Chef knives are the most common type of knife used in kitchens around the world.
They offer a style that lends itself to just about every cutting, chopping or dicing task any chef needs to perform. Even though chef knives represent a single genre of kitchen knife, they can actually differ in style and construction.
This article will take a look at the different types of chef knives and their uses.
Even though chef knives are usually constructed following a very similar style, some variations can occur.
One such variation is handle style and material. Different materials can offer different advantages. Here are several chef knife handle variations:
- Plastic handles are becoming more and more common on chef knives. One advantage to a plastic handle is the cost. Simply put, metal handle chef knives can cost 20% or more over plastic handle models. Plastic is also lighter, and this helps push the weight of the knife to the front, focusing the energy into the blade itself. This will help make cutting easier and faster, causing the knife do most of the work. Another advantage of plastic is that it is comfortable to hold. Steel handles can be cold and hard, making long use uncomfortable.
- Steel handles are usually found in high end models of chef knives. The steel handles add weight to the knife overall, making certain cutting jobs easier. Steel handles are easy to clean and will last the lifetime of the knife. While plastic handles are lighter, they can crack, rendering the knife useless. Steel, on the other hand, is far more durable.
- Wood handles are more often than not found on older models of chef knives. They are more ergonomic than other materials, but their tendency to crack has led to their demise. Additionally, bacteria can more easily be trapped in wood, making wooden handles a relatively unhealthy choice if not properly maintained.
Different types of handles tend to only affect the appearance and feel of a chef’s knife.
Different blades, however, can actually affect the overall performance of the knife. Here are several chef knife blade variations:
- Straight edge. Straight edge blades are the most common among chef knife blades. This blade appears straight and flat, tapering at the base to form a razor sharp cutting edge. This is the perfect blade for long, smooth cutting strokes ideal for large cuts of meat.
- Granton edge. A granton edge is a straight edge with ground out hollows along the side of the blade. These hollows allow for liquid to escape more easily while cutting. They also serve to create an envelope of air around the blade, allowing it to move more freely in dense meat or other dense food items.
- Long blades. Another variation in chef knives is the length of the blade. Some lengths are a few inches longer than average. These long blades are ideal for slicing, especially large filets of fish or large cuts of meat.
- ‘Boxy’ blades. Japanese chef knives tend to look boxier than the traditional long, sleek blade chef knives commonly used. This is due to the fact that Japanese cuisine requires more chopping and dicing than most other cuisines. The boxiness of these blades creates a more even weight along the blade, allowing for a more natural chopping motion. While they can also slice well, they are definitely more suited to chopping.
The evolution of chef knife construction and design is more than a matter of appearance.
These changes have kept chef knives as the most versatile knife in any kitchen knife collection.
Hopefully this article will help you to know which style of chef’s knife is right for you.