Let us start with the basics, there are many tools you can use when you are in the kitchen, the first you should grab is your knife. Forget about all the fancy gadgets, if you were stranded on an island and had to survive with only one thing, believe me it’s a knife. Now I know that your kitchen is far from a deserted island but I wanted to make the point how important it is to have the right knife. Choosing a knife or set of knives can be daunting. The single most important feature besides build quality is the feel, what I mean is how it feels in your hand. You must be comfortable using it otherwise it will just waste away in a drawer with all those fancy peelers and gadgets you never use. I assure you a good knife will get used and used a lot. Let me also answer a question I get a lot as a chef, Single or Block? You might not like my answer but it depends, mainly on what you like to do in the kitchen and how much time you have. The more time you have the more you are likely to use other knives. I’ll just say this it is better to have the right knife and not use it, than to need the right knife and not have it. The first knife to consider is the Chef’s knife or some call it a French knife, it is probably a cook’s most important tool. And given the amount of time it spends in your hand, it’s definitely worth making sure you have a good one. A chef’s knife should feel balanced in you hand. The best knives are forged from a single piece of steel that runs the entire length of the knife, from blade to handle. I know in this economy cost is always a factor but I must stress that this product more than any in your kitchen is a get what you pay for product. You should not trade cost for value, you will regret it in the long run. If you are an avid cook or maybe just a stay at home mom what you do in the kitchen is important, not only to you but to the people you cook for. With the right knife you will be happier with what you present on a plate and I think you will save money by not having less wasted material. Ok I made my case let just talk knives now.
Also known as the French Knife, it is the workhorse of the kitchen. It has a very broad blade (called the Flat) and can range in length from six to twelve inches, the eight inch size being the most popular. The Chef’s Knife is used for all the chopping, mincing and dicing tasks and is essential for vegetables. This knife is generally used on a cutting board by rocking it on its blade gently, using the tip as a stationary pivot. The wide blade keeps knuckles from hitting the cutting board. Use the back of the knife to break chicken bones and scrape foods from the board. Use the flat side for crushing things like garlic and herbs. Eight inch is great- I prefer the wider blade.
Usually has a short blade, no more than three inches in length, and in a variety of shapes and curves. It is used to peel, carve and prepare vegetables, fruit and other small ingredients that can be held in your hand. This knife will require more skill and should be used carefully, as it is mainly designed for the fine cut. Two and three quarter inch is my choice.
This knife has a thin blade, usually eight to twelve inches long, it is used to cut very thin slices of foods, mainly meats. The more flexible it is, the easier it will be to get an even thin slice. Ten and twelve inch is my favorite.
This is a perfect second knife, sized between a chef’s knife and a slicing knife. It may be more comfortable to use because of its smaller size but it should never replace your Chef’s Knife. Six inch is my first choice
This knife is distinct by its very wide blade and its heavy weight that makes easy work of cutting bone, splitting ribs and getting through gristle. Its thick edge will not chip easily. And the heavier in weight, easier it is to use. But it is also the most dangerous and misused knife. Heavy but balanced is preferred.
A good pair of kitchen shears should be made of stainless steel, to prevent corrosion, and blades should come apart, to facilitate cleaning. They are handy for mincing and, the good ones are equipped with serrated blade, for cutting small bones and the skin of poultry or fish. Be sure they are comfortable hold and cleaned well after use.
This utensil is a maintenance tool for only straight bladed knives in your kitchen. For best results, it should be used regularly. It really doesn’t sharpen the blade it more or less polishes the steel and with a metal like steel it is important. The purpose is to realign the edge of the blade, which dulls with the pressure and friction of normal kitchen use.
These are the basics but there are many other knives out there. I recommend as your skill level with knives advance seek out other knives to try. Please be careful and patient and talk about your knives with friends, ask what they use, what they like. I will also say when you are out to dinner at a restaurant don’t be afraid to ask a Chef a question. As a Chef I love to encourage others to pursue a passion for food as I have done with my life. A true Chef should always seek to share the knowledge of trade with the masses or that Chef may find himself one day only cooking for one.