The Best Home Kitchen Knives, According to a Fourth-Generation Butcher


As a fourth-generation butcher, I’ve been round knives my entire life — most likely a lot before I ought to have been, truthfully. The knives my grandpa and his father and brother used had been about utility and utility solely: What number of beef carcasses may they break down earlier than needing to sharpen them? What number of instances may they sharpen them earlier than they had been too toothpick-thin to be helpful? If the deal with received bloody, may you continue to grip it? Did the load make it simple to vary place? I don’t suppose I ever as soon as heard them speak about the fantastic thing about a knife.

Once I moved to New York in 2004, I instantly began working in kitchens to pay my approach by way of college. One of many first issues I observed was how the cooks I labored with had been so happy with their knives. They’d unfurl their knife rolls with such reverence and sharpen them on a whetstone so tenderly that I generally needed to look away. My first knife roll, in the meantime, was stuffed with a random assortment of the most cost effective knives I may discover on the Mattress Bathtub & Past on sixth Avenue. Whereas I shortly realized that every one knives are usually not created equal, it wasn’t till I transferred from kitchen work to full-time butchering in 2009 that the significance of a great knife actually sunk in. You solely have one chopping arm, so your knife turns into an extension of that arm, and due to that, you develop to worship your knives.

As of a few yr and a half in the past, I stepped away from butchering to launch a sausage firm referred to as Seemore Meats & Veggies (named after my grandpa, Seymour). By then I had amassed an arsenal of butchery knives, however lots of them had been probably not made to be used in non-commercial kitchens. The knives I take advantage of most at dwelling land squarely in between these beloved by my butcher relations and people worshipped by my chef colleagues. At the beginning, they’re useful — they maintain an edge for a very long time and are simple to resharpen, clear, and maintain. However — and don’t inform Grandpa Seymour this — they’re additionally lovely to have a look at. Under, the eight knives I depend on in my very own kitchen.


My cooks knife and boning knife

Chef’s knife.

For my beater knives — or those I take advantage of repeatedly and roughly — I actually love Victorinox. My scabbard at work has all the time been stuffed with the model’s knives as a result of they have a tendency to final the longest and maintain a pointy edge, even when getting used each day on heavy initiatives. The blades are stainless-steel, which make them simple to take care of, and I really like the rosewood deal with for grip consolation — it’s far preferable to a plastic deal with for lengthy hours of chopping, and the rosewood tends to maintain grip even when bloody. You might not be breaking down full beef carcasses in your house kitchen (or possibly you might be? What do I do know!), however you continue to need knives that don’t should be sharpened each time you break a hen. To me, Victorinox’s value level can be very reasonable for what they provide, which is necessary in an on a regular basis knife.


My paring knife

A paring knife on white background.

After utilizing such huge knives day by day at work for thus lengthy, I get a bizarre thrill each time I get to make use of a tiny paring knife in my very own kitchen. I inherited (maybe by accident) this paring knife from a kitchen I labored in years in the past. It sharpens simply on a diamond metal and the super-sharp tip makes it an amazing tool for issues like coring fruit and digging the eyes out of potatoes. I like the sunshine weight of it and the deal with is grippy sufficient that I really feel snug utilizing it to peel greens with out chopping my finger off.


My bread knife

Jagged bread knife with wooden handle.

For completely no good cause, I held off on shopping for a bread knife till across the time I began Seemore. I felt a bizarre prejudice in opposition to them as a result of they’re made to do one very particular factor. However now that I’ve one, I’ll by no means look again. Bread is my favourite meals and I had no thought how badly I used to be disrespecting all of it these years. I like this one by Tojiro as a result of it’s light-weight and sharp sufficient to slice by way of even the crustiest bread with out squashing it, and the deal with is lengthy sufficient to deal with massive loaves. I admittedly don’t have something to check it to, however it has modified my life!


My vegetable knife

Cleaver-style knife with a black handle.

This knife goes by a number of names — some folks name it a vegetable knife or vegetable cleaver, others a Chinese language chef’s knife, and generally it’s known as a chukabocko. I don’t prepare dinner a lot meat at dwelling, so it’s most likely my most-used knife. Though it’s formed equally to a meat cleaver, it’s a very completely different tool. The blade on that is a lot thinner, permitting for extra delicate slices. The knife can be a lot lighter than a meat cleaver, making fast, agile slicing easy-breezy. When you had been to make use of this as an alternative of a standard cleaver to wedge by way of bone, it might chip, and also you additionally wouldn’t be doing all your chopping arm any favors as a result of the sunshine weight doesn’t offer you a lot leverage. I largely use this for dicing greens, however it additionally works rather well for thinly slicing boneless meat. The blade is sort of completely straight however curves barely, which is ideal for the rocking movement of chopping, and the tip is barely weighted to encourage that rhythm as nicely. This Shun mannequin is the primo model of any such knife, however I by no means remorse investing within the model’s knives. I wouldn’t sharpen it (or any Shun knife) at dwelling except you’re skilled with a whetstone, however the firm does provide a free sharpening service.


My cleaver

Cleaver with arched top on a white background.

Regardless of working in butchery, I hardly ever ever used a cleaver in skilled kitchens as a result of we normally had a bandsaw (and I’m, by nature, lazy). Each again then and now in my dwelling kitchen, the factor I take advantage of a cleaver most for is to pound out meat till it’s tremendous skinny. In contrast to meat mallets, which are inclined to chew meat up into mush, a cleaver has sufficient of a easy floor space and heft to do numerous flattening with minimal effort. I really like this F. Dick cleaver for its astonishing, nearly comical heft, its lengthy deal with, and its capability to take a beating. It’s excellent for pounding out hen cutlets or schnitzel: I line no matter I’m pounding with a sheet of plastic after which use the flat aspect of the cleaver to take out all of my anger on the meat. It really works equally nicely for smashing a bunch of boiled potatoes without delay earlier than you roast them.


My mezzaluna

Arch-shaped mezzaluna knife with wooden handles on both ends.

To not be a jerk, however I received my favourite mezzaluna at a classic market in Sicily. I admittedly purchased the knife as a result of I assumed it appeared extraordinarily cool, however it’s since grow to be considered one of my favourite tools. I like utilizing it a lot that I purchased this backup mezzaluna from Williams Sonoma, which I really feel much less nervous about beating up. I prepare dinner with numerous herbs at dwelling and I really like utilizing my mezzaluna to cut large piles of them. It’s additionally nice for roughly chopping up a number of roasted meat, like brisket or carnitas for tacos, or shortly dicing onions and garlic, or making a tough board pesto. This one’s easy wood handles are snug and it’s light-weight however nonetheless has sufficient heft to spare your arms some pressure. The scale is right, too — sufficiently big to cowl a great quantity of floor space, however compact sufficient to do a great, concentrated chop.


My pocket knife

Folded pocket knife with wooden handle.

Years in the past, I went to a Vice x Matty Matheson dinner that I had minimize a bunch of meat for, and so they gave out these Opinel No. eight pocket knives as a present on the finish of the night time. I saved it in my work pants always from then on and was all the time shocked at how usually the freebie got here in helpful for small on a regular basis duties. 9 years later, it’s nonetheless sharp, and I nonetheless use it on a regular basis for every kind of little duties in my kitchen, from breaking down bins, to chopping twine for roasts, to opening annoying packaging, to digging into my drain to see why it’s transferring so slowly. It’s additionally the cutest knife I personal.


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