Tried and tested: Chef’s knives
An all-purpose classic cook or chef’s knife is a great investment. The delicious. food team put five to the test to identify the best for design, performance, comfort and value for money.
A good chef’s knife should have a blade made of high-quality steel, with a sharp angled edge that’s maintained after sharpening. It needs a comfortable handle, should feel balanced to hold, and have enough width at the base of the blade to keep the hand away from the chopping board. Here are the results:
Sharp, light, comfortable and precise – the whole team really liked this knife. The high-quality 32-layer Damascus steel gives an impressive edge and made chopping onions a breeze. The length and angle of the blade makes for an easy rolling action when chopping herbs and it sliced effortlessly through cuts of meat and tomatoes alike. We particularly liked the ergonomically-designed handle, which comes in both left and right-handed versions, and found there was plenty of clearance from the board whilst using the knife.
Top of the pile for value for money. A classic knife with a familiar-feeling shape, nice weight, comfortable handle and sharp blade. The only drawback was length – we found the blade a little too short for whole bunches of herbs and slicing larger cakes and tarts. High-carbon stainless steel means it’s easy enough to keep sharp using a steel (layered Damascus steel, in comparison, needs maintaining on a trickier-to-master whetstone to keep the blade in optimal condition.)
Wins serious points for style – you’ll want to have this knife on display rather than tucked away in a drawer. Heavy for its size but extremely well balanced, we found the handle to be the most comfortable of all the knives we tested. The blade was long enough for cross-chopping herbs, however it wasn’t as sharp as some of the other brands, and we found it didn’t hold an edge quite as well, needing more regular sharpening. The lower clearance meant the occasional bashed knuckle whilst slicing.
Opinions were divided over the shape of this knife. Some felt the angled heel of the blade was odd, but it gave excellent clearance from the board. The blade itself was almost too sharp, cutting into the board and moving it whilst chopping and its more extreme curve also meant a greater angle was required for slicing into larger items like onions. The blade was also a little on the short side but does hold an edge exceptionally well. Excellent value for money.
5 ProCook Damascus X100 Chef’s Knife 15cm, currently £89 (originally £149)
Similar in appearance to the Kai Shun, but the handle is thicker and the knife much heavier: it felt clunky by comparison. The blade was less precise but sharp and a good shape, making light work of large vegetables and cuts of meat. The 67-layer Damascus steel means it holds an edge well and won’t need frequent sharpening – but would require an experienced hand and a whetstone.