Finding The Best Professional Chef's Knives
The world of professional quality chef’s knives can seem overwhelming at first, with a wide variety of styles and brands to keep track of. If you’re new to the scene, you might find it hard to find the best chef’s knife for you.
Over here at Dalstrong, we are a bit biased. However, that doesn't mean we are the only brand on the block when it comes to professional chef's knives.
In this article, we will briefly discuss how we compare to other brands and take a look at some of the products we take pride in here at Dalstrong.
Table of Contents:
- Types of Professional Chef Knives
- What to Look For in a Professional Chef's Knife
- About Dalstrong's Professional Knives
- Wüsthof vs. Dalstrong
- Zwilling vs. Dalstrong
- Shun vs. Dalstrong
- Best Dalstrong Professional Chef Knives
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Types of Professional Chef Knives
Let's start the conversation by briefly going over the different types of Professional knives that are out there.
The workhorse of a chef’s arsenal, chef’s knives are all-purpose knives, most commonly used for meat and vegetables. They are typically around 8” long, though the exact length can vary. Chef’s knives can also differ in blade shape, depending on the curve of the cutting edge.
Originating in Japan, Santoku knives have flat edges and a downturned “Sheepsfoot” tip. Santoku knives are known for their versatility. The name “Santoku” translates to “three uses.” As opposed to Gyuto knives, which are created to chop meat, Nakiri knives, which are meant to chop vegetables, and Deba knives, which chop fish, Santoku knives are all-purpose and can handle just about anything.
As suggested in their name, boning knives are used to remove meat from the bone. They have a long, thin, flexible blade that can slice through tendons and ligaments. The thin blade allows for a more precise cut than an all-purpose chef’s knife.
Typically around 4” to 7” long, utility knives are smaller than chef’s knives but larger than paring knives. They are versatile with a wide variety of uses, like chopping fruits and deli meats. The utility knives used in kitchens are sometimes referred to as “sandwich knives” to avoid being confused with the all-purpose blades used outside of the kitchen that is referred to as “utility knives.”
Small and versatile, paring knives are a necessity in any kitchen. Typically less than 4” long, these small but mighty knives can have curved or straight blades, depending on their intended uses. Paring knives are meant for small, delicate kitchen work, like peeling vegetables, removing seeds, and creating garnishes.
Also known as a butcher knife, a cleaver is a knife with a wide blade, typically with a rectangular shape. Cleavers are intended for chopping up large chunks of meat or cutting through bone. Since they are used for heavy-duty tasks, cleavers are usually thicker than other kitchen knives. They can vary considerably in length, from just a few inches to over a foot.
Cleavers shouldn’t be confused with Japanese Nakiri knives. While they have a similar shape, Nakiri knives are meant for chopping vegetables and aren’t up to the task of hacking through bone.
The term bread knife refers to a long, serrated blade used for cutting – you guessed it – bread. A good bread knife should be able to easily slice through a loaf of bread without crushing it or leaving crumbs behind.
While bread knives are a mainstay of modern kitchens, they’re a surprisingly new invention. One of the first bread knives was exhibited at the Chicago world’s fair in 1893 and the design was first patented in the United States in 1921.
2. What to Look For in a Professional Chef's Knife
One difference to consider is the alloy. For reference, the word alloy refers to the mix of metals in the blade. German knives are typically made from softer steel alloys, while Japanese-style knives tend to be made with harder alloys. Neither is objectively better than the other – both have their uses, and it ultimately comes down to personal preference.
Harder alloys feel lighter in your hand and hold an impeccably sharp edge for longer. However, once they do get dull, they’re trickier to sharpen. Harder steel is also more brittle: you risk chipping or damaging your knife.
A softer steel is heavier and goes dull relatively quickly. However, it is easy to sharpen and more difficult to damage. Soft, German-style steel is best for heavy-duty work, like cutting through tough cartilage.
When shopping for a knife, check the Rockwell Hardness Scale. This will tell you how hard the blade is. Low to mid 50’s indicates a softer knife, while high 50’s to 60’s is hard.
Dalstrong knives are between 55 - 62 Rockwell Hardness, offering customers a range of options so that they can find a knife that fits their personal preferences and kitchen needs.
Forged Vs. Stamped
Knives are manufactured in two ways: forged and stamped. Forged knives are created from a steel bar that is hammered into shape by either a machine or a skilled worker. While forging is a laborious process, it helps strengthen the steel by rearranging the molecules.
Forged knives typically have a bolster and full tang. A bolster is a piece of metal that connects the blade to the handle, which helps balance the blade and makes it safer to use. Full tang means that the blade extends into the handle, adding structural support. While these features are a quick way of identifying a forged knife, it is important to note that not all forged knives have them.
