Get a handle on the best way to shop for knives
A proper knife can slice and dice dependably for years with the right amount of care and consideration. Here's what you should consider when shopping for that perfect blade and other knife-related tips:
Start with the basics: Every home chef should have a few basic knives handy. A chef's knife is the main tool for slicing, chopping and other general tasks. An 8-inch blade works best for most people, but try different sizes to see what feels most comfortable. Also have a paring knife on standby for peeling and other small work, plus a boning knife for prepping meats.
Don't splurge unless you know what you're doing: Just like buying "The French Laundry Cookbook" won't automatically make you a better chef, investing hundreds of dollars in a high-end Japanese knife won't make you any more adept in the kitchen. A knife in the $50-to-$80 range is enough of an investment for most home chefs.
"Start with a cheaper knife," said Billy Ngo of Kru. "You can practice sharpening with it. You will mess up, and if you've spent $1,000, boom, it's ruined."
German or Japanese knives: While many professional chefs swear by Japanese knives, they're often too costly for the typical consumer. Consider German knives, which are a longtime favorite for chefs due to their pronounced curve that literally rocks on the cutting board. That curve, or "belly," allows for especially quick slicing and dicing in a rocking motion under capable hands.
"German steel is a good start," said Pedro Depina of Ettore's. "I got my father-in-law a good Wusthof knife, and those usually cost between $40 and $80. I wouldn't spend more than $80 on a knife for the house."
Keep it sharp: Knife sharpening is an art unto itself, and that blade won't do much good if it's dull. Most chefs sharpen knives themselves with various stones, but you can get help with this, too. Sharpening Tech, a local company, offers knife sharpening services for chefs: (916) 681-6945, www.sharpeningtech.com. Hardware stores and grocery stores often offer knife sharpening as well. Also, look for the occasional knife sharpening class held at Whole Foods Market.