Descriptions of the way Chef’s Knives (also known as Cook’s Knives) were used in traditional kitchens sound very much like the explanation of the subtle features of the Tai Chi sword. Chef’s Knives look simple but their use is complex. Every part of the blade serves a specialized task, from chopping with the heavy section near the bolster; to slicing with the middle part of the blade; to mincing with the tip. If you want just one knife for the kitchen, the cook’s knife is that blade.
Cook’s knives come in many sizes, and though some people own several and use them for different tasks, a very reasonable approach is to buy a size that simply feels comfortable in hand. A fourteen inch chef’s knife works best in large hands — most of us will be happy with a blade that’s easier to wield. A cook’s knife with an eight inch blade fits nearly everyone.
Since a chef’s knife often does heavy work, the edge can’t be fragile. The way the bevel is ground, the quality of the steel, and the way the blade is actually manufactured all affect the efficiency of the knife. Sacrifice some slicing precision in favor of strength and you have the Chef’s knife.
For a budget choice that won’t sacrifice ease in use, pick R.H. Forschner’s 8 inch Chef’s Knife. This knife proves that modern methods and materials don’t mean a drop in quality.
Though Wusthof and Henckels have earned the loyalty of many customers, they aren’t the only companies in Solingen, Germany, who make fine knives. The Messermeister Meridian Elite has the solid strength of a forged blade without the bulky bolster.
If you’re willing to learn a few new rules, step up to the Kanetsune Gyuto Professional Chef’s Knife in Damascus steel. It’s a better knife that demands better technique. Chip the VG-10 edge and live in shame forever.