Stamping, on the other hand, involves cutting the blade from a flat piece of steel, cookie-cutter style. While stamped knives are cheaper and easier to produce, they are typically less durable, and most professional chefs prefer forged knives.
3. About Dalstrong's Professional Knives
Founded in 2014 by David Dallaire, Dalstrong is a newcomer to the knife game. However, Dalstrong has already gained a formidable reputation in a short period. They are known for placing value not only on the durability and performance of their knives but also on their aesthetic qualities, as well. Dalstrong knives can’t yet be found in major retailers like William Sonoma or Mercer Culinary, but the company is determined to make its mark on the industry.
Dalstrong offers a wider variety of knives than other brands. While other brands use steel from only one source, Dalstrong sources its materials from all over the globe.
In addition to quality, Dalstrong prides itself on a creative, eye-catching design. Their knives are inspired by history, mythology, and the natural world.
The Ronin Series draws inspiration from Japanese culture, while the Crusader series is perfect for the minimalist who still wants to stand out. The Delta Wolf Series takes a militaristic approach to knife design, with a portion of proceeds going to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. However, Dalstrong also offers options for chefs who prefer a more traditional approach to design with the Gladiator series.
Committed to Community
As a young company, Dalstrong has worked hard to create a sense of community among customers and establish a reputation as a trustworthy source for cutlery and kitchenware. To stand out among established industry players, they emphasize providing customers with the highest standard of customer service.
Due to this commitment to community and customer care, Dalstrong has garnered a reputation for exceptional customer service. They offer a generous return policy with a 120-day full money-back guarantee and a lifetime warranty, a record in the industry.
Through Dalstrong’s Chef Blog and International Chef Database, Dalstrong makes an effort to educate customers through how-to guides, recipes, chef profiles, and information on the culinary industry as a whole.
Made In China - With Pride
While Dalstrong sources materials from all over the world, Dalstrong knives are made in China. Don’t let the “made in China” reputation fool you, though. Chinese knives are not as well known as German or Japanese blades, but China still has an ancient knife-making history and modern, world-class factories. Even Zwilling and Wüsthof, famous for their German roots, produce some of their kitchen knives in China.
Dalstrong knives are produced in Yanjiang, a city in China’s southern Guangdong province. Yangjiang is known for its history of knifemaking, which goes back over 1400 years. In the 19th century, American missionaries brought prized Yangjiang knives home as gifts. Now, the city is lauded as one of the top knife-producing cities worldwide, and has earned a reputation as China’s “Capital of Knives and Scissors.”
4. Wüsthof vs. Dalstrong Knives
Boasting over 200 years of history, Wüsthof is a high-end knife manufacturer based in Solingen, Germany. The company was founded in 1814 by Johann Abraham Wüsthof as a manufacturer of kitchen shears, pocket knives, and tableware.
By 1881, Wüsthof expanded internationally to sell knives in New York and opened a new, steam-powered factory, which was state of the art for the time. While the city of Solingen suffered severe damage during World War II, the Wüsthof factory survived and continued producing knives until the 1970s, when it was replaced with an updated facility.
Like Dalstrong, most Wüsthof knives are precision-forged rather than stamped. Popular lines include the Wüsthof Classic, which was first designed in 1886, and the Wüsthof Classic Ikon series.
Being so steeped in tradition, Wüsthof’s offerings are less diverse than the options available from Dalstrong. While Wüsthof does offer more aesthetic variety than rivals like Zwilling and Shun, they typically have a more traditional appearance than Dalstrong’s. Wüsthof is also limited in its variety.
While Dalstrong understands the importance of honoring tradition, they also understand that not all chefs want designs that haven’t changed since 1886. The sheer variety of designs that Dalstrong produces helps the company stand out.
While some of Dalstrong’s products, like the Gladiator series – which features German steel and understated designs – draw inspiration from traditional European cutlery, Dalstrong sells specialty knives inspired by cultures from around the globe.
5. Zwilling vs. Dalstrong Knives
In sharp contrast to Dalstrong’s modern image, Zwilling J. A. Henckels knives are steeped in tradition. Founded in 1731, the Zwilling name, which means “twin” in reference to founder Peter Henckels’ Gemini zodiac sign, is one of the oldest copyrights in history.
The company opened its first store in Berlin in 1818 and by 1883, they had expanded internationally to open a store in New York City. Soon, they were winning awards and were even appointed as the official knifemakers for the Royal Court of Austria-Hungary.
Zwilling JA Henckels now operates several brands. Zwilling offers high-quality professional knives, while the Zwilling JA Henckels line offers budget options and starter sets. Popular lines include the Zwilling Professional S.
