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Ask the professionals: Chefs share top tips on buying your first knife

Do you know what to look for when buying your first knife? We asked SA’s top chefs for advice

by: Katy Rose | 03 Sep 2018
buying a knife

Original images by Katy Rose

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If you spend a significant time in the kitchen, then it may be time to invest in a good quality chef's knife. Old or broken pots, knives and other utensils can make your time in the kitchen an uphill battle, and also increases your chances of hurting yourself. 
We spoke to some of South Africa’s most experienced chefs, who work with knives for hours and hours each day, what to look for when selecting your first knife. 

Andrea Bruce gives us some tips
Head Pastry Chef, La Petite Colombe
Be positive that it feels comfortable in your hands and actually hold the knife to get a feel for it. Often a knife that someone else loves to use will feel awkward for you. 

Andre Hill says keep it simple
Head Chef, Upper Bloem 
Invest in a reputable brand that is known for quality, don't follow fashions. A good knife is timeless and will give you many years of good service. Spend a bit more on one knife, and steer clear of large knife sets. 

buy a chefs knife

Chef Ash uses left-handed knives

Ivor Jones tells us how much to spend
Executive Chef, Chefs’ Warehouse at Beau Constantia
Don’t spend too much money on your first chef’s knife. Buy something in the mid range, and at a size that you are comfortable with. Then work on your knife techniques, and when you’ve perfected those you can upgrade to a more professional knife. 

Giles Edwards says invest in a chopping board
Chef Owner, La Tête 
Buy a mid range knife, not too large. Also pay attention to your chopping surface - a bad chopping board (or using the kitchen counter!) will damage your blade and make your knife dull very quickly. When you buy your chef’s knife, also spend a bit extra on a professional quality chopping board. 

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Ash Heeger gives us some advice
Chef Owner, Riverine Rabbit (Opening Soon)
Buy a knife that suits your style of cooking. If you can, try to test out different knives when you visit friends or family to get a feel for the kind of size that you prefer. Buy an all purpose knife that you can use for many different applications, and then if you feel like you need something specific, you can invest in stages. 

Jess van Dyk says keep it simple
Head Chef, La Colombe
I prefer a chef’s knife with a straight edge, as I feel it gives more precise results with chopping etc. And as a first chef’s knife, you don’t need too many grand features, just something that fits comfortably in your hand, and will keep its edge for a while.

Advice from Koshi Koyama
Executive Chef, Kyoto Garden Sushi
He thinks getting a knife made from all steel is good for the home. He says “Never put your knife in the dishwasher!”

buy a chefs knife

Chef Koshi's Japanese steel knife

Where to buy knives in South Africa online: 

Banks Kitchen Boutique - best selection of professional gear

Yuppiechef - International brands at a wide range of prices

Greenleaf Home - quality knives with some specials

Sharp Edge - speciality knives and knife accessories such as sharpening stones and knife bags

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buy a chefs knife

Chef Andre's Wusthof workhorses

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