How to Choose a Chef’s Knife

In our third and final video with ‘Knife Master’, Eytan Zias, and food expert, Josh Ozersky, we learn what knives you need to kill it in the kitchen and what to look for in a blade.

Zias, owner of the Portland Knife House, carries mostly Japanese or Portland made knives because of their quality. As he explains to Josh, “There is nobody competing with them in terms of quality. German knives have their place but don’t sharpen well and Japanese are not about the handle, they are about the steel.” Sorry Germany!

Here are some expert tips from Eytan regarding blades:

These days, your most basic Japanese made knife will out-perform anything coming out of Germany. Knives are almost as much about angles as they are about steel.

Generally speaking, for your all purpose chef knife/santoku, the thinner the blade the better it will sharpen and perform. Therefore, a $40 thin blade Victorinox will outperform a $100+ Henckels.

The three knives you must have are:

Chef Knife – 8” is the standard, but will vary according to personal preference. This is the knife you will be doing 90% of your work with and is your biggest priority.
Paring Knife – 3”-4 “, meant for smaller “in the hand” tasks such as peeling or coring.
Bread Knife – “8-“10, a serrated knife is a must for bread – crusty bread will dull any plain edge knife no matter the quality so there you need a saw edge.
And if you would add two more:

Boning Knife – 6”, a must for butchering tasks such as whole chickens, or anything that involves removing meat from the bone.
Slicer – 10”+, used for slicing and portioning meats and fish – length is important here in order to reduce the amount of strokes used and get cleaner cuts.
Stay away from the traditional single bevel “sushi” knives unless you are doing your own waterstone sharpening and have a use for one – these knives are very task specific (not all purpose!) are higher maintenance, and require more skill to use.

Carbon steel knives are generally recommended for people doing their own sharpening – the benefits of carbon are that they sharpen better than stain resistant blades – but since they are not rust/stain resistant, the higher maintenance might outweigh the benefits for most people.

Things to ignore when choosing a knife:

What feels sharper at the store does not mean a better knife (the first honing/sharpening will even everything out – so go for the better steel).
Balance is only important when you hold the knife the way you are going to use it (the traditional “balance on one finger” test is meaningless).
More weight is not a sign of quality.
Be prepared to maintain your blade – there is no knife at any price which does not require regular honing/sharpening.

Comments

Justin Lang says:

that host is annoying

meech m says:

obnoxious host, incredibly non informative video

drownthedays says:

full tang has nothing to do with the design of the heel of the knife.

Antonio Arellano says:

I hate that fat bloke

apenneukende says:

knife guy rocks, host sucks

MumrikDK says:

this video was the introduction to what the video SHOULD have been.

ibi nyth says:

Guy claiming to be an expert is an idiot.. no good German knives.. Hah comical

T- Mac says:

Japanese knife good German knife bad

GUILDGOB says:

“How to Choose a Chef’s Knife” did not show me how to choose a chef’s knife.

seancoyote says:

Let me help you would be professionals. Neither is better in all things. Just talking about Chef Knives, Japan makes them hard and thin, and Europe makes them thick and softer. Why? Hard and thin keeps an insane edge for a longer time, but if you use it for heavier use, like getting through a lobster, or even removing an avocado seed, you might not want to use your incredibly sharp and thin knife. Soft and thick are tougher and can be used for just about anything. Even a full bolster helps at times, and no, not for opening cans. No idiot does that with their own knife but it is something I have seen. The only time a bolster is an issue is when sharpening and when the knife gets older. The edge isn’t as thin, and the metal usually isn’t as hard, so it doesn’t chip as much. Normally a good European chef knife can handle chicken bones and cutting though some bone and any cartilage. Now, there are special knives of Japan that can handle such, but that is a different knife that isn’t at all good with veggies or is imitating the European style. As for handles, handles are not important to have a full tang, but it is important to have a seal and is secure. This isn’t always the case with Japanese knives, and that is why many are starting to have more of a European handle and are changing designs, like the tang is made of a less rusting metal.

Bill Strack says:

If you had shut up for a minute, maybe the knife guy (the one that didn’t cut himself just picking up a knife) would have been able to give some decent information.

HigherPlanes says:

Holy crap japanese knives are cornering the market

Badgerius says:

Both these guys are complete idiots

Jason Roets says:

This host is an idiot.

Nick490 says:

Stop interrupting the expert you idot !

Tom Dickinson says:

I bought my last knife at Portland knife house. Awesome blade.

PRIndependencia Capitalista says:

Just get a cleaver

Disinf3ctant says:

You can get a Wusthof to like 90% the sharpess of those Japanese ones without ever going anywhere near a whetstone. And I don’t think anyone needs a knife sharper than that for practical reasons – you can basically chop and onion without pressing much at all. And in my house they hold that edge for weeks with daily use. I’ll take that convenience over having to baby and maintain a Japanese knife for an bit of a sharper edge.

Hector Munoz says:

Great Video! I appreciate the time dedicated to educate us.
Am currently looking into Shun Knives with the VG-Max Steel they use. (Premier Kiritsuke Knife, 8″) Like that style as a chef’s knife.
With that in mind: Is there much difference between their low cost AUS10A grade steel and the other grades they offer? Related to cost vs grade?
After looking at “Global Knives” I heard their steel is a lot softer and does not retain the edge as well as Shun Knives?
What is your input that may help me decide. I am just an average home wannabe chef that loves to cook and want to get a Good Knife that does must of the things I need.

wiccan daoist says:

We all know that the Chinese cleaver is the way to go.

John Craftenworth says:

Japan is great…but German is competing with Japanese knives, right? Not really, German suck!

So stupid. Germany is no 1 in western knives that are industrially made, they didn’t get there by making garbage. Many people favor the full tang, thicker heavier blades of western tradition over the thinner, lighter, sharper japanese knives. It’s about heft and feel, not only about cutting. And as far as the modern handcrafted market, I’m sure you can get a great knife out of any country on earth if you find a good blacksmith. Japan has the historical traditions of blacksmithing, sword making and the samurai culture, and with all that they probably have more skilled knife makers than any other nation, but the ignorance in this video is annoying.

DerisiveLaughter says:

so many useless videos. if you have zero knife skills or zero knowledge of knives why make a video helping others on this subject. sure the guy in the video sells them thats it lol. the essential guide to wasting time

eng3d says:

if you have money then pick a japanese one, then a german one. if you want a good one and cheap then pick a spanish or brazilian. never buy a made in china

Brandon Russell says:

I like my knives how I like my cars, very durable and very stainless

Cameron Hollingshead says:

What a jackass.

Move_I_Got_This says:

I work with a sushi chef who has that last knife, it costs 800$.I bought a Miyabi 8″ chef knife on sale for 100$.

Alex Pearson says:

Good video. But I don’t get consumers thought process. Buy the most expensive Japanese knives money can buy. Spend 500- 800 per knife. Get 3 maybe 4. You’ll have them for the rest of your life, and you’ll enjoy them year after year. Don’t cheap out on knives, nothing to gain by doing that. They are not cars you don’t replace them every five years. Also, good idea to lean how to sharpen your own. Japanese knives are the only way to go. German knives industry is just about pushing cheap steel on consumers.

pwnzxpwnz says:

This host is a total idiot, what the hell kind of video is this… I enjoyed hearing the knife store owner talk and not the host.

I own a few Takeda hamono knives and I absolutely love them, if you have the money, get one. Start with a gyuoto and go from there.

IM SJ says:

This host clearly didn’t do his research before even coming here. Stupid. Listen more and talk less.

quicksesh says:

this is a rubbish video also a little bit mis-information given here

D J says:

Not only do German and French ones compare equally, many chefs prefer them

José Pimenta says:

Não são só as facas japonesas, suiças e americanas que são boas. Esquecem-se sempre dos paises mais pequenos, mas com enorme tradição e experiencia em cutelaria como é o caso de Portugal. Tentem experimentar facas de cozinha das marcas, ICEL, IVO cutelarias, FILMAM, SICO e entre outras mais e depois façam então um video.

chikitabowow says:

Right…. Still don’t know which knife to pick.

Riche Rifkind says:

Didn’t learn much at all. And am sorry some of it is wrong. A full Tang knife where the metal goes all the way through are the best ones too get. Way more durable and way more balanced. You want a knife that is the same weight all the way through. Many of the best knives even from Japan are full Tang. ( of course the guy is going to say otherwise to make money from people who don’t care or research properly) . Also there are many companies now that mix the best Qualities of German steel with The best of Japanese.

John Steilleck says:

Did I see a Travis Wuertz TW-90 vertical/horizontal grinder in the back room next to all the grinder belts? I recognize those things anywhere as I am a knife-maker too!

Kaung Ko says:

just wasted my time, worst interview every seen :S

Arch Passerine says:

fuck off

Phat Ha says:

Lmao this dumbass cuts himself on in interview

gagiva Tan says:

The fat guy are so stupid and should be shut up

lola utrecht says:

i got yu kurosaki vegi knife. and 27 cm chef knife.
i got some tamagahane knifes. office knife meet knife chef knife 16 cm. santoku and some wurtsoff voor kutting in 2 plastic baga and vacuum baga

nlo114 says:

This bloke is not safe to be near in a kitchen! What is a half-wit doing presenting a video about knives? At 2:20 I was startled by him nicking his digit and moved on.

JHandsaker says:

Edge going all the way back doesn’t mean full tang…

suprhomre says:

waste of time

theshapeexists says:

Victorinox is hands down the best goddamn thing you can have in your kitchen if you’re poor. I have victorinox in my kitchen for 16 years, and they can not be beat for the price. Yes there are better knives out there but you pay big time.

Svitojus says:

Bob Kramer Zwilling ones, not good?

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