— there seem to be a gazillion of them out there for
the home and professional cook: chef’s knives, paring
knives, boning knives, cleavers, serrated knives,
santoku knives and more. Which one do you really need
— and how do you go about finding it.
chef’s or cook’s knife seems to be the must-have,
according to an informal survey of some of the pros,
like James P. DeWan, a culinary instructor at Kendall
College in Chicago, co-author of "Zwilling J.A.
Henckels Complete Book of Knife Skills" and Chicago
think the only knife you really need is a chef’s knife
and maybe a paring knife," DeWan said in a
telephone interview. Instead of spending a "whole
bunch of money" on different knives, you should
invest the money in a good chef’s knife, a paring
knife, and a whetstone and sharpening steel to keep the
edge honed, he said.
to look for?
think a comfortable grip is the main thing," DeWan
said. "You know, it’s got to feel right in your
the knife should feel heavy or light is personal
preference. DeWan himself likes "knives with
weight." He also like’s a chef’s knife with a
medium-length blade; too long a blade is hard to use.
said you’ll want a knife with a full tang, meaning the
metal from which the blade is fashioned extends
completely through the handle. A high-carbon stainless
steel blade will stay sharp when you sharpen it and hold
an edge, he said.
never been one to be about the bling," DeWan said.
"I think you are better off with a basic knife.
Keep it sharp; you’ll be much better off."
sort of knives do the pros reach for in their kitchens?
Here’s an informal sampling from some of North America’s
top chefs, cookbook authors and television cooking show
Greenspan: Author of the soon-published "Dorie’s
Cookies," this star baker and cook wrote in an
email from her home in Westbrook, Conn., that she
recently purchased some Shun Cutlery brand knives. Her
two most-used knives? Shun’s 5 ½-inch Classic Santoku
Knife ($150) and the 8-inch Classic Western Cook’s
Knife ($188); shun.kaiusaltd.com
Jinich: The Washington, D.C.-area chef, author and
television cooking show star has been using a Shun
10-inch Classic Chef’s Knife ($200) for years. "I
love it because although it is very light, overall, the
handle feels very sturdy and has a great grip,"
wrote Jinich in an email; shun.kaiusaltd.com
Pinkney: The Chicago-based chef, author and Chicago
Tribune columnist has wielded two knives for decades:
Wusthof’s Classic 10-inch Cook’s Knife ($169.95) and
6-inch Grand Prix Utility Knife ($69.95). "They
both are weighted right for me (not too heavy) and hold
an edge," she writes in an email;
Sheridan: Executive pastry chef at Chicago’s Sixteen,
Sheridan likes the 6.4-inch Togiharu Cobalt Damascus
Santoku multipurpose knife ($128). "It’s made
partially with cobalt so it is more sturdy than other
blades and holds an edge for longer," he wrote in a
Facebook message. "The Damascus finish is fancy, so
I like that too"; korin.com/site/home.html
Tsai: Star of his own television cooking series, the
Boston-area restaurateur prefers the 7-inch Togiharu EA
line’s Molybdenum Santoku knife ($89-$109). "I
love the thinness, sharpness, great balance and weight
so I can buzz thru anything," Tsai wrote in an
Willis: The Atlanta-based chef, author and Southern food
authority writes in an email that her "desert
island knife" would be a "long heavy duty chef’s
knife." Her go-to knives are the Wusthof Classic
line, such as the 10-inch Cook’s Knife ($169.95);
Young: A wok expert and cookbook author, this New Yorker
vouches for her New West KnifeWorks Santoku knife.
"Santoku means 3 virtues and is excellent for
slicing, chopping and mincing," she wrote in an
email. "I use it for everything. I like the way it
feels in my hand. I like that it’s made in America and
has a lifetime guarantee." And, as Young noted, the
handles have gotten particularly colorful in the
Jackson, Wyo., company’s G-Fusion Santoku line ($319);