For many chefs and cooks, a knife is like a dance partner. A good knife should feel graceful and comfortable in your hand, and it will make various tasks such as slicing, dicing, mincing, and chopping a lot more precise and easier. However, a beginner may be confused with the differences between cooks knife vs chef’s knife.
Are these two knives actually the same? Continue reading below to find out more about:
– What are cooks knives and chef’s knives,
– Their variants and available sizes, and
– How to choose the right cooks knife or chef’s knife.
About the Cooks Knife
A cooks knife is actually the same as a chef’s knife, especially in the Western world. It is a cutting tool designed for food preparation. Although it was originally made for slicing and disjointing large cuts of beef, it is now used as a general utility knife for a wide range of purposes especially in the hands of Western cooks. See also: Boning Knife vs Fillet Knife.
Another word to refer to a cooks knife or chef’s knife is “gyuto”. This is actually a Japanese word that literally means “beef knife”. A gyuto is essentially a Japanese version of the Western cooks knife without any significant difference.
Today’s modern cooks knives are designed to be multi-purpose knives that can perform well in many kitchen tasks, instead of excelling in a specific task. You can use it for slicing, chopping, and mincing meats as well as vegetables. This is why it has become the most popular style in many homes; it is simple, straightforward, and versatile. You can save some money by having a cooks knife for all cooking needs instead of purchasing a set of different knives.
About the Chef’s Knife
As explained above, a cooks knife is the same as a chef’s knife. However, depending on the context, a chef’s knife may refer to slightly different variants. This is because different countries may have their own styles of chef’s knives. But, then again, their functionalities remain the same.
There are two common types of chef’s knives in the Western culinary world, French and German. A French-style chef’s knife typically has a straight edge that goes until near the end and then curves upwards to the tip. On the other hand, a German-style chef’s knife usually has a deep and continuous curve that goes along the entire cutting edge. Neither of the two is inherently superior to the other; it is a matter of personal preference.
However, other chef’s knife variants of the Eastern world are quite more different. Because of this, these Eastern variants are often called by their respective names and are considered different from typical Western chef’s knives.
We have mentioned above that “gyuto” is a Japanese chef’s knife that is similar to the Western style. However, there is also “santoku”, which is another Japanese chef’s knife that is smaller, lighter, and sharper with a distinctive blade shape. Meanwhile, according to Wikipedia, the Chinese chef’s knife is entirely different with a shape that resembles a cleaver.
Chef’s knives are available in several edge styles. In general, there are chef’s knives with double grind, single grind, hollow ground, and convex edges. Single grind knives are generally easier to sharpen.
However, you may want to consider choosing a hollow ground because it reduces the tendency of the food to stick. This is very convenient. It makes cutting certain foods a lot easier. Don’t worry about the hollowed design because it actually remains easy to sharpen.
Some people make differential sharpening on the cutting length of the blade. The fine tip is ground with a very sharp cutting bevel for precision work, the midsection is moderately sharp for general cutting and chopping, and the heavy heel is given a strong and thick edge for heavy-duty tasks such as disjointing beef. This enhances the versatility of the knife.
The blade of a chef’s knife may be made of stainless steel, carbon steel, laminated metals, or ceramic. There are advantages and disadvantages on each blade material.
A low-quality stainless steel blade is inexpensive and quite resistant to corrosion, but it is not very sharp. Higher-grade stainless steel blades are more expensive, but they are very sharp and have excellent edge retention that may even outperform carbon steel blades.
A carbon steel blade is preferred because of the excellent sharpness, strength, and edge retention. However, it is more prone to stains and rust. It requires intensive maintenance by proper cleaning and lubrication every after use.
Laminated blades use multiple layers of different steels. Usually, a tough steel is used as the backing material while a sharper steel is used on the edge. This allows for good strength and sharpness, but does not necessarily ensure edge retention and resistance to corrosion.
Finally, ceramic blades have the best edge retention. They can stay sharp for very long, and they are obviously invulnerable to rust or stains. They won’t discolor or alter the taste of the food. However, ceramic blades are easily chipped and may even break when dropped. They require special tools to be sharpened.
How to Choose the Right Size
When choosing for a new chef’s knife, consider the size that is the most comfortable for you to use. Note that different products may have different weights and balance points. Different people may have different preferences, some prefer a heavy blade whereas some other prefer a lightweight knife.
A typical chef’s knife is 8 inches long. This is the most popular size because it is versatile and balanced. It is suitable for a wide range of purposes without being too large or heavy. You can still use it for smaller precision works, too.
If you need something that can cut more volume at once, there are 10-inch chef’s knives available. The large blade will allow you to cut large items easily, but it is not suitable for precision works and may feel intimidating.
Finally, there are also 6-inch chef’s knives available. The small size brings enhanced agility. You can slice or chop quickly and navigate the knife without difficulties, but it may be impractical for cutting large items such as thick meat or a watermelon.
Cooks Knife vs Chef’s Knife
|Cooks Knife||Chef's Knife|
|- The same thing as the Western chef’s knife||- Different places may have different styles|
|- Usually refers to either the French-style blade or German-style blade||- Has French-style blade which is straight and German-style blade which is curved|
|- Also called as the “gyuto” in Japan||- Other variants include the Japanese santoku and the Chinese cleaver-like chef’s knife|
Cooks knife vs chef’s knife are actually similar. They are often used by Western cooks for a wide range of tasks. However, some places may have different chef’s knife styles, such as the Japanese and Chinese styles. A chef’s knife is recommended for a general utility cutting tool in the kitchen.