General Question

FrankStitt's avatar

What makes a perfect chef's knife?

Asked by FrankStitt (125 points ) July 19th, 2012

I’m looking for general tips to help me pick the ideal knife. What are the things that make a regular chef’s knife hold its own in any situation? I want a workhorse to chop, slice, mince, chiffonade, etc.

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13 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

The perfect knife for you would be different from the perfect knife for me. My hands are very small and they are very weak. I need a knife with a very sharp edge and perfect balance, with a small handle.

augustlan's avatar

I really like the Santoku style knives for most chef knife tasks tasks. I have an older version of this Calphalon one, along with a 5” of the same type, and I love them. They work very well and have a nice hefty feel.

downtide's avatar

My partner trained as a pro chef and his favourite brand is Sabatier. He has a set of their “Classic” range but you should try different ranges and brands to find one that has the best weight and balance for you. He likes a heavy knife, your mileage may vary. An 8” or 10” Chef knife is a good place to start and for the second one add a 3” or 4” parer. Never buy a knife that you can’t hold in your hand first.

ragingloli's avatar

Weight, Balance and Sharpness. Especially sharpness. The sharper the better.

creative1's avatar

You need one that is sharp and can stay sharp for a long time. A good metal allows you to sharpen and resharpen. I have the cutco knives because they work great and can be resharpened at the factory as much as you need forever. They are more expensive however a good knife is.

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t think one can do all the jobs. I like a square chopping type knife for chopping, I need a filleting knife for filleting, I like a small knife and a big one and a serrated for slicing bread. You really need a knife set!

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DrBill's avatar

weight, balance, comfort. I recommend Wusthof, they are expensive at around $100 per knife but they are one of the best in the world. Not to drop names but this is the same knives used by Chef Gordon Ramsey.

Silence04's avatar

Please please please… Before anyone purchases an expensive knife, learn how to properly sharpen and hone knifes. Purchase a cheap set for practicing until you master it. Without that knowledge you will forever ruin the blade, making it no better than a $10 Walmart special.

thorninmud's avatar

Here are a few things that are important to me:

The edge of the blade has to be far enough below the bottom of the handle to allow for knuckle clearance between the handle and the cutting board (the bigger your hands, the more clearance you’ll need). This usually means a broad blade.

I don’t grip the knife with all of my fingers wrapped around the handle. My index finger and my thumb pinch the blade just forward of the handle. I find that this gives my a greater degree of control and positions the pressure of my hand closer to the object I’m cutting. So I look for a knife whose heel and bolster design presents nicely rounded surfaces for all those digits to bear against. I like a thick blade, too, mostly because it provides a broader top surface to push for heavier cuts. That extra weight works against you for mincing, though.

In choice of steel, I’m conflicted. I love the ease of care of stainless, but you really just can’t get the same edge on it. There’s something very sensual about an edge that seems to melt through the goods, but honestly, I’m too lazy to pamper my knives. A great, but expensive, solution is a Japanese san mai laminated blade, with a hard carbon steel edge sandwiched between layers of stainless.

gailcalled's avatar

Oddly, I bought an 8” chef’s knife yesterday. I knew I wanted one made by “Shun” but discovered that there were three choices. I tried them all and chose by heft and comfort of the handle.

Here

Here is a whole new language to learn;

Blade
Edge
Heel
Bolster
Handle
Rivet
Tang

I have had and used my 10” and 8” carbon steel knives, received as gifts, since 1958. They still take an edge but the blades are ooking thin (and my kids snapped the tips off years ago when using them to prise lids or bottle caps off).

zigmund's avatar

I like the Togiharu I get from Korin. But we sharpen on a stone at least twice a week here at the restaurant.
If you want a chef’s knife, you buy what chefs buy, but you have to care for them like a chef. If you want a home cook’s knife Get a global or wusthof.

Like thorninmud, I grip the blade with my thumb and forefinger, but unlike thorninmud I prefer a clean heel so that i feel nothing in the way. My grip on the knife is light and I move fast.

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