The 8 Best Chef’s Knife BrandsPublished on 10/07/2022 · 10 min readTime to get some new knives? We've got you covered! Kitchen Expert Alex Alcarraz lists the eight top chef's knife brands and explains what makes them so high quality!
Photo by Karolina Grabowska
People are passionate beings by nature. Everyone has something they own that makes them feel confident about themselves. It could be a favorite clothing brand, the car they drive, or even something as simple as their favorite coffee place.
The culinary world is no different. Those who are very passionate about cooking will only buy pans from one maker, or they must have those cool shears from Global at their disposal. The main pieces of gear that make the biggest statement in any kitchen are chef’s knives. There are plenty of "best chef’s knives" choices out there for every style and preference.
Choosing a chef knife for yourself can be very difficult, thanks to the many high-quality knife brands and makers on the market. Beginners may feel intimidated by knives that require more care, and professionals might not always like the high prices on higher-quality blades. Nevertheless, it is very certain that there is a perfect chef’s knife out there for everyone. Knives are an investment as much as a commitment.
Personal preference can sometimes sway people from choosing what knives make the most sense for them. Luckily, given our current exposure to several media outlets, we get to choose whose personal preference on cutlery we want to follow. A chef knife fit for an accomplished professional chef surely has merit to be considered when needing to upgrade an old knife or find a gift for yourself.
What chef’s knives make top chefs around the world feel even more confident about stepping into a kitchen? Let's take a look at the best chef’s knife brands out there along with the chefs that cannot work without them! The list below is not ranked.
Cangshan Cutlery - Yangjiang, China
This knife maker is as ubiquitous as it is unknown. Cangshan has been in the market for several years. It is the project of Henry Liu, who founded the company in China and later expanded its reach into the European and American markets with an inventory of high-quality knives. Its unique repertoire of knives holds modern designs along with Western and Japanese-style knives.
There is one specific line from this marvelous knife brand that boasts a little more prestige within their repertoire. In 2018, chef Thomas Keller and Cangshan Cutlery came together on a very high-end line of cutlery, the Thomas Keller Signature Collection. The knives are made from Swedish powdered steel with a full tang in each of the pieces that are part of this collection.
Their design is inspired by working chefs to provide the most comfortable grip and the highest edge retention. Precision cuts are easily attainable with the thinness of the blade and its ease of use. The Thomas Keller Signature Collection chef’s knife has a razor-sharp edge that can easily slice through a tomato without any force. The chef’s knife can be purchased in either an 8-inch or a 10-inch format.
Global - Niigata, Japan
Global was founded in 1985 in a partnership between Mino Tsuchida and the Yoshiikin Cutlery company. Mino is now amicably known as Mr. Global thanks to his hard work towards the introduction of Global knives to the world since its creation.
The inspiration for these Japanese knives extended from the passion of not wanting to fit into a traditional box. The timeless design is paired with marvelous engineering that continues to be the same for close to 40 years. The patented Chromova stainless steel stands the test of time within the Global company. Global continues to make chefs and home cooks feel secure and confident that they are holding a high-quality tool.
The Classic Collection’s chef’s knife has remained their top seller decade after decade. Its ease of use, lightweight design, and sharp edge made Anthony Bourdain deem it perfect for cutting through vegetables and proteins with minimum effort.
A great advantage of the Classic Global chef’s knife is the added flexibility of the steel on the blade. Dicing through countless potatoes, cutting through chicken cartilage, and carving around bone is possible without damaging its edge. Although there are three sizes to choose from (7in, 8in, and a 10in knife) the Classic 8-inch knife offers the most versatility when working through different tasks.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels - Solingen, Germany
This company has been a staple in many homes and professional kitchens since 1895. During the last 126 years, Zwilling J.A. Henckels has continued to push the boundaries of knife making. These German knives have evolved with the change of times, relying on cutting-edge technology for producing sharper blades that last longer than many other competitors.
The Zwilling Pro 8-inch Chef’s Knife takes German engineering to a whole new level. The western-style knife design brings that classic aesthetic, which is then paired with cutting-edge knife crafting processes.
The technology needed to create this knife forced Zwilling to get new machinery to perform a high level of detail efficiently. The chromium and carbon blend in the steel allows for maximum edge retention with a solid resistance to rust and enough flexibility to withstand a tough professional environment.
The Zwilling Pro Chef's Knife is amazing at chopping through loads of vegetables before needing to sharpen. For an extra bonus, Zwilling’s factory-limited warranty ensures the knife if there are any issues with the structural making of the knife itself (the handle falls off), they will replace the knife. This is not to be confused with normal tear and wear or misuse of the knife.
The top chef who puts his seal of approval on this specific knife from Zwilling is none other than chef Gordon Ramsay. He uses this very set during the several seasons of his reality tv show Hell’s Kitchen.
