Christopher Kimball & Zwilling J.A. Henckels 3-Piece Knife Set
PURCHASE NOW At Sur La Table and coming soon to Bed Bath & Beyond.
Here at Milk Street, we often discover a tool, a spice mix, or a piece of cookware in our travels that makes perfect sense. You wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?” That is particularly true of the kitchen knife. I have been using a classic European chef’s knife since I got started in the kitchen back in the 1970s, but have learned to love the Santuko design, the Chinese vegetable cleaver, even the heavier machete-style cleavers used in Thailand. But no one knife was the great all-purpose knife that we had been looking for. So, we decided to design our own.
First, a quick aside. For almost four decades, I have reviewed cookware, kitchen tools and supermarket foods. After years of declaring winners and losers, I am hanging up my product review gloves. I have said pretty much all I can say about mixers, thermometers and food processors. I am eager to jump into the cookware/kitchen tool design world, partly because I know exactly what I want. And, of course, it’s fun to be on the other side, actually designing and creating products rather than just reviewing them.
The first step was a phone call to ZWILLING J.A Henckels. We sat down with their designers to come up with a 7-inch Cook’s Knife that does a lot of things well. First off, it’s on the light side – just 6.6 ounces – so it is easy to use and maneuver. The blade is wider than a typical chef’s knife, which makes it a lot safer. There is a lot of flat metal against which one can put one’s knuckles while cutting or chopping without getting anywhere near the edge. The curved cut-out near the handle also makes it easy to get one’s thumb and index finger up on the flat sides of the blade for precision work, a technique that every home cook should master. And the curved pointed tip is excellent for slicing through foods, almost like the prow of a ship. You can chop with it, just like with a regular chef’s knife (it has a slightly curved blade for rocking), but it is also great for slicing and smashing as well. (The wide blade is perfect for smashing garlic cloves or ginger coins.)
Our knife is made at their factory in Albacete, Spain, where knives have been made since the 18th century. It's constructed from German stainless steel with a forged one-piece design and triple-rivets in the handle.
We also designed two other knives, based on my experience with home cooks who almost never sharpen their knives. (A recent Milk Street survey showed that 70 percent of cooks have never sharpened their knives.) As a result, we came up with a 5.5-inch Serrated Prep Knife with similar design characteristics that we used in the Cook’s Knife. This serrated edge is unique and is only available on this knife. It’s the right size to handle something larger, such as a tomato, but it’s also small enough to be maneuverable and easy to hold. We think this prep knife will get a lot of use in most kitchens.
Finally, we designed a 4-inch Paring Knife based on the same design principles as the other knives. I've worked with a lot of chefs who have similar knives in their red metal toolboxes. It’s just the type of knife that can handle small to medium tasks. (Really short paring knives are good for turning mushrooms - haven’t done that in 30 years - and hulling strawberries, but I prefer a 4-inch blade since it can handle so many other tasks.)
All three of these knives are available at Sur La Table and coming soon to Bed Bath & Beyond.