If You Can Only Have One Knife In The Kitchen, The Chef’s Knife Is The One To Get.
When it comes to knives in the kitchen the alpha and the omega, without question, is the chef’s knife. A quality chef’s knife can do just about everything from butchering a side of beef and dicing up vegetables to crushing garlic and skinning a salmon filet.
Whether Japanese or German, stainless or high-carbon, forged or stamped, there are an amazing variety of chef’s knives available today, and there will be one at the right price for you.
History Of The Chef’s Knife
Humans, and their ancestors, have been eating hunted meats and foraged fruits for millions of years. The first predecessor of the chef’s knife, in the most liberal sense of the term, dates back 2.5-million years to what is now Ethiopia. Known as Oldowan knives, these sharp stone pieces were made by smashing rocks together to form fragments with razor edges to cut through game.
The first proto-knife found with protein residue on it dates back 250,000 years and was discovered in the Azraq Oasis in Jordan. It had the residue of horse, cow, and rhinoceros on it.
As time progressed, knives evolved along with humans. The discovery of fire along with different types of metals allowed the creation of the earliest forged pieces. The bronze and iron ages saw more quality metals turned into knives by skilled artisans.
Each new material allowed for better, more durable knives and paved the way for the steel models we have today. Chef’s knives, as we know them now, have been found dating back to before the Roman Empire and were modified versions of swords and other weapons.
Why Should I Buy A Chef’s Knife?
Look, if you want to try and cut through a medium-rare ribeye or slice veggies with a standard butter knife, good luck.
A quality chef’s knife will make your life in the kitchen much easier than if you tried to force it with a standard dinner knife. Will the chef knife be more money? Absolutely, but, as you’ll see with our list, it’s incredibly easy to find a strong, capable model without breaking the bank.
So you should have a chef’s knife in the same way you should have proper running shoes if you are a marathoner or a good driver if you golf. You could do those things without the right equipment, but it’s much easier and enjoyable when you have the right tools for the job.
5 Best Chef’s Knives
Chef’s knives, Japanese or German, should make you feel comfortable and secure in the kitchen, as well as make work there easier. This list has a little of everything from pro-quality damascus blades, to stamped models strong enough to be an everyday workhorse.
Misen Chef’s Knife
Award-winning cookbook author J. Kenji Lopez-Alt called this knife “the holy grail of inexpensive chef’s knives.” The 8-inch blade is made from Aichi AUS-10 high-carbon stainless steel, is ground to a 15-degree edge, and has a 58 HRC.
The sloped bolster and handle design encourages a safe grip while chopping. It’s light in the hand at only 8 ounces in weight and can mince herbs and cut through chicken bones just as easily.
An added bonus is that there are four choices for the handle color (blue, red, gray, and black). For a budget knife, this piece from Misen really is about as good as it gets.
Wusthof Classic Ikon 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
An icon of German engineering, Wusthof has been making knives in Solingen, Germany since 1814. The Classic Ikon is a timeless all-around blade that makes an excellent addition to your home, while also having the chops to cut it (pun intended) in a professional kitchen.
The forged blade is triple-riveted to the black synthetic handle and has a 58 HRC. The half bolster cuts down on weight while also making it easier to sharpen. When you buy a Wusthof you can trust in the two centuries of work that has built the company into what it is today, and this model won’t disappoint.
Mac Knife Pro Series 8-Inch Chef’s Knife With Dimples
This professional-level Japanese chef’s knife is a popular choice for chefs and home cooks alike. The 8-inch hollow-edge blade is made from alloy steel and a Pakkawood, triple-riveted handle.
What sets this knife apart from the rest on our list are the dimples on the blade. Known as a Granton edge, these dimples are more common on a Santoku knife than on a chef’s knife. Regardless, they allow for food to more easily slide off while cutting so you don’t have to deal with the frustrating task of peeling bits off the blade when you’re cutting stickier foods like potatoes or apples.
Made in Seki, Japan, the traditional home of Japanese knifemaking, Mac Knife has made something modern built with techniques developed over centuries.
Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife
The lowest-priced knife on our list punches above its weight and is a great addition to your kitchen. The price is kept down because the blade is stamped, but don’t let that fool you. This model has the same quality you would expect from everything else Victorinox offers.
The eight-inch stainless blade is married to an ergonomic, non-slip handle that feels great in the hand. Made in Switzerland along with the brand’s famous Swiss Army knives, the Fibrox Pro is easy and efficient to use. While it is listed as dishwasher safe, we recommend hand-washing and drying it as that will preserve the blade for longer.
An added bonus of the stamped blade is that this is the lightest knife on our list, coming in at just 6 ounces.
Miyabi Chef’s Knife
This is a professional knife and it looks the part. Made of 100 layers of damascus steel around a Cryodur-hardened SG2 micro-carbide steel core, it is topped off with a Masur birch handle. The damascus blade has a ridiculously hard 63 HRC and is ground to an edge between 9-12 degrees using the traditional Japanese three-stage honbazuke process. That sees the blade polished twice on custom whetstones and polished to a mirror finished on leather wheels.
This is one of the highest-quality kitchen knives on the market today. It’s also a love note to Japanese knifemaking from its tip to the end of the handle. Miyabi’s whole set of chef’s knives is of similar quality and if maintained properly, can last you a lifetime.
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