The Best Kitchen Knives of 2020 (According To Top Chefs)

Cutting ingredients with a lacklustre knife is not only difficult, it’s also dangerous. As any professional chef will tell you, a blunt, slippery blade is more likely to send you to A&E than a sharp one. What’s more, watching a grown man tackle a tomato with a dull knife is a truly pitiful sight. For the sake of your physical and mental wellbeing, as well as your reputation, it’s time to invest in a quality set.

That’s why we asked top chefs, restaurateurs and food stylists for their buying recommendations, from easy-to-wield Japanese knives to razor-sharp paring blades, forged by the best brands around. While there are some pretty pricey options in there, worthy of a true grand master, there are also budget choices that will last you a long time if you take proper care of them. Our experts have also offered some maintenance and chopping advice too, to ensure that your new tools live to prep another meal.

1

Adejoké ‘Joké’ Bakare, Chef Owner of Chishuru, Brixton Village

SHOP

“My favourite knife to use is The Tog santoku knives. They are British made Japanese knives and I was introduced to it when I was still staging in restaurants. I loved (and still do!) how they handle and they are so versatile, you can really use it with anything be that meat, fish or vegetable prep. It also reminds me of when I was first starting out and how far I have come with my cooking.”

Santoku三徳ナイフMultipurpose knife, £190

2

Chris Gillard, Head Chef at Rondo at The Hoxton, Holborn

SHOP

“I have some lovely Japanese knives, which hold a great edge for clean slicing of vegetables and fish. For butchery, however, I have an old faithful boning knife, which I’ve been using for twenty years, from Gustav Emil Ern. German steel isn’t as hard so is less likely to chip against bone. The Gustav also has just the right flex for my liking, which is relatively firm for a boning knife. This allows me to work with the accuracy and speed I need – important, as there never seems to be enough time in the kitchen.”

Gustav Emil Ern Boning Knife 15cm, £45

3

Brodie Meah, co-founder of Top Cuvée, Highbury

SHOP

“Opinel make great knives for working front of house and their bread knife is cool. It means you can perfectly slice your homemade sourdough ready to be slathered with real butter and enjoyed with a glass of natural wine.”

N°116 Bread knife Parallèle, €25

4

Tom Brown, Chef/Owner at Cornerstone, Hackney

SHOP

“Tayayuki knives are Japanese and make working with fish like I do everyday an absolute dream. Whether it’s filleting or chopping it’s preserves the integrity and texture of whatever it is I’m handling. I buy them from Sushi Sushi online – a retailer who work directly with Japanese artisans for products, like soy and chilli sauce, and cooking equipment to make sure theses arts we use in our everyday kitchens are never lost. The petty knife is a good starter knife and is a small investment for a big reward.”

Sakai Takayuki Tus Petty knife 120mm, £60

@cheftombrown

5

Glen Burrows, co-founder of the Ethical Butcher

SHOP

“As our name suggests, ethics and sustainability are paramount to us. When looking at knives, craftmanship, the use of ethically sourced, high quality materials and longevity are key. For these reasons we use Savernake Knives as the products strength can keep up with our levels of use and the knives can take on a variety of cuts of meat. We also love their passion for design, something that is also very important to us. Being able to create a bespoke knife to suit our individual needs is not only a brilliant way to unleash creativity, but it’s also meant that we have the exact knife that we need.”

The Raven’s Claw, £300

6

Sabrina Ghayour, chef and cookery writer

SHOP

“IO Shen Knives: I use all their knives but recommend the Santoku or Chef’s knife. They have nice weighty handles which steady your cutting action and provide more precision. The Santoku is especially good for hard vegetables but they all work really well with meat and vegetables. Can’t live without them, they are fantastic knives.”

I O Shen Chefs Knife 24cm, £109.95

@sabrinaghayour

7

James Cochran, Chef/Owner of 12:51 and Around the Cluck Delivery service

SHOP

“For the conscious cook like me Clement Knives are my pick. The reason why is they transform metal and plastic waste into knives and the pure craftsmanship and attention to detail is like no other. Whilst they work a whizz in the kitchen too, they’re are great option if you’re trying to reduce your carbon foot print too.”

149mm Nakiri, £203

8

Matt Bishop, Head Chef at Roast, Borough Market, Borough

SHOP

“My favourite knives are Japanese. They’re unbeatable when it comes to carving. They may seem like a lot of work to maintain and care for when you first start using them, but the results they yield are far superior. I sharpen mine most nights for a few minutes, and then will give them a little top up on a diamond steel before using them. If you’re going to splash out on a decent knife, make it a proper chef’s knife. Mine is my all-round best friend – reliable and there to count on when I need it! The shape and weight means it’s perfectly suited to prep: chopping herbs, slicing raw meat, chopping veg and preparing fruit.”

