There’s no question about it—a chef’s knife is the most important kitchen tool you own. You use it for the majority of the knife work you do when cooking, and if you purchase a good-quality chef’s knife and maintain it well, it should last you for decades. Some of our writers have sung the praises of their own chef’s knives here and here recently, but those posts got us thinking: what knives aside from our chef’s knives could we not be without? We reached out to Sur La Table employees across the country to get their take on the second-most-used knife in their batterie de cuisine. Here’s what they said:
“I know scissors aren’t technically a knife, but next to my 8” chef’s knife, it’s what I use the most. Plus, having it handy in my block helps protect my knives for being used inappropriately. I use them for opening packages, cutting herbs and flowers, trimming parchment and twine, plus any other random cutting task in the kitchen. I even ended up buying a second pair for my husband to keep in his tool shed since he kept stealing mine.” – Lara Trepanier, Director of Store Operations; Seattle HQ
“The last time I cut myself (like, changed my fingerprint badly), was with my dull, 15-year old, warped, bread knife. I was holding a bagel (yeah, I know), and the knife decided it was actually going to cut well for that particular pull, going right through the bagel and into my thumb. That was the last time I used that knife. Since then, I purchased a Kramer Essential Bread Knife and love it. I was so used to my old bread knife, that I get excited when it cuts in a straight line, or goes through crusty bread without spraying crumbs everywhere. And, it has yet to change any of my fingerprints.” – Dylan Steitz, Instructional Designer; Seattle HQ
“This knife is so lightweight, and it stays so sharp. I use it for lots of small detail work. I have a few blossoming young chefs who cook with me at home, and this knife is perfect for them. It’s small enough to fit comfortably in their hands and sharp enough to get the work done. Peeling apples with a paring knife takes me back to making pies with my mom. She was a great apple pie baker and taught me well!” – Lynne Just, Resident Chef at Stony Point Fashion Park; Richmond, Virginia
Shun Classic U2 Ultimate Utility Knife
“It’s a very versatile knife—probably tied for the most used in my kitchen with my Bob Kramer chef’s knife. It’s the perfect sandwich knife (among other things): cuts tomatoes, slices baguettes and spreads mayo!” – Aaron Berg, First Shift Direct Supervisor, Distribution Center; Brownsburg, Indiana
[Editor’s note: This staff-favorite blade — four people wrote in to sing its praises! — is unfortunately no longer sold on its own, but you can find it as part of this Shun set.]
“My current favorite knife would have to be the Global 7” vegetable cleaver thanks to the curve of the blade. I primarily rock the blade while I cut with it, but it also works amazingly for fast-paced chopping. The balance of it, like all Global knives, is unmatched. While it can’t replace my 10” Global chef’s knife, I certainly use it just as much.
I like to say that I bought it by accident: I was demoing it for a customer one day when I noticed myself how much I loved it. The customer didn’t end up buying it, but I did.” – Evan Miller, Assistant Store Manager, Village at Topanga; Woodland Hills, California
“The curve of the blade is perfect for tasks such as deveining shrimp, trimming Brussels sprouts, or slicing shallots. I use it for pretty much everything. The polymer of the handle doesn’t get slippery when it is wet, perfect when working in water (deveining shrimp).” – Jason Hammock, Store Manager, Phipps Plaza; Atlanta, Georgia
So these are a few of our favorite non-chef’s-knife knives — what are yours? Let us know in the comments!