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The chef’s knife is the ultimate tool for professional and amateur chefs alike, but not all knives are created equal. We asked some of the best professional chefs in the world to recommend their favorite go-to chef knives to suit their different styles and approaches to cookery. Read on to find out their recommendations and where you can buy one yourself.
How we selected the best knives
While we could’ve scoured the Internet for top-rated knives, we made the smart play and asked brilliant chefs who’ve worked their way up through the world’s most demanding kitchens to reach the top of the restaurant game.
We’re talking Daniel Boulud. Michael Solomonov. Eric Ripert. Jose Garces. These culinary aficionados have the knowledge, skills, and background to help you justify spending a few hundred dollars on a hunk of (exceptionally sharp, hand-crafted) metal that’ll change your kitchen routine. Plus we’ve updated the list, researching additional knives used by the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay.
Here are the most outstanding blades you can buy, according to some of the finest chefs in the country.
Mac Professional 8 Inch Hollow Edge Chef Knife (used by Eric Ripert)
Very few chefs have mastered the art of transforming the ocean’s freshest catches into refined, elegant dishes like Eric Ripert. The chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin, a New York institution with three Michelin stars and four The New York Times stars since 1986, Ripert is an expert in delicate seafood and other rare ingredients.
“My ultimate go-to is a MAC chef knife,” says Ripert. “There is nothing like a Japanese knife. It’s a workhorse.” But, most important, Ripert is diligent when it comes to caring for his blades: “I take really good care of it, and get it sharpened on a stone very often to keep it in good condition.”
Reviewers on MAC’s website are calling the Japanese-made MAC MTH-80 “The One” for its balance of sharpness, comfort and durability.
One of the most highly regarded chefs in the world, Daniel Boulud is an undisputed master of all things culinary. Perhaps best known for Daniel, his eponymous, Michelin-starred restaurant, this French maestro also helms his own culinary empire around the world, including the recently opened Boulud Sud in Downtown Miami, and high-end marketplaces in New York City.
His go-to knife brand: The Michel Bras collection. “It’s the perfect combination of Japanese precision and sharpness, and French balance,” Boulud says. For the collection, acclaimed French chef Michael Bras “collaborated with Kai of Shun knives to make these out of stainless steel and PakkaWood in Japan”. According to Boulud, “it’s the finest collaboration of expertise between a chef and a steel master, with a beautiful design”. And though the price tag might be a bit shocking, Boulud offers this: “While they are very expensive, they will last a lifetime.”
Best American Knife
Bob Kramer 8″ Stainless Damascus Chef’s Knife by Zwilling J.A. Henckels used by Michael Solomonov
Chef Michael Solomonov, a three-time James Beard Award winner (and 2017’s “Outstanding Chef”) unequivocally put Israeli cuisine on the map in the United States. His Philadelphia-based restaurant Zahav has garnered critical acclaim and widespread popularity for transforming the authentic flavors of Israel’s cuisine into modern, soulful dishes.
His go-to knife also happens to be one of our personal favorites: “My Kramer knife is the jam,” he says. “Bob Kramer knives have super-sturdy blades, hold an edge well, and have the perfect balance when it comes to grip and weight.” Solomonov gives “bonus” points to these steel-cut beauties for being American-made and to legendary bladesmith Bob Kramer: “He’s a legit mensch of a guy, which is huge.”
A long-time favorite of both chefs and epicurean New Yorkers, the Blue Ribbon Brasserie is one of the city’s essential restaurants (take one bite of their decadent beef marrow and oxtail marmalade and you’ll understand why). Eric Bromberg, chef and co-owner of Blue Ribbon Restaurants, has been at the helm (along with his brother and co-owner, Bruce) of this much-beloved culinary assemblage since 1992.
“C Thomas Knives are my favorite,” he says. “Having a good, sharp, and well-maintained knife is essential to being a chef.” What makes these knives so special, though, is that “Cary Thomas is actually a former restaurant owner, so he understands what chefs are looking for in a knife.” On top of that, his knives “are handcrafted works of art from a knife-maker in the mountains of North Idaho, which makes them unique”.
Best for Butchery
9.4″ Masamoto VG-10 Chef’s Knife used by Jose Garces
For Jose Garces—a restaurateur, Iron Chef, and James Beard Award-winner—blending the rich traditions of Latin-American cuisine with modern techniques has always been at the core of his cooking. To do that extraordinarily well at one of his dozen restaurants, he relies on a knife that’s both versatile and durable.
