A chef’s set of knives is as personal to a chef as a tennis racket is to a professional tennis player. You’ve probably heard the phrase “Pack your knives and go!” on Top Chef. It is redundant to say because no real chef would go anywhere without his or her knives. While you need to decide by yourself which knife or knives would complete your kitchen, the following considerations are good to keep in mind before you make the purchase.
1. How to choose a knife?
First of all, it is important to determine one thing: what do you want your knife for? Do you need a knife to cut through bones and carcasses? Or you need a good knife to cut vegetables? Do you want a knife to thinly slice hams, or beef or fish carpaccios? Or do you need a more versatile knife that can do most things? Once you know the answer to it, it would be easier for you to choose the right knife.
2. Should you buy a set?
It depends. If you are a professional chef, by all means yes (but you probably already knew that). If you are a home cook, on the other hand, you don’t necessarily need to get a full set. Good knives are expensive and when buying sets, you end up paying for knives you might never use. Our recommendation is to focus first on purchasing a good quality “anchor” knife. This will be the knife you will end up doing most of your cutting with and will become your best friend in the kitchen. Other specialised knives can be added to create your own set, depending on your cutting needs.
3. Where to buy?
If you are serious about buying a good set of knives, then do not buy one online. Go to a store and feel the different knives in your hand, their weight differences and their sizes. Very big knives can be scary for some, unmanageable for others. Look at the handle size and shape in relation to the size of your hands. Do you prefer a heavier-feeling knife or a light-weight? Remember, your knives are personal, and yours should feel perfect when in your hands.
4. Learn how to sharpen your knives
Being able to keep your knives sharp is crucial. It takes some practice to learn it, but it pays off. Make sure you invest the time to learn how to do it properly, as a knife can easily be damaged. When choosing your knife or your set of knives, knowing whether you’ll end up sharpening your knives regularly is important. Don’t spend a lot of money on a knife set if you will not maintain it properly. The recommendation is to sharpen your knife before each use. Once you enjoy the benefits of a well sharpened knife, you will never go back.
Ready to to start chopping? Not just yet! Having a perfect knife is only part of being able to start attacking those ingredients (albeit a big part). Here are some more things to consider:
1. Cutting technique
Just like there are golf clubs made for the professionals, so there are knives made for those who know what to do with them. There are many places online where you can brush up in your cutting technique, such as craftsy.com and of course on YouTube.
2. Cutting board
We recommend you invest in a good, strong wooden board. If well maintained, these type of boards can last forever. Remember to wash it well after use, especially if cutting raw meats. Soap and lots of running water will mostly do the job, but to make sure you kill any undesired bacteria, clean your board with pure white vinegar and rinse it with abundant water. Let the board air-dry to keep it from damaging. Never soak your cutting board in water nor put it in the dishwasher as it can get damaged or warped.
3. Maintenance and care
As mentioned before, maintaining your knives is important. Don’t leave them dirty for long periods of time, handwash instead of putting them in the dishwasher and dry them. Sharpen them before each use and finally properly store them on a knife block to prevent cutting yourself or others by accident.