The Essential Kitchen #1 – The Chef’s Knife

This post is the first in my “Essential Kitchen” Series.

I’ve been cooking for over 30 years, and I’ve been an avid recipe reader / cooking show watcher for nearly that long as well.  Does anyone remember “We’re Cooking Now” with Franco Palumbo and Judy Clayton?  “The Frugal Gourmet” with Jeff Smith? The vegetarian lady who made “Cherry Tomato Chewies” for her kids? And of course the ubiquitous Julia Child? They were all on PBS before the Food Network had ever been thought of.

Now I’m an avid reader of Fine Cooking magazine and everything from Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen.  Most of my reviews in this series are a culmination of hands-on experience and extensive research.  I’ll post a summary article of all the items in my Essential Pantry eventually, but I realized as I wrote, I had to expound on each item too much to post them all in one blog.

So here’s Organized Ohana’s Essential Pantry item #1:


The 8 inch Chef’s Knife

If you want to cut things properly, you really NEED a chef’s knife.  Stop using those little paring knives to chop things up.  Get a good grip on the large knife and get a medium to large size cutting board, and use a rocking motion to cut.  This works great for carrots and celery, not to mention even cutting up your lettuce!

What to look for, then, when buying a chef’s knife?

First, Victorinox makes good stamped blades.  They are thinner and lighter than forged blades by traditional German companies like Henckels and Wusthof, or even OXO, which also carry great knives. Both of these kinds can be fine, it’s a personal preference of if you like the weight of a forged blade or the lightness of a stamped one.  I personally still like the weight of a heavier forged knife, but my next purchase will be a stamped one.

Second, any knife should feel comfortable in your hand and well-balanced when trying to cut.  So try before you buy, if you can.

Third, good knives don’t have to cost a lot of money.  Now that many blades are made in China, a good knife is affordable to everyone.

Finally, no knife cuts well when dull.  Either pay (usually $2 per inch) to get your blades sharpened professionally at a knife store, or buy a knife sharpener for home use (which I do).  I never found a good place to get my blades sharpened in Hawaii, so I ended up buying myself a sharpener.

Here are two my recommendations for chef’s knives, based on reviews from several locations. And they’re both around $25!

Victorinox 40520 Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
J.A. Henckels International Forged Premio 8-Inch Chef

In the interest of full disclosure, if you do end up buying something through by clicking on the titles above, I will get a few cents.  Maybe a whole 3 cents.  But I signed up for the program so that I could use their HTML links when composing my blog, and not for the money. It’s a lot easier than coming up with my own language.

And while you’re shopping, why not pick up a knife sharpener?  Believe me, after you’ve sharpened your older knives, you will wonder how in the world you ever made it beforehand!

Chef’s Choice 120 Diamond Hone 3-Stage Professional Knife Sharpener, White

I would love to hear from you if you use a chef’s knife, and how you use it!  And what do you think is part of YOUR essential pantry?