There are a number of tools every kitchen must have – a sturdy wood cutting board, an all-purpose paring knife, a sharp vegetable peeler and, most of all, the indispensable chef’s knife. Fear not. You needn’t be a chef to own one. In fact, picking the right chef’s knife will enhance your knife skills, speed up your prep time and do a lot of the work for you.When it comes to buying knives, we adhere to 2 rules: a la carte and quality-over-quantity. We don’t want the 14-piece set of little-used knives crowding the drawers – we use our chef’s knives 90% of the time we’re in the kitchen.Here are some knife-buying tips to consider before purchasing:THE HIGH CARBON STAINLESS STEEL BLADE
The strongest blades are made from high carbon stainless steel. This very hard metal keeps its edge longer, sharpens easily and doesn’t rust or discolor like ordinary carbon steel.
Picking the shape of your blade is a matter of personal preference – the French-style chef’s knife has a straighter blade that makes it ideal for cutting in a slicing motion, while the German chef’s knife has a more curved section along the length of the blade, allowing for more of an up-and-down, rocking motion when cutting.
THE FULL TANG
For a stronger, better-balanced and more durable knife, look to the tang, otherwise known as the steel inside the handle of the knife. The best knives have a full tang, where the steel, attached with rivets, runs from the tip of the knifepoint down through the entire length of the handle.
THE COMFORTABLE HANDLE
Grab on. For better control over the blade, the knife must feel comfortable in your hand. If the handle is too slippery or too heavy, you’ll be forced to grip it and will tire easily. As well, we recommend staying away from any untreated wood handles – these porous handles will harbor bacteria and when wet, can warp or crack.
THE BIG BOLSTER
What’s the bolster? It’s the point where the blade and handle meet, a section that balances the knife and keeps your fingers from slipping while working. The thicker the bolster, the better as its’ width indicated the thickness of the original chunk of steel the knife was made from. Don’t see a bolster? That means the knife was stamped out of a sheet of metal and not made from a single chunk of steel.
THE FINAL CUT
1. Use your knife for cooking purposes only. You’re not auditioning for a Ginsu commercial.
2. Sharp knives are good, dull knives are hazardous.
3. Don’t grab for a falling knife. Jump out of the way.
4. Point the blade away from you, never cutting towards yourself.
5. Wash your knives by hand – dishwashers ruin blades.
6. You can damage the edge of the blade by working on metal, glass or marble cutting boards.
7. Make sure your cutting board is secure by putting a damp towel underneath.
8. Walk with your knife pointed down to the ground.
9. Simon Cowell once called my fav song, “Mac the Knife,” the best song ever written.
10. Be careful.