Sure you could go out and buy a good set of German knives in a block and cook happily for the rest of your life. Or you could slowly, over the years, develop a sort of culinary fetish for their beauty, history, design, and specific usefulness in the kitchen, the feel in the hand (either yours or those you share your kitchen with). Here are a the 10 knives I use most depending on application or whim:
1. The Glestain Gyotu is insane. It’s got the deep dimples on the blade so food doesn’t stick to it, is surgically sharp, and is awesome for cutting homemade sushi. I was psyched to see Mark Ladner slicing and dicing with his on Iron Chef. Get it at korin.com
2. The Henckels Miyabi santoku knife is made in Japan by a German company. Nuff said. The handle is gorgeous and comfortable.
3. The Togiharu Inox steel-Yo Deba: a Japanese butcher knife, useful for hacking through bone. I broke down an entire roast pig to feed 100 with this thing. It’s weight does a ton of the work you. A cross between a cleaver and a machete. Also at korin.com
4. Deep bladed wushtoff chef’s knife: I bought this one after watching one too many Molto Marios on the early food network. Its almost cleaver like in its heft thanks to the additional 1/3 of an inch or so depth to the blade. The pronounced curve of the cutting edge is also helpful for speedy chiffonade.
5. Culinary Institute of America Santoku: CIA designed; great slim handle that fits my wife’s hand perfectly. Elegant lines too.
6. Wusthoff “avant garde” scalloped offset serrated: my old chef buddy James from New York told me to get this one 15 years ago. The handle is some strange out-of-vogue plastic, it’s stamped metal, the blade is scalloped, and it’s awesome for bread. Not sure if the “avant garde” line still exists.
7. Henckels boning knife: good grippy handle, light and narrow blade does the trick when breaking down some meat is in order.
8. Opinel folding knife: my dad gave me this over 25 years ago and I still have it in my tool box for quick culinary applications in the field. I once watched a guy skin a boar with one of these in Hawaii, but I like it for sharpening pencils and slicing apples and cheese.
9. Kershaw folding knife with spring assist: It flicks open like a switchblade and is handy for stealthy urban foraging. The half serrated blade makes quick work of the neighbor’s rosemary branches.
10. Wusthoff Classic paring knife: Of my four paring knives, this one has the most beautiful and comfortable handle.