I’m sure we’ve all been told that a Chef’s Knife is the only blade a chef will ever really need. The longer and larger blade is designed to move in unison with the refined movements of a well-trained hand. The chef can slice and chop, moving precisely from dismantling a meat joint to finely mincing small garlic bulbs. A Chef’s knife can be used by the chef or the expert home cook in a multitude of ways and that’s all well and good except…I am not an experienced chef or an expert home cook. I’m just a busy mom with average knife skills who needs to get food on the table really quick.
I’ve always found knife skills fascinating. When I was a kid, I loved watching our Cook at home, slice, peel, pare and dice vegetables and meats. I enjoy cooking as well. But like most average moms, I hardly have the time to do cooking prep work at a leisurely pace nor was I born with impressive hand dexterity so getting the chance to review the Scanpan Spectrum 3-Piece Prep Set was a really exciting prospect.
I brought the prep set home and my daughter immediately recognized them from seeing other kids use the same brand in MasterChef Australia Kids Edition. She loved watching the show and has wanted a colorful set for herself for a long time so of course I now had an eager sous chef to do the testing with. The set comes with an 8cm paring spear (red), 7cm peeling knife (yellow) and an 8cm straight paring knife (green). I personally didn’t care much for the colors as I like my color scheme for most things to be neutral, but I get how the bright colors are useful to identify them more easily in your knife holder or drawer.
Figure 1: The set comes with an 8cm paring spear (red), 7cm peeling knife (yellow) and an 8cm straight paring knife (green).
The knives were much smaller than I had expected but over the course of the cook, I began appreciating why they were designed that way: for better control. We used all three knives in different ways and my daughter and I were both positively surprised at the ease in which we could get things done.
We used the yellow slanted knife to finely chop garlic. The size is really perfect for slicing thin and fine grids horizontally and vertically to make small, even pieces. The handle was good to the grip, the weight was just right to hold comfortably and the high-quality carbon stainless steel blade was smooth in gliding through to make the cut. This feels like a mini-version of a chef’s knife and when used on small Produce like garlic, shallots, beans, baby potatoes, bell peppers and the like, the results made it seem like I had much better knife skills than I really had.
Figure 2 See how I was able to make very fine grids through that small bulb. They were diced very finely and it was so easy.
My daughter and I agreed that our personal favorite was the red spear. The curved knife had a very sharp tip that you can use to gut precise holes in your veggies, you can use it to make pristine slits on meats and we used it to devein our shrimps which worked so wonderfully well. So well, in fact that my ten- year old had no qualms or problems deveining an entire kilo of shrimp. It’s the kind of knife that you won’t think you will need but you will end up using all the time. The super sharp and thin blade edge can make very fine and clean slices. We even tried slicing through the shrimp with the skin still on and it worked just as precisely.
Figure 3 The curve of the blade was perfect for the deveining the shrimp and the sharp tip was useful for many other things.
The straight paring knife (green) was also a hit. The flat-edged blade makes straight, downward cuts feel very stable and even. Let’s be honest, our fruits and veggies here in Manila are much smaller than those from other countries and I have had plenty of experience finding difficulty prepping such small items with a big knife. This knife will slice through with such detail. I surmise that this straight knife will be one of the most used tools you will have in your kitchen.
Figure 4 Those are my daughter’s small hands. She found it so easy to use this prep set. It was so fun seeing her so confident in her cutting work.
All three blades were sharp but the difference in their individual designs make them useful for very specific purposes. Over all, they were easier to use because they give me so much more control over what I was doing even if I wasn’t very good at what I was doing. To be brutally honest, I’m not even very good at cutting paper with scissors but this set makes me a little bit more confident in kitchen work because it offers targeted results by offering finer, more precise knife-cutting. Our prep time is cut much shorter because the job is done quicker plus the results are better. This is a good thing!
I really appreciate this Scanpan Prep Set. I wish I had owned this set sooner. My relatively small, Asian- sized hands are thankful to have the tools with just the right size and weight to give me more control and blade edges that are so sharp, every knife job becomes so very easy, the results look like they were done by a pro. The high quality carbon stainless steel blades, the soft handles, the non-stick and food-grade coating and the intelligent design tells me that this set will always be used in my kitchen. If Professional Chefs only really need just one good chef’s knife in their kitchen, good for them, but this busy mama likes her 3-piece prep set because it makes her feel like she can get her kitchen work done just as well as a chef.