Chef knife

Knives 101

What cooking utensil do you use the most?

If you say scissors, so you can open your KD packet, then you should stab yourself. But you probably can’t, because your scissors are dull and so are you. No, the only correct answer is the knife.

Knives have thousands of uses: cutting, slicing, dicing, sawing,  and other thousands of actions! They are the heart of every kitchen. Have you ever tried ripping tomatoes or chicken with your bare hands? It’s really tiring. Not only are knives vital to every kitchen, they are also super sexy. Mm, yeah. Just think about a knife. So sharp, so sexy. Knife. Seriously, I could watchYouTube knife cutting videos all day.

Unless you live in the Stone Age, before the invention of steel and fire, and you’re using a chiseled flint to cut your dinosaur meat, you have no excuse for owning a poor set of knives. The first time you use a good knife, everything changes. It’s like the first time you discovered creme fraiche or saffron. It’s amazing–everything you cut feels like cutting through butter. Sometimes, you actually will be cutting through butter, like when you’re making a cake.

While you stare shamefully at your single  rusty, impotent bread knife, think about how much cooler everything would be if you had one of those really long, really sharp blades. Kitchen knives are the modern day equivalent of a katana. Do you want all the other samurais to make fun of you for your tiny sword? No!

Of course, you’re not a professional chef (your food tastes way too bad for that). You don’t need every type of knife under the sun. You really only need one, really good chef knife. Everything else is a bonus. No idea where to start? Don’t worry, that’s what they pay me for! Actually, Leacock’s doesn’t pay me anything.

This is your primary, go-to knife. You probably have one, but it’s also probably shite.

A chef knife is generally about 6 to 14 inches in length, and 1.5 inches in width. There are two primary types: the French chef knife has a straighter blade that curves up near the tip, while the German chef knife has a more deeply and perpetually curved blade.

Get a really nice one. Try and avoid stainless steel, as they quickly lose their edge. Instead, look for high-carbon no-stain steel. These knives can be sharpened, which means they have a much longer life. Take good care of them, wash and dry by hand. Be extremely careful with water, as they have a tendency to rust. You’re also going to want to get ahoning steel, and learn how to keep your blade sharp.

A good chef knife will run you about $30 – $200. Be sure you like it! Feel the heft, the shape, everything. It should be an extension of your arm. You might also want to check out the santoku, a Japanese variant on the chef knife. It is particularly good with slicing, dicing and mincing.

We recommend: Victorinox 40520 Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife ($70), Ginsu Hanaita Series 5904DS 8-Inch Damascus Chef Knife ($60), Kuhn Rikon Colori Chef’s Knife ($20)

A paring knife is a small knife that is primarily used for peeling and other small or detailed work. It is equally as flexible as the chef’s knife, just on a smaller scale. You can’t be carving a delicate rose into your carrots with a chef’s knife! That’s ludicrous!

You’re going to want a really sharp paring knife, so you can effortlessly carve the little things.

We recommend: Kuhn Rikon- 4-Inch Nonstick Colori Paring Knife ($10), Wusthof 4013 Silverpoint 3-Inch Paring Knife ($10), Calphalon Contemporary 4-1/2-Inch Paring Knife ($25)

For when you need to something that had a hard layer, but soft inside (tomatoes, bread, steak). These knifes are pretty chill, but extremely handy to have when you need them.

We recommend: Ginsu 04857 7-Inch Stainless Steel Santoku Knife ($10), Zyliss Serrated Paring Knife ($8), Wusthof 4110 Classic 5-Inch Utility Knife ($20)

Nah, just kidding. Unless you’re a sociopath, you don’t really need a cleaver. Seriously, just tell your butcher how you want your meat cut, and save yourself a tonne of time.

Now that you have a working foundation of knives, you can finally be proud. I love my knives so much that I carry them around with me all the time in my pockets. Sitting down is difficult.

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