Chef's Knife: What Every Cook Needs

Chef's Knife A cook needs his chef’s knife as much as an artist needs his favorite brush. It’s that one knife that every cook, whether you fancy yourself accomplished or otherwise, needs. Without it, food preparation will be reduced...

Chef's Knife
Chef's Knife

A cook needs his chef’s knife as much as an artist needs his favorite brush. It’s that one knife that every cook, whether you fancy yourself accomplished or otherwise, needs. Without it, food preparation will be reduced to a chore. If you watch the "Cutthroat Kitchen" show hosted by food nerd, Alton Brown, you'll understand the frustration a contestant faces when his knives are taken away from him. If you’re looking to buy a chef’s knife, these considerations will help you pick a good one.

What is a Chef’s Knife?

chef’s knife is the primary knife a cook uses. It usually ranges in length from 6 to 10 inches. A reliable multitasker, Chef’s knife carries out a variety of tasks with ease: chopping, slicing, mincing, dicing, julienne cuts or disjointing chunks of meat.

A Chef’s Knife by Any Other Name

When it comes to Chef’s knife, you may be floored by other alternatives-- Santoku, French knife, German Chef’s knife or the Chinese cleaver—are they the same thing? In essence, yes, but they do have small (or big, depending on how you look at it) differences. For instance, a French knife is longer and thinner and is useful for slicing while the German Chef’s knife is wider and wield great chopping power. The Chinese cleaver has a broad and heavy blade, strong enough to smash a whole garlic with one blow.

How to Pick a Good Chef’s Knife

A good chef’s knife is invaluable to say the least. Since it’s your go-to knife, choosing a good, solid chef’s knife that functions well is the best thing you can do as a cook, besides churning out delicious dishes. Here’s  a general guide:

  • Blade

Blade power takes on a whole new meaning when you consider how a blade determines the quality of the knife. A poorly chosen blade can discolor, rusts, breaks or lose its cutting edge easily. Material choice is important.  If the blade is made of carbon steel, it may discolor when it comes into contact with acidic foods or rust if left unused. On the other hand, blade made of stainless steel won’t rust, but it may be difficult to keep a good sharp edge. A high carbon stainless steel blade makes a good knife: it has strength, won’t discolor and will hold its edge well.  In addition, make sure, the blade is forged from a single piece of steel that runs the entire length of the knife from the tip of the blade to the end of the handle. This creates a steady knife that yields a good balance when you use it.

  • Handle

Much consideration should be given to the part where your hand comes in contact with when holding a knife. It should feel comfortable and snug. The material plays a part too. A knife made with wood may harbor bacteria between the cracks and cause food contamination. Most knife experts recommend plastic, rubber or ones made with composite material consisting of wood that has been treated with plastic resin (you get the look of wood without the sanitation worry).

These are just some of the pertinent factors to consider when thinking of buying a chef’s knife. At Cilantro Cooks, we offer a variety of chef’s knives. Visit our online store or contact us for more information.