The must have kitchen knives will get you through your average day in the kitchen. For most cooks the Chef's Knife or Cook's Knife is an extension of their preferred arm. Wusthof Dreizack kitchen knives are a good option and may even outlive the cook.
Chef’s Knife Ideal for slicing, chopping, dicing and mincing. The blade is very broad, varying in length from 20 to 25 cms; the 22.5 cm size being the most common. The tip of the blade is thin and flexible enough to manoeuvre around bones; the sturdy back of the blade can chop through a chicken back. The flat of the blade is useful for crushing garlic or pounding cutlets. This knife is an extension of my right hand.
Paring Knife The blade of this knife is shorter, up to 10 cms long, and comes in a variety of shapes and curves. It is used to peel and prepare vegetables, fruit and other foodstuffs that can be held in the hand. It is not suitable for tough tasks.
Slicing Knife This knife typically has a very narrow, thin and very sharp blade (20 to 25 cms in length) and is used to cut very thin slices, especially meats. The more flexible it is, the easier it will be to get a thin slice. Some have a curving tip to help with tricky jobs such as between wing and breast of chicken.
Utility Knife This is an all-purpose knife with a narrow blade about 15 cms long. Some cooks prefer this to the chef's knife, finding it easier to use. It's small enough to peel fruit, but handy for cutting cheese or mincing a clove of garlic.
Bread Knife Its serrations are the best way to slice bread because it cuts through the crust without crushing the inside. It slices tomatoes and other smooth surfaced foods easily too. A sawing-type action works well in breaking through the hard outer surface without damaging the inside. Lengths vary, normally about 25 cms. These knives are difficult to re-sharpen.
Cook's Knife This is a useful second knife, sized between a chef's knife and a utility knife, approximately 20 cms. Many find it more comfortable to use because of its size.
Cleaver The very broad, thick blade of this knife and its heavy weight make easy work of cutting bone, splitting ribs and getting through gristle. Its thick edge will not chip easily. And the heavier in weight, the easier it is to use.
Boning knife Only really necessary if you often butcher large cuts of meat or whole poultry, or fillet fish. For smaller items, like a chicken breast, use your utility knife or the tip of your chef's knife.
Carving knife Is the best tool for that Sunday roast but sharpness is essential for clean cuts. The blade should be long and a little pliable.
Fillet Knife This has a thin blade and is 16 to 23 cms in length and should be quite flexible. It is ideal for filleting fish or chicken.
Mezzaluna This half moon-shape knife has a rounded blade (or blades) with handles at each end that are perpendicular to the cutting surface. It is used to mince foods on a cutting board or in a wooden bowl and is perfect for finely chopping fresh herbs and nuts.
Oyster Knife This has a very short, broad blade, usually 2.5 to 7.5 cms in length. It has a protective hand shield, and is short with a sharp tip, used to prise open the oyster.
Grapefruit Knife This has serrations on both sides and a curved tip, which follows the contour of a grapefruit making it easier to dislodge the individual segments from the pith and skin
Cheese Knife This has an upturned tip for stabbing at the cheese once it has been cut. Certain types have perforations in the blade to prevent sticking.
Scissors Theoretically not a knife but does the job of a knife. They should be made of stainless steel, to prevent corrosion, and the blades should come apart, to facilitate cleaning. They are handy for mincing and, if equipped with a notch and a serrated blade, for cutting small bones and the skin of poultry or fish.
Knife Sharpener - The classic sharpening steel is still the best.