“My favorite knife is the 9.4″ Masamoto VG-10 Chef’s Knife,” he says. “This is a production knife—the blade holds a sharp edge for a long time, and the length of the blade makes it possible to work through a lot of vegetables quickly.” It’s also extremely versatile, he adds, and can be used for anything from butchery (this type of blade is perfect for making chef Garces’ provoleta-stuffed pork chops) to more delicate tasks like filleting fish and finely mincing herbs.
Best All-Round Kitchen Workhorse
Wüsthof Classic 8″ Chef’s Knife used by Michael Lomonaco
A native New Yorker, Chef Michael Lomonaco has celebrated American cuisine through his classic dishes and innovative techniques for more than 30 years. With a dazzling resume—Le Cirque, 21 Club, Windows on the World (located in the original World Trade Center), and (since 2006) Porter House New York—Lomonaco has seen it all.
“My everyday favorite knife that I have used for decades is the Wüsthof Classic 8″ Chef’s Knife,” he says. “I have a collection of knives, many of which are used often, some less so, but this knife is the first one I select for most of my cooking-prep needs.”
“Raw vegetable prep was a daily part” of Lomonaco’s early career, so he was never without his 10″ chef’s knife. “But eventually as my scope of work changed and my cooking style evolved, the 8″ became my go-to knife of choice for its wide, high-quality blade.” And as for the Wüsthof brand, “it’s an excellent all-around kitchen workhorse,” he says.
You probably recognize Michael Voltaggio as the winner of the sixth season of Top Chef, a Bravo reality cooking competition. But it’s his success in actual kitchens, like at his flagship L.A. restaurant ink.well, at which Voltaggio has earned real culinary street cred.
But when it comes to the even sharper stuff, “Houston Edge Works are my favorite knives,” he says. “Stephen of Houston Edge Works custom-makes every single knife to the chef’s preference.” During the production process, “[Stephen] will tweak every millimeter to meet the needs of the design and functionality of its future owner,” Voltaggio explains. “He’s currently making me a sujiki.”
Any foodie with an Instagram has probably seen one of those absurdly indulgent milkshakes from Black Tap, a wildly popular collection of craft burger joints. But you might be surprised to find that Joe Isidori, the genius behind this delicious heart-attack of a restaurant concept, is a Michelin-starred chef with a serious background in fine dining.
And despite the whimsical nature of Isidori’s dishes at Black Tap, he’s no-nonsense when it comes to knives. “Masahiro Carbon Steel knives are the way to go,” he says. “Always go with the Japanese brand, never go German.” Why? “The high-quality metal makes for a perfect edge,” he explains of his hands-down favorite blades. “I sharpen my knives every day, and because it’s a Masahiro, it’s a pure pleasure more so than a chore.”
That’s why he sticks with Misono, an established knife producer of Western-style Japanese knives. “I love my 8” Misono UX10,” he says. “It’s the knife brand that I recommend to all of my friends,” because “it’s not terribly expensive, seems to last forever, looks sharp, and holds an edge for a good long time.” Most important, “it’s durable as hell.”
Best Looking Display Piece
Takeda Aogami Super Gyutou 8.3″ by Chubo used by Alex McCrery
If you’re going to design and sell über-stylish and functional (duh) chef wear (chef’s coats, aprons, etc.), you better know your knives, too. Luckily Alex McCrery, co-founder of Tilit (essentially a fashion brand for the hospitality industry), also happens to have worked as a professional chef. (He once worked, in fact, as Jerry Seinfeld’s personal chef.)
McCrery’s preference in knives mirrors his ethos at Tilit, which is why his go-to is the Takeda from Chubo. “The hammered steel finish is pretty enough to be a display piece on my cutting board,” he explains, “while the ridiculously sharp edge is functional enough to use every day when chopping vegetables or slicing protein.” McCrery procures the “super steel” handmade knife, which comes from a master blacksmith in Japan, through his friends at Chubo knives based in New York City.
Anyone with a proclivity for cooking has to know who Gordon Ramsay is. One of the foremost chefs in the world, this is a man that doesn’t mince words. And when it comes to what gear you should have in your kitchen, you should listen.
For him, the chef knife that anyone should have in their home is the J.A. Henckels 7″ Chef’s Knife. Used primarily for chopping (veggies being the primary target), this knife is made with the strength and sharpness you need to make any meal without any problem.
We couldn’t finish this roundup without including Anthony Bourdain. The chef and documentary maker has said the best knife for beginners and professionals is this Global G-2 8″ Chef’s Knife. Global knives are made using a patented steel mixture made to be hard enough so that the knives retain their sharpness, yet soft enough to sharpen with a whetstone. They are also designed to be rust and stain proof.
You can get the Global G-2 engraved when buying on Amazon making it the perfect gift.