In the wilderness and in the kitchen you should never be without a good knife. Great kitchen knives make the difference between an enjoyable cooking experience with great food and a Gordon Ramsay-inspired angry rant at the dull blade. Here are some of our favorites.
And remember– never put your knives in the dishwasher. Respect your knives.
These knives are truly cutting edge. The British company is at the forefront of avant-garde design, translating artful invention into the perfect knife. They offer several collections, but we really love The Precision Chef Knife Series. It’s shockingly affordable at just $90 for four knives: paring, chef, Deba, and bread knives. The black handles are faceted, ergonomically designed for a comfortable grip and the stainless steel blades make easy work of anything you put under them. They’re coated so nothing sticks and they are easy to sharpen.
Since these are functional works of art you won’t want to just stuff them in a drawer. Fortunately, Christian Bird, the mastermind behind Edge of Belgravia, also designed the Black Diamond knife block. It’s sleek, minimalist and can house up to 11 knives. Your kitchen counter has never looked sharper.
Apparently, the English are serious about their knives because our next favorite is also from the UK. James Freakley is doing some really cool things with knives, but the most unique are probably his repurposed files. These knives are carbon steel files from farriers (the guys who shoe horses) and engineers that Freakley reheats, forges, grinds, and turns into a brand new blade. The handle retains the original file’s pattern and grain.
He makes a variety of knives from the files: paring, santoku, and chef’s knives and the prices range from about $160 to $320 (£130- £250) a knife, depending on the type and file, but each piece is entirely unique and boy do they cut stuff.
You could say this is the Porsche of kitchen knives. Favored by chefs the world over, the handle of this sexy, futuristic knife was designed by Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, a famed designer himself and grandson of the original Porsche designer.
The 301 knife rests perfectly in the hand and is beautifully balanced. A metal “pearl” helps you know where the end of the knife is, helping create incredible control when slicing and dicing. The grinding method used to create the blade ensures a crazy sharp edge (it’s one of the sharpest straight out of the box in the knife world) but also ensures it stays sharp longer. When it comes time to sharpen it, use a whetstone. They’re very against using sharpening steel.
Maybe you’ve got a smaller kitchen or live on a sailboat, traveling the world and you’ve got to maximize space. Deglon has a series of nesting knives that look awesome. The set of four knives rest within each other, contained by a slim, flat block. The hollow space in the knife’s handle allows for a variety of grips, giving you the freedom to customize your hold.
The stainless steel knives include a 3¼” paring knife, 5¼” utility knife, 8” chef’s knife, and 8¾” slicer, giving you all the cutting power you need in a sexy little French package. It comes as no surprise these took home first prize in the European Cutlery Design Awards
The incredible beauty of these Japanese knives belies their remarkable strength. These are some serious knives. Miybai continues to use traditional three-step Honbazuke honing to create the perfect blade: first, the blade is very coarsely ground using a vertical stone, then finely honed on a horizontal stone, finally polished the razor-like edge on a leather stropping block.
The chef’s knife is a 9” blade with a super fine edge and heavy handle. The core of the blade is made of MicroCarbide but then 100 layers of two other types of steel are added, giving it a variety of levels of hardness. This layering ends up forming a unique floral damask pattern on each blade. A four-step rapid heating and cooling process ensures the blade stays strong, sharp and wards off corrosion.
A heavier, D-shaped handle made of birch helps balance blade. Japanese knives are famous for this handle shape that helps prevent the hand from tiring. This is a knife for a serious cook.
Last but not least– well, actually, there aren’t many of these so you have to act really fast to get a prized Orchard Steel knife. Moriah Cowles is the blacksmith behind the Vermont shop where she makes every piece of the knife by hand, from forging the blade to sculpting the handles.
Her chef’s knives are a heavily influence by the French Sabatier and Japanese Gyoto knives, but the ultimate Orchard Steel style is entirely hers. The blades are made from 52100 Carbon Steel, which is not stainless, so she’s careful to provide care instructions for how to maintain the blade. The wood in the handles comes from her family orchard or neighboring friends who have wood they’re willing to share. Each knife is entirely unique and eye catching. You’re not likely to find a similar knife anytime soon.
To get your hands on one, you join the lottery. Every 4-6 weeks, Cowles has a new batch of knives for sale; by signing up for the newsletter you get information about when the lottery will happen and can preview the knives. You enter your name and info under each knife you’re interested in and she will randomly choose the winner of the lottery via random.org. It’s an unusual system, but she’s a true artist and these are unusual knives.