Getting Back to Basics with Quality Knives

Getting Back to Basics with Quality Knives | Food & Nutrition | Stone Soup
Photo: Kai Housewares

Products reviewed: Kai Pro 8-in. Chef’s Knife, Kai Pro 6-in. Utility Knife and Kai Pro 3.5-in. Paring Knife

As a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in the culinary side of nutrition, I stand by my claim that the most important kitchen tool any home cook can own is a sharp, high-quality knife. It’s the one item that gets used almost daily (that is, if fresh fruits and vegetables are part of the equation). A good knife is the workhorse of the kitchen and the alternative dull, flimsy variety is enough to convince anyone to cook less often. Since it had been a while since I upgraded my own knife collection, I was interested to see how my older ones stacked up against this newer model.

The Kai Pro high-carbon Japanese stainless steel cutlery arrived carefully packaged — each knife sealed tightly and with plastic covers guarding the sharp tips. I immediately noticed the attractive hammered finish, which per the package, helps with food release. As a side note, I never thought about how key this feature really is. I received the 8-inch chef’s knife (my personal favorite amongst the knife family due to its versatility), the 6-inch utility knife (a new-to-me size) and the 3.5-inch paring knife. Each is NSF Certified, meaning it undergoes extensive product testing on a regular basis to ensure quality and is suitable for use in professional kitchens..

As soon as I unwrapped the chef’s knife, I could tell it was high-quality because of its weight: substantial enough for precision, but not too heavy to be a burden. The pointy tip was slightly worrisome; however, I soon realized that this feature comes in handy for chopping foods such as shallots and onions near the root end. Keep this in mind when moving around the kitchen with knife in-hand and make a note that these are likely not appropriate for younger sous chefs.

After using the 8-inch knife to chop a pineapple, I was impressed. I cut down the rough outer skin with no issue; in fact, I would describe it as easy. I experienced similar results with jalapeños, cilantro, limes and an avocado.

The other two sizes proved to be equally effective as the utility knife sliced through delicate heirloom tomatoes without even slightly smashing them — the classic indicator of a quality knife. The paring knife handled hulling strawberries and halving cherries safely and precisely. I especially liked the wide base for extra leverage.

In summary, having tested these on a variety of foods, these are products that I would certainly recommend to a friend or nutrition client who wants to invest in a high-quality knife that doesn’t break the bank. The price point is middle of the road, but if I hadn’t known, I would have thought it was a high-end product. Forget trendy kitchen tools and invest in quality knives that make your cooking routine easier.

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Leanne Ray
Leanne Ray, MS, RDN, is a virtual nutrition coach and the founder of
LeanneRay.com. Her blog is aimed at making cooking and nutrition
practical for busy people with an intuitive eating focus. Connect with
Leanne on her blog, Leanne Ray Nutrition, and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.