Why Every Kitchen Needs a Good Chef Knife

October 29, 2014

good chef knife

I can’t go further into meal planning until we talk chef knives.

Before cooking school, I used a bagel knife to cut veggies and meat in the kitchen.

And I was righteous about it.  I remember saying I didn’t need anything else, that this knife was perfectly fine.


I was young and pompous and completely uneducated. And inefficient.

Learning how to use a chef knife in the kitchen is the first step to becoming a pro in the kitchen.

Without knowing how to cut an onion, break down broccoli, dice a sweet potato, you will waste time wrestling with knives.

What kind of knife do I need?

A good chef knife.

You could get a pairing, serrated, and boning knife like we get in cooking school.  Do you absolutely *need* them?

No.  Though a serrated knife is useful to slice bread and tomatoes.

I recommend an 8″ chef knife.  There are smaller and bigger sizes, but this is the easiest one to manoeuvre.

How much should you spend?

You can spend as low as $20 and up to $500 on a chef knife.

The price you pay is normally indicative of the quality.  You may as well use a bagel knife instead of a $20 chef knife.

$50-$100 is perfect for a beginner.  Or advanced cook.  I have the ones I listed below and I’m happy with them.

What are the best brands?

I beg you to throw away your Cutco knives.

A perfectly good starter knife is this one from Victoriaknox.  These are the ones we used in cooking school.

In the $100 range, this shun knife is lovely.  I also like this classic shun 8″ knife.

My other favorite brand is Wustoff.  This one is a solid choice.

How do I sharpen my knife?

For the home cook, the chef’s choice are rated high on Cooks Illustrated and Amazon.  These won’t be quite as good as using a whetstone but it’s also much easier to use.

How to I use the knife?

You can watch Gordon Ramsey talk about how hold the knife and chop an onion in this short video here.

Learning to chop an onion – the basic aromatic of all dishes – is mega important.  And knowing how to do it properly will save you time and frustration.

In all seriousness, the chef knife is the foundation of of your kitchen.  You cannot be without one if you want to gain momentum and make meal prep much, much easier.

I’ll share more about knife cuts soon.  The ones you absolutely need to know to advance your skills in the kitchen.

What chef knife do you use?  How has it changed your experience of cooking?

4 Responses to “Why Every Kitchen Needs a Good Chef Knife”

  1. I’ve been really struggling with this problem and am so glad you posted about the subject of knives. I have a drawer full of dull knives and was happy to see you recommend a knife sharpener! Yea! I can get on with cooking.

    • whiteapron says:

      Yay, so glad it was helpful!

      If you want to restore your knives, send them here in NYC – the Japanese sharpening method is the most effective – WAY better than the sharpening wheels that ruin your knives. http://korin.com/Services/Sharpening-Repair

      From there you can do them yourself but this will restore them back to their original glory!

  2. […] Chef knife.  Not Cutco.  Something in the $50-$100 range.  […]

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