The difference between a good knife and a bad knife is startling. Try and dice an onion with a butter knife and you’ll quickly find that out for yourself. I’ll admit that’s obviously a rather extreme example but getting yourself a proper chef’s knife can make all the difference to your skill level when you’re hunched over a chopping board with watery onion eyes. You can trust me on that. It doesn’t even have to be an expensive knife. There are plenty of good-value kitchen knives on the market that can make you feel (and look) like a much better cook than you actually are. Not only can a well-made knife help make you a better cook, but it can also make you enjoy cooking a lot more, too. Speaking from personal experience, I only really started to have a good time on the hobs once I started using knives that weren’t dull as dishwater.
Helen Symonds at Kitchen Provisions thinks that having a good knife in your possession isn’t just recommended, it’s crucial. Why? “You use it every day; it is your primary piece of kit in the kitchen and makes cooking much more fun,” says Helen, “you are also less likely to cut yourself with a sensibly-sized sharp knife; and there is no point buying beautiful ingredients if you are going to bruise and rip them when you could be slicing beautifully.” Simply put: you won’t be doing your dinner justice if you’re using a blunt instrument to make it.
“You only really need one and -– if you look after it – it should last a long long time,” she continues, “a santoku or gyuto shape is good for around 90% of kitchen tasks, so buy one good one and it will do pretty much everything you want it to in the kitchen.” That’s not to say that you can’t eventually expand your family to include other serrated blades and smaller, nimbler models, it’s just that it isn't necessarily the best option to go and get yourself a set of five to start.
Getting a good knife is all well and good but there is a danger of having all the gear and no idea. Learning essential knife techniques – and finding out how to properly handle your blade before you go ham on trying to carve your roast is extremely important. So is being able to differentiate your julienne from a standard slice and dice. Getting to grips with your knife (literally) and figuring out how to use it to the best of its ability is integral before you go and splurge your next paycheque on a snazzy blade.
That’s why I’d recommend starting off your knife journey with something affordable but efficient like a Victorinox blade. They’ve got a large range of different knives available and having one of those in your kitchen will guarantee you’re never far from a versatile blade that’s suitable for a range of tasks. They’re also relatively lightweight, making them far more accessible than more cumbersome blades.