The Four Cornerstone Knives of Every Kitchen

You see the perfect knives in every big American thriller movie as a weapon used by psychotic antagonists or a self-defense tool for protagonists. But for us who work in the kitchen, knives are essential tools of the trade for cutting, filleting, boning, and peeling.

So it’s great that you’ve finally decided on investing on a new set of cutlery to further your culinary passions. I’m sure you’re good with your mad cutlery skills, but with the assortment of cutlery out there in the market today, it’s easy to pay over the odds for cutlery that you may not even use anyway. With so many choices out there, it’s easy to buy more than you need.

Well, this is where we come in: we’ve condensed all those cutlery sets by taking only the knives that you cannot do without. Here are the four absolute cornerstones of each kitchen, as well as how to use them.

1. The King of the Kitchen: the Chef’s Knife

You’re only as good as your chef’s knife is. Whether you like working with it or you don’t, you better learn to love it, because it’s the best knife you’ll ever have. Why? Because it does everything from chopping meat, veg, carving ham, preparing turkey, and grind herbs with. You’ll find that using this knife almost feels like second nature due to how often you use it, so you need to make the right choice that’s perfect for your style and your hand’s idiosyncrasies.

It’s true that this will probably be the only knife you’ll need in the culinary world, as many chefs all over the world will attest to; however, we propose the addition of three more staples, because not everyone wants or needs to be minimalist when it comes to using a badass set of knives. There is a task that only the ancient masters of chef’s knives will be able to manage, which brings us to the next choice.

2. High-Precision Peeling: the Paring Knife

Thus, we come to the paring knife. Paring knives come in where chef’s knives can’t, such as in the fine art of peeling fruit and garnishing. You’ll be surprised at how many paring knives are out there in the market; there is just as much variety in paring knives as there are with chef’s knives or cleavers. You can go to Cut it Fine just to see how much you can be serious in choosing a paring knife.

3. Slicing through Bread like Hot Butter: the Serrated Knife

It may seem like an expensive white albatross due to the relative lack of action it will get, but there’s nothing that cuts through pastry and bread without crushing it, and that’s the serrated knife. Be it hardtack or the softest, fluffiest milk bread, nothing works with bread like serrated knives. Although you can make a case for these three being the barest minimums, we’ll throw one more in for good measure, just because of its sheer awesomeness.

4. Sharp Points, Narrow Blades: the Boning Knife

Working with meats like ham? Crown roast? Turkey? Working with fish? Poultry? Game meats? Then nothing will get those choice cuts of meat better than a boning knife will. A stiff boning knife is a safe choice that’s ideal for working with meat, while the flexible ones are for those who are more experienced in the fine arts of filleting fish and seafood. You’re guaranteed to get every last morsel of delectable flesh from game like deer and pheasant using this one, and should be reason enough to add it to your arsenal.