A friend and I have had an ongoing discussion about knives. He is a chef (among having many other talents and skills). While I was browsing for birthday gifts, I asked him, “WHAT KNIVES DO NON-CHEFS NEED AT HOME?”
ALL THAT FOLLOWS IS WHAT HE ANSWERED OVER OUR CONVERSATIONS.
I do not claim any knowledge about knives which is the whole point of this particular post.
1Good Cook’s or Chef’s knife
The minimum length would be 8”. 10″ is the most productive, 9″ is a good compromise. Go with what’s most comfortable.
A nice paring/peeling knife to use “off the board”. Can also be used to trim meat or fillet smaller fish. A good size is 4-6”.
3Serrated Slicing knife
This is good for bread and crispy pork belly, I suggest 9″ for this. Also important is that the teeth need to be pointed and sharp thus ensuring more utility. And not the rounded variety.
The size recommended for this is 10”. This will mainly get used for cooked meats like roasts but will be equally adept at portioning raw boneless protein.
My suggestion for these are the Germans brands, Wüsthof or Zwilling, J.A. Henckels. If you must have French, Sabatier. If Japanese is your flavor, go Global.
Note: While my suggestions are for home use, professionals use these too. The common thread of all these brands are that they are all stainless and will not have much problems with rust (given some care), which makes them perfect for home use.
Ditch the knife block. Knife blocks are bacteria traps and nearly impossible to clean. Instead opt for wooden magnetic knife racks. More hygienic and cooler looking. Do note that you shouldn’t place knives anywhere near heat and moisture. So, no knives on top of the stove or near a sink.
Though I’m recommending this, I’m not personally fond of the brand and their products as they are a poor pastiche of the actual (handmade) Japanese knives I use. These are popular with culinary students (which I was) and typically purchased for home kitchens with a modern look, which is an irony since these knives’ heyday was in the 90’s. These are okay quality, light and nimble enough, but annoying to sharpen properly, which should not be a problem for you as I expect you’ll just send these out to be sharpened from time to time.
I know quite a few chefs that swear by these and I actually own a few Globals that I use at work as beaters, i.e.: rough tasks that would potentially damage knives—including occasionally lending a knife to less experienced hands.
To be fair though, as I’ve been using these on and off at work for years, I’m more used to Globals than the Germans (brands of knives).
*As a side note, forget about Sabatier, unless you can find particular ones from specific manufacturers from (at the latest) the 1970’s, I wouldn’t bother. Super soft substandard steel (typically) and no such quality control as the brand Sabatier can actually be used by any manufacturer.
In any case, happy shopping! Rest assured, you’ll be very happy with any of these. Just make sure you have the right information with regards to proper and safe use (which starts with HAND WASH ONLY), and they should outlast you.
These (designs) are classic European workhorses. Tough and sturdy, which is why I own a couple (for home use). A slight upgrade from the (Classic series) is the Ikon series which uses the same steel but a smaller, more ergonomic handle, and more importantly for me, does not have a full bolster like the Wüsthof Classic.
Tried and tested.
This would be the most comfortable and useful line here, in my opinion.
If a prettier albeit larger handle than the one of the Ikon series is preferred.
An oak version to the company’s most user-friendly knife.
Heirloom quality, wow factor. If I somehow ended up in your kitchen and was tasked to cook, these are the ones I’d be glad to find in your kitchen over any of the ones in this list.
Barring unusual abuse, your grandchildren would be using these as if they were bought yesterday. Not cheap, but considering high-end starts from this price range, they start to look like a bargain. For some perspective, my knives for work are more expensive.
I enjoyed perusing all of his recommendations so I hope you will too. After studying his choices (as this is a personal blog), I am making my choice based on what fits our home and my hands while not necessarily fitting our household budget. That said…
THIS IS ON MY WISHLIST
These are the knives I have fallen for. Named from the date the company was founded with the familiar twin logo. Designer Matteo Thun married German engineering with Italian design. Watch this video to get the whole story. See the impressive creation and craftsmanship of the 1731 Series.
The design, precision and the sizes, are all very me. I have small hands so I was always only going for 8″ knives. These are the best you would find scouring the globe. I would like to purchase the 4 knives, one special occasion at a time (again keeping with my philosophy of extending the joy of shopping, receiving and using) until I have a complete set to maintain and use for a lifetime.
FINAL NOTE: And because he is that kind or thoughtful, thorough, caring, conscientious friend, he even sent me the following safety video. Please study this at home before anything else.
KNIFE SKILLS VIDEO: