Three Kitchen Essentials

chef_knifeQ: What’s the most important cooking tool in any kitchen?

 A: A great chef’s knife!

No matter how much cooking you do, having the right knives makes cooking easier, speedier and more enjoyable.

I recently took a knife skills class (which I recommend to anyone who enjoys cooking) to help me become better at slicing, dicing, chopping or mincing. If you don’t have a local cooking school to take a class, just check some of the online YouTube videos from chef instructors who detail how to master knife skills.  If you simply google “Knife Skills Video,” several great videos will come up.  A couple I like are below:

Food Network Knife SkillsKnife_skills_danispies

Dani Spies Knife Skills

What I learned from my class is that you don’t need a fancy 20 piece knife set and that three knives can handle just about anything you’ll be faced with in the kitchen. The three essential knives are, in order of importance include a chef’s knife (also called Cook’s knife), paring knife and a bread knife. Most high-end knife companies like Wusthof or Henckels sell these knives alone or as a set of three. While good knives are pricey (at least $100.00 for a good chef’s knife), with some basic care, they should last a lifetime.

Here’s what you need to know about choosing each of the three, must-have knives:

Wusthof-classicChef’s or Cook’s Knife: This all-purpose knife is the workhorse in your kitchen. You want to have an 8 to 10-inch blade.  Before buying, hold several in your hand so that you can compare and choose the one that feels best. You also want one where the blade is full-tang so that the blade is one piece and extends through the handle of the knife.





Wusthof-paring-knifeParing Knife: The paring knife is thought of as an extension of your fingers. You can use it for small jobs like topping and peeling fruit; or slicing up smaller produce like shallots or mushrooms






Wusthof_bread-KnifeBread Knife: You need one serrated knife to handle bread and delicate (read: mushy) produce like tomatoes. A serrated knife is also great if you need to cook with blocks of chocolate and they’re also good when slicing cakes.




Win a Wusthof Knife Set

Be sure to check out our Wusthof  giveaway of the 3 essential knives (Cook’s, Paring and Bread) because one lucky AFH fan will get these three kitchen essentials. If you want some more knife inspiration, check out “Wusthof: Defining the Edge” site where you’ll meet Chef Richie Nakano of San Francisco, Butcher Camas Davis of Portland, and Chef Jonathon Sawyer of Cleveland. They have great stories to tell!





What to Look for in a Knife:

Does the knife feel good in your hand?

Does it feel substantial, not flimsy?

Is the blade stainless steel?

Does it feel balanced in your hand?

(Test: If you hold the knife palm up with two fingers at the bolster–the strip of metal between the blade and the handle–does it feel equally weighted on either side?)


  1. Jonathan Buffington says:

    I got a set of Henckels just out of culinary school, they were my pride and joy and I used them constantly. After my first heart attack I quit cooking, family members used my knives and now that I am a vegetarian and enjoy cooking again my knives are pretty much shot or MIA. It’s sad about the knives, what’s sadder is I got so out of touch with life that I allowed the knives to be mistreated. Have been thinking about regrets and how they are in the past and you should leave them there and move forward, this article just brought one back I wish I could change…I loved those knives!

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