variety of kitchen knives

Knife Shopping Guide: Anatomy of The Best Knives

A meal cannot be cooked without a good, professional knife and, as you know, one such utensil is not enough to optimally perform any operation related to food preparation, especially if you are among those who love to cook.

There are two distinct categories for kitchen knives: traditional European and Japanese knives. However, there is an overlap of styles for certain knives in both categories. For example, the chef's knife exists in both the Japanese and European ranges, but a sashimi or sushi knife exists only in the Japanese range of knives.

All cooks need a minimum number of knives in their own kit (Batterie de Cuisine) to help them with food preparation work. Usually, the minimum kit of a cook is a set of knives consisting of 6-6 pieces.

The chef's knife is the most important and the one that will be used most often for chopping or slicing and the cleaver knife is ideal for portioning pieces of meat. While these are knives that can be found in any standard set, there are also sets of knives with 8 to12 pieces.

In addition, knives may be needed for more specialized activities, such as slicing ham or salmon (which is best done with a long knife with a narrow, thin, alveolar blade), deboning, or threading (narrow-blade knives) and flexible.

kitchen knife for slicing ham

What kind of knives should the set you buy contain?

Before making a decision about a set of knives, you need to think about how you prefer to cook and the dishes you cook most often, and then determine what types of knives the set should have. Will you fillet the fish yourself or do you prefer to buy it already filleted? Most likely it is the first option, which means that it is good to buy a set that contains threading knives. The simplest solution is to turn your attention to a set that contains the basic knives: the chef's knife, a kitchen cutter, a cutlery knife, a bread knife and one for peeling.

If you are an extremely passionate chef, then you should turn your attention to a set of professional knives, which contains several pieces. In such a set you will find special knives for cutting various types of meat, knives for threading, for cutting bones or for chopping greens. Professional knife sets have a much better ergonomics, efficiency and resistance than amateur sets, even if there is a higher price for them. 

What you actually pay for when buying a more expensive knife?

For the untrained hand, many of the differences are not noticeable at first use. Your knife is sharp, cuts well and does the job. But major differences are felt over time. A quality knife has a longer life and can be well distinguished by its ease and comfort in use. Here’s where the extra money are actually spent on: 

1. Material Quality

Any knife, no matter how cheap or expensive, needs regular sharpening sessions. The difference is that in the case of a quality steel, these sessions become rarer because the blade stays sharp longer. This also translates into longer knife strength and life. 

The most common materials for kitchen knife blades are: stainless steel, carbon steel and ceramics. Each has its advantages. Carbon steel is harder and the sharp blade lasts longer, stainless steel is very resistant to stains and rust, the ceramic stays sharp longer, but it needs a more delicate and careful care than metallic materials.

2. The Handle

 The differences between a quality and a “no name” knife are often related to the quality handle’s material, the balance of the weight between the handle and the blade, but also its ergonomic shape (the hand does not get tired or numb after a longer use).

3. General Comfort

 The best knife manufacturers conduct numerous tests to determine the ideal structure and weight and the perfect balance between the blade and the handle. A smart and compatible knife ensures perfect cuts, relaxation and safety in handling, but also a rested hand even after several hours of use.

How to choose a quality knife

Regardless of your culinary talent, it is necessary to choose at least one knife that is efficient in performing most operations in the kitchen. In order to choose a quality knife that is worth the investment, take into account the following characteristics:

chef knife


New knives should be as sharp as possible. Contrary to urban myths and legends, a sharp knife is much safer than a knife with a blunt blade. 

A blade that is too narrow will not handle certain ingredients (such as large pieces of meat) and there is a risk of hitting the worktop with your finger bones when using the knife. A blade that is too short may be unsuitable for certain techniques and foods. 

Also, don't look for a thin knife with a flexible blade, think about cutting meat, softer or harder vegetables, bread (unless you have a special bread knife), steaks. A flexible blade can lead to injuries.

Therefore, a correct choice is always the Chef's Knife - the first knife that should exist in a kitchen. Properly balanced in terms of weight and size, the Chef's Knife is a kind of universal knife that knows how to do a lot, so you can't go wrong with it.

2. Weight and Comfort

Generally, the knife handle is made of wood or plastic. Regardless of the material you choose, it is important to have an increased density of the material, meaning to be more "heavy", as it is easier to handle while using.

3. Price

Don't look for a cheap product, a knife is worth about how much it costs! A knife you gave three dollars will be worth so much, maybe even less. On the other hand, a knife is an investment for 20 years, you should be able to use it every day and sharpen as many times as needed during this period.

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