Published on July 5, 2019

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You see them on most kitchen counters: big, bulky knife blocks that cost a fortune and hold a dozen dusty knives, only one of which gets pulled out for everyday use. To the amateur cook, the knife block is like a status symbol that shows you know your way around a cutting board. To a professional chef, it’s a hindrance. 

“Having spent most of my career thinking about the home cook, I strongly believe slicing-and-dicing success at home requires only three knives: a chef’s knife, a serrated knife, and a paring knife,” says Suzanne Dumaine, owner of Three Owls Market. “Fancy knives are incredibly fun, but you can accomplish anything in the kitchen between those three, whether it’s using the serrated one to slice tomatoes and bread, the paring one to supreme citrus, or the chef’s knife for almost anything else.”

Goodbye knife block, hello single, multifunctional chef’s knife. The pros argue that Japanese designs—sharp ones—are the best for almost any task in the kitchen. Ready to drastically improve your kitchen skills? We asked seven NYC-based chefs to share their favorite chef’s knife, along with a few handy tricks for using them.

The Super Sharp One

“For a chef’s knife, I tend to like the Inox Suisin with the Japanese handle. It’s simple and stays sharp.” —Jeremiah Stone, chef and co-owner of Contra, Wildair and Una Pizza Napoletana

The Handcrafted One

“We love the beautiful workmanship of our Shun Knives. If you don’t have a knife sharpener handy, you can quickly sharpen a knife on the bottom of a ceramic plate or bowl (on the uncoated edge). Our grandpa used to be a sushi chef and taught us this trick.” —Hannah Cheng co-founder of Mimi Cheng’s

The Long-Term Investment

When I was a young prep cook, I leaned towards less expensive, more beginner-friendly knives like Misono’s Molybdenum Gyuto. I knew that these knives would help me lay the foundation for advancing my knife, sharpening, and care skills. A knife is only as good as the knowledge and experience of the chef who uses it.” —Simone Tong, chef-owner of Little Tong

The Multitasker

“Generally speaking, I use my Suisin chef’s knife for nearly all tasks. It’s universal. I love using the side of it to smash cucumbers. It’s a very satisfying prep for what is now a somewhat trendy preparation.” — Lena Ciardullo, executive chef at Marta, Caffe Marchio, Vini e Fritti

The Perfect Cut

“We find Japanese Gyuto knives to be the best and most versatile. Something between 210-240mm is ideal for home use. Japanese knives tend to be slightly lighter than the German and French models and have a slightly different curve on the blade. Knives are all personal preference though, so try out a few, to feel which type works best for your cooking. If you only have dull knives on hand, you can use the back of one knife (the spine) as improvised honing steel to sharpen the other. ” —David Tam, owner of ROLLN

The All-in-One

“The most important knife to use is a midsize chef’s knife. I personally prefer Japanese Global knives. They’re very universal, very high quality, and are crafted from one continuous piece of metal, rather than a blade attached to a separate handle. Also, never use a knife with wet hands!” — Simone Panella, owner and chef, Antica Pesa

The Blue Steel

“Spend your money on a chef’s knife like a Japanese Takeda from Chubo. I love sandwiching cherry tomatoes between two pint container lids, then sliding a sharp chef’s knife through the middle. It’s a simple but genius way to save time when adding cherry tomatoes to a salad. No one should have to stab around their salad trying to fork a whole tomato.” —Alex McCrery, co-founder of Tilit

Discover more kitchen essentials we love:
New York Chefs Swear By This Chic Dinnerware Brand
All I Want Is to Be the Kind of Person Who Has Matching Glassware
Revive the Classic Dinner Party With Our Editors’ Favorite Dinnerware

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