Everything you Need to Know About These Two Kitchen Staples
Every chef, from aspiring cook to seasoned professional, knows that using the right knife can make a world of difference. From the first slice to the final cut, the right blade can make cooking not only more enjoyable, but safer, more efficient, and produce a better outcome.
I this guide we’ll hone in on two of the most revered (and used) knifes in your arsenal: the Vegetable Knife and the Chef Knife.
We’ll put these two to the test, in a showdown that will uncover everything you need to know about these two knives and what types of tasks they are best used for.
The Vegetable Knife Vs the Chef Knife
Each has its place in your kitchen. Although you may feel like you have a good grasp on when to use one vs the other, we bet there are a few things you may not have considered.
The Vegetable Knife
Staying true to it’s name, the vegetable knife is adored by those who love to cook with fresh vegetables. The knife’s intended purpose, and its entire design, is centered around the effective cutting, slicing, dicing, and chopping of vegetables.
While a chef knife is known for its broad abilities and superior versatility, this blade is primarily used for veggies, fruits, herbs and salad preparation.
Sure, you can get the job done with other options such as a pairing knife or chef knife, but you can make your life a whole lot easier by using a tool that was engineered to specialize in the task at hand.
Vegetable Knife Quick Overview
- Blade: Usually between 5-7”
- Blade Tip: squared
- Blade Edge: straight
- Ideal for: The preparation of fresh vegetables (cutting, slicing, dicing and chopping)
- Not Recommended for: Slicing bread or bagels, cleaving meat, cutting meat
The blade of a standard vegetable knife is generally broad in shape, culminating with a squared tip. If you’re familiar with the style of a meat cleaver, imagine a blade similar in shape, but both lighter and more petite. Whereas a meat cleaver may have a more squared block-shaped blade, that of a vegetable knife tends to be more of a thin rectangular shape.
The knife’s straight blade is useful for making slices that go straight through thick vegetables right down to the cutting board…all without the need for a tiring and repetitive back and forth motion. This allows for precise control over the blade in a single path (down).
As compared to a chef knife, the blade is notably thinner, enabling the cook to make neater, more precise cuts.
The bevel of a blade refers to whether or not it’s edge is ground down and sharpened to an angle on one (single beveled) or both (double beveled) sides.
While most chef’s knives tend to be double beveled, vegetable knives tend to be a mix depending on the style of the knife.
Japanese-styled or Japanese-inspired vegetable knives (such as those at Vertoku) utilize a single bevel edge, allowing for unparalleled sharpness and precision. Western and European styles tend to favor a double-bevel edge.
The Chef Knife
If you can only have ONE knife, this is it. The chef knife (also sometimes called a French knife) is the most versatile knife in a chef’s tool chest. This knife might not specialize in doing any singular task better than any of the others, but it can get a lot done. In this way, think of a chef knife as a ‘Jack of all Trades’ but a specialist of none. If you are ever unsure of what knife to use, just grab a chef knife and you’ll be set.
It’s the knife you need when multitasking or are in too much of a hurry to deal with multiple blades. In a pinch, the chef’s knife can tackle tasks such as slicing, dicing, chopping, and cutting fruit, veggies, meat, fish and herbs.
Chef Knife Quick Overview
- Blade: Usually between 8-12”
- Blade Tip: pointed
- Blade Edge: straight (usually non-serrated)
- Ideal for: The preparation of most foods: cutting, slicing, dicing and chopping
- Not Recommended for: Slicing bread or bagels, cleaving meat from the bone, carving dense meat, delicate food items, peeling, mincing, or tasks requiring precision
Featuring a triangular shape that is broad in stature, the blade is capable of a variety of tasks, being both nimble and maneuverable without compromising on rigidity.
Chef knives may be available in several styles including:
- German style chef knives
- French style chef knives
- Japanese style chef knives
Japanese style blades are known for their precision, unbeatable sharpness, aesthetics. German blades tend to be thicker and more durable, but less agile or precise.
Although single bevel options are available (as with Japanese inspired styles), chef knives are more commonly found in double-beveled versions.
Similar to high-quality vegetable knives, the majority of chef knives are full-tang, enhancing balance and improving durability. Unique to many chef knives is a bolster, positioned at the point where the blade and handle meet, preventing accidental slippage and improving safety.
Closing Thoughts on the Vegetable Knife vs the Chef Knife
Both knives are highly capable and valued additions to any kitchen. From novice chefs to master cooks, both knives will get ample use when preparing a wide variety of meals. Although the chef’s knife wins in the versatility category, when it comes to slicing veggies, the vegetable knife reigns supreme.