Chef or Santoku knife

Let’s face it, knives are cool. The way that light gleams off the razor sharp steel of a knife blade is exhilarating; sparking something primal in our psyche that no amount of sensible grown up thoughts can dispel. No other kitchen item can rival it in terms of pure excitement and visual appeal; although a lovely gleaming set of French copper pans comes fairly close. A chef’s choice of knife is often an extension of their personality and cooking style. For the home cook owning one quality knife is often enough for most jobs, but which do you choose?

For anyone that cooks, be that professionally or just at home, choosing a new knife can be one of the most exciting and personal purchases that can be made. Cooking knives are the most important tool in the kitchen, after the chef, and have a massive impact on both the cooking experience and the end product. With so many different brands, styles and sizes of knife to choose from it can also be one of the most daunting.

I was approached by the Steamer Trading Cookshop to take part in their #thesteamerchallenge looking at this very issue. More specifically I was asked to look into the differences between a European chef’s knife and the Asian style Santoku knife. This is one of the most hotly searched topics in the knife debate, trust me I asked on social media, given that these are arguably the two most commonly used knives in the kitchen.

In order to assist in my research, they sent me a couple of knives to review and compare – which was nice.

The Knives

The knives that I will be reviewing are from German company Wüsthof who are one of the major players in the knife world. This family business was started back in 1814 in Solingen, Germany and is still owned and operated by the Wüsthof family. With their striking trident symbol and efficient and unassuming design these are serious knives for professionals and home cooks alike.

The two knives that I will be reviewing come from their Classic range which is one of their core forged knife collections. Forged knives are much stronger and will stay sharper long then a stamped knife, and so you should always go for these. The Classic range is their entry level, however, the blades used in all Wüsthof knives are the same and it is only the design and balance that is different between the ranges. They are also forged from one solid piece of steel that runs the full length of the knife which creates a stronger and more durable end product.

Being the main entry level range there are a huge number of knives to choose from, about 70 in total. This means that if you are a bit of a collector and want everything to match these are perfect, it does also mean that you have got a serious amount of options to try and whittle down; and so without further ado, the knives…

Wüsthof Classic 18cm Cooks Knife

Anyone who has even set foot in a domestic or commercial kitchen knows the classic chef or cooks knife. This is the do it all, jack of all trades knife for any kitchen and can handle nearly any task you throw at it. These come in a range of sizes and, because I am a man, I’ve always tended to go for the largest I could find; perhaps I’m compensating for something. This 18cm version is shorter than the 20.5cm knife I already own and I actually found it to be quite a useful size, it’s what you do with it that counts after all.

Out of the box and the first thing I notice is how nice this knife feels in the hand. It is beautifully balanced and is surprisingly light. The ergonomic polypropylene handle feels very natural in the hand with a surprisingly wood like feel. This immediately gives the user confidence and a sense of control.