Searching for quality chef knives is not an easy task. It’s not just some regular kitchen knife you can pick up at your local Walmart. It has to have certain characteristics that meets the requirements needed for you to be able to cut efficiently and effectively without any resistance.
Buying a chef knife is kind of like car shopping. It’s a tool that is well worth the investment, and one that you ideally want to test drive before buying to ensure it fits your needs. It can either give you a hard time, or make meal preparation a breeze. With that being said, you can understand why making an investment in the appropriate chef knife can be beneficial for your cooking endeavors.
The question now becomes, “What to look for in a good chef knife?”.
We have narrowed it down to 4 important things to check before pulling the trigger on this vital purchase.
Size/Handle Does Matter
When it comes to buying chef knives, this is a huge topic of discussion. It mainly comes down to preference first and foremost, and what you’re most comfortable with. It could be a
However, always think about the occasions that you want to buy the knife for. For example, an 8” knife may not do the trick if you’re cutting through cabbage, or a pumpkin. But, a 10” knife will get the job done nicely without a hassle.
If all else fails, we recommend purchasing a chef knife between 7” and 8” inches. This is the standard that will take care of about 90% of the jobs in the kitchen. Or, if funds allow, you will always be safe buying a 10” inch knife along with a 7-8” knife to see how they compare, and which works best for you for future reference.
The WeightYou should strongly consider how you plan to use the knife, as we discussed earlier. If you anticipate chopping things up on a frequent basis, then a heavy knife will take care of that job nicely and not require frequent sharpening. However, if you cook only on special occasions or plan on utilizing the knife for small items, then a light knife will do the trick. A lightweight knife will also do you some justice in terms of speed and precision when wanting to prepare a meal in a timely fashion.
SharpnessWhen trying to determine whether a knife is sharp, it should meet one simple criteria; being able to cut through foods such as a pumpkin, or a cabbage without much, if any, resistance. Of course, this will also depend on the size of the blade, but for the most part, a perfectly sharp knife will get the job done. The key here is to make sure it stays that way.
Almost every knife you buy will be sharp at first, a good chef knife will remain effective throughout a long period of time. Only good quality knives have the ability to be sharpened to the point where it once started out.
Cheap knives on the other hand, will require lots of sharpening. Even so, sharpening a cheap chef knife over and over will eventually wear away at the metal, until you’re simply left with an overall dull knife.
Not an exciting time.
The difference in good quality knives and their sharpness depends on the steel it’s made out of, of course. However, going into the different kinds of steel is an entirely different subject within itself. But for the most part, it comes down to 2 different types of steel.
Cheap knives are made out of stainless steel, it will definitely go dull fast, and requires a longer period of sharpening. Good quality knives are made out of high-carbon steel. The only downside is that high-carbon steel blades are prone to rust must quicker than stainless steel.
It has been said that quality knives will be equally balanced. This means that there isn’t too much weight in the blade or the handle of the knife. A well balanced knife will make cutting much easier and effortless. Think of it like a seesaw’s balance- it has to be at a certain point to be balanced. You’ll learn to appreciate a well-balanced knife more when you’re hopping up large quantities of food. This will cause less strain on your arm when doing so.
A simple trick you can use to test the balance is to sit the knife on a flat surface, with the cutting edge face down. If it remains in that position by itself, it is well balanced. However, only expensive very high quality manufacturers of knives consider balance. With that being said, most knives will simply fall over. It still could be an alright purchase, though.
In the end, your priorities matterIf you haven’t already noticed, these are the 4 points that you should consider when searching for a good chef knife. However, you should have also noticed that some of these points depend on circumstantial things such as; how much you plan to use it, the quantity of food you will be using it to cut through, etc.
We must also be clear that how a knife looks should be the absolute LAST thing you take into consideration when purchasing one.An attractive knife may or may not do the trick, but a not so attractive knife may be the perfect fit for you. However, these are the recommended ideas that you should take into consideration. The characteristics you look for in a cooking knife all comes down to how you will utilize the tool. Of course, it’s still good to be aware of the signs of a bad and/or good chef knife so you won’t fall into the trap of wasting money on a poor quality chef knife, when that could be spent on a high quality knife.
Below are some of Chef Remi’s favorite knives. Feel free to check them!
Wusthof 4183-7 Wusthof Classic 7-Inch Santoku Knife
Victorinox 8 Inch Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife
J.A. HENCKELS INTERNATIONAL Fine Edge Pro 8-inch Bread Knife
Wusthof Classic 7-piece Slim Knife Block Set (Acacia)
Mercer Culinary Genesis 3.5-Inch Forged Paring Knife
Mercer Culinary Genesis 5-Inch Forged Utility Knife