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Knives Out - First in the Drawer

Knife customers come in all stripes. There are the casual upgraders, looking for something to replace the knife they've had for 30 years that finally gave out. There are the collectors who just love knives and take joy in acquiring the next new piece. Then there are the beginners who have no idea where to start, but they are taking cooking more seriously and know they need better tools. The question then is, if you have to start with just one good knife, which one do you pick? Which knife should be the very first in your drawer?

This is an easy one, and we've answered it hundreds of times. You start with the 8" chef's knife, or as Wusthof styles it, the 8" Cook's Knife. It is the one knife that does so many jobs, it is several knives in one.

The blade of the chef's knife thins at the tip, giving you a tool for small precision cuts, trimming fat, and peeling.

The middle of the edge, often called the "sweet spot," is for those everyday knife tasks of slicing and dicing vegetables, meat, and fish.

The heel is yet another tool, where the edge widens to a wedge shape. Used properly with the force of your arm, this wedge can butcher meat or chop through tough foods like hard shelled nuts.

Finally, turn the knife sideways and use its heft and all that surface area to crush garlic and fresh ginger.

The chef's knife is truly your main tool in the kitchen. It has a blade long enough to give you a proper rocking motion on the cutting board, and deep enough to go through the biggest of vegetables. It is well balanced. It can handle most everything.

There is no question, the chef's knife is your number one choice when you decide it's time to invest in proper kitchen tools. Once you get comfortable using it, you'll eventually want a good boning knife, a serrated utility, and a paring or peeling knife. The more you cook, the more you will appreciate the versatility these specialty knives add to your collection.

One last point for those who find the 8" blade intimidating, or who have smaller hands and just don't find it comfortable. No problem. You size down to a 6" chef's knife, with a smaller blade and handle. This is a great year to pick up one of Wusthof's versions, the 6" Classic Cook's or 6" Classic Ikon Cook's knives. Featured this year as their "kicker," these excellent tools are a whopping $60 OFF regular retail price. Even if you already have the 8" version, at this price it's always handy to have another blade on hand in a different size, even if just to have an extra clean blade when your workhorse knife has already been used. It's also a great choice for the aspiring younger cooks in the house, once you trust them with a fine edge of course.

As always, have fun out there expanding your cooking horizons with all this time at home! Cooking with the family is tremendously rewarding, and good tools make it all the more enjoyable.

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