How to Become a Pro with Your Chef's Knife

The International Culinary Center’s lead instructor, chef Philip Burgess, and others dish out the goods on the basics of chef’s knives

Michael Blann
Your knife skills are only as good as your chef's knife, so know the facts before choosing one.

Once you’ve reasoned with your price point, you’ll want to decide on the quality of blade, which is basically deciding between forged and stamped. An important part of this process is "weighing your knife," where you test to see whether the knife is balanced in your hand. While it may seem like a silly thing, the weight is important when considering the ease of use. You want to avoid front-heavy blades because they will strain your wrists and arms. For someone planning to spend a lot of time with their knife, the weight is ideal, and is usually the determining factor between forged and stamped.






River Park values weight above all else when selecting a knife.

Caring for Your Knife
Once you have your knife in your hands, you want to make sure you’re caring for it properly. Nothing is more disappointing than wasting money on a knife because of damages you could have prevented yourself. Burgess says that most knives are damaged by dropping them on the floor or by not properly storing them. Always have a steady grip on your knife when working in the kitchen to avoid blunt force trauma to the blade (never mind a cut to your foot!), and store your knife in a magnetic strip or plastic sheath so it does not hit against other equipment in your kitchen drawer.

Beyond storage, the most important thing to remember is keeping your knife sharp. There are many misconceptions that a steel — the long, blunt-looking sword that usually comes with your knife — is an easy way to keep it sharp, but Burgess insists that it only corrects the angle of a knife, and is not needed if you keep your blades sharpened correctly. He recommends the investment of buying a sharpening stone and learning how to use it, because it’s a lot of work to get a blade sharpened once it gets too dull, and a dull knife is no use to anyone in the kitchen — not to mention dangerous.

Now that you have the facts, you’re ready to become a pro with your chef knife. While it’s the most commonly used knife in your kitchen, Burgess recommends have a good paring knife, a serrated bread knife, and a long slicing knife for meats on hand as well. We’ll get to those later, though…

Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce

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murraypaultec's picture

How can you begin a how-to article with a photo of someone holding their knife completely wrong? Had you used a real chef in your photo, they would have had index finger and thumb on opposite sides of the blade. You NEVER put your finger on top of the blade. The chef knife can cut fingers as easily as food, if you hold it wrong, you are going to find that out.

bogwart's picture

The ceramic knife information is out-of-date. It is easy to buy sharpeners for these now, although they are a horrendous price. Cheaper than returning them for attention, though.

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