Photography by Ingrid Kuenzel
The most important tool in any kitchen, without a doubt, is a good knife. As Iron Chef Masahari Morimoto would say, “a kitchen without a knife is not a kitchen.” I couldn’t agree more.
For professional cooks, knives are practically an extension of their hands, and probably better cared for. But a quality knife is just as essential for home cooks. If you’re even slightly inclined to cook at home, at the very least you should own a classic 20 cm chef’s knife – the go-to knife for the brunt of daily kitchen tasks.
But it’s certainly not the only knife you should have in your arsenal. Slicing, dicing, filleting, butchering and julienning become a whole lot easier when you use the right knife for the job, and these three Calgary chefs share their favourite model, and a recipe to help point you in the right direction.
Chef Matthias Fong
A good quality knife is made from high quality steel, usually German or Japanese, which will stay sharp for a long period of time, and has the potential to last a lifetime.
Owning a stainless steel knife versus one made from high carbon steel is also extremely beneficial in any kitchen. It’s easy for a knife to end up in the sink, which can leave non-stainless varieties rusted and ruined.
“Regardless of style or brand, it’s never safe to let knives go dull. Dull knives lead to excessive force and can easily slip off the product you’re cutting,” cautions Fong.
“To properly care for a knife, I recommend investing in some sharpening stone and/or a ceramic honing rod, which prolongs the life of your knife and requires less sharpening. I also suggest signing up for a class to learn the art of sharpening, or just take your knives directly to the folks at Knifewear and they’ll gladly maintain for you.”
“My go-to knife is the Tojiro Flash 8.25-inch slicer. It’s short in length making it versatile for a variety of uses. I use it for the majority of my prep work, but it’s ideal for slicing and carving. The narrow blade allows for paper thin slicing on delicate fish like tuna,” says Fong.
“I favour the Tojiro line of knives because they offer stainless, Japanese steel that’s easy to sharpen and repair.”
Click here for Chef Fong’s recipe for Pacific Albacore Tuna Crudo
Chef Jorel Zielke
Brasserie Kensington and Winebar
“I’m a huge fan of my 10¾ inch MAC chef’s knife. This multi-purpose knife is modeled after the standard French chef’s knife,” says Zielke.
“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of respecting your tools by keeping them clean and properly functioning, to avoid safety issues. You simply can’t do your best without your equipment at its best.”
“A sharp knife is key when dicing raw meat, like in my recipe below,” he continues. “Keep in mind that it’s not firm like an onion or a stick of celery. Meat shifts and moves as you prepare it, so it’s important to slow down and take your time when preparing a dish like tartare.”
Click here for Chef Zielke’s recipe for Sirloin Beef Tartare
Chef Kai Salimäki
Chef Salimäki is all about a great multipurpose knife.
“I love the Masakage Kumo Petty 150 mm knife. It’s ideal for numerous tasks in the kitchen, but I especially love it for chopping fine herbs. It’s lightweight, and has a remarkably sharp edge that has chives bouncing from under it in perfect uniform circles,” he explains.
The Petty knife is ideal for smaller jobs such as slicing shallots, cutting herbs, and boning smaller proteins. And because of its size, it’s also a great alternative for those who feel uncomfortable wielding a larger, heavier chef’s knife.
“I would recommend this knife for the home cook as it can replace many utility knives people seem to collect in drawers. And of course, most importantly, I recommend proper love, attention and care, to ensure you keep this tool functioning for a very long time.”
Click here for Chef Salimäki’s recipe for Braised Brisket with Carrot Puree and Napa Cabbage