As a kid, I remember being bombarded with infomercials for kitchen knife sets. I thought, to be a decent cook, I had to have more knives than there are stars in the night sky. I quickly learned 99 per cent of kitchen work is done with just three knives.
Paring knife. Typically three to four inches in length, this little guy is for detailed work. Think of it as your kitchen scalpel, peeling small fruits and vegetables, removing seeds, knocking the tops off strawberries…
Serrated knife (or “bread” knife). I’m not a fan of calling it a “bread” knife because it has more uses than just cutting bread. Super handy for anything that’s particularly fragile: Layered cakes, pavlovas, tomatoes. I also find it helpful for peeling large hard vegetables such as squash and pumpkin.
Chef’s knife. This is a generic term that covers any blade between six or seven inches, typically up to 10 inches. Picking the right one is a matter of personal taste, since they vary in weight, handle grip, style, blade shape and overall feel.
Chef Mike’s top three tips for buying a knife
- Good quality will last you a lifetime. Specifically, good quality steel holds its edge longer. As a general rule, it’s hard to go wrong with German or Japanese steel. A blunt knife is a dangerous knife, dull edges create unpredictability, and that leads to “ouch!”
- A good quality knife will make you feel more confident. It should feel like an extension of your hand, and it will do what you ask it to with predictability and safety. I can’t explain it better; it’s just a feeling you experience when you hold a fantastic knife.
- Take a little extra care: Virtually all knives are dishwasher safe nowadays, but I prefer to run the blade under hot water and wipe it down and not put my darlings through the torture of being bashed around with other utensils in the dishwasher. If you’ve invested good money, take that extra 30 seconds and your knives will reward you with a lifetime of excellent service.
Check out chefmikeward.com for a selection of good quality knives!