The most important thing to a chef is a good set of knives. There is a reason why you see chef’s bring in their own knives on those reality cooking shows. Knives are are the tools you will be using the most while cooking so having a set that you know and are comfortable with is essential.
Buying your first set of knives is a lot like buying power tools or buying furniture. There is no problem with buying something because it is cheap, but do not expect it to last you for very long. Better quality does not always mean a higher price. A good set of well-crafted knives will last you a long time and will never fail you. Ifyou can afford to buy a set of quality knives in beginning, it will save a ton of money and frustration.
How can you tell if a knife is good? The first thing to look for is that the blade is forged all the way to the butt of the handle. The next thing to look for is balance. The mark of a quality knife is the ability to balance it on your finger where the blade and the handle meet. Almost all knives are made from stainless steel metal, but the origin of where the knife was crafted often gives it unique qualities. A knife made with French steel is easier to sharpen, but will wear out faster. A knife made with harder German steel is harder to sharpen, but it will keep its edge for much longer. Japanese knives are also made with hard metal. They are usually lighter and often more stylish. However, the most important thing when deciding what knife is best for you is that it is comfortable in your hand when you hold it.
What knives do you actually need? The old motto of less is more really come into effect here. There is no reason you NEED that full 18 piece knife set when you really only need a few basic knives. Having a cheese knife and a tomato knife may boost your ego, but it will not improve your cooking skill. The first knife you need is a 3 inch paring knife for peeling fruit and cutting small vegetables. The most essential knife in your kitchen, and the most used, is an 8 inch cook’s knife for chopping and slicing. The last knife you will need is a 10 inch serrated bread knife. If used correctly, these are the only three knives you should need in the kitchen.
A blunt knife is far more dangerous than a sharp knife. A blunt knife can slide off of what you are cutting and injure you. A sharp knife will always go exactly where you want it to go with proper technique and will keep all of your fingers attached.
Another tool that is then essential is either honing steel or a sharpening machine. Honing steel is essential a steel pole with a handle that will grind your knife when it comes into contact with it. A sharpening machine is an easier way of sharpening your blade, but it is important to get a quality one that will not ruin your expensive knives. Honing steel is the preferred method of most chefs because it is fast and gives the most control of home much the blade is sharpened.
Ceramic knives are becoming popular and many people do not know much about them. Ceramic knives are made by compressing ceramic material into a mold in order to form its shape. Ceramic knives can often be sharper than metal knives because of the way they are manufactured. They can only be used for slicing though because of their brittle make. If you attempt to chop something with them, the blade will shatter and you will most likely injure yourself in the process. They also can not be sharpened, so when they become dull, you will have to buy another knife. Ceramic knives are perfect if when know how to use them, but they will not last forever and are at risk of breaking.
Knives are the workhorses of your kitchen, so do not compromise quality!