My Favorite Knife

My Favorite Knife

I have a knife block on my counter armed with a sharp, ever-ready arsenal of knives for almost all kitchen purposes. There’s a nice, long bread knife, several fancy Japanese knives, a terrific 3-inch paring knife I bought in 1983 at Columbus Cutlery in San Francisco that I lost my first week at Chez Panisse and found it ten years later sitting in a silverware bin, a jumbo Martin Yan Chinese cleaver, and a flexible boning knife, which we used to simply call a ‘boner’ in the restaurant.

(Which we did simply because in our juvenile fashion, we got a kick out of asking our fellow cooks, “Can I use your boner?“)

But the one knife I reach for 97% of the time in my 4½-inch Wüsthof serrated knife. I bought mine at a cookware shop in Ohio that I was teaching at. And when I saw them at Zabar’s in New York last week for only $7.99, I started thinking what a fabulous little knife this baby is and how dependent I am on mine.

Beets

Dirt cheap, I’ve had my handy little knife for about six years and it’s still as sharp as the day I bought it. (Actually, it seems to get sharper and sharper. Either that, or my other knives are getting duller and duller.) I use mine for everything: slicing crusty baguettes, tomatoes, perfectly-diced beets, cutting up fruit, and a gazillion other things. It does every job with the greatest of ease and its small size also makes it fabulous for space-challenged cooks.


Update: After decades of great service, mine finally bit the dust as it was no match for a large block of well-aged slab of cheese. This particular knife has been discontinued but happily, Wusthof has replaced the knife with the Silverpoint “Brunch” knife.


Related Links and Posts

How to Take Care of Your Knives

Inside the KitchenAid Factory

Mini-Tongs

Scissors

Buying an Ice Cream Maker

Kitchen Cutlery (Amazon)

20 comments

  • the last two times we’ve been in Paris, we’ve made a point of popping into Dehellerin’s to pick out a knife for us and one for a gift for our chef daughter. We manage fairly well in French, but had to use some English to ask what the French equivalent was for a boning knife. One of the fellows there doubles as comedian as he hustles through the crazily crowded shelves, and he answered our question with a “mais oui, un knife de boning”! and then started giggling madly, setting us off as well.
    We also got a serrated knife there, a longer blade than the one you describe — I’m really surprised how much we use it, probably more than any other knife in the block.

  • And I thought I was weird for using and loving this knife so much. I can’t imagine tomato season without it, but, like you, I use it for a multitude of other things.

  • materfmilias: Ever since the guys at Dehillerin went on commission, going in there is kinda intense. Talk about pressure tactics! A good tip is to get there early when most of the salesmen haven’t shown up for work yet—it’s far calmer.

    But after lunch is dicey as well: Last time I went in there, the guy who helped me reeked of booze and could barely stand up!

    Needless to say, I didn’t ask him for any help with the knives…

    Casey: These are the best knives for tomatoes ever, aren’t they? Such a deal!

    My other love (and another deal) are these little Quikut paring knives, are super-chep, which you can find in supermarkets and online. I brought a handful to Paris with me.

  • Funny how those Wusthof knives show up everywhere. I found a few sets with that same knife in my local Marshalls store when we were living in NJ a few years back. Yes, it is a great knife. It even slices your fingers when you least expect it–proving just how very sharp it stays when it gets thrown around with other knives in drawers and packing boxes.

  • My favourite knife right now is one of my MAC knives, I swear it looks like a miniature sword … when I first saw it I said to the salesguy “What the heck do you use that for”, he came back with a quick, “Pretty much whatever you want”.

    Just got back from my trip to Paris last week and I have to say I was sad to leave. It began on a great note when the hotel put a little box of Laduree macaroons on my pillow, and turned into an all out eating frenzy. I miss the street markets already, oh and A l’Etoile d’Or, and the Hermes store off the Champs Elysee … actually this list could pretty much go on forever. :/

  • I had to laugh when I saw this post — a little more than a year ago, I picked up this exact same knife for about $6 at one of those gigantic summer Broadway Panhandler sales here in NYC. Since then, it’s been my one truly indispensable kitchen companion — sadly, I love it far more than the big-ticket Santoku that we received as a wedding gift a few months ago.

