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I consider myself a Food Person. I’ve been an editor here at Kitchn for more than six years; I cook three meals a day for my family at home; and I love poring over cookbooks and keeping up on the latest restaurant trends. But with that self-imposed title comes certain assumptions — one being that I must have a collection of beautiful, fancy chef’s knives that I store with the utmost care and send off to get sharpened on a regular basis. And that is often where I feel the most at odds with my Food Person identity.
I’ve never had an interest in owning or maintaining “good” knives. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a cheap $10, nonstick-coated Santoku knife in rotation, replacing it anytime it chipped or the blade got too dull. There’s nothing exciting or wonderful about it, but I like that I can throw it in the dishwasher and store it in my cutlery tray in a drawer. I spend a lot of mental energy in other ways throughout the day, and knife care is just not something I have time to worry about.
But I recently started to long for something that fit my low-effort qualifications while still being a step up from my go-to, cheap knife. I wanted to feel affection for my knife — to get a little thrill as I minced my billionth garlic clove or cut open my hundredth avocado. (Can you sense a touch of pandemic cooking fatigue?)
Enter: This $30 five-inch santoku knife from J.A. Henckel’s Modernist series. It’s made from German stainless steel, with a lightweight, ergonomic stainless steel handle. It feels like a dream in my hand, it cuts through the aforementioned garlic cloves and avocado peels (and so much more!) with precision, and it’s small enough to fit right in my drawer utensil holder. And, yes, it’s dishwasher-safe.
I’ve been using it for a little more than a month now on a daily basis — putting it in the dishwasher at the end of every day — and it’s still holding up remarkably well. I haven’t noticed a decrease in sharpness, and it’s showing no visible signs of damage. I also especially love that, compared to my $10, nonstick knife, there is no coating on it to flake or peel off.
I’ve since gotten rid of my old knife and am so pleased with my new Zwilling knife. It feels elevated both looks- and performance-wise, but without a high price tag or level of effort needed to maintain it. A win-win all-around and a fantastic buy if you’re in need of a no-fuss, everyday knife.
What’s your go-to knife? Tell us about it in the comments!