In recent years, the brand has expanded to cookware and appliances. Zwilling doesn’t only produce knives and cookware, though – they’re also in the beauty industry. The company has a long history of producing razors, scissors, tweezers, and other equipment for barbershops, nail salons, and professional hairdressers. Zwilling’s website boasts everything from coffee makers to nose hair trimmers.
Like Zwilling, Dalstrong sells cookware, including skillets, woks, and stockpots. While Dalstrong doesn’t sell as wide a variety of products as Zwilling – after all, Dalstrong has yet to enter the beauty industry – the products that they do sell are carefully designed to reflect the highest standard of quality and craftsmanship.
While Zwilling produces most of its knives in Germany, some lines are made in Spain and China. In recent years, the Zwilling J. A. Henckels brand has also acquired the Japanese brand Miyabi. With knives in a variety of styles available on the Zwilling website, the company offers more diversity than its competitors Wüsthof and Shun.
However, Zwilling and the other brands under the Zwilling J. A. Henckels brand tend to favor a more conservative approach to design. While Zwilling knives are elegant in their simplicity, Dalstrong is known for its unique, eye-catching designs. You won’t find anything as ornate as the Norse-inspired Valhalla Series on the Zwilling website.
Dalstrong doesn’t shy away from understated minimalism either, though. The Crusader Series offers simple, sculptural stainless steel blades in hand-crafted wooden scabbards, perfect for anyone who appreciates sleek, masterful design.
6. Shun vs. Dalstrong Knives
While Shun is a younger band than Zwilling or Wüsthof, its history still goes back over 100 years. Shun’s parent company, KAI Group, was founded in Seki City in 1908. Like Yanjiang, China – home to Dalstrong’s factories – Seki City has a robust knifemaking economy and a history of producing swords and knives that goes back centuries.
However, Shun knives are a relatively new addition to the Western market. In 2002, the KAI Group founded Shun Cutlery in hopes of introducing Japanese-style knives to the West. The brand is credited with popularizing Japanese-style knives, and over the past 20 years, they have grown to become a widely recognized and respected brand worldwide. Their knives have won numerous awards, and Shun is regarded as one of the top brands in the industry.
Shun knives are heavily influenced by Japanese history, drawing inspiration from traditional Japanese sword-smithing techniques. While the exact process varies by collection, Shun’s most popular line, Shun Classic, features precision-forged Damascus cladding and full tang Pakkawood handles. The ancient process of creating Damascus steel involves folding layers of metal alloy to create a delicate rippled pattern on the blade. Like all Shun knives, the Shun Classic line is made from Japanese steel, which is known for being exceptionally hard.
However, Japanese steel can come with downsides. The exceptional hardness of Japanese steel means that Shun knives have a reputation for chipping easily. Dalstrong offers a wider variety of options, with knives made from steel not only from Japan but also from America, China, and Germany. No matter your taste or kitchen needs, Dalstrong has a blade for you.
Shun kitchen knives are also pretty pricey – the popular Shun Classic costs hundreds of dollars. While Dalstrong carries higher-end lines, their knives are considerably more affordable than Shun, without sacrificing quality.
7. Best Dalstrong Professional Chef’s Knives
Best Chef Knife
Crafted over 60 days, the Shogun Series 8” Chef’s Knife is a masterpiece. The exceptionally hard 62 Rockwell blade is made with an AUS-10V Japanese super steel core and cladded with 62 layers Damascus. This design doesn’t cut corners when it comes to high-quality materials. The blade features a hammered Tsuchime finish and a copper mosaic pin attached to the G-10 handle for an elegant appearance.
- The tapered bolster helps provide balance for the perfect grip.
- The military-grade G-10 Garolite handle is durable and resistant to moisture or harsh temperatures.
- Think bigger is better? Try the 9.5” Shogun Series Chef’s Kitchen Knife instead.
- Some chefs may prefer softer steel for everyday use.
Best Utility Knife
Smaller than a chef’s knife but exceptionally versatile, utility knives, also known as sandwich knives, serve a similar purpose to chef’s knives while being easier to maneuver. The Dalstrong Crusader Series 6” Utility Knife is a great option, combining strength and precision with exceptional design.
Made of durable, precision-forged German steel, this knife is tough, durable, and resistant to chips. The minimalist design makes this blade an unobtrusive addition to any kitchen, seamlessly matching any décor while lending an air of elegance and sophistication. The groove along the spine helps reduce friction for a clean-cut, while also balancing the blade.
- The seamless transition from blade to handle and lack of crevices in this design makes it exceptionally hygienic and easy to clean.
