What to Look for in a Knife

Posted on 18 September 2018

What to Look for in a Knife

Cooking. It can be a hard thing to get your head around, often seeming like another language that only a select and skilled few know how to speak. But there is good news for even the most hopeless of kitchen cases. Cooking is a skill that can be learned. It might take a few cuts and burns along the way but you too, dear reader, can master the art of cooking. But why, you may ask? In this age of easily available delivery food, is there really any point in learning to cook well? Just think about it like this: cooking well, blending ingredients, creating a dish from scratch, showing the aptitude for a teachable skill, makes you look and feel good. Demonstrating a skill with your hands is a highly prized trait for many people looking for a partner, and is even more impressive (and important) in this increasingly digital-reliant world we live in.

But where to start? Well, when beginning your culinary journey it is important to acquire the right tools of the trade. One of the most important pieces of equipment for any chef, whether they have three Michelin stars or are still learning how to boil water, is the trusty knife.

Knives are one of those things you want to invest money in. When it comes to knives remember; it’s not just another piece of equipment, it’s a performance vehicle, built to do one job and do it well. Cheap knives come with that price-tag for a reason; they break, they rust, they can’t hold an edge. Chances are you’ll end up cutting yourself more times than your food.

When you’re buying a knife, approach it the same way you would when you’re buying a pair of quality shoes or a good suit. You want something well made, that feels good to use and that you know will stand up to wear and tear.

Courtesy of Mom’s Own Words.

First, you have to know why you’re buying the knife. Don’t just buy it to leave it in the drawer with the rest of your neglected kitchen utensils. You have to want to get better and build your skill set. You can’t improve your cooking ability with the wrong tools. That’d be like trying to learn to fly fish with a saucepan, eventually, you’ll reach the limit of what that item can bring to the table. Look for a knife that you will be able to pick up and use straight away, but that will also remain useful as your skills grow and develop.

Second. Do your research. Yes, knives are expensive. But remember, this is an investment. You’re not purchasing some throwaway, cheap piece of equipment that will break or become unusable before your card payment clears. That being said, there really isn’t any reason for you to have to buy the most expensive knife you can find. Do a little bit of digging or ask the right people and you’ll be able to find a quality knife that you won’t have to take out a second mortgage to afford.

Brands like Wüsthof, Victorinox and Mac sell some of the best budget blades around. They specialise in high-end, industry-grade products, so you know that even their cheaper range is still going to cut the mustard, both literally and figuratively. But fair warning: be incredibly wary of the cheap knife set. Just because you might be getting five knives for the price of one quality item doesn’t mean they’re any good. Quantity doesn’t always equate to quality.

Courtesy of Wirecutter

But if you really have your heart set on getting the very best of the best, then it is hard to go past the master. We speak, of course, of Mr. Bob Kramer. His knives are recognised internationally as some the sharpest, most beautiful pieces available and you actually have to bid for each item on his store, such is the demand. Hand-made, built to last, they’re the kind of knife you would pass down to your children.

Third. Treat your knife right. If you love your knife then it’ll love you back. There is a very clear set of do’s and don’ts when it comes to caring for your knife. In the same way, you care for your clothes and shoes, you have to treat your knife in such a way that respects the craftsmanship that went into creating it. Check out this article by the Huffington Post to help make your knife stay looking and working better for longer.

Fourth. We’re going to let the late-great Anthony Bourdain cover how to go about sharpening your knife skills.As he says, ‘Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice’. Listen to his words and you might just save yourself a few trips to the ER room. Click here to watch the video.

The height of quality: a Bob Kramer knife. Courtesy of Cutlery and More.

And why stop at just a knife? Why not invest in other kitchen must-haves like a solid cutting board, a cast iron skillet and an apron because, let’s face it, there’s going to be some spills and collateral damage of the clothing variety when you’re starting out. Like your knife, you’re looking for durable, high-quality products that will serve you well for years to come.

All that’s left for you to do is get chopping.  


Will Dunn completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Screenwriting) at the Victorian College of the Arts. He is currently trying to figure out how to make that degree useful.

@ w_ilyam

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