Chef’s knives: get a handle on the blades

Are you a fan of cooking shows? Just watching the finesse and dexterity of chefs in action is enough to make anyone in awe of their work (let alone meals). The greatest kept secret to making this all come together: chef’s knives. Each one has a purpose, a name and a great many fans. Learn about each knife and discover your new favourite.

Slice, dice and everything nice: coming to grips with chef’s knives

Food preparation is truly transformed by the quality of ingredients and the tools used. Chef’s knives are no exception. Not only does the chef use choice knives, but also their chopping boards. Explore our guide on chopping board colours to fully grasp how to create the best preparation area.

Knives: getting to the point

Knives come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours, and metals crafted to get the most out of each cut required. Chefs need to be able to slice, dice, chop, mince, pair, julienne, chiffonade — the list goes on. And that’s just what you can do with a knife. The knife itself also has quite a collection of terms, something every aspiring chef should get to know well.

chef’s knives

Sharpen up on these nifty knives

When it comes to understanding the chef’s knives, it is important to understand each use and function. 

The chef’s knife

The eponymous tool is one every chef needs in their kitchen. This knife has a broad blade which tapers to a point. This design achieves a fast mincing with a back and forth motion. While it can come in lengths from 15 to 30 centimetres, the best size depends on the chef’s hand. It is commonly used for cutting meat like chicken and chopping carrots.

The utility knife

This knife ranges from 10 to 17 centimetres and is best for the jobs the chef’s knife is too big for. Reason being: its design. With a narrow blade and smaller tip, it is ideal for thinner and more precise cutting like slicing, trimming and filleting.

The santoku knife

This knife hails from the great kitchens of Japan. The name translates into “the three virtues”, referring to slicing, dicing and mincing — without rocking due to its flat blade. As is it shorter and thinner than the chef’s knife, it is a great alternative for chefs wanting a smaller and lighter tool. Occasionally, it can also feature a hollow edge or dimples. This helps in cutting without food sticking to the blade, as well as having a precise cut with slowed speed.

The pairing knife

This knife is on the smaller spectrum of kitchen tools, ranging from 7 to 10 centimetres. Not only is it used for cutting and peeling produce, but also trimming the fat from meat. Its blade tip can vary but is typically pointed.

The boning knife

This knife is for separating meat from the bone and is between 7 to 20 centimetres. These blades come in varieties of stiffness: flexible, semi-flexible and stiff.

The bread knife

chef’s knives

This knife is quite iconic with its jagged serrations and long blade between 17 to 25 centimetres. It acts as a small saw while cutting bread and cakes without compressing baked goods.

The cleaver knife

chef’s knives

This may be the more intimidating of the knives, having a wide and heavy blade. Its design is for thick, hard materials like bone and meat, as well as chopping squash and pumpkins. It can also take on the hardy tasks of beating and pulverising meat, poultry and fish, and crushing dainty pieces of garlic. Dynamic? Why yes, yes it is.

The nakiri bocho knife

Another great tool that hails from Japan. This knife looks like a fusion of a cleaver and santoku, given its blocky appearance. It has a thin, wide blade that squares off at the tip. This design aids in chopping vegetables, as well as cutting thin slices when necessary.

The fillet steak knife

Last but not least, the fillet knife. Though similar to the boning knife, this design is for cutting thin slices of fish. Its blade is thin, long and quite flexible. Sometimes, you may even come across a fusion of the two knives as a boning fillet knife.

chef’s knives

Chef’s knives: a cut above the rest

We hope you enjoyed learning about each of these chef’s knives. To learn more about how to find your way in and around the kitchen, explore our blog. If you think you have what it takes to take on a cheffing career, contact us for more information.