Kramer Knives - Bellingham, WA
Bob Kramer is possibly the most famous master bladesmith across the U.S. His knives come from a single shop and each knife that bears his name has been handled with the utmost care by his own hands.
The signature part of a Kramer knife comes from the layers in their Damascus steel. Kramer sandwiches several pieces of high carbon steel, then repeatedly heats the metal to melting temperatures and hammers the entire block while also folding the metal unto itself. This method not only produces a beautiful knife but also provides a flexible and sturdy blade.
When he first started gaining momentum more than 20 years ago, he would make about 200 knives per year. In recent years, he’s only made 30. This goes to show that quantity is not as important as quality. Currently, new knives are released on his website in an auction setting. The prices have steadily increased as the intricacy of Bob’s art continues to grow. The chefs that stand behind the hand-made Kramer knives are quite a few, including Charlie Palmer and Mario Batali, among others.
Zwilling Kramer - Seki, Japan
Since Bob Kramer knives are extremely hard to come by due to their pricing and availability, Zwilling approached him with the idea of working together to make his craft more accessible. Thus was born the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Bob Kramer Stainless Steel Damascus line. This specific line of knives from Zwilling is made in Seki, Japan. The chef’s knife that reigns supreme within this partnership is the Zwilling Kramer - Euroline Stainless Damascus Collection 8-inch chef’s knife. He hand-makes the middle rivets for this line and ships them to Japan to be added to the handles. He wishes for a piece of him to be part of every knife that bears his name. The widest part of the blade makes it excellent for big vegetables like onions, while the tip is perfect for finer work like cutting through herbs without bruising them.
Mac - Seki, Japan
This knifemaker has been in business since 1964 and has sold over 25 million knives worldwide. Mac knives have blades made from high-quality Japanese Molybdenum High-Carbon steel. Their edge holds a 15-degree angle on each side with a shape blending the Western V shape and the single Japanese edge. The hardness level of these knives varies from 57 to 61 points on the Rockwell C scale, making them durable and easy to re-sharpen. The Professional Series 8-inch Chef’s Knife with Dimples takes the seat of honor.
This knife’s blade is 2–2.5 millimeters thick. This knife is made with MTH-80 steel and is designed with dimples close to the edge for easy product release and airflow during chopping, slicing, or mincing. It is a lightweight knife with a well-balanced center of gravity. This boosts ease of use and lets the knife do most of the work for you. Chef Eric Ripert, from Le Bernardin in New York City, specifically prefers this very knife for preparing Michelin-starred dishes.
Steelport - Portland, OR
This is a newcomer to the cutlery world. Steelport was founded in 2020 by Ron Khormaei and Eytan Zias. Their vision was to create an American-forged knife that is both a piece of art and a usable tool. We are going to focus specifically on their 6- and 8-inch chef’s knives.
The high carbon steel used for crafting these knives comes from the U.S. The wood handles are made from Oregon Big Leaf Maple Burl, which is soaked with resin to avoid shrinkage or swelling throughout the lifetime of the knife. It is also necessary to mention that all of the non-cutting edges of the knives have been rounded for more comfort, including the bolster, which will fit perfectly into your pinch grip.
Finally, the knives are soaked in coffee from the cafe around the corner from their shop! This last detail adds an initial patina to the knife. The patina will continue to develop with usage. Every slice made with these knives will give a hyper-personal touch that every chef wants to display in their gear. The curve of the blade itself makes for a very natural feel, whether you are rocking the knife back and forth to cut or are pushing through for finer ingredients.
Shun - Seki, Japan
The Shun name carries a history that expands over 100 years. The Kai Corporation founded Shun with a dream to bring fine Japanese cutlery to Europe and the U.S. Shun knives are made with the help of highly skilled artisans and cutting-edge technology in order to fill a demand for excellent products. This blend of tradition and modern engineering made it possible to create a truly beautiful and impressive chef’s knife.
The Dual Core Kiritsuke 8-inch knife offers amazing sharpness and cutting performance. The shape of the blade makes it an excellent choice for slicing and pushing cuts for maximized precision. Its narrow tip allows for more efficient workflow by reducing the need of switching knives between smaller ingredients or boneless proteins. The VG10 and VG2 steel cores work together to make the edge remain sharper for longer periods of time regardless of the number of tasks. The octagonal-shaped handle helps accentuate the history behind this artfully crafted kitchen knife.
The brands and makers above have taken the process of knife-making to a point where it can be called art. Whether a knife is made one at a time by a single person or requires the latest technology to produce incredible tools for the masses, it is important to remember that chef’s knives are incredibly personal. The best chef's knife for one person may not be the best for the next, and that is okay. The next time you are cutting through a butternut squash and are struggling to get through it, it is very possible that you might be in need of an upgrade to your kitchen knives. Reach out to a Kitchen Expert here on Curated for more help.