My knife is the most essential tool in my kitchen arsenal. All the beautiful, expensive pots and pans in the world cannot make up for a bad knife.
I have several knives that I like, but my workhorse is an eight-inch Wusthof Classic. I do almost all my chopping, slicing and dicing with it. I have other knives for specialized uses, like a serrated knife for bread, a paring knife, and a long carving knife for skinning fish and carving meats. I’m not as particular about those knives, simply because I don’t use them as often as I do my chef’s knife. I have several brands of specialty knives. F. Dick, Sabatier, and Henckels are good ones to try.
My advice when choosing your knife is that it must feel comfortable and balanced in your hand. When you buy one, make sure you are allowed to handle it first. A knife that doesn’t fit you will give you blisters. You will want a high-carbon steel knife with a full forged tang—that’s the metal part that should extend all the way to the end of the handle—and the handle should be riveted to the steel. Do not buy a serrated-edged chef’s knife.
A good knife will be expensive, but if well cared for, it will last you a lifetime. Get a honing steel to go with your knife. It aligns the metal in one direction and keeps it sharper longer. If your knife cannot slice through the skin of a tomato with surgical precision, it is time to hone, or actually sharpen your knife.
Never put your knife in the sink or dishwasher. Clean it carefully by hand, with a clean, damp cloth. Store it in a knife block, a case, or on a magnetic knife strip. Treat it with respect.