Knives are some of the most important tools in any kitchen, whether that of a Michelin star chef or the family home. Choosing the right chef’s knife depends on the user and their preferences. There is definitely no one size fits all solution when it comes to chef knives. Whether looking for a kitchen knives set online or trying them out in a high end kitchenware store, this article will go over a few key points to consider when you’re looking to choose a chef’s knife that works for you.
Essential Knife Tasks
Good chef knives need to be versatile and able to take on a variety of tasks. If you’re buying online, try and find reviews of how they function with different foods. If you have the ability to test out a knife, here are some of the things you should attempt:
Knowing how the knife feels in your hand is probably the most important aspect to consider when buying a knife. It should feel comfortable in your hand giving a sense of balanced control and acting like a natural extension. Consider these points:
The knife should balance comfortably in your palm without weighing too far towards the tip nor too far back to the handle. An unbalanced knife will be harder to work with and can be dangerous. At the same time, a knife which is balanced for one person may not be balanced for the next. It’s entirely a personal preference.
Knife weight is another personal preference. What’s best for you will depend on your hand size, strength and the main jobs the knife will perform for you. Some people believe a heavier knife chops through foods with greater ease, while others believe a lighter knife allows for finer control. Choose a weight that gives you the best of both worlds.
Chef knives typically come in 6”, 8” and 10” sizes. The medium sized blade is probably the most versatile, but depending on the jobs you plan on doing, a larger or smaller knife might make more sense. Once again, personal preference and intended use will help you decide.
The knife is constructed of various components which need to be considered when choosing one that is right for you. Analyze these elements when you choosing your knife and figure out how they can work to your advantage.
A comfortable handle is an absolute necessity. Choose one that is the right size for your hand, doesn’t slip easily and gives enough leeway underneath to allow your fingers and knuckles to fit. If the handle is moulded with grips, make sure they work for you and not against you.
The bolster is the junction between the handle and the blade. It adds strength, durability and balance. Some knives have no bolsters or just partial ones.
The edge is the cutting portion of the knife. You can test its sharpness by slicing through a sheet of paper. How much the edge is rockered will determine its usefulness with fine mincing and chopping.
The heel is the part of the edge that is closest to the handle and the thickest, heaviest part. It will come into play when cutting hard foods such as chicken joints, turnips or squashes. The heel should not get in the way of rocking the knife back and forth.
The spine is the top of the blade and may run through the entire handle. Since your hand will normally be in contact with the spine, make sure it’s comfortable. Check the tip as well to ensure its fine enough to achieve the results you’re looking for.