by Woody Bailey, OCI Chef Instructor, Purchasing Director and owner of Zen Blades
A quality chef’s knife is usually pretty expensive, so removing precious steel by sharpening should be done only when necessary (aggressive stroking on a steel or diamond steel, just like dear old Dad’s performance at turkey time, does exactly that). But, after a knife has been professionally sharpened, or properly sharpened on a stone, usually all that is required is a realigning. The most clever trick I've found for doing that (which doubles as a great parlor trick) is to turn a ceramic plate upside-down on a non-skid surface (a wet dish towel will do the trick). Be certain the raised rim of the bottom of the plate is smooth and not chipped or damaged. Next, draw your knife (the sharp part) across the rim at about a 22 degree angle (90 degrees is straight up, 45 degrees is half of that, 22 degrees is half of that) applying about one pound of downward pressure (push on a scale to get a feel for that). Perform two or three strokes per side, then test again for sharpness. 99% of the time your sharp edge is brought right back where you want it.
I love sharpening knives as much as I love using a sharp knife. With just a little practice and a reasonable amount of confidence anyone can take the work out of preparing food for friends and family.
- About Oregon Culinary Institute
- We started this school from scratch because we wanted to do it better and to do it right. We believe in good food. We believe in education. We believe in the communion that takes place between people sitting down together over an expertly crafted meal. We believe that learning to cook and bake should be affordable. We believe that solid skills, proper technique, educated palates, and comprehension of kitchen math are the cornerstones for cooks with futures, so that is what we teach. We are not perfect, but we strive for perfection. We expect our students to work hard and try every day and every minute. We expect the same from ourselves. We have heard our graduates referred to as 'Kitchen Ninjas' (at which we laugh but think that the term might fit). We do not want to take over the world. But we do want to make it a better place, filled with better cooks and bakers, better food, and a higher awareness of what it means to cultivate, harvest, render, prepare, cook, plate, present, savor, and give thanks, while taking responsible steps to make sure that those who come after us will have the same or better opportunities.