We have knives for every budget, starting at under £10. Here are, for me, the real stand-out designs, whether you’re on a tight budget, after something mid price or wanting to invest in something that will last you a lifetime of happy cooking.
European or Japanese?
Japanese knives are all about sharpness. Up until 100 or so years ago, the Japanese diet consisted mainly of fish and vegetables, so there was more of a need for sharpness, less heavy splitting. As such, Japanese knives are thinner and lighter than their European counterparts, with a more narrow (and therefore sharper) angle to the blade.
European knives have been designed not just for sharpness, but splitting heavier foods. Therefore, they are invariably thicker and more weighty than a Japanese knife, with a more wedge shaped angle to the blade.
Best entry level: Victorinox Chef’s Knife (from around £30)
Spend less than £40 on a knife and it’s a question of making the most sensible compromises. Most of the time, you’re looking at a simple design, where the blade shape has been cut from steel (by laser, in the case of the Victorinox), and a handle has been attached. The Victorinox stands out from the crowd due to the sheer quality of the blade. Made from high carbon steel, the blade has been ice tempered, so you get a fantastic cutting edge that stays sharp for longer than cheaper models would.
Best mid price: Robert Welch Signature (from around £40)
The Robert Welch Signature range has been scooping up awards across the board, from the Red Dot design industry award to an award from The Chef’s Guild. Why? Because it incorporates much of what a high end cook’s knife offers at an incredibly reasonable price. The steel is fully forged, so made from one piece of metal, heated and compressed into shape, making it strong and giving the knife a good weight. It’s also full tang; the blade runs all the way through to the base of the handle, making it stronger and perfectly balanced in the hand, giving you greater control when cutting.
Best European: Wusthof Classic Ikon (around £96)
Wusthof are considered by many chefs and home cooks alike to be the best in the world at making knives, and the Classic Ikon is their statement piece, so here you have the best of everything: full tang, fully forged, and made using the finest materials available. The blade is counterweighted with steel at the base of the handle, so the blade is always perfectly balanced, and the ergonomically sculpted handle feels wonderfully comfortable in the hand.
Top end Japanese: Global G-2 (around £100)
The Global G-2 is the world’s best selling quality cook’s knife, and for good reason – it’s a simple, contemporary design, made from high quality Cromova steel. With its precision-weighted handle, the knife is beautifully balanced. Thanks to its distinctive style and high level of performance, you’ll notice Global knives popping up on TV all the time.
Top end Damascus steel: Kai Shun Santoku (around £150)
Damascus knives have a central core of very hard steel, which then has steel folded around it, leaving a distinctive pattern. The Kai Shun has an almond shaped handle that fits into the palm of the hand perfectly. The hardness of the steel forming the central core of the Kai Shun is unsurpassed, means it’s incredibly sharp, and stays that way for a remarkably long time.
How will you know if it’s the right knife for you? Choose from the best within your budget (we will happily suggest types and sizes that are right for you of course), and hold them. You’ll be surprised at how simple and instinctive choosing the perfect knife for you can be. As probably the most important item in your kitchen, it’s well worth taking a little time to pop into a store and get it right. Looked after properly, your cooks knife will make cooking easier and will last you a lifetime.