Staying sharp in the kitchen
requires the right knives
not very comfy for you, you
won’t use it,” she notes.
Flinn also likes knives with a
bolster, a flare of the blade where it
meets the handle. The bolster takes dozens more steps to forge and indicates quality, as does a full tang, which means the
metal of the blade runs the entire length of
When looking for value, knife sets can
offer affordable options. “You often get
higher-quality products for a good price
when knives are sold as sets,” says Flinn.
“Don’t calculate the value on the number
of knives in the set, but on the quality of the
knives in the set.”
Chef’s knife. A chef’s knife is used for
all-around chopping. It has a blade wide
enough that the user can grip the handle
and chop without banging knuckles. Flinn
says most chefs like an 8-inch chef’s knife,
so that’s probably a good place to start
Choose between the classic wedge-
shaped chef’s knife and a Japanese santoku
knife, which has a different shape and shal-
low indentations on the blade. “Food
doesn’t stick as easily, and you should be
able to get more consistent slices, but a lot of
this is your personal preference,” Flinn says.
Serrated slicer. Thin and long, a
slicer cuts through more delicate foods
such as breads and desserts, and carves thin
slices of roasts without dragging against
the meat. Serrated knives hold their edge
longer, says Flinn.
Paring knife. Used for small jobs and
quick trims, these knives have short blades
and short handles.
What would Flinn buy next, after the
basics? Kitchen novices want to know.
Shears. Kitchen shears cut through
poultry bones, snip herbs, trim asparagus
and more. They are not a knife at all, but it’s
the first thing Flinn names. “Once you have
shears, you will wonder how you lived without them,” she says. CONTINUED ON PAGE 43
By Barb Freda
A WALL OF sharp, shining cutting utensils,
each slightly different, with different handles, widths, shapes, blade lengths and
more, meets every knife buyer these days.
Specialty knives are no longer exclusive to
the culinary pros. These days, home kitchens sport fine knives too.
There are knives for chopping, slicing,
peeling, boning and filleting; knives that
once only a butcher owned. American
knives, German knives, Japanese knives.
Luckily, Costco member Kathleen Flinn,
author of The Sharper Your Knife, The Less
You Cry (Penguin, 2008) and The Kitchen
Counter Cooking School (Viking Adult, 2011)
has made it a mission to help aspiring chefs
understand their knives.
“One of the first things I tell people to
look for is the steel and feel. Look for steel
with the highest carbon count. More carbon
is always a plus: Higher-carbon steel blades
take a finer, cleaner, sharper edge, and they
hold the edge longer. Lower-quality steel
blades are harder to sharpen and won’t
maintain an edge,” she says.
Then there’s the feel. “Make sure you get
to hold the knife. Pay attention to the
weight. The feel matters more than how
expensive a knife is or who made it, because
if you get a great value in a knife, but it’s
Kai Pure Komachi 2,
J.A. Henckels and
knife sets are available
in most Costco ware-
houses. Ryuu and Saber
knives, as well as a Master Grade
commercial knife sharpener, are
available on Costco.com.