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I still remember the moment I cut something for the first time using a really sharp knife. The Wusthof Classic 8-inch chef’s knife was a wedding gift I got almost 15 years ago. I sliced a tomato with it while preparing a BLT sandwich and lo and behold: There was no squishing involved and the tomato, though now separated in two, maintained its structural integrity. That’s when I understood why chefs and food writers are always campaigning against dull blades. In the years since, I’ve used a host of different knives while cooking dinners for my family, making cookies for events and testing recipes for two cookbooks I’ve written. And one thing I’ve discovered is that, in a pinch, I could always make do with just one good knife:
It’s versatile enough to carve up a pineapple for a summer barbecue and make quick work of a handful of fresh herbs from our garden. It’s the knife I keep reaching for again and again, even as my collection has grown.
Wusthof Chef’s Knife: The Specs
The Wusthof Classic 8-inch chef’s knife is often praised for its durability. Nearly 1,000 reviewers on Amazon have left it a 4.8 average rating.
- The blade is eight inches. That’s long enough to dice vegetables, slice a chicken breast into strips and chop herbs. The edge is curved, too, which I like because I sometimes rock the knife up and down on a cutting board to mince shallots or finely chop garlic.
- The metal area between the blade and the handle is known as the bolster. A bolster adds weight and can act as a finger guard. It’s a common feature on many German-made blades. On this knife, the bolster is just long enough to make sure my kids have a little bit of a safe zone for their fingers while chopping.
- The handle is five inches long. It fits well in my hand and feels balanced. The fit of a knife is subjective. If you still like using a knife after 15 minutes of chopping, you’ll probably like it for years to come.
- The Wusthof knife weighs 8.5 ounces. The heaviness of the blade has made it easier for me to tackle jobs that require a bit more heft, like splitting a bone-in chicken breast or chopping up chocolate bars for cookies.
- The kitchen knife is made of high carbon stainless steel, which is more resistant to chipping. When it is sharp, this knife holds its edge well, too.
How to care for and maintain your kitchen knife
A good knife is an investment of your money and time — with a little bit of care it can last you for years, if not decades. For starters:
- Always hand wash and dry your knife after each use.
- Avoid using an abrasive cleaning pad, which can scar the metal of the knife.
If you’re storing the kitchen knife in a drawer, spring for a blade guard. The inexpensive plastic sheaths help protect the edge of the blade. A blade guard also makes me feel better when I ask my kids to take a knife out of the drawer or bring a knife with me for prep before a party at someone else’s house.
A key part of using knives is making sure they are — and remain — sharp. You can tell a knife is dull when it begins to smash tomatoes rather than cut cleanly through the skin. You can also feel (carefully) the edge to see if it feels rounded or dull. A ceramic rod knife sharpener will help you hone your knife, smoothing out the small dings or notches that can occur when you’re using it a lot. When it comes time to sharpen your knife, search for a local culinary center or knife sharpening shop where you live. If you want to sharpen your own knives, opt for an electric knife sharpener.
Other knives to consider
While you can do everything with a chef’s knife, it doesn’t mean you have to do everything with a chef’s knife. A solid serrated knife is good for slicing bread and citrus because of the teeth along the knife’s edge. The smaller paring knife is great for mincing garlic (or potentially plucking garlic cloves out of a bulb) or trimming vegetables. Adding a serrated knife and paring knife to a chef’s knife could round out the starter set for your kitchen.
A bit heavier than other paring knives with a slightly longer wooden handle, the heft and sharpness of the Mac Knife makes it a sturdy utilitarian knife.