Worth Replacing: A good chef’s knife

It seems obvious to me, a trained chef, that to cook efficiently and without frustration you need a good knife. Yet, so often when I visit friends’ homes, I see them struggling with terrible cutting tools. I don’t understand why. Sure knives are expensive but buy a good one when you’re 25 and it will still be in ready to cut through a squash when you’re too old to chew solid food.

I started my cooking career with a 12-inch (30-cm) Henckel chef’s knife with a black lacquer handle that sandwiched an inner core of steel. I used that knife all day long, every workday for about 10 years. It was a great knife during that time and it still gets used daily in our test kitchen. These days I use the Kasumi knife pictured above to prepare meals at home. It was a gift from my man with a pan and I love it. Smaller than my Henckel, it’s super lightweight and holds its edge well after being steeled.

I’ve written about knives here before and you can read my cutting edge advice (sorry, couldn’t resist!) advice by checking back a few months to this post.

I also recommend you address knife questions to Peter Hertzmann. He wrote the authoritative book Knife Skills Illustrated. To say he knows about knives is like saying that Britney Spears knows about bad press.

FYI: the latest issue of my quarterly online newsletter Topline Trends is now live and ready for your eager eyes. If you haven’t already, subscribe to Topline Trends so that you never miss an issue!

14 Responses to Worth Replacing: A good chef’s knife

  1. Beth says:

    For years I had this grocery store knife that I thought was so great. Then, I took a cooking class and learned how to hold a knife and used a good chef’s knife…what a difference! I bought a wustof for about $80 15 years ago and I still use it now. LOVE IT!

    It took me a while to understand that I had to use the sharpening steel all the time though. I kept thinking my knife needed sharpening all the time until the sharpening guy – tired of seeing me, I guess – explained that if I used the steel every day that I’d be in good shape for longer periods of time.

    It’s been a long road but I’m finally on track with my knife and steel!

  2. Cheryl says:

    I couldn’t agree more. My knife skills aren’t as good as they should be, but I have great knives, proof that so long as you have the latter you can survive without the former. That said, for anyone who’s interested, a good knife skills class or a glance at Hertzmann’s book (I take your word for it) would both be money well spent.

  3. Tea says:

    Hear, hear! I grew up with awfully dull knives and it was a revelation when I got to experience the real deal. Such a worthwhile investment.

  4. Carolyn Jung says:

    I bought my first good chef’s knife about 14 years ago. What a revelation! You really don’t realize the importance and difference a great knife can make until you get one in your hands. The first time I cut up an onion with my new knife, I screamed! Hah! I could not believe how effortlessly it cut through the onion. I was just mesmerized by it all. I could cut super thin slices so effortlessly, it was amazing. A good chef’s knife will last you for eons. It’s a wise investment for something you’ll reach for everything you’re in the kitchen.

  5. I’ve heard a lot lately about Japanese knives. I’ve been wanting to replace mine, and will check this brand out.

  6. Tim says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m on a 4-week placement in the country, sharing a place with people who are on placements like me, and the one thing I knew I had to bring was my chef’s knife. Cooking just isn’t the same without it.

  7. danamccauley says:

    If I were going anywhere for 4 weeks I’d take my knife as well. I’d likely also take my vegetable peeler. I like a y shaped peeler and miss it terribly when I’m without it.

  8. Josiah says:

    I could not agree with this article more. A good chef knife is crucial to cooking. I have a cutco knife and it is fantastic. It has a forever guarantee so they will sharpen it and fix it for free the rest of my life and longer. I am so excited to get one of these knifes. If you would like to know where to get one of these knifes feel free to e-mail me at jphilipsen05@georgefox.edu. I hope you also find a great knife

  9. car jacks says:

    It’s the first time I commented here and I should say you give genuine, and quality information for bloggers! Great job.
    p.s. You have an awesome template for your blog. Where have you got it from?

  10. I KEEP MY ALL MY KNIVES (FORSCHNERS) ON THESE PROTECTORS ALL THE TIME AFTER USE, JUST WATCH THEM DRY THEM AND PUT THEM BACK WHERE THEY BELONG, I LOVE MY KNIVES AND ALWAYS KEEP THEM SHARP AND THIS IS THE BEST TO PROTECT THE SHARP EDGE AND YOU DON’T RISK GETTING CUT WHEN YOU ARE TRYING TO GET A FORK OR A SPOON. A MUST HAVE IN ALL FORSCHNER KNIVES

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