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Mobile caterers guide to knives

When it comes to completing mobile catering tasks, you won’t get far without a decent set of knives in your trailer. But this essential piece of kitchen equipment doesn’t come cheap if you want something that’s built to last. Indeed, knives can be a considerable investment sometimes, running into the hundreds of pounds for a premium model.

So, making sure you buy the right one for your needs and knowing how to use it safely are an important part of the mobile catering business. If you want to know more then read our essential guide to knives, how to use them, care for them and transport them safely.

When you’re all set up, the team at Mobilers can help by arranging a catering trailer insurance policy that suits your needs and budget.

Kitchen Prep

Must-have knives for any mobile catering business

Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned kitchen-whizz there’s bound to be a handful of knives you reach for all the time. Let’s look at the types of versatile kit that cover pretty much any and every kitchen task imaginable.

Paring knife

With its short and slim design, a paring knife (also known as a vegetable knife) should have an evenly sized blade with a pointed tip. These small, light knives are perfect for delicate work such as deseeding chillies or deveining prawns. Often used to peel, trim, slice, chop and cut fruit and vegetables, their smaller size means they’re super manoeuvrable.

But, be warned, before spending a fortune be aware their small size makes them most likely to be lost in a busy kitchen. You don’t want to spend hours searching through the kitchen bins for your irreplaceable knife!

Serrated knife (tomato knife)

A lightweight and flexible knife that features a sharp serrated edge with a rounded point. These are brilliant at peeling citrus and other fruit and other general vegetable prep in your mobile kitchen. They are most favoured for their ability to slice tomatoes so thinly.

Perfect for keeping meals looking consistent. You also never have to sharpen the blade, or if you do only very rarely.

Chef's Knife

Once a chef has found one of these all-purpose knives that they like it’ll be difficult to part them from it. If you’re going to spend money on any kitchen kit, then a good one of these that feels comfortable in your hand is well worth the investment.

With its long, broad blade and straight edge this knife has incredible versatility and will make short work of a whole host of food prep. The fine point is perfect for chopping herbs and nuts, and its wide heel means you can apply the pressure needed to cut through meat and even the hardest of vegetables.

The curvature of its blade allows it to rock back and forth on a chopping board, perfect for chopping piles of vegetables at once when you’re busy!

Bread knife

The long, evenly sized blade of a bread knife is designed for tackling softer items like stacks of sandwiches or cakes. The sharp saw-like edge lets you cut through crusty bread, baguettes, bagels, bread rolls and much more without crushing them out of shape. It can also do double-duty as an excellent carving knife if you don’t have one.

While these four knives will be the basis for most tasks there are some other more specialised blades worth investing in.

Carving knife

This long narrow knife is perfect for meat and poultry carving as it produces less drag as it cuts through food. This allows it to produce clean and even slices every time. Ideal when controlling the look and portion size of your meals.

Boning knife

An essential item if you need to perform a bit of butchery as part of your mobile catering business. The dagger-like, slim blade has an extremely sharp edge and perhaps the finest point of any of the common kitchen knives.

It’s perfect for cutting through ligaments and other connective tissue around bone without damaging the surrounding flesh. Depending on the type of meat you’re handling you might need to choose a different boning knife. Pork and beef will require a harder knife while chicken will need a more flexible one.

Filleting knife

If you handle a lot of raw fish then the long, slim filleting knife could be a worthwhile investment. Thinner and more flexible than a boning knife it’s perfect for removing skin and bones from delicate fish without spoiling the flesh.

Unlike other knives on this list, you’ll most often see them being used to cut horizontally rather than vertically. Perfect filleting awaits!

Santoku knife

This iconic Japanese kitchen knife is pretty much the East Asian version of our beloved chef’s knife. The word Santoku translates to mean three qualities.

Some say these are cutting, crushing and scooping while others claim it stands for meat, fish and vegetables. Either way, the key point is they are fantastically versatile and capable of both heavy duty cutting and precise intricate work.

The dimpling along the blade also helps prevent delicately thin or sticky items from getting stuck to the surface.

Dos and don’ts of knife safety

Wherever there are sharp knives there will always be accidents. As a catering business it’s important you keep yourself and your employees safe. And it’s not just cuts to the non-knife hand and fingers, there can also be serious injuries to the upper arm, torso, and other body areas.

Here are some important dos and don’t that all people working in a mobile kitchen should follow.

