Covering more than just the tip of getting the right kitchen knives to adequately prepare foods in any setting. “Go purchase quality knives!” is what is often said… Let me just cut to the chase, that statement alone can be subject to a variety of personal interpretations. Here I’ll provide slices of basic information founded in my own beliefs and opinions.
How many knives? Three (3)
Which specific knives?
- French/Cooks/Chefs or santoku knife 6 or 8 inch. These knives are the workhorses! I have found the 8 inch to be best suited to my personal needs in both professional and home settings. Jenna uses an 8 inch as well.
- Pairing/Utility Knife: a good solid handled 4 inch blade paring knife for fine detail work, tourne, peeling, and shaping. Back in the day, before fancy machinery, we used this to make potato or turnip roses for parties of 200 – 800 servings (3 roses per person) almost daily.
- Boning Knife: A six inch semi-flexible curved boning knife. Great all purpose boning knife that is short, direct, and maneuverable.
TANG: Not the breakfast drink of NASA: A knife handle is just as important as the knife itself. Go for full tang! What that (tang) means is that the knife blade portion that extends into the handle. The tang of a quality knife should be fully integrated into the handle and riveted or completely part of the handle.
Comfort is most important:
- How does the knife feel in your hand? This is a very integral part of a knife. It is, in essence, the extension of you.
- Materials of the handle: stabilized wood (epoxy/laminate/resinwood), molded or composition plastic, fibrox enhanced rubberized grip, smooth polished wood.
- Should feel good in your hand, should not pose safety issues, and should be resistant to abrasions.
- The shape of the handle, how it fits and feels in your hand. A knife should feel natural in your hand, it should not put any undue stress on hands or wrists when cutting for lengths of time.
- The “balance” of a knife refers to where the weight is in a knife. Is it blade heavy or handle heavy? It should be evenly balanced especially with knives that are specifically used for multiple actions such as slicing/dicing. Again you will be able to “feel” this in your hand as you hold a knife.
- Stainless- not a good option, these tend to be very hard to sharpen and used by most that don’t care to tend to knives.
- High Carbon Stainless Steel-most commonly used for knives holds a good edge but will need sharpening/honing frequently, resistant to tarnish/rust.
- High Carbon Steel-Old school standby used by chefs that know how to take care of them. These hold a great edge but will tarnish/rust if proper care is not taken.
- Damascus is for show and shine: an expensive knife that is fashioned from a variety of steels layered together. A finishing touch is an acid etch that exposes lines in the surface of the steel giving it a artistic appearance. It is a tough blade with good edge quality.
- Porcelain/Ceramic – Need I even say…the fact that it will shatter (in the kitchen!) if dropped counts this one as not usable in my book.
Remember… a more expensive knife does not mean that the user’s cutting ability will be any better. A knife must be cared for, used properly and feel comfortable while in use. In my next post, I’ll speak to the points of sharpening, as well honing your fine piece of cutlery.
My favorite knives over the years, what feels good in my hand, are as follows:
- French Knife 6” or 8“ Henkel (I have an engraved 8″ from my opening team Chef Enrique Rodriguez and Chef Mike Mr-Kenny 1999 Houstonian and Shadow Hawk Golf Courses in Richmond, TX)
- On Jenna’s trip around the globe on Around the World in 80 Plates, she used her Porsche 8 inch chef’s knife.
- Boning Knife: Victorinox fibrox handle 6 inch curved semi-stiff
- Paring Knife 4 inch Henkel. Jenna loves her Victorinox 4 inch paring knife, and at $5.00, you won’t cry if it is misplaced.
- Although not mentioned above, I love my 10” Victorinox fibrox breaking knife a.k.a (cimeter/scimitar)