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I know I’m not the first person at Kitchn to stress the importance of a high-quality, sharp chef’s knife, but a recent incident with a dull knife and a mangled onion in my mother’s kitchen made me want to shout it from a mountain top. So I offered to buy her the trusty knife I had, but I knew what she was going to say. Her little old knife was comfortable in her hand, and the fancy professional ones I had were expensive and intimidating. But the eight-inch J.A.Henckels Classic Chef’s Knife I use on a regular basis is different. It’s designed to be easy enough to use for a newbie home chef but still sharp and nimble for those that are more advanced. It can handle any kitchen task and provide years of quality cutting, no matter how comfortable (or uncomfortable) you are holding a knife. As a pastry chef and avid cook, I have used a ton of knives over the years, and this one is a cut above the rest. Now to get my mom to believe me.

I started out with using a cheap no-name set in my first apartment and slowly graduated to much fancier brands when I started pastry school. I quickly learned that having a precise, properly honed blade is essential for all cutting tasks, from hacking open a butternut squash to those finely sliced strawberries on top of a tart. When I invested in a new knife, I opted for German-designed J.A. Henckels because they are well regarded by experts and even Kitchn editors for having those same professional qualities with a relatively affordable price tag.

The chef’s knife has a fully forged, stainless steel blade that stays sharp, makes precise cuts, and has lasted me for years with very little care. I can chop chocolate and mince onions, and I recently learned how to break down a whole chicken — all with the same knife. Well, I wash it in between, of course. And despite my initial hesitation to put it in the dishwasher, I discovered it’s perfectly safe to do so (I lay it flat in the top rack).

I knew an eight-inch knife would be great for my mom because I inherited her relatively small hands and prefer that size. I find it slightly lighter compared to a 10-inch blade but still sturdy, and the shorter blade makes it easier to finish the gliding motion required for a proper cut. It’s well balanced with an ergonomic handle, so it rests comfortably — no death grip required! And while I can certainly manage fine with a large blade after years of practice, I always find myself going back to my eight-inch knife because it’s just naturally more comfortable in my hand. 

Just in case you (or my mom) don’t believe me, I will remind everyone that this knife made our Best List for many of the same reasons. And if my mention of that mangled onion was a little too relatable, that’s probably a sign that it’s time for you to get a proper knife. And regardless of what skill level or size hands you may have inherited, it’s an excellent knife for any kitchen. Even my mom’s.





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