Knives are to cooking like addition and subtraction are to math. They are the basic building blocks upon which most of cooking is built. Now, you may be thinking that’s so boring (at least that’s what I used to think), but I was wrong. Knives are also the cool kids in the room because not only do they do the lion’s share of the work in cooking, but they also make you look good as the cook once you master how to use them. Let’s be honest. There is a reason why people love to eat at a Japanese steakhouse. Nothing is cooler than being at a place where you sit at a table and watch the chef prepare your meal wielding the knife like a magic wand faster than the speed of light, turning ordinary vegetables into edible pieces of art!
Here are the four knives you need:
Chef’s Knife (8” or 10”): Chef’s knives are the workhorse in any and all kitchens. In fact, most chefs use this knife for all of their tasks in the kitchen; it’s like an extension of their hand. The length of the blade is to improve efficiency in work – it’s okay that it takes the entire stroke of the blade to complete a slice or a dice – that’s why the length is there!
Paring Knife (3”): Paring knives are great for small jobs like hulling and slicing a strawberry, or peeling an apple when a peeler isn’t around. It’s also a good knife to have children use when they first start learning to work with knives – it allows their little hands to have more control.
Long Serrated Bread Knife: Serrated bread knife – If you like crusty loaves of baguette or a rustic boule as much as I do, then you must have a serrated bread knife. No other knife can break into the crust as safely or as quickly.
Now you may think, ‘That’s my tomato knife!’ If you do use it to cut tomatoes, (which is a bit rogue and you’ll learn why if you take one of our Knife Skills or Knife Skills Plus classes) please be sure to wash and dry your knife right away. Tomatoes are highly acidic and can damage the blade.
Slicing/Carving Knife (10”): Slicing/Carving knife – This is the same knife, just with different names. This is a long-bladed, straight-edged knife, often rounded at the tip (sometimes with hollow scallops on the sides called Granton) that is thinner than a chef’s knife and is used for carving/slicing meats and poultry. The thinner blade allows for thinner cuts, and the length of the blade encourages a sawing motion used in carving.