Having a few kitchen tools in your cooking armory is indispensable if you seriously wish to be a professional cook in your own home. Of these, a chef’s knife is an important as well as the hardest working tool, perhaps in any kitchen. A rightly selected chef’s knife acts as an annex to your hand for fulfilling a variety of jobs, ranging from dicing to slicing. It is bound to make your life enormously easier, particularly if you have used a dull blade quite often in chopping and slicing your favorite stuff.
Almost on a daily basis, you are more likely to use the chef’s knife any other tool. This is why it is recommended investing in the model that ensures maximum possible quality. Only through such a quality, you will obtain a sharp edged, solid, and sturdy knife. Any other chef knife model is likely to make your job or art of cooking an irritating affair.
Although you may shell out hundreds of dollars on a specific model, possibility of being dissatisfied is always there. This is usually because of the lack of understanding and analysis about knives in terms of their distinct aspects such as budget, blade length, blade type, handle material, and price. The preferences for these aspects tend to vary as per your budget, skill level, and uses. This means that it may take some trial and error to reach up to the best chef’s knife.
The different feeling of handle and the way in which cutting happen motivate many of us to try before concluding any model as the most suitable or best. For all those who are serious about cooking, it is best to buy two or three knives, at least, each of different style and length, regardless of the store being online or offline. On the Net where it is impossible to try with your hand, check for some good videos and you will be convinced about how well the model works.
Chef’s Knife: Before Buying One
- Find Out your Needs: If you are a beginner, a small set can prove to be your ideal choice. This shall help you save significantly, as you will not invest in knives individually or buy a storage block. Most modern sets come with such a block. However, ensure that the set has a chef’s, a 4-5 inch utility, and a long serrated knife. Do not buy a set that offers too many knives. In case you are not a beginner, you need to find out for which purpose you will use a chef’s knife.
- Determine Your Dedication to the Tool: This means how well you are going to take care of your knife. You are supposed to wash the knife instantly after use without using the dishwasher. This is because the high heat and harsh detergents can warp the handle or trench the blade. Similarly, you should store the chef’s knife dry, hone it once a week to retain sharpness, and sharpen at least every year. In case you are not ready to these things, it is ideal to set a low budget and choose a cheaper model.
Best Chef’s Knife: Knowing the Types
The modern chef’s knives are of three types namely, Western, Hybrid, and Santoku. Depending upon your style of cooking, you might prefer one type or another.
- Classic Western-Style: Choose a heavy model of this style in case you wish for both precision and power. Such a knife is highly versatile with its thicker and highly wedge shape unlike a santoku. It has a sharp tip for precision, wide bolster and heavy construction for solid feel, full tang and thick metal for full momentum, and highly curved blade for stability. The steel in use is usually softer than that the Japanese models, allowing easier honing and sharpening but too often maintenance for edge retention. The Western style is ideal for much heavy-duty preparation and for those who need a single tool for all cutting, mincing, and dicing tasks. It is not for those with smaller hands.
- Modern Hybrid: Japanese and German manufacturers have come up with a newer design known as Gyutou for standard hefty Western tasks for better precision and control. Although more maneuverable, these knives are not as precise as santokus. However, the more profound curved edges ensure better rocking. These knives have highly sharp edge, are light in weight, and are and versatile to be an all-around tools mastering at precision cutting, mincing, and light preparations. These knives are not for heavy-duty tasks.
- Santoku: These are multitaskers known for their highest possible precision and consistency with control. Consider the Santoku style if you need your onion to look of same size and shape. Although inefficient for rocking-style chopping, haphazard chopping is now out and professional chopping is in with this style. The credit goes to the block tip and straight edge, which enable precise cuts. However, a few models come with a slight curve, which means speeding up while mincing some parsley.
Chef’s Knife: Buying the Best One
For buying the best chef’s knife, you need to consider the following factors once you decide which type of chef’s knife will be most suitable.
This actually depends on your hand’s size. While the common range is from 6 to 10 inches, the 8-inch models are most famous. You can even choose a 6-inch knife having the liveliness of a paring knife but do not expect slicing a big stuff. Similarly, if you wish to handle a melon, a 10-inch knife with a longer blade is ideal although its size can appear too much.
This factor is the key player in making you select the best chef’s knife. When you take it in hand, the knife must make you feel right regardless of whether it is heavy or light. It is actually a personal preference. It should be right for you! For some, a heavier knife is preferable for forcing a cut with more ease, while others prefer a lighter model for better maneuverability.
An imbalance knife makes it hard to cook. While going down to the blade, you should feel stable, without bending to any of the sides. Just grip by the handle to find out how weighted it feels toward the blade or handle’s rear. While online, just go through the description along with customer reviews to find out how the balance is distributed.
Usually, the chef’s knife blade is triangular and long, flat across the heel, and tapers gradually to a point. Designed for a smooth rocking motion at the time of mincing and chopping, the blade’s curve ensures effortlessly rock.
A few chef’s knives are forged using a portion of high-carbon stainless steel. This material is ideal for easy sharpening, good hold, better edge retention, and resistance to acid, pit, or rust. You can even go for laminated blades that offer virtues of several metals, typically by squeezing in a hard high-carbon steel core between softer stainless steel layers. Such blades are sharper as well as more fragile than those forged from solid steel.
You can even go for stamped steel blades that are softer than forged knives but are a bit tough to sharpen and become quickly dull. However, knives of some manufacturers are hard enough, just as forged knives. For extremely sharp and hard tool, ceramic blade is ideal. It lasts for years but can chip or crack if dropped and cannot be sharpened at home.
The handle should have a full tang (at the core). This is because it makes knives well balanced, durable, and strong. Partial tang is not preferable, as they crack with time.
5 Best Chef’s Knives of 2017
8-inch tool ideal for dicing, slicing, mincing, and chopping; blade of high-carbon stainless steel for edge retention and maximum sharpness, conical ground blade crosswise and lengthwise for minimal resistance, slip-resistant and ergonomic 2-inch Fibrox textured handle, laser tested for maximum cutting power, lifetime warranty.
J.A. HENCKELS INTERNATIONAL Classic 8-inch
Another multipurpose knife with ideal blade shape, high-carbon German stain-resistant steel blades (hot-drop forged) and bolsters ensuring high durability, dishwasher safe, full-tang triple-rivet handle.
Royal 8-inch Full Tang
Perhaps the most versatile tool allowing efficient chopping, dicing, slicing, and mincing almost anything, moisture-resistant handle for comfortable and balanced grip, blade of Japanese 420 stainless steel resistant to rust and easy to re-sharpen, and full tang for a greater control, durability, and good balance.
You need to get a chef’s knife that is right in terms of weight, size, balance, and blade. It should naturally extend from the palm once on it.