Food Lovers' Guide

How To Wield a Knife Like a Ninja

By Christopher Werner July 19, 2010 Published in the August 2010 issue of Seattle Met

Image: Nicole Yeo

WANT TO CHOP onions like Julia Child? First, you’ll need the proper tools. We asked knife pro Kathleen Flinn to help us find the cutlery that will really give you an edge.

Forget about the knife block. “This is my gospel,” Flinn asserts, “no one needs an entire block of knives.” Instead, buy the big three: a bread knife, a chef’s knife, and a paring knife (add a cleaver if you’re into butchery). Any more? “Just a marketing ploy.”

Test drive. Flinn says the biggest consideration is how the knife fits in your hand. When testing, pinch the heel of the blade between your pointer finger and thumb and grip the handle with the remaining fingers—this is the proper technique for chopping, as it relies on forearm strength and won’t strain your wrist.

Consider the attributes. A forged knife, produced via traditional steel hammering, is thicker and heavier than a stamped knife, thus offering more in the way of balance and brawn. They’re also more expensive. Avoid a knife with a skimpy spine, and note the top edge of the blade should narrow as it approaches the tip. And steer clear of any tool that comes with a never-needs-sharpening claim—every knife needs a touch-up at some point.

Shop around. It’s a common misconception that a decent knife will set you back a C-note—one of Flinn’s own favorites is from Ikea. Another spot to score deals: restaurant supply store Bargreen Ellingson in SoDo.


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