Are you in the market for a new knife but unsure where to begin? We asked chefs around the nation about their favorite knives, and this is what they had to say.
Knives are the most important tool you use in the kitchen, but how do you choose what is suitable for you and your station?
Size isn’t the only thing that matters when searching for a blade. Material, balance, and overall feel are also important to consider. The knife’s sharpness is vital, of course, to your efficiency and safety behind the line — finding an edge that is durable and easy to sharpen is key.
The price point is a huge deciding factor for budding young chefs, but don’t let that deter you. Think of this as an investment for your future, as a quality knife will last a long time if responsibly maintained.
To help narrow down the options, we spoke to a handful of the nation’s best chefs about their favorite knives to inspire you on your quest to find a knife that will cut it.
Kanani Mahecha, Senior Customer Success Agent at Poached, Personal Chef, former Executive Chef.
“My favorite knife is the Sakai Takayuki VG10 Damascus Japanese 8” Chef’s Knife,” says Mahecha. “As a woman in the restaurant industry, I needed a dependable knife that could hold its edge, handle the rigorousness of the kitchen, but feel comfortable enough for me to maneuver with ease. This knife fits the bill! The handle is the perfect size for my hand and it slices and dices with precision. It is a solid knife that won’t break the bank.”
These double-edged knives are made of 33-layers of Damascus steel around a VG-10 alloy core. The hand-crafted, water-resistant mahogany handles showcase a beautiful grain while giving the knife an overall lightweight center balance.
Michael Huthmacher, Sushi Chef, Afuri
“My favorite knife maker is Yu Kurosaki! His knives are lightweight, have excellent edge retention, and straight up sexy” Hutchmacher states.
Hand-forged unique designs have made Yu Kurosaki the youngest blacksmith to ever receive the title of Master Blacksmith—awarded by the Japanese government for upholding traditional craft techniques. His knives are aesthetically pleasing and exceptionally balanced, slender, and light, making them easy to handle.
Keith Morris, Executive Chef, Coopers Hall
“I rock a Shiro Kamo 210mm Gyuto as my favorite/ go-to knife.” Morris says. “This 8.2″ chef’s knife is special to me for a few reasons. It is made of SG2/R2 steel that holds an edge for a long time. They make these knives rather thin, which has an excellent feel to them for slicing through vegetables, roasted meats, and raw meat without bones. The steel is stiff enough, so it gives the knife a perfect flex when needed.
His favorite part about the knife is that it is tall with a curve toward the tip. The curve lends the ability to rock which allows for faster and safer julienning. “Kind of like a large Nikiri but with a tip and curve to it.”
Edouardo Jordan, two-time James Beard Award-winning Chef/Owner, Junebaby
“I’m a big fan of the Tojiro Atelier Series of knives that I acquired from Coutelier Nola at my good friend’s knife shop.” says Jordan. “These knives are exquisitely made and hand-forged by Tomoo Matsumura. These knives are magnificent, with perfect balance and weight. Mine, in particular, is the 120mm Petty, the Kiritsuke 240mm, and the Gyuto 240mm. These are all finished with an ivory redlined handle. The steel is over the top strong, durable, and still easy to sharpen. These knives are so beautiful and so well-made and worth the price tag.”
The Tojiro Atelier factory is easily one of Japan’s top five best manufacturers.
Cody Cheetham, James Beard Award Nominee for Best Chef, Tavernetta
“I love my Muteki Gyoto made by Carter Cutlery.” says Cheetham. “It’s a beautiful knife with a desert ironwood handle and a blade that holds a razor edge. It’s my favorite knife I own.”
Hand-forged Gyuto chef knives have a Hitachi White Carbon #1 Core laminated with stainless steel for extreme durability and edge-retention.
Philip Speer, James Beard Award Nominee for Outstanding Pastry Chef, Head Chef/Owner, Comedor
“Suisin is my go-to. I love using both their Petty knife and Gyuto knife options.” Speer advises, “When shopping for knives in general, I look for the best bang for my buck, high-quality materials, and easy to sharpen. I also seek out local knife makers, with the most recent being Mill Scale and the Iron Grove Tool Company collaboration. They’re based in Lockhart, and their Gaucho knife is a new favorite of mine.”
The Gaucho knife is an 8-inch hand-forged high carbon W2 steel with a charred oak handle, which is especially tough.
Now that you know what these industry professionals consider important when searching for a knife, you have the foundation to go out and find a blade that will work for you.
Don’t forget, once you do choose a proper knife – treat it with respect. That means always washing by hand, drying immediately, and sharpening responsibly.