Chef Knife Comparison
Chef Knife Buying Guide
Elements of a Great Chef’s Knife
There are several things that you want to look for when you are searching for the right chef’s knife. We have outlined the different aspects that make an excellent knife so you know what to look for when you start shopping.
- Style – There are three basic types of chef’s knives: modern gyutou-style hybrid, a tough Western style, or a more delicate Japanese-style santoku. Personal preference will play a large part in the type of Chef’s knife you choose. If you have any experience at all using knives, you should already have an idea of the style of knife you prefer to use.
- Design – From the curve of the blade to the weight to the shape of the handle, all these aspects come together to create a high quality knife that you will love using in your kitchen. All of the design aspects of a knife should be considered to ensure that you pick one that will feel natural and good in your hand.
- Craftsmanship – The construction of a chef’s knife is critical to how it performs and how it feels in your hand. You want a knife that feels solid and well put together. You don’t want to feel the handle shift or the blade give and you want it to feel good in your hand as you use it. A knife that is well balanced and has a hefty feel to it will be easy to use and will take a lot less effort to get the cutting jobs done.
- Materials – Harder steel is used in hybrid and Japanese style knives and they retain their edges for a longer time. Softer steel knives need to be sharpened more frequently even though they tend to be easier to use. You also want to look at the material the handles are made of which can be solid wood or composite handles. You want them to feel durable and sturdy in your hand.
A good chef’s knife is an extension of your hand. You want to look for a knife that will be natural in your hand and that allows you to complete the cutting, dicing and chopping tasks you have to do in an effortless and enjoyable way. Cooking is supposed to be enjoyable. One of the best ways to encourage a love of cooking is to make sure that your tools are good quality. Choosing the best chef’s knife will start the ball rolling.
Types of Chef’s Knives
There are three basic styles of chef’s knives on the market. We have outlined all three types below so you can learn about the differences and see which style appeals to you. Which one you want to choose is up to personal preference and most cooks will find that they gravitate towards a specific style for the knives they use.
- Modern Gyutou Hybrid – Extreme precision in knife construction is commonplace in Japanese knife making. When compared to the Western style knives, Japanese hybrids are usually thicker, shaper and harder to control, especially for newbies to using a chef’s knife.
With a lot of practice you can learn to wield a Japanese hybrid chef’s knife very impressively, but it will take practice. These knives typically have a flat edge which makes a rocking chopping motion pretty much impossible. The Gyutou knife is designed to perform many Western tasks and is lighter than the traditional hybrid was.
They have better control and precision and are more maneuverable but less precise than the Santoku. This type of chef’s knife is a great all around knife that is perfect for mincing, precision vegetable prep and light protein prep. They are not the best for chopping through bones or cutting extra large vegetables in half.
- Classic Western-Style – If you are looking for power and precision, then a Western style chef’s knife with its hefty feel may be what you’re wanting. This style chef’s knife is thicker and has more of a wedge shape; the Western style chef’s knife has been designed for versatility.
Their sharp tips make them good for precise knife work although it is a bit contradictory since the weight and thickness limits them somewhat in the precision area. They are constructed to be heavy and have a wide bolster that feels solid and strong in your hand. The thick metal and full tang add to the weight so the momentum helps do the work rather than having to use force.
The heavily curved blade allows for the rocking motion that makes chopping herbs and other items into tiny pieces much easier. The steel used in a Western style knife is softer so they are easier to sharpen and home but you will need to do this more frequently to maintain a sharp edge.
This style chef’s knife is perfect for the home cook that does a lot of heavy prep and that wants a knife that is good for many different tasks. Since they are heavier and chunkier, if you have small hands, this may not be the knife for you.
- Santoku-Style – These multi-tasking knives are precise and offer a lot of control over the cutting process. With this type of knife, the Western style rocking-style cutting motion is not very practical or efficient.
The straight edge and blocky tip make this style the best for cutting vegetables precisely and for easy butchering of light proteins like chicken and fish. This knife has a slight curve to it which adds to the speed in which you can chop small items like herbs, especially with practice.
The Santoku chef’s knife is great for the kitchen perfectionist. If you like uniform chopping, this is the knife that will make this much easier to achieve.
Choosing the right chef’s knife is serious business to a cook that spends a lot of time in the kitchen preparing meals and doing prep work. Anyone who has had to work with an inferior knife will agree that having a high quality chef’s knife to handle a multitude of cutting, dicing, and chopping tasks makes food prep much more enjoyable and efficient.
Knowing what to look for when it comes to a chef’s knife is the most important aspect of finding that perfect one for your kitchen. We’ve provided the different factors that need to be considered when looking at different models. This information will make sorting through the different styles of chef’s knives much easier since the descriptions will make a lot more sense to you.
The right information gives you the knowledge to make an informed decision that you will be very pleased with and more importantly, that you will enjoy using on a regular basis in your kitchen.
- Victorinox – https://www.victorinox.com/global/en_US/
- J A Henckels – http://www.j-a-henckels.com/en-US/
- OXO – https://www.oxo.com/products/