TASTE
11/04/2011 10:48 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Choose A Knife

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Watch this video to learn which essential knives you need in your kitchen, to cut everything from tough meats to tender vegetables and bread.

Video Transcript


I'm Chef Eve Felder from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: Knives 101.

In a home kitchen, you basically need two knives. If push comes to shove, you really only need one, and this is the chef's knife. The chef's knife is used for things like onions, celery, carrots - it is an all-purpose knife. It will do everything that you need it to do.

The second knife is a paring knife. It's not a must-have, but definitely great to have. The paring knife is used for smaller items like garlic, shallots, that sort of thing.

if you want to expand outside of the basic knives, you will want to consider a slicing knife. This is a great knife to have, perfect for slicing chicken breasts, turkey, smoked salmon - it's a good all-purpose knife.

The next knife that is a little bit more essential is a serrated knife, used for slicing loaves of bread. It's also good for tough skin, for things like tomatoes.

And finally, one of my favorite little knives: this is a turning knife - and do you need one in the kitchen? Absolutely not. However if you have a small hand, like I do, I use this in place of a paring knife. It just fits in my hand beautifully, particularly if I'm peeling potatoes or taking the skin off of blanched tomatoes; it just fits. See how perfect it is?

When you hold a knife, you want it to be stable. So you want to choke up on it. If you are left-handed or right-handed, it doesn't matter. You want the thumb on one side of the blade and your pointer finger on the other side, and then have your remaining fingers rotated around the handle. That's true also with a paring knife: choke up on it. It's much easier to work with if it's choked. If you have your finger out here over the top of the blade, it's not balanced.

And of course: the sharper the knife is, the safer the knife is.