A Chef's knife, or cook's knife, is a cutting tool used in food preparation. The chef's knife was originally designed primarily to slice and disjoint large cuts of meat. A modern chef's knife is a multi-purpose knife designed to perform well at many differing kitchen tasks, rather than excelling at any one in particular. It’s the kitchen workhorse used for mincing, chopping vegetables, slicing, and dicing a variety of foods.
Most Popular Styles and Types of Chef’s Knife
Modern kitchen knives come in different materials (apart from steel) such as ceramic, titanium and plastic, among others. There is a wide variety of Chef knife styles around the world. Most people are familiar with French and German chef’s knives. German knives are deep and continuously curved along the whole cutting edge. French knives have a straighter edge that curves up to the tip.
The less-common Japanese Gyuto and Santoku are Japanese style chef's knives. The Santoku is smaller, lighter and sharper with a different blade shape. Chinese chef's knives are usually cleaver-shaped.
History and Evolution of Chef’s Knife
The knife is one of mankind’s oldest and the most basic tools. Early man used sharpened stones like flint and obsidian or the finely honed edge of a sea shell. The discovery of Iron and Metallurgy (The Iron Age) marked the end of primitive knives and metals replaced stone as a material of choice in making single- or double-bladed knives. Steel replaced Iron in the middle ages but it wasn’t until the 17th century that knives as a utensil for cutting food came into wide practice. Most likely invented by an unknown craftsman who wanted to diversify his wares and boost his sales.
Over the centuries, the forces of evolution kept mutating and improving chef’s knives with the Germans and the Japanese at the forefront with a strong French influence on both.
Chef’s knives have became standardized in the 20th century due to the advancements in materials. Further developments on metallurgy and other related fields had led to the improvement of knife blades, which come in a variety of forms, profiles and specific usage.