one knife to to rule them all?

I’ve resisted the urge to purchase a good knife since the cheap set we have seems to serve its purpose and I’m the type of person who will set out to purchase a single knife, obsessively research the subject and end up with a 150 blade collection. and maybe an online knife selling business.

but we recently purchased a seasonal bungalow and need a knife solution. I’m thinking about bringing our current set to the bungalow and purchasing one good knife for our apartment. and probably a cheap paring knife.

I read somewhere Bourdain recommended the global g-2 chef’s knife as the only blade one needs. But here’s the thing, I also read the knife is scary sharp! I know, imagine, a sharp knife, but truth be told, I have incorrect technique and feel vasovagal syncope onset imagining a really, really sharp instrument so close to my old, clumsy, fat fingers. What was I thinking watching Banshees of Inisherin twice?

Obviously there’s the victorinox fibrox chef’s knife, inexpensive, well-reviewed, wondering if it will perform well breaking down a chicken? And I’m kinda fascinated with a cheap chinese cleaver that mysteriously materialized in our kitchen one day. It’s been great for breaking down large cuts of meat for the smoker, spatchcocking chickens, crushing/mincing garlic but maybe not so great for thinly slicing onions and tomatoes. And it doesn’t hold an edge all that well but that probably has to do with the price/quality of the cleaver.

so yes, let me anticipate a tidal wave of suggestions to correct my technique, I will take a knife course, I will watch youtube videos, but I don’t anticipate anything like good technique for months, perhaps a year, so perhaps I need some sort of cheap, temporary solution now like the victorinox or a cleaver like this but something designed for bone chopping? (I don’t think I’ll share that word choice to my wife)


ps yes, I did a search on knives and have read many, many forum posts on the subject.


Lot’s of good knives out there… both expensive and cheap. My only advice would be to try (or make sure you can return) before you buy. Fit in the hand, weight, balance, and grip are all way more important than brand. For instance… I prefer a full bolster at the back that I put my thumb and index finger against, and not many models are designed that way any more. I also prefer heavier to lighter.

But it is all about what you feel most comfortable with… and that is more important than anything else.


ah, the full bolster, I know it well :slight_smile: seriously, thanks, good idea, perhaps I should go to a knife showroom? is there such thing?

I live in a very small town, but even we had a kitchen supply store (pre-pandemic, don’t think they’re around anymore) that you could handle knives before buying.

Google may be helpful to find such a place in your area… or maybe folks here could suggest an establishment in your city.

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Hi. Is the question about a one-knife for all? I suppose the answer is yes, but I moved away from that system. I think if cost is not an issue, then one should have at least 3 knives. These 3 knives will depend on what you do the most.

Or are you asking more about a Chinese thin blade vegetable knife? Sorry, are you asking for an all-purpose knife?

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yes, one all-purpose knife. so far my research has led me to a chef’s knife, maybe a cheap paring knife, maybe a boning knife and maybe a bread knife. but clearly there are people who are happy with a single knife in the kitchen and I’d rather purchase that one knife, probably an 8 inch chef’s knife or maybe a cleaver and then let experience dictate the need for other knives.

Right now, the only knife I use is a cheap chef’s knife and sometimes the cleaver of mysterious origin, though clearly I don’t need the cleaver, it’s just sorta fun. I guess when I bake sourdough, I use our cheap bread knife…doesn’t actually work that well which is somewhat frustrating.

Hi. I read it a couple of times.

Is this for yourself?

My recommendations for a cheap chef knife are:

  1. Low price: Dexter or Victorinox chef knife for ~$30-40
  2. Middle price: Tojiro DP Gyuto (chef) knife or Santoku for $100. Wusthof Chef’s knife or Messermeister Chef’s knife for $150.

Are these in your price range? The above are stainless steel knives, but we can explore carbon steel too. Carbon steel knives are usually cheaper for the same performance. However, carbon steel knives will take more attention. They can rust.


FWIW - and I’m far from a knife head… I do love my Global chef’s knife. It stays sharp forever, is light as a feather, and handles really well. If I were to invest in other knives (tho I use this for almost every task), I would likely stick to the Global brand. It’s also kinda mid-tier, compared to Wüsthof or other more expensive brands.


yeah, sorry, in the interest of trying to provide a little amusement, I’m sure I muddied things up. thanks for those recommendations, If I’m purchasing one knife, price range is meaningless but incremental improvements in quality will probably be lost on me.

thanks, I’ve seen it recommended a lot…what about my fear of losing digits? do you find it scary sharp cause I’m gonna make mistakes, we can count on that and I don’t want to give finger food a whole new meaning.

Sorry. I probably just wasn’t a good reader. I would recommend at least a two knives system. If you do more delicate works, then a chef knife with a paring knife is best. On the other hand, if you do more heavy works, then a bone cleaver and a chef knife is better.

At a high level, my recommendation is a Tojiro DP Chef’s knife/ Tojiro DP Santoku + a Tojiro DP paring knife.


If a paring knife is your only knife, how will you slice meats and breads and split squashes.

