. My preferred knife, as shown in the photos above, is a French knife. This knife has a six-inch blade and is actually called a French vegetable knife. The photo demonstrates how to hold a knife if you have small hands. I grip the knife as far up the handle toward the blade as I can. My thumb is actually against the knife blade. This gives improved stability. Holding it with the hand back further causes it to wobble when cutting and makes the user have to grip it with a tighter hold.
Because of my hand size I also have difficulty using a sharpening steel. Someone stronger and bigger can hold the steel rod steady in mid air while swiping a knife blade back and forth across it. Poking the steel against something, which allows me to hold it firmly at about a 45° angle, makes it possible for me to sharpen my knives this way. Generally, an inexpensive handheld sharpener works great, though. Just swipe a knife across it three or four times. It will feel a little rough on the first swipe and then it will glide smoother as it gets sharp. A knife that is used a lot should be sharpened frequently. So keep your sharpener close at hand.
Another way to dull a knife blade is to use it as a scraper. For instance, most cooks use the blade to scrape cut onions together as they are transferred to a cooking pan. The second photo above shows a technique that saves the knife blade. Without moving your grip on the knife, simply rotate blade inward as far as you comfortably can until the unsharpened edge of the knife is against your cutting surface. I do move my thumb a little as shown because I hold the knife close to the blade. Anyway, it instantly becomes a scraper, saves the blade and sets you a notch above amateur cooks. I have never heard of anyone cutting themselves doing this.
In the first photo, I have the blade tip down against the cutting surface. This is “old school,” but the blade tip actually should stay still while the back of the knife does the cutting. It’s as though the knife blade is half of a pair of scissors moving up and down. Wildly chopping, while looking away, is showing off and is crazy and dangerous. The blade tip should not move up and down when using this type of knife.
Serrated knives work best when cutting bread of all sorts and tomatoes. This type of blade will tear and bruise many things so it should not be used for everything. The worst cuts I have seen have been from serrated knives. Be very careful when using one. The chopped vegetables can be cooked in the best pressure cooker 2020. The chopping of the vegetables should be nice
If you need to slice prime rib, a long slender blade is best if it is wider than the meat you’re cutting. I prefer a straight blade for this. Some other cooks like a very long curved blade that looks like one Sinbad the Sailor might wield. The longer blade aids the cutter’s control for nice looking uniform slices.
Paring knives are versatile. They are great for small jobs like removing a tomato stem or a cabbage core. A French knife in this instance is overkill and a serrated knife could be lethal. I, of course, use a paring knife to peel potatoes as my potato peelers are always useless (!).
The best thing about knives these days is that even the inexpensive ones are of fairly good quality. It is, therefore, not necessary to spend a lot of money to own decent knives. Just keep them sharp for safe cutting.