People often ask me, “What’s your favorite knife for a professional kitchen?” It always makes me pause because there are a bunch of things to consider before I can answer:
- What kind of metal? Forged or folded?
- What’s the best ratio of high carbon steel to stainless steel?
- What kind of tang (the part of the blade that extends into the handle) does it have…full or half or is it a rod covered in plastic?
- Should the heel be flush with the blade or steeply taper out to give you an effective bone cutter (or can opener)?
- Should the edge be serrated or straight…or curved?
- Should the side of the blade sport dimples (for releasing/preventing wet food from sticking to the side of the blade as you cut) or should it be flat?
- Should the blade be flexible or rigid?
- Should the tip be pointed like a “V” or should it be more blunt, providing more uniform blade-edge surface area at the front?
All great questions and they mostly center around what you plan to use it for. I’ve never met anyone, for example, who lists the meat cleaver as their “favorite knife” but try to cut through bones with a paring knife and you’ll wish you had one.
Asking a chef to choose one knife is like asking a golfer to pick one club to use for driving, chipping and putting…or asking a carpenter to choose one tool that is best for cutting, measuring and drilling. However, if you let a golfer choose 3 clubs or a carpenter choose 3 tools, it gets a lot easier for them.
So here are my 3 favorites …and why.
8” Chef’s Knife
6” Utility Knife
8” Serrated Bread Knife
Buying great knives won’t make you a chef. You have to know how to use them. Futz around with a whole chicken using a dull knife or the wrong knife and you’re bound to wind up in the emergency room getting stitched up. Chop chives with your Chef Knife instead of slicing through them and your razor-sharp prize will become as dull as a butter knife (ever hear someone “whack-whack-whacking” through a case of mushrooms, showing off how fast they can chop…whadaya think is happening to their knife edge as it strikes the cutting board over and over?). Use your 6” utility knife to cut through that confounding plastic packaging that entombs your daughter’s new Barbie and you’ll wonder why you threw out your “Laser” knives from COSTCO. Buy three smart knives, protect your investment and use them correctly.
by Ray Camillo