How are you and your kitchen doing? This weekend, I gave mine a little break and ordered a good amount of takeout. When I did cook, it was always low lift—I made use of the peanut sauce from this past week’s video and made myself a little chilled noodle salad and whipped up some overnight oats. It was a lovely little break but I’m ready to get back into it.
Okay, onto the nitty gritty; I want to do something a little different with today's Fresh Letter. I’ve made kitchen tool and product recommendations in the past, but I think it’d be fun to do so with a bit more intention and regularity. Moving forward, I’ll be using the last Monday of each month for a little segment I’m calling Fresh Favorites (you know I cannot resist a little alliteration). I’ll use the space to let you know what I’m using and absolutely loving.
That said, I know there are a million places to find “Best ____ of 2022” listicles online— that’s not what this is. This is more like meeting up at the coziest coffee shop in your neighborhood with a friend you haven’t seen in a couple weeks. She spends a few minutes catching you up on work, love life, etc. but within minutes, she’s emphatically and enthusiastically letting you know that you absolutely have to check out this hidden gem of a neighborhood bistro. She wants you to get the burger and make sure to order some aioli on the side for the fries. Or maybe she’s excited to share that she’s found a drugstore dupe for your favorite designer lipstick shade and you must try it. Here, actually, try it now, it’s conveniently stashed away in her bag. What fun!
You may not have asked for her recommendation, but she’s gonna give it to ya regardless. And she’s usually right. Her recommendations are incredible specific and always tried and true. She’s discerning and when she likes something, she really likes it. I’m sure you understand by now that the “she” you’re having coffee with is me. So settle in, maybe grab yourself that piping hot cup of joe, and let’s get right into today’s unsolicited, highly specific, tried and true recommendation!
This week, let’s talk about my favorite, favorite chef’s knife.
Actually, I’ll share two. My ride or die knife has a higher price point (which is more than worth it for me because I use it every single day) but I’ll also share the knife I used in culinary school, which is well-balanced, holds up really well to daily use, and most importantly, has a very accessible price point.
Pssst, before we dive in, might I point out that we’re entering “Moms, Dads and Grads” season, and that a really excellent chef’s knife makes a fabulous gift for any loved one who enjoys spending time in the kitchen. My siblings and I actually gifted my mother a knife two years ago! Okay, let’s do it…
First, for my everyday, tried and true, life-wouldn’t-be-the-same-without-it chef’s knife: the Shun Fuji 7” Asian Chef’s Knife
Why I love it: for so many reasons! But chief among them is its size. Most high-end (actually, any end!) chef’s knives on the market are between 8 and 10 inches. If you’re looking for a nimbler option, you’ll often find those knives landing in the 5 to 6 inch range. For me, 7 inches is absolutely perfect. It’s large enough that it feels up to heavy hitting tasks—splitting a watermelon comes to mind—but light and short enough that it still feels extremely maneuverable and ready to tackle more precision-based cuts, like small dicing a good ol’ onion. I find this knife so natural and easy to use that it honestly feels like it was made for me.
More accolades: This knife holds its edge well, and when it is time for a little tune up, it sharpens like a dream (would you like to hear more about knife upkeep? I can definitely share that in a future Fresh Letter—drop a comment or respond to this email to let me know). Thanks to its extremely sharp edge, every single person who’s used it other than me (this is an admittedly narrow sample size—I’m protective!) has reacted in surprise and often envy at the ease with which it cuts. Not for nothing, I also think this knife is absolutely beautiful—I store it on a magnetic strip on my kitchen wall and am always pleased to catch a glimpse of it.
The tea? I wouldn’t share a recommendation without being real with you! First and foremost, obviously, coming in at just around $450, this knife is expensive. Again, for, me, this was worth it and I’ve never regretted the investment. I’ve had it for going on 4 years now and it’s still an absolute joy to work with. The other little tidbit I’ll share is that while it’s incredibly durable and great for everyday use, it’s made to be sharpened regularly, meaning it’ll require that regular sharpening to retain its awe-inspiring cutting abilities! You can have your knives sharpened at many kitchen supplies stores, including at Williams Sonoma for just around $5 a blade.
Okay, let’s talk about the more affordable option, the Mercer Culinary Genesis 8-inch Chef’s Knife
On the first day of culinary school, every member of my class received a knife kit. This knife was inside. I used it in school, at home, and during my culinary school externship for over a year. I found it sharp, serviceable, and extremely durable. If you’re using the same knife you were 20 years ago and are looking for an affordable upgrade, this is an excellent option.
The main downside for me here is comfort. This knife is maneuverable, but doesn’t feel like an extension of my own arm the way the Shun does. Its aesthetics are also pretty run of the mill, IMO. Other than that, great knife!
Finally, I’ll leave you with a little tip (of course I will!)
I bought myself the Shun knife as a culinary school graduation gift. The week school ended, I marched myself down to the nearest Williams Sonoma, had a kind staff member unlock the knife case for me, and made a point to physically hold every single blade they had available in the store. I had a *love at first grip* moment with this knife and knew it was *the one* the moment it landed in the palm of my hand. And while I think you definitely can blindly trust me on this recommendation, I also think it’s a great idea to do as I did and take yourself on a little date to your nearest kitchen supplies store to test drive the knives. You’ll get a great idea of what feels comfy for you, which is the most important factor!
We’ve about covered bit, but before I go, I have a topical plug for ya! If you’d like to sharpen your own knife skills, Abigail and I are teaching a Knife Skills Class in just a few weeks. We’re walking you through all the most important cuts, proper technique, and will talk a bit about knife upkeep and care. While we’re cutting up a storm, we’ll also make dinner. My Shun will definitely be in attendance, and we’d love for you to be too. Join us!
Okay, that’s it from me this week!
With love and a tip of my chef’s hat,
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