For western style cooking the chef’s knife probably does as many tasks quite well as any knife. It has enough length to carve or slice, chop, etc. and a pointy enough tip to do some very fine work. It can even slice a crusty loaf of bread. Being sharp is a safety feature. A “not very sharp” knife can still cut you, and because it requires more force and has a harder time cutting, it is more likely to slip and cut you.

Not all chef’s knives are alike. In the area of European style knives, the German brands like Wusthof and Henckels tend to be fairly heavy and have more “belly.” They are especially well suited to rock chopping. The French knives like K-Sabatier, Nogent (a line of Thiers Issard), and Thiers Issard Elephant, tend to be lighter and to have less belly (a flatter cutting edge), making them extremely fine for push cuts. The German knives generally do not have points quite as sharp as French knives to. The better point and the lighter weight help make a French knife more user friendly for small, find job. Both usually have bolsters.

Although not technically a chef’s knife, the Japanese gyuto is a Japanese knife largely modeled on European chef’s knives. They usually have no bolster. The sharp angle of the choil was very good at nicking my towels. Gyutos come with either a Japanese handle or a Euro style handle.

Metals…there is more to choose from than carbon or stainless. My French knives are carbon steel but not nearly as hard as the carbon steel I have encountered on Japanese knives. Carbon will stain or rust if left wet or with food (especially acidic food) on it. Once sharpened French knives and German knives need to be honed. Some cooks hone every service or more, some go days or even weeks. A true hone realigns the edge which is thin enough to develop microscopic bends with use. I say a true hone because most honing steels have enough grit or ridging to provide a small bit of sharpening, too. The exception is the polish steel. It just hones. F. Dick has a neat steel with two sides polish and two sides find cut.

As regards sharpening, perhaps more important than the knife chosen, you can have someone else sharpen them, get a machine like a Chef’s Choice, get any of a number of other devices, or use water stones. For Japanese knives water stones are pretty much a requirement. They are great on Euro knives, too. Rather than being honed, Japanese knives just get a touch up on fine grit stones.

Most home cooks like 8" chef’s knives. If you are larger or just enjoy the greater efficiency a longer blade provides, a 10" is terrific.

I have used a ten inch blade carbon steel from Thiers Issard for over fifty years. I have some fairly basic water stones, a holder, and a leveling stone from Sharpening Supplies and a polish steel. I would recommend a very fine steel that has a bit of grit, a sapphire. Be sure that any steel is as long as or longer than your blade. Unless you are ok with the added work of carbon steel (which isn’t really that much; they will develop patina), I would suggest a stainless steel Sabatier chef’s knife from Flotsam and Fork or

Whatever you get, wash and dry hand, never in the dishwasher, and carry it at your side, point down, cutting edge to the back so that you do not accidentally nick the dog or a guest in a crowded kitchen! Cheers.

The Global has the best attributes of many, many knives, but try it first. The handle is unique.


Far more common to cut yourself with a dull knife. A sharp knife will go thru exactly what you want it to… a dull one can go off course (and possibly into your hand).


If you add a paring knife, check out the Nogent parers on Flotsam and Fork. I have no idea why the very small one is so much cheaper. It is fantastic. The Kiwi route is a terrific low cost choice. I love the looks of the Kom Kom point, but the Nogent’s straight edge will be more versatile for most Western cooking.

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I repeat that ad nauseam to my PIC, who recently cut himself on my global. He claims it’s “too sharp,” when it was likely he didn’t pay attention.

A sharp blade is (mostly) your friend. Take it slow and pay attention when you chop things up, and you’ll be alright. You do NOT want a dull blade.


so, one college summer I worked the back of a kitchen which required an enormous amount of slicing and chopping. Every day the chef reminded me to make sure my knives were sharp (he sharpened them) and offered the same admonition.

Honestly, loss of focus is what I’m most worried about, at 67 I find my mind wanders and occasionally I’ll look down at the cutting board and wonder how I separated a chicken wing or something like that.

No one has weighed in on the idea of a cleaver as my one knife, I’ve found the broad blade fabulous for smashing garlic, it seems to mince/chop beautifully and it can take apart a chicken in a minute or two.

is that because we’re mostly a non-asian cohort or is it just a bad idea?

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thanks, will take a look!

thanks for this detailed reply, much appreciated. I’m thinking I have to hold a bunch of knives in my hand until one talks to me.

edit: I guess I could have saved you a lot of work if I’d posted that I’d watched this video apologies:

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In my case, it is for the mere fact that I don’t own one, and don’t know how comfortable I would be using it for everyday chopping and cutting needs. If you are comfortable with a cleaver and find it versatile enough for your purposes, I say go for it :slight_smile:

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‘Seasonal Bungalow’? If you use a lot of different knives in cooking and entertaining, bring your set from home. You are comfortable with them already. Chef’s knife, cleaver, paring, boning, steak/small serrated, bread, I’m counting half a dozen and not including the steel. It’s like asking which tool from my tool box should I bring? Of course if you fly into your seasonal bungalow, you’ll have to check your set each time.

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