Cooking with Zwilling

Written by Stephanie K aka @doctornom (Good Food Toronto guest writer) 

I have come to the unfortunate realization that I have been dicing, chopping and cutting with a DULL knife my entire life! 

I had the pleasure of attending a knife skills seminar led by Chef Jonathan Collins at the beautiful Montecito Restaurant located in the heart of the entertainment district.I walked in and noticed quirky Ghostbusters memorabilia dispersed throughout the 12,000 square foot, two-story restaurant. I later discovered Montecito Restaurant is a collaboration between Toronto native Hollywood direction Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Stripes, Meatballs) and Top Chef Master Jonathan Waxman. 

The Zwilling J.A. Henckels event was in a curtained off area upstairs with produce, cutting boards and knives in front of each seat.

We started out the skills class by learning the proper way to hold a knife so that it is an extension of your arm. The pinch grip has your thumb and index finger grasping the hilt of the knife giving maximum control. I think most people feel like cooking takes a long time from having to prep all the ingredients. But it’s really amazing how a sharp knife and proper grip make for quick and easy food preparation. 

The next part of the knives seminar was truly enlightening. That metal rod we all have that comes with our set of knives is actually called a ‘Honing Rod’ not a knife sharpener. Believe it or not we’re actually supposed to use the honing rod after every use to maintain optimal sharpness. Most people don’t, so when you’re knives get real dull that’s when a sharpening stone comes out to play. Whether you’re honing or stoning, 6 pounds of pressure is needed to sharpen your utensil effectively. You’d be surprised how much pressure 6 pounds actually is. Also, sharpening or honing at 15 degree angle is suggested but consistency is much more important. 

(President of Zwilling J.A Henckels Canada Ltd, Mrinal Sharma demonstrating 15° angle) 

Here’s a demonstration of how to use a sharpening stone. Start by wetting the stone on the coarser side and finish with the lighter less course (just like how you would sand a wall with coarse sandpaper followed by a finer one). Make sure you apply enough pressure along the entire edge of the knife creating a burr (on the opposite side) before flipping and sharpening the other edge. The burr is actually a small fold of metal that lets you know when you’ve ground the edge sharp enough. If carefully run your thumb on the opposite side you’ve been sharpening you’ll feel a slight catch from the edge, this is when you know to progress to the next side. 

After this hands on knife skills seminar, we were able to grub on some of Montecito’s signature dishes while admiring the wide array of products the The Zwilling J.A. Henckels brand carries.