Recently, while reading Kathleen Flinn’s book, The Sharper the Knife, the Less You Cry, about her experiences studying at the Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, I noticed something I thought was interesting. Like most of these training programs around the world, the school requires the students to buy a set of cutlery directly from them. Now this is France, a country famous for being proud of its own products, and kitchen knives have long been one of their better-known exports. So what does the school require the first year students to use? Brazilian Mundial brand blades!
While in this country they are not well known outside professional circles, Mundial produces a large percentage of the butchering and food processing knives you see being used from Central America south. In sophisticated cutlery circles, knives like the Mundial’s are known as “food service cutlery,” as if that somehow indicates they are not really adequate for producing a truly eatable meal. The head chef at Nobu may not use them (everyone below him probably does), but I guarantee that every time you eat at the average chain restaurant, somebody has a Mundial or similar knife in his or her hand.
More Than Blue
Flinn specifically mentioned the Cordon Bleu knives had blue plastic handles, a very common color in food-service grade cutlery. When I checked, I found the Mundial actually offered their knives in six handle colors: white, black, red, green, blue and orange. Along with high visibility, the brighter handles are preferred by those who have a reason to color code their kitchen cutlery and their uses. All of these plastic handles are treated with a process called “sanitized antimicrobial protection” to hinder the growth of bacteria on their surfaces.