A guide to
Knife Sets are a great way to start your collection and save money over buying individual knives. Good knives will last you a lifetime, so
if your budget is tight, it’s better to buy as few as you can get away with for now and build a collection as more money/birthdays become available than spread your money thinly over lots of knives that won’t make cooking as much of a pleasure and you’ll end up replacing. In our London cook schools, we often run entire classes using nothing but a chef’s knife, maybe a paring knife.
A well-designed knife that stays sharp is up there are the top of things worth investing in when it comes to the kitchen. This is what you’re largely paying for – good quality knives will have better quality steel that will stay sharper and be easier to maintain. The best knives will also be built to last, have perfect balance to give you the best control of the knife and be comfortable to hold. Go for the best you can afford, as a good knife set will not only be built to last a lifetime, but will consistently perform so well, you’ll never want to replace it. These form the core of your cooking experiences, and make all the difference to how easy and enjoyable these experiences are – definitely something worth investing in.
In most knife sets, you can expect a chef’s knife (for the majority of jobs) or a Santoku (an Asian chef’s knife). This will often be accompanied by a paring knife for intricate tasks and/or a utility knife to use as a general-purpose knife when you want something smaller than a chef’s knife. More comprehensive sets may include a carving knife for Sunday roasts, a bread knife to prevent wrecking your beautiful sourdough when slicing, a filleting knife, kitchen shears for trimming ingredients and opening packets, perhaps steak knives, and maybe one or two more, depending on the set.
One other thing worth considering at this stage is to ensure you have a good chopping board. A good chopping board will have just enough ‘give’ (forget glass) to allow your knife to sink in slightly and not put pressure on the fine edge of the blade.
Knife Set FAQs
What knife sets do chefs use?
Some of our staff are chefs and we have a fair amount of chefs as customers, so we have a fair amount of experience with this question! Whilst there is of course no single knife set all chefs use, there are a few things chefs tend to prioritise when going for a knife set. Firstly, the knife has to be built to stand the test of time in the rough and tumble of a professional kitchen (as well as often being transported back and forth). A full-tang knife is handy here (where the blade extends to the base of the handle) for added strength, as well as providing greater balance. The vast majority of our mid-to high price point range fit this requirement.
Chef's will also want a knife that stays sharp under repeated use. This is a key thing you're paying for with the higher-end knives - the quality of the steel means you'll be using it for longer without having to sharpen it.
Lastly, a chef will want the knife to feel comfortable in the hand for those long shifts! Whilst the better knives are ergonomically sculpted to fit the hand well, there is an element of personal taste to this, so if you can, get into one of our stores and have a feel of the knives for yourself.
Which knife sets are the best?
There is an element of personal taste to this - there are a lot of knives out there. We can say Wusthof are widely regarded as making the best European knives in the world, and the Wusthof Classic Ikon Knife Sets are firm favourites amongst our cooks and chefs for their blend of exceptional steel that stays sharp and comfort. There's also the Wusthof Ikon Knife Set range - same but with wood handles.
What is a good starter set of kitchen knives?
Whilst of course there is no one knife set that will suit everyone, there are two things to determine when choosing the best starter set of kitchen knives for you: what you want your set to include, and what level of quality you want to invest in.
If your budget is tight, it's worth considering keeping the amount of knives you buy low and investing in something that will last a lifetime of happy cooking and build your collection than spread your money thinly over something of lower quality. A chef's knife will do most jobs in the kitchen, and you may want a smaller paring or utility knife for more intricate tasks. Many people can get by with these, perhaps a bread knife. Sooner or later, you may find yourself yearning for a carving knife or something for more specialist applications of course.
When our cooks and chefs look at the products that shape our range, we select on the basis of real world value for money. In the case of kitchen knife sets, this means when you invest in the best you can afford, you're getting something that will last (a lifetime in the very best cases), stay sharp because of superior quality steel, and feel comfortable enough in the hand to keep you cooking happily!
Tried & Tested
Our cooks & chefs have been testing our range in our test kitchen for over a decade
Our teams of experts based in our London stores are more than happy to help
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