  • Julie:
    It’s funny, we all have all this fancy equipment, but it’s some cheap knife that we fall in love with.

    I have a dinged up, scratched and dented roasting pan that I refuse to throw away, even though my huge, gorgeous All-Clad roaster is one heckuva magnificent specimen.

  • David, that is my favorite cookware shop! I love it, it’s so much cheaper than Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table…and fulllllll….Let me know when you come back to my neck of the woods!

  • I work almost exclusively with a cleaver, but could use a better small knife. Thanks for the tip!

    A boner, eh?

  • Nice knife, nice cooking.

  • I also have a cheap serrated knife that I reach for routinely, despite the Sabatier knives in the knifeblock., And for tomatoes and cheese you just gotta have a serrated knife…

  • I tried finding your favorite knife (4.5″ Wustoff serrated) online at Zabar’s and they don’t show it. Then I looked at your other link, Amazon.com, and it shows as currently (and indefinitely) unavailable. Can you recommend where else I can look? Williams-Sonoma does not carry it. I live in Northern California.

  • Hi Maria: You might want to try your local Sur La Table or give Zabar’s a call. Follow the link in the post for ‘cooking school’, which leads to where I got mine when I was in the states; but they do mail order too.

    It’s official name is the Wusthof Silverpoint 4100, which you can Google as well. Good luck!

  • This is a great recommendation! Any others for good knives?

  • Hi Max:

    One of my favorite Bread knives is made by Victornox (who makes Swiss Army Knives). This one is a great deal and I’ve had one for over 20 years that’s still razor-sharp.

    They also make one with a Fibrox handle which costs a bit less but I’ve never used it, so I’m sticking with what I know.

    As for other knifes, I think a 3″ or 6″ paring knife and 8-12″ Chef’s knife should take care of most other needs. I’d buy a heavy-duty one of each category since they take more wear-and-tear than the serrated knives. Whichever in each range feels best and most comfortable in your hands.

    Most people don’t need a zillion knives; just a few very good ones should do it for most uses.

    Here’s a few I recommend:

    6-inch

    3-inch

    Chef’s Knife

    (And you can find more of my recommendations here.)

  • At last! Somebody who agrees with me about knives.

    I bought MY favorite knife (unbranded) which is exactly like the one in your photo, although red, at Sur La Table in a bin with many others. I bought 3 of them, gave one to my son and daughter-out-law and kept the other in reserve. I lost the reserve on a camping trip. It is now their favorite knife. This one was under $5. It’s perfect for almost everything. My other Wustoff knives, those that cost hundreds, sit in the drawer making cutting remarks (get it?) about the little red knife.

    Hmmm, maybe I could compose a hit song ala Jan and Dean: My Little Deuce Knife…She’s my little deuce knife, you don’t know what I got.

  • At last! Somebody who agrees with me about knives.

    I bought MY favorite knife (unbranded) which is exactly like the one in your photo, although red, at Sur La Table in a bin with many others. I bought 3 of them, gave one to my son and daughter-out-law and kept the other in reserve. I lost the reserve on a camping trip. It is now their favorite knife. This one was under $5. It’s perfect for almost everything. My other Wustoff knives, those that cost hundreds, sit in the drawer making cutting remarks (get it?) about the little red knife.

    Hmmm, maybe I could compose a hit song ala Jan and Dean: My Little Deuce Knife…She’s my little deuce knife, you don’t know what I got.

  • I agree completly with you abut this knife. My son(who loves to cook) and daughter-in-law gave me this knife for my birthday 4 years ago and I couldn’t live without it. Perfect for tomatoes as well as key limes. Margaritas wouldn’t be same without it.

  • I have this knife, too, and reach for it for just about everything — plus it’s really great for slicing limes for margaritas. :)

  • The little, cheap, plastic-handled Victorinox serrated paring knives could be a good replacement for your Wusthof. They’re under 10 euros and last for donkeys’. Gave myself a nice little flesh wound the first time I used one, they’re sharper than they look!