Chefs Knife Buying Guide

by guest writer - 30 July 2013

Ask any top chef, anywhere in the world, what single possession they would save from a burning building and the answer is likely to be their favourite knife. To a chef, his or her knife is more than an essential work tool; it is an extension of their entire personality, an old friend, a talisman, an accomplice, a symbol of security and success. Hour after hour in boiling hot kitchens, that knife has chopped, sliced, slashed, filleted, minced, diced, spliced and split, moving at lightning fast speeds. It is cherished, adored, worshipped. It is lovingly washed and dried at the end of service and rolled into its own special, reverential cloth sack, then carried everywhere, as if it were as valuable as an ancient scroll. Imagine the pain for chefs when they have to check in at airports and be separated from their fiendishly sharp implements. A chef feels naked without his knife.

But how do chefs decide which is The One, when they fall in love with their all-time object of desire? For many, the best knives in the world now are those that are made in Japan. The quality of the steel, the thinness and sharpness of the blades and also the good looks of the design are all cited as preferences when it comes to top brands like Misono, Korin, Asai, I. O. Shen and Takamura. As Japanese cuisine features a great deal of very finely sliced raw fish, this is a key to the razor-sharpness required of their exceptional utensils.

Here at Delicious Spanish Recipes we use I. O. Shen knives from Japan

In Europe, the Germans have the top reputation with famous makes like Henckels, Wusthof and Messermeister. Although a lot of these knives are very expensive it is worth remembering that, with care and regular sharpening, they will last up to thirty years. The Henckels Professional S is forged from one piece of steel, with a bolster and a three-rivet handle. It is quite a beast. Whilst it has heft, it is not too heavy in the hand, which can be a big drawback to some bigger knives, tiring the chef too quickly. The handle looks like it is wooden but it is not, as wood deteriorates.

Sabatier is the famed French blademaker and has held its dominant status and reputation for decades. The range is enormous and covers all eventualities from a specialized pastry knife to a frozen food one and a fish scaler.

No-one can be unfamiliar with the iconic Swiss Army Knife, but it is less well known that Victorinix, their manufacturer, also makes kitchen knives to the same exceptionally high standards as their Boy Scout essential. Their rosewood handled knives are particularly handsome items.

Anyone who is wondering what the "dimples" are on some top-class knives? Their actual name is cullens or grantons and they are a feature of the Japanese santoku designs, breaking the suction of the surface in a slicing motion and creating a cleaner gliding cut.

If you are thinking of "forking out" for some classic new chefs knives of your own and wishing to unleash your inner Ferran Adria; then do go into a quality kitchen equipment store to test out the various options before you buy. As any top chef will confirm, it has to be a match made in heaven and when you first take the right knife in your hand, you will know without question you have found the next love of your life.

Photo by Olaf Simons (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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