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A bad workman blaming his tools is usually a fallback response to a persons inability to finish a task. But, when it comes to cooking, this can easily be true. A dull knife in the kitchen can be dangerous. It can lead to applying more pressure than needed, or slippage from the food you are cutting. Yes, there are electronic gadgets that can help with small tasks. Or, worse, pre-cut vegetables, diced in a factory somewhere.
Part of the joy of cooking is the prep — the methodology of slicing, chopping and grating can be cathartic. Transcending all the gadgetry is the humble knife. Still, pretty unchanged from its inception, innovation through science has enabled the blade to be elevated to god-like status in the kitchen. Trainee chefs take a pilgrimage-like journey to small, specialist stores that stock the finest knives from across the globe.
If you are a man who likes to partake in a little home gastronomy, then you need the right tools. Key to this is a blade that is an all-rounder (say 8-inches in length), able to withstand the rigours of daily life. Yes, you can buy a knife set from a department store that might do for a short period. But, investing in a high-quality knife, maintained to make sure it stays sharp, can offset the need for other knives typically found in these sets. You are, therefore saving yourself money over the long-term.
Here is our pick of the brands you need to look out for when purchasing a high-quality knife for your kitchen.
Creators of the original swiss army pocket knife, they know a thing or two about blades with over 130 years of experience. Their chef’s knives are forged or stamped dependent on the line you choose. If forged it ensures the knife blade has more carbon — thus making the steel harder and stay sharper for longer. They create the knife from a single piece with an additional bolster to stop your hand slipping. What you will notice when using is the weight and balance of the blade, ensuring a smoother action in situ.
Victorinox’s are easy to sharpen and often recognised as some of the best pound-for-pound knives a man can buy.
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Made in Japan for over 30 years, Global knives use a lot of the same processes that the ancient samurai sword makers do. Carefully weighted for ideal balance, the steel used is exclusive to Global. Its name is CROMOVA and is a combination of chromium, molybdenum and vanadium. The last two are what gives retention to a good blade edge.
Winner of numerous awards, its vital feature (blade sharpness) is signature to them. Instead of bevelled, the edge is ground on both sides to a steep point. It is making Global one of the sharpest knives on the market.
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One of the large German knifemakers, they are a family-owned business that has been around for over 200 years. Both Wüsthof, Henckels and a ton of other knifemakers, manufacture in the German region of Solingen the “City of Blades”.
The steel blade has a hardness rating of 58 Rockwell, and the knives are crafted from one steel piece. Laser-cut for precision, although they are a smaller outfit to their rivals, Zwilling J.A. Henckels their knives still pack a punch in the kitchen.
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No, this isn’t a knife inspired by ol’ blue eyes himself, nor has a famous cosmetic brand, branched out. Characterised by a combination of the traditional Japanese bevelled edge (Kataba) and the western v-shaped edge (Ryoba). These are precision tools, wholly made in Japan.
Another knife manufacturer from Seki City in Japan, they are manufactured from rust-resistant Chrome Molybdenum Vanadium High-Carbon cutlery steel. They then add a layer of Tungsten to select models for added durability. Optimal hardness for the steel used is between 57º and 61º Rockwell C.
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Zwiling J.A Henckels
Marrying German craft with Japanese elegance and style, Henckels is another of the Solingen stalwarts. The steel used for the blades can come with a Rockwell rating of 57.
The company was registered with the Cutlers Guild of Solingen as far back as 1731. They are the largest knifemaker in the region and come with a royal warrant of appointment. Knives are forged from a single piece of high-carbon steel, and their reputation makes them the go-to brand for professional and amateur chefs the world over.
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To maintain the sharpest part of the blade remains in contact with food over time, Shun uses a process called honing. Other, cheaper knives bend ever so slightly over time, which hinders the connection. Honing gently realigns the blade’s edge.
Crafted from hard steel, the Shun knife doesn’t need honing as much as its lesser foe, with some needing it after every use. The Shun Combination Honing Steel has two surfaces. A smoother surface for day-to-day honing and a micro-ribbed one for weekly honing. Both depend on your usage.
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Manufactured from a layer of sturdy Japanese steel sandwiched between two softer stainless steel layers. Mastercraftsman handcraft the knives, and the process creates a clean cutting edge and preserves the sharpness of the blade. It is said that this process will overcome the brittleness that occurs when other knife makers use increasingly harder steel. The blade is then paired with a westernised handle decorated with a Tai Tang design.
Designed in the UK but manufactured in Japan, the brand has collaborated with some of the UK’s best chefs.
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Seki City is the Samurai sword capital of Japan. So, there was nowhere else, TOG founder Bert Beagley-Brown would choose to create his new kitchen knives in 2004.
Produced in small batches, the knives are virtually entirely made by the hands of a skilled craftsman. TOG prove their commitment to quality by giving the knives a lifetime guarantee.
The ridiculously sharp blades are produced from 21 layer Japanese steel. Paired with Kebony maple handles, they are endorsed by some fantastic chefs, including John Burton-Race, Sat Bains and Ping Coombes.
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