A million years ago, when I showed up to Crate & Barrel with a clipboard to register for our wedding, I very religiously recorded SKU numbers for all the shiny cooking gear before me, dreaming of the day in the not-so-distant future that these items would replace our dusty old cooking gear. Nowadays, I put a premium on that dusty old cooking gear — the utensils and pots and pans and spoons that wear the prized patina of use and love.
In that spirit, then, I’d like to discuss cutlery, specifically my six favorite knives, a veritable motley crew of different brands, shapes, ages, and prices.
1. Chef’s Knife Miyabi 400fc (8-inch) Like a good tennis racquet, I’ve always thought a chef’s knife should feel like an extension of your own arm, which is another way of saying: It’s personal. This Miyabi was a gift, something that seems crazy to me because I’m so particular about them — weightwise, lengthwise, the way the handle molds to my fingers — and it’s the one I reach for first no matter what the task. As with most long-lasting good-quality knives, it’s pricey, but for serious cooks, or serious wedding register-ers (yep, coined that word), I would not discount it. ($170)
2. G-Fusion Knife, New West KnifeWorks (8-inch) This knife was also a gift, from me to Andy. I bought it for him after Hunter Lewis, the food editor at Bon Appetit at the time, told me he didn’t go anywhere without his. There are all kinds of wonky design reasons why the pros swear by it, but mostly I appreciate that it has heft without bulk. I usually reach for this when the Miyabi is dirty or otherwise occupied, but with it’s long, slender blade, it’s my first choice when slicing a roast chicken, a pork loin, or anything one might classify as a hunk of meat. ($269) (Don’t worry, the next few are cheaper!)
3. Utility Knife, PureKomachi 2 (6-inch) $12 As astute readers may recall, we bought this high-carbon stainless lightweight as a “starter knife” for Phoebe when she was eight or nine. So much for that idea! Andy and I fight over who gets to use it and it always seems to be in the dishwasher. At this price, I’m not sure why we haven’t bought a spare. ($12)
4. Serrated Paring Knife, Victorinox (4-inch) I guess technically you’re supposed to use these as steak knives, or as flatware when you’re confronting a mega pork chop on your dinner plate. We own four of them for that purpose, but I use them for just about everything else, too: slicing any kind of fruit, supreme-ing oranges, cutting tomatoes, de-stemming kale. Bonus: They come in a rainbow of colors. ($8)
5. Paring Knife, Wusthof (4-inch) Andy bought this for me as a congratulatory gift after I took my GMAT in 1995. (At the time, we were in our first entry-level jobs and a good-quality Wusthof knife was my idea of living large.) My business school dreams have long since evaporated, but my little Wusthof is still going strong, which is an amazing thing if you really think about it. I’d buy another one again in a second, but it doesn’t seem like I’ll ever need to. ($20)
6. Serrated Wood-handled Bread Knife, Victorinox (10 inches) This is one of those utensils in my kitchen whose provenance I’ve completely forgotten. I just know that it’s always been there and when it’s not, I panic. In it’s 25+ year tenure, it’s sliced Friday night challahs, Saturday night baguettes, and too many Sunday morning bagels to count. Note: Mine is 9 1/2 inches, the one I linked to was the closest I could find, size-wise. ($70)