In the movie Ratatouille, Remy, the rat chef, said that you need three things: fresh ingredients, simple techniques, and a few high-quality tools to cook well. This is true. With the right equipment, doing the job makes it much better. Great kitchenware makes cooking a joy, whether it’s a well-seasoned pan or a casserole dish passed down from generations. In general, the most critical tool in making a great meal is the knife.
A Chef’s knife is the most critical tool in any kitchen since it creates virtually every dish. A sharp knife means less slippage when you cut since you have more control of it. It leads to safer and more consistent slices. Also, cutting with a sharp knife is just more fun! From mincing fine herbs and garlic to breaking down that tough butternut squash, a genuinely serrated chef’s knife will help you get the job done.
Choosing a Knife
For such an essential piece of equipment, it is worth doing a little work to search for a knife you love to use. There are a lot of great knives out there with different features. However, only two things mattered most — these are steel and feel.
Steel: In general, harder steels are better because they can longer hold a razor-sharp edge. It used to be that you had to choose between hard, carbon steels that rusted with any moisture and softer stainless steels. However, modern technology has allowed high carbon stainless steels to be produced that are very hard and still resistant to corrosion.
Feel: If the knife is not comfortable to hold, you will not use it even if you have the best steel in the world. A good knife will feel balanced in your hand. Bolsters are optional, although they add comfort and support while cooking. Find a blade length you are comfortable with (between eight inches and ten inches are the most customary; however, some people prefer less), and be sure to hold it with a proper “pinch” grip.
Caring for Your Knife
A quality knife can last you a lifetime. But it is a precision instrument, not a blunt tool. Every knife needs a little care to perform at its best. Below are a few chef-standard best practices you can use to keep your knife cutting sharp:
Clean It. Always wash your knife by hand with soap and water, and dry thoroughly. Do not leave your knife wet. Always dry it to prevent rust. Even stainless steel can rust. The harsh detergents, high heat, and general banging around that happen in a dishwasher are all terrible things for your knife.
Sharpen It. All knives go dull in due course, no matter how good it is. In a chef’s experience, using a whetstone is the best way to get your edge back in top form, but you can always send it out to the pros if you are not into the whole “sharpen by hand” thing. And Le Beau’s Honer is the best out there. They are the only knife sharpener you will ever need! They sharpen just about any blade, may it be in the home or the field. From kitchen knives, hunting knives, fish hooks, scissors, axes, arrowheads to serrated edges (their serrated knife sharpener is a must-try! No other knife sharpener does that.).
Store It. One suggestion would be to cover the edge using a blade guard, but whatever you do, do not throw your knife in a drawer unprotected! Further, hang your knives on the wall with a magnetic holder. Second-best is a wood holder. Also, use guards on your knives, at the very least.
Cutting Board Matters
As they say, using a quality chopping block will keep your knife sharper longer. End-grain wood boards are best. This is followed by rubber. Glass cutting boards and marbles are too hard for knives and can seriously damage the blade’s edge. Plastic is okay but not as anti-bacterial as wood.
Before any food can be prepared, a knife is needed. Because through the knife, you will be able to cut any ingredient, and you will be able to make a great meal with those ingredients. Buy the best knife you can afford that fits you and use it with pleasure. Do not forget to care for it, and it will serve you well.