The following information is provided
courtesy of The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association.
cutlery used in foodservice is made from stainless steel, even
if it is finally plated with electro-plated nickel silver (EPNS).
The finest cutlery is made from almost pure silver, but is
rarely used in anything but the highest level of dining because
of its cost. A silver knife and fork can cost from £75 upward.
With EPNS, the
thickness of the plating determines both the durability and the
price, so cheap EPNS may look good initially, but may not have a
good lifetime cost. EPNS is used at the high end of restaurants
and has a very elegant and classical look about it, but in
addition to its extra cost, requires the additional maintenance
of occasional use of a silver dip or polish to retain the silver
steel, which is the cutlery 99.9% of restaurants use, is a
mixture of steel, nickel and chromium and in cutlery it is
described by the nickel and chromium content in that order by
the description of two numbers separated by a forward slash. The
most popular restaurant grade of stainless steel is labelled
18/10, which means of the 100 parts in the steel, 18 parts are
nickel, 10 parts are chromium and the remaining 72 parts are
steel, which itself is an alloy of iron and carbon.
The advantage of
18/10 cutlery is that it is a hard material which is resistant
to scratching and very dishwasher safe. If tarnishing appears on
18/10 cutlery the two likely reasons are that it is low quality
or incorrect use of detergents in the dishwasher.
There is a lower
grade of stainless steel used in cutlery which has less of the
expensive metals nickel and chromium. This is very useful in
situations where tableware cost has to be kept to a minimum and
losses may be a cause for concern such as in institutional
foodservice or cafeteria-style outlets. It is cheap and cheerful
in appearance will be stamped out from much thinner material
than 18/10 cutlery and there may be some tarnishing with
dishwasher detergents over a period of time.
There are scores
of patterns of cutlery and they fall into two styles. The
traditional patterns such as Harley, Jesmond and Bead are called
“parish patterns” from the areas of Sheffield they were
originally designed in. These patterns are now made around the
world, most notably in the Far East. There are also modern
designs which have no natural home, but have been the work of
used in informal dining have a serrated blade and a handle of
either riveted plastic or riveted wood. The coarse serration is
to both cut and tear through steak and other grilled meats which
may be slightly tough. The problem with wooden handled
steak knives is that regular cleaning through a dishwasher will
lead to a bleaching of the handles through the action of the
detergent and the handles will take on a dried-out appearance.
Plastic handles are bleach resistant.
Hollow handle or solid
This is purely a
preference by the restaurant. Hollow handles have a lighter,
chunky feel in the hand, solid handles a firmer, smaller feel.
There is no difference in durability and seldom any difference
How to buy
Cutlery stock is
subject to losses. This can be through wear and tear, theft by
customers or staff, but most usually through plate-scrapping in
the dishwashing area when cutlery is inadvertently swept into
refuse sacks along with plate waste. Whatever the reason, any
restaurant has to be sure that individual replacement items of
cutlery are available over a long-term basis.
question to ask when buying a new range of cutlery from a
supplier is what is the stockholding, do they source a design
from just one factory and what is the delivery time for
It is important
to buy from the original cutlery supplier as in the global
production of cutlery, one factory’s interpretation of a
standard pattern may be different from another. So while, for
example, the pattern is quoted as Dubarry, there will be
noticeable design difference on the tablecloth between the knife
from one factory and the knife from another.