Chef's knives, also known as French knives or cook's knives, are the workhorses of the kitchen. They are suitable for a range of tasks, such as slicing and chopping vegetables or disjointing meat. The blade of a chef's knife is typically about 8 inches long by 1 inch wide, although this can vary considerably.
True to their reputation for culinary excellence, the French make some of the best quality chef's knives in the world.
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Sabatier is probably the best-known name in French knives, found in professional kitchens across the world. However, Sabatier is not a registered brand name in its own right, and Sabatier knives are manufactured by several different companies.
Cheap, low-quality knives in the Sabatier style and shape are also legally sold stamped with the word Sabatier. Reputable manufacturers will also have a registered logo and trademark, such as Sabatier Diamant, and their knives will be stamped with both the Sabatier name and the company logo.
Made in Thiers, the knife capital of France, Chambriard knives are made by a small family company founded in 1880. The distinctive handles are made of juniper wood and curved to give a comfortable feel when in use.
Said to be the connoisseur's choice, the Grand Gourmet range features a beautifully proportioned 8-inch chef's knife suitable for a range of kitchen preparations.
How to Care For Chef's Knives
All high-quality knives require careful storage and maintenance to prolong their lives.
Always wash knives in warm soapy water rather than in the dishwasher. Rinse thoroughly before drying with a soft cloth.
Keep your knives sharp using a sharpening steel.
Store knives in a knife block or on a magnetised bar. This will prevent them from becoming blunted by contact with other kitchen equipment.
Where to Buy French-made Chef's Knives
Sabatier knives are widely available online and in cookware shops. However, be careful to check for the logo and brand mark to be sure you are buying a good quality product, such as Sabatier Diamant, K or Lion. It is also possible to buy directly from some of the manufacturers (see Resources). Prices vary, but as the time of publication, an 8-inch chef's knife retails around £39.
Chambriard knives are a little harder to track down, but are available online (see Resources) and from specialist cookshops. At the time of publication, an 8-inch chef's knife retails for £97.40.
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