  • Do make everyone aware of how to use knives safely.
  • Do use a knife suitable for the task and the food you’re preparing.
  • Do keep your knives sharp. Dull blades will require more force to use and there is a much greater risk of the blade slipping out of your control.
  • Do keep your knives clean. An oily or greasy handle can cause the knife to slip. Always have a secure grip on the knife.
  • Do cut on a flat, stable surface. A damp cloth under a chopping board can prevent slipping.
  • Do create a flat surface on your ingredient before cutting. If an ingredient is round or uneven then slice a piece off so you can lay it flat on the cutting surface.
  • Do take your time. Mobile catering can sometimes mean you are racing against the clock to get meals ready. Never compromise on safety, work slowly and safely or you could see yourself claiming on your catering trailer insurance.
  • Do get to know your knives. If you’re using an unfamiliar knife, then take the time to learn how to use it properly – it could save you from a nasty incident.
  • Do use a knife with your dominant hand. You’ll have much greater strength and dexterity in this hand.
  • Do practise safe cutting techniques such as the Bridge, the Claw and the Cross Chop.
  • Do handle knives carefully when washing up. While many chefs just use hot water, if you use soap it can make knives slippery to handle.
  • Do always carry a knife with the blade pointing downwards. You’re far less likely to have an accident that way.
  • Do store knives securely after use, such as in a knife block, on the wall or in a container.
  • Do use protective equipment as required. For example, some tasks require a suitable protective glove or apron to be worn.
  • Don't leave knives lying around. Once you’ve finished using a knife then clean it and put it back in its place. Don’t leave them lying on surfaces where they can accidentally be pushed off or picked up. And never leave them in soapy dish water – kitchen knives are sharp and could cut the unwary dishwasher.
  • Don’t try to catch a falling knife. Ever. It can always be picked up, re-washed, re-sharpened and put away.
  • Don’t use a knife as a can opener or any other purpose it wasn’t designed for.
  • Don’t carry knives while carrying other objects. Put the knife down first.
  • Don’t wave a knife in the air or engage in any clowning with a knife.
  • Don’t carry a knife in your pocket. Unlikely yes, but still worth mentioning.

Block of knives

Care tips for your knives

When you’ve invested in a set of good knives, they should pretty much last forever, if you take good care of them that is. Here are five chef’s tips for taking care of your precious tools:

  1. Don’t put them in the dishwasher. It’s all too easy for your knives to be dulled by other equipment rubbing up against them.
  2. Keep it simple when it comes to cleaning. Most chefs swear by simple soap and hot water. And dry them as soon as you’ve finished washing.
  3. Buy a steel, whetstone or knife sharpener and use it. Keeping your knives straight and sharp is an important part of professional knife care. The Health and Safety Executive has useful guidance on sharpening with a steel.
  4. Always use a cutting board. It’ll protect you, your knife, and your kitchen worktop.
  5. Take care with storage. Throwing knives in a drawer isn’t going to be the best idea. You really don’t want the blade to come into contact with anything other than food. From knife blocks to wall magnets, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Safe transport for knives

As a mobile catering business, you may well need to transport your beloved knives more often than a bricks and mortar business. To minimise the risks of damage to yourself or the knives it’s worth investing in one of the following safe storage solutions.

  • Knife guards – Cheap and cheerful, they come in a variety of sizes to fit a range of blades. They protect the blade from knocks (and you from cuts) if you store knives in a drawer.
  • Knife wallets and roll bags – With multiple compartments to suit different sized and shaped knives these are one of the most common ways to carry knives safely. Just like with mobile catering trailer insurance there are options to suit every budget.
  • Knife cases and boxes – If you regularly need to transport your knives away from the kitchen then consider investing in one of these sturdy and lockable carrying cases or knife boxes. They offer that important extra level of protection for your valuable tools of the trade.

Emergency first aid for knife wounds in the kitchen

Kitchen knives are sharp and when you use them day in and day out accidents will inevitably happen. Find out what the most common kitchen accidents are to end up injured on our recent blog. If you or one of your employees suffers a cut while using a kitchen knife, then it’s important to know some first aid.

Here's how to treat the wound in three easy steps:

  1. Stop the bleeding. Apply pressure to the wound using a clean and dry absorbent material for several minutes. If you’ve cut your hand or arm, then raise it above your head to help reduce the flow of blood.
  2. Clean the wound and apply a dressing. Clean the wound with running tap water and pat the area dry. The NHS advises you to avoid using antiseptic at this time. Apply a sterile dressing and keep the wound dry.
  3. Watch for infection. Always seek medical help if you believe your wound has become infected.

Go to the nearest A&E as soon as possible if:

  • You can't stop the bleeding.
  • You're bleeding from an artery.
  • You experience loss of sensation near the wound or you're having trouble moving any body parts.
  • You have a severe cut to your face.
  • You have a cut on the palm of your hand and it looks infected.
  • There's a possibility something is still inside the wound.
  • The wound is very large or there’s a lot of tissue damage.

Protect your business with catering trailer insurance from Mobilers

Successfully running a catering business is impossible if you haven’t got the right level of insurance for your catering trailer. How else are you going to safeguard your business and your customers against risks?

At Mobilers our helpful team can quickly arrange catering trailer insurance for your business. We can even set you up with cover for handcarts, tricycles, baked potato ovens, exhibition trailers and many more. Cover can also include permanent fixtures and fittings, stock and generators.

Get a quick quote for catering trailer insurance today!

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