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Which Knife is the MVP of the Kitchen?

One quick glance at the many types of kitchen knives available may have your head spinning. Do you really need them all, or will three, two, or even one suffice? The fact is that there's no simple answer to...

Knife

One quick glance at the many types of kitchen knives available may have your head spinning. Do you really need them all, or will three, two, or even one suffice? The fact is that there's no simple answer to this question. Why? Because your kitchen knife needs depend entirely on your personal preferences and habits. That said, there's one clear victor when it comes to getting the most value from your knife purchase, along with a few close runners-up. Let's take a closer look.

The Professional Chef's Best Friend

No list of kitchen knives is complete without a chef's knife. These handy utensils are unparalleled in versatility, and a go-to tool in every professional chef's knife bag. Originally invented for dismantling cattle without destroying the bone, the chef's knife -- also known as a cook's knife -- is considered to be the ultimate all-purpose piece of cutlery.

While they may vary slightly in size and shape, the typical chef's knife features an eight-inch blade with a slight curve to the edge. Whether you're slicing, dicing, mincing, trimming, or carving, the chef's knife is bound to become your new best friend in the kitchen. If you're going to make a purchase of just one knife, most professional chefs would agree: this is it.

Kitchen knife
Not all chef's knives are created equally, as evidenced by this work of art from French Bull.

One note about the chef's knife: it's a true workhorse, so keeping the blade properly sharpened is essential for optimal performance.

Other Stand-Out Kitchen Knives

  • The Serrated Utility Knife

While a chef's knife will do the trick for basically any kind of cutting, its smooth blade is not suited to one particular task: cutting through anything with a firm or crusty outer layer and more tender, soft or squishy inside. (Tomatoes, bread and peaches, we're looking at you.)

Perfect for slicing everything from sandwiches to fatty meat, a serrated utility knife cuts like a dream in the rare instances where a chef's knife might fail, requiring less force and delivering more delicate results.

  • The Paring Knife

It may look like a miniaturized version of a chef's knife, but a paring knife is very different in function. Light, compact and designed for precision, paring knives make short work of everything from fruit and vegetables to fish.

Love to prepare fresh salads and seafood? If so, the small and easy to maneuver paring knife may be a must-have in your kitchen.

  • The Filet Knife

The chef's knife is also not ideal for jobs which require particularly high degrees of exactitude, such as deboning a piece of fish or small poultry. In this case, a filet knife is the embodiment of precision. Long, narrow, and with flexible blade, they're ideal for everything from de-boning to trimming fat.

And the list doesn't end there. From cleavers and carvers to Santokus and steak knives, each type offers something distinctly useful to the home or professional chef. Starting with a chef's knife, however, can help you get most jobs done while you continue to assess your individual cooking needs and gradually adding to your collection. Not sure where to begin? How about by browsing our complete collection of kitchen knives and other kitchenware, bakeware, and essential equipment for the gourmet home chef?