Finding the right Chef Knife or Chef Knife Set
Finding the right Chef Knife or Chef Knife Set – Every Handyman will tell you that the quality of the tools you are using reflects in the speed and value of your work. This is true for any kind of crafts as well as Kitchen work.
The material and size of a cooking pot defines the speed and qaulity of the soups and stews you are preparing. Every dish has a best fitting cooking vessel.
There is also a fitting knife available for cutting, slicing or carving different materials like meat, fish, vegetable or bread.
We are going find a sortiment of knifes in every kitchen, but are they the right kind to do the job? Also find Chef Knifes in different sizes, Paring Knifes, Steak Knifes, Fillet Knifes, Knifes with Serrated or Straight Edges, Knifes made from Steel or Ceramic, Single Knifes or Sets of Kitchen Knifes, Knifes with Riveted and Knifes with Molded Handles.
We have to ask ourself which Knife is the best to do the Job?
There are many good quality Knifes available. We just have to answer a few basic questions:
Do I want to buy a preselected Chef Knife Set or do I want to select the Knifes I need for my Kitchen and Cooking?
- Both ways have their reason and justification. To buy a Kitchen Knife Set is convenient, most likely the cheaper alternative and a wooden block with several knifes can give your Kitchen a very professional look. Putting together your own selection can save you money as well because you are only buying Knifes you really need. You are also able to choose Knifes from different manufatures which allows you to pick the best quality or value for every task.
How much am I going to spend on the Knifes I need in my Kitchen?
- This question is answered by the budget you have available. There are budget version in the market but a decend Kitchen Knife (depending on the size) will start between $25 and $60; Starter Chef Knife Sets, containing 4 to 8 Knifes, at around $120. A good set of Kitchen Knifes will last you a lifetime. The price of a Chef Knife or Knife Set is not only defined by the size of the Knifes or set but more likely by the material used and the quality of the fabrication and handle.
What Blade Material should I choose?
The material of choise is most likely a Stainless Steel (an alloy of steel, chromium and other materials). Stainless Steel Grade 420 is a material often used for Beginner or starter Knifes or Sets. High-end Kitchen knifes are made from harder material which is able to keep a sharp edge for much longer like Highcarbon Steel Grade 440C , AUS 8 or AUS 10. The hardest material for a knife blade is Ceramic. Ceramic Kitchen Knifes have a very long lasting edge. They are perfect for cutting vegetables and fruits: I also use them for boneless meat. Ceramic Knifes are very brittle and require special tools for sharpening. Stay away from Chef Knife Sets where almost every blade has a serraded edge. These sets are made from material so soft that it is not able to keep an edge. The serraded edge can not be resharpened. These Knifes have to be replaced after going dull.
Chef Knife Sets
There are Chef Knife Sets available with anything between 2 and 25 Kitchen Knifes. To select a Set someone would have to consider their skill level in the Kitchen, kinds of food to prepare and budget.
The most used Knifes in a Kitchen are:
- Chef Knife (Usually a heavey Knife 8 inches in length, 6 and 10 inches are also available, used for slicing and chopping).
- Utility Knife (Midsize Knife mostly with a serrated edge. This knife is a multi-tasker and used for every task you can imagine).
- Paring Knife (Short light knife used for paring and peeling).
- Bread Knife (Knife with a long serrated blade for slicing bread, bagels, …).
These Knifes should be required in a basic Chef Knife Set and should enable you to perform most cutting tasks in a Kitchen. The following Kitchen Knifes could be added for speical requirements:
- Carving Knife (Knife with either straight or serrated edge. Used for carving or slicing meat products).
- Fillet Knife (Knife with thin flexible blade. These Knifes are often used for filleting fish or seperating unwanted parts, skins or fat, from roasts or other large pieces of meat).
- Cleaver (Knife with a very heave most likely rectangular blade, used to cut through items with hard services or seperating bones or portioning frozen food).
- Additonal Paring Knife in different size.
Most Chef Knife Sets offer also:
- Carving Fork (Large sturdy fork with two long prongs to hold on to anything you want to slice or move).
- Sharpening Steel (Used to restore a fine edge on a Knife for better cutting performance).
Some Chef Knife Sets also include:
- Kichen Shears (Heavy duty Shears for many tasks from portioning Chicken to cutting plastic wrappers).
To select a single Chef Knife we have to consider the following attributes:
A good quality Chef Knife should be made from High-Carbon-Steel (e.g. Grade 440C). These types of steel are very hard and hold a good edge over a long periode of time.
The most common Chef Knife sizes are 6, 8, 10 and 12 inches. The Size is the actual length of the Chef Knifes Blade, with o inch being the most common size.
Even so that this selection is not as important anymore, I want to point out the difference between a stamped and a forged Blade. A blade, pressed from a sheet of steel, using a form, (almost like cutting cookies with a cookie cutter) is called a Stamped Blade. A Forged Blade is made from one piece of metal by changing the form into the desired shape. If at all, the forged blade provides a better quality.
Knife Handle Material:
The most common Materials for Chef Knife Handles and their attributes are
- Wood: The traditional material for Kitchen Knife Handles. It feels very good to the touch but requires special care. Chef Knifes with Wooden Handles cannot be cleaned in a dish washer (not that any high qualtiy Kitchen Knifes should go into a dish washer – ever).
- Micarda: This is a synthetic material used for most Kitchen Knife Handles. Micarda is a very though material and very resistant to handling, mechanical impacts and extreme temperature changes.
- Metal: Metal Knife Handles are very easy to clean and have a nice modern look but do not feel as comforting to the touch as wooden or Micarda Handles.
- Molded Plastic: This is a very cheap material used on many low quality Kitchen Knifes. Molded Plastic Knife Handles are not as resistant as other materials and tend to break easier.
Kitchen Knife Storage
After researching, deciding and purchasing Kitchen Knifes or a Chef Knife set you do not want to throw these Knife in a drawer with all the other Kitchen Utensils. Good Quality Kitchen Knifes create a nice decoration for every Kitchen. There are severel option, to store or display your knifes, available.
Most Knife Blocks are made from Wood or Bamboo. Many Chef Knife Sets already come with or in a Knife Block but the are also available to be bought seperatly. KNife Blocks protact your knife, make them easiely available and are a nice countertop decoration.
A magnetic Knife bar can be mounted almost everywhere in your Kitchen and they come in different length to hold different numbers of Kitchen Knifes. Knifes on a magnetic bar are very easily accessble and give the Kitchen a professional look. Of course this kind of storage will not work with Ceramic Knifes.
Knife Cases or Rolls:
Knife Cases or Rolls are used if you want to take your Kitchen Cutlery on the Road. How about preparing a Barbeque in a park or a roast for a party. Why not showing up with your own tools stored in a professional manner?