In cooking, chefs knives, also known as a cook’s knife, is a cutting tool used in food preparation. Chefs knives were originally designed primarily to slice and disjoint large cuts of beef. Today it is the primary general-utility knife for most western cooks.
Chefs knives generally have a blade eight inches (20 centimeters) in length and 1 1⁄2 inches (3.8 cm) in width, although individual models range from 6 to 14 inches (15 to 36 centimetres) in length. There are two common types of blade shape in western chefs knives, French and German. German-style knives are more deeply and continuously curved along the whole cutting edge; the French style has an edge that is straighter until the end and then curves up to the tip. Neither style is inherently superior; personal preference will dictate the choice.
Japanese chefs knives is known as a gyuto (牛刀 ぎゅうとう） gyūtō?), literally meaning ‘beef knife’. Its blade resembles a flatter version of a French chefs knife. Japanese cutlery is known for sharpness due to its acute blade geometry, and the hardness of the steel used, often exceeding 60 HRC on the Rockwell scale. Typical western chefs knives may be sharpened to an edge angle of 20-22°, while a Japanese gyuto generally has a sharper edge angle of 15-18°, which requires a harder, more brittle grade of steel. In recent years Japanese gyuto have gained in popularity with western chefs.
Modern chefs knives is a multi-purpose knife designed to perform well at many differing kitchen tasks, rather than excelling at any one in particular. It can be used for mincing, slicing, and chopping vegetables, slicing meat, and disjointing large cuts. A world wide brand such as global knives is an excellent choice.
Chefs knives are made with blades that are either hot-forged or stamped:
- Hot-forged: A hot-forged blade is made in an expensive, multi-step process, often by skilled manual labor. A blank of steel is heated to a high temperature, and beaten to shape the steel. After forging, the blade is ground and sharpened. Forged knives are usually also full-tang, meaning the metal in the knife runs from the tip of the knifepoint to the far end of the handle.
- Stamped: A stamped blade is cut to shape directly from cold rolled steel, heat-treated for strength and temper, then ground, sharpened, and polished.
The blade of chefs knives is typically made of carbon steel, stainless steel, a laminate of both metals, or ceramic:
- Carbon steel: An alloy of iron and approximately 1% carbon. Most carbon steel chefs knives are simple carbon iron alloys without exotic additions such as chrome or vanadium. Carbon steel blades are both easier to sharpen than ordinary stainless steel and usually hold an edge longer, but are vulnerable to rust and stains. Some professional cooks swear by knives of carbon steel because of their sharpness. Over time, a carbon-steel knife will normally acquire a dark patina, and can rust or corrode if not cared for properly by cleaning and lubricating the blade after use. Some chefs also ‘rest’ their carbon-steel knives for a day after use in order to restore the oxidizing patina, which prevents transfer of metallic tastes to some foods. While some cooks prefer and use carbon steel knives (especially in Asia and the Middle East), others find carbon steel too maintenance-intensive in a kitchen environment.
- Stainless steel: An alloy of iron, approximately 10-15% of chromium, nickel, or molybdenum, with only a small amount of carbon. Lower grades of stainless steel cannot take as sharp an edge as good-quality high-carbon steels, but are resistant to corrosion, and are inexpensive. Higher grade and ‘exotic’ stainless steels (mostly from Japan) are extremely sharp with excellent edge retention, and equal or outperform carbon steel blades.
Laminated. A laminated knife tries to use the best of each material by creating a layered sandwich of different materials—for instances, using a softer-but-tough steel as the backing material, and a sharper/harder – but more brittle – steel as the edge material.
- Ceramic blades hold an edge the longest of all, but they chip easily and may break if dropped. They also require special equipment and expertise to resharpen. They are sintered to shape with zirconium oxide powder. They are chemically nonreactive, so will not discolor or change the taste of food.
Handles are made of wood, steel, or synthetic/composite materials.