Guest Post: Mike Hardman – Alliance Online
With so many top chef knife brands out there, it’s hard to know which one is best for you. That’s why we’ve asked Mike Hardman from catering supplier Alliance Online to share his top chef knife brands for use in a commercial kitchen.
Every trade needs its tools and, for chefs, there’s no tool more important than the knife. And, while you’ll build up your knife collection over time, you’ll always need a good quality chef’s knife. While originally designed to slice large cuts of beef — so much so that the Japanese version, the gyuto, literally translates to ‘beef knife’ — the modern chef’s knife is versatile and excels in cutting, chopping, and mincing just about anything.
While they share general characteristics, each knife brand offers a different shape and size, so it’s always wise to handle a knife before buying it. Your knife should be an extension of your hand and you should find it easy to control, especially when it comes to precision chopping. In this article, I’m going to talk you through my three favourite chef knife brands: a fantastic starter option, a sturdy German blade, and a sleek Japanese knife.
Chef Knife Brands – Victorinox Chef Knife
Known for making its world-famous Swiss Army knives, Victorinox is a Swiss company that has been crafting blades since 1884. The Victorinox chef knife is a great all-rounder that is quite easy to sharpen, ideal if you are just getting to grips with the art of sharpening. Though not as hardy and durable as their German counterparts, they’re excellent value for money.
If you are used to heavier knives, it can feel a little lightweight — but that doesn’t take away from how it feels when cutting. The full tang and perfectly designed handle help to make the blade feel nicely balanced in the hand, giving you the confidence to cut quickly and with precision. If you’re a young chef looking for your first professional knife, you can’t go wrong with a Victorinox.
Chef Knife Brands – Wüsthof Classic
The Wüsthof brand has a strong tradition of knife making and has been doing so for over 200 years. The company is still based in the German city of Solingen, which became known as the City of Blades thanks to its strong knife manufacturing heritage. I have been a fan of Wüsthof knives for many years, and their sturdy construction and beautiful balance have always felt good to hold.
Aesthetically, the European look is a favourite of mine, with a full tang stretching throughout the handle and the classic three-rivet look. You will find the blade curving as it gets towards the tip, making it great at mincing herbs in a pinch. It feels heavy in the hand compared to some other brands, but not overly so, giving a feeling of strength in your actions that’s ideal when it comes to chopping vegetables and meat. Overall, this is a quality knife that feels great in the hand and will feel good slicing just about anything.
Chef Knife Brands – Shun Classic
While the previous two options come from a long heritage of European blade manufacturing, my next choice comes from the Japanese tradition. Though the Shun brand has only been around since 2002, the origins of its manufacturer, the KAI Group, date back to 1908. Today, Shun is synonymous with Japanese craftsmanship, and their blades are sought after around the world. They’re manufactured in Seki City in Japan, which is the knife-making capital of Asia.
Not only is this knife beautiful to look at, it’s slim and hard core can hold a fine edge for a long time. It is manufactured using sandwiched construction — the same technique used in traditional samurai sword construction — protecting the knife and allowing it to flex and bend without breaking. In the Japanese style, the blade is light compared to European alternatives, but this brings with it a sleekness that allows it to effortlessly cut through anything.
Whatever knife you decide to go for, it’s always wise to handle it yourself first. Try a variety of knives from colleagues and friends and get a feel for what is right for you. You’re the one that will be using it day in, day out, so make sure it feels great.
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