Takayuki Traditional Deba, £129

Roast, Borough Market

9

Alex Claridge, Chef founder of The Wilderness, Birmingham

SHOP

“My everyday knives are Mac professional and Shun – proper workhorse knives that sharpen well but don’t cost the earth. When choosing a knife for home don’t be seduced by the ‘package’ block of five you’ll never use – the home kitchen needs just a few knives kept sharp. Invest in a good chef knife, paring knife and filleting knife and you’re good to go. Knives need love and attention, so invest in a knife sharpener or – if you’re the ambitious home cook – a set of whetstones. Remember, you’re more likely to end up in A&E with blunt knives than a sharp, well maintained blade. For something more serious, I’m inappropriately in love with Joel Black Knives.”

Kai Shun Premier Santoku knife (18cm), £169

The Wilderness, Birmingham

10

Kostas Papathanassio, Executive Chef, 5 Social, Mayfair

SHOP

“My team of chefs mainly use Japanese knives. The only issue with them is that they are easily damaged, therefore it’s important to look after them well. I also believe that it’s not always about the knife, it’s about the way you use it – good knife skills are a must! Make sure, for example, you’re not using a knife that’s too big for the job. For someone inexperienced, a big, sharp knife can be dangerous!”

Tsuki 5 Piece Series 7 Knife Set and Wallet, £263.68

5 Social, Mayfair

11

Shaun Rankin, Chef, Grantley Hall, Yorkshire and Ormer Mayfair

SHOP

“I have used many knives over the years, but the ones I go back to are the Wolf Gourmet Range. The high quality steel makes them strong enough to cope with anything form tough vegetables to meat and they are easy to keep sharp.”

6 Piece Knife Set, £849.95

@shaunrankin

12

Rosemary Shrager, professional chef and TV host

SHOP

“I love my Zwilling East West knife. I use it all the time, it’s good for chopping and slicing, also because of its wide flat side it replicates more of a cleaver, so you can move the chopped food easily into a pan. I also find the balanced weight really good, which is very important. My advice to anybody buying an expensive knife is to take something to cut in the shop and try the weight and balance.”

Zwilling Professional S Chefs Knife 15cm, £89.98

13

Elizabeth Haigh, Chef/Owner of Mei Mei, Borough Market

SHOP

“I love the versatility of a Blenheim forge petty knife. It’s light and easy to handle – a kitchen essential.”

Petty, £170

@the_modernchef

14

Paul A. Young, chocolatier, TV chef, pâtissier and chocolate stylist

SHOP

“My go-to knife is my Global G-80 cook’s knife. I’ve had Global knives for 20 years and love their perfect balance. There are no joins so its super easy. It’s great for general food prep and excellent for chopping chocolate and for cutting brownies into perfect clean-sided squares. Never put them in the dishwasher as the chemicals are too harsh and the blade can get damaged. Wash and dry them immediately after cutting anything acidic and sharpen with a whetstone once a week if using the knife regularly.”

Global Knives G-80 Fluted Santoku Knife with 18cm Blade, £92.47

@paul_a_young

15

Tom Aikens, Chef Founder of Muse by Tom Aikens, Belgravia

SHOP

“My favourite knives are by MAC, Wüsthof, Shun and Zwilling JA Henckels. In London, the best place to buy a knife is The Japanese Knife Company shop on Baker Street – it’s brilliant – but if you’re looking for the real deal, it’s Japan itself! MAC do a good basic set (three pieces with a wrap to keep them in) for about £60 but you can splash out and get a very serious professional set for yourself as well. Wüsthof & Henckels do a good one, but they are a bit dearer. If you’re after one decent knife, make it a paring knife – it’s a chef’s best friend.”

Wusthof 9 cm Paring Knife, £33.50

Muse by Tom Aikens, Belgravia

16

Dean Edwards, MasterChef finalist 2006, TV chef and author

SHOP

“I use an 8” Flint & Flame chef’s knife for 90% of the jobs in the kitchen. For a home cook I would suggest investing in one good quality knife and a steel to keep it sharp. Tips: keep your knife in a wrap and don’t just throw it in a drawer otherwise it will blunt easily. If you totally lose the edge on your blade take it to your local butcher and ask them to grind it back to a razor sharp edge. Most accidents happen with blunt knives.”

Flint & Flame 8″ Chef Knife, £130

@deanedwardschef

17

Shaun Presland, Executive Chef at Pacific

SHOP

“I use only 2 brands of Japanese knives – ‘Aritsigu’ (hand-forged carbon steel; sashimi, fish filleting and vegetable styles) along with ‘Nehoni – Nenox’ (stainless steel; petty, sujihiki and gyuto styles). My knives are all bevelled on one edge (similar to a chisel) as I find this gives more control of the blade and polishes the flat surface of what I’m slicing. I particularly like the way that Japanese knives treat the food they cut: the balance in the arm, the steel quality and durability, and the idea that there may be a bit of someone’s pride in the knife that is passed on to me. I’ve been buying my Aritsigu knives from the same knife maker in Tokyo since 1996. Choose a knife that feels comfortable in your hand and is well balanced – the knife is an extension of your arm, much like a golfer choosing a club.”

Nenohi Nenox Wa-Kiritsuke, around £375

Pacific, Mayfair

Dean, Rosemary and Paul are appearing at the Eat & Drink Festival at Olympia London from 27 March to 13 April.

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