- At 58+ Rockwell hardness, this blade is hard enough to retain an edge, while being soft enough to avoid chips.
- Some chefs prefer a utility knife with a serrated edge because serrated knives rarely need to be sharpened and can cut through tough foods with ease. Fortunately, there’s a serrated alternative, the Crusader Series 5.5” Serrated Utility Knife.
Best Santoku Knife
Precision-forged from a single piece of ice-tempered Japanese steel, the 7” Phantom Series Santoku Knife is perfect for anyone searching for an alternative to the traditional Western chef’s knife. Santoku knives, meant for slicing meat, vegetables, or fish, are more versatile than other types of Japanese knives.
The blade is forged from Japanese AUS-8 steel hand-finished for a mirror-like shine. Divots along the edge of the blade help the knife glide smoothly through food without leaving residue stuck to the surface. The well-balanced handle features pakkawood imported from Spain with a delicate copper and brass medallion for decoration.
- At 58 Rockwell hardness, this knife won’t chip as easily as harder steel.
- Compared to Western knives, Santoku knives feature straighter edges, perfect for those who prefer the Japanese-style push cut.
- If you’re used to Western-style knives, the Santoku’s shape might take some getting used to.
Best Boning Knife
The Valhalla Series 6” Boning Knife is perfect for slicing through sinew and muscle with ease, the blade features 5-layer precision-forged 60+ Rockwell steel. Despite the impressive specifications, what makes this knife stand out is the striking handle. The handle combines swirling blue resin with reinforced wood for an exceptionally unique and eye-catching design.
- The wood and resin handle is unlike anything else on the market.
- At 8-12º per side, this knife is sharpened to a razor-like edge.
- Admittedly, this design is pretty flashy. For a more traditional look, consider something like the Gladiator Series 6” Boning Knife.
Best Bread Knife
A testament to the quality of Japanese steel, the artfully forged 10.25” Shogun Series Bread Knife is the only bread knife you’ll ever need. The blade, made of AUS-10V steel and crafted over 60 days, is hand polished to highlight 67 layers of SUS410 Damascus cladding. The ergonomic handle is made of military-grade G-10 Garolite, which is impervious to heat, moisture, and cold.
- The long blade helps ensure that you’ll be able to cut any loaf you encounter – from dinner rolls to baguettes.
- Sharpening a serrated knife can be tricky, but at 62+ Rockwell hardness, this knife has exceptional edge retention.
- This is relatively pricey for a bread knife – amateur chefs might prefer a less expensive model, like the Dalstrong 10” Gladiator Series Serrated Bread Knife.
- At 10.25,” this knife may be unwieldy, some people might find a shorter blade easier to use.
Best Paring Knife
Small but mighty, the Dalstrong 3.5” Frost Fire Series Paring Knife is hands-down the most stylish way to slice through a strawberry or pit a peach. Made from 7-layer high carbon 10CR15MOV steel, the blade features a nonstick sandblast finish and tapered bolster to improve balance. True to Dalstrong’s commitment to aesthetics, the smooth, ergonomic blade is decorated with an attractive honeycomb design in aluminum and white enamel.
- The small size of a paring knife makes it useful for delicate tasks.
- The 16-18º angle and 60-61 Rockwell steel make for clean cuts and superior edge retention.
- While the straight edge of this knife is versatile, some chefs find that curved, “bird’s beak” paring knives, like this Shadow Black Series 2.75” Bird’s Beak Paring Knife, are better suited for tasks like skinning fruits.
Best Cleaver Knife
Tough, handsome, and durable, the Shadow Black Series 9” Cleaver Knife is perfect for slicing through meat and stubborn foods. The precision-forged high carbon blade is heat-treated before enduring a deep-freeze nitrogen cooling process to ensure hardness and flexibility. Despite its angular design, the military-grade G10 handle is ergonomically designed for maximum comfort and grip, making this knife a practical and stylish choice.
- The handle, inspired by the F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter, makes this knife stand out.
- Since this knife is meant for chopping tough materials, the 58 Rockwell steel is relatively soft to help prevent chips.
- While this knife is sturdy and versatile, other knives, like the formidable 9” Gladiator Series Meat Cleaver are better suited for heavy-duty butcher work.
8. Frequently Asked Questions
What knives do Michelin chefs use?
While many chefs still opt for established brands, Dalstrong has garnered a strong reputation in the industry despite its newcomer status. Dalstrong knives are already endorsed by world-class chefs like three-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn.
What knives do top chefs recommend?
Top chefs know that knives are a personal choice. If you’re searching for a new knife, it’s best to spend time researching to find a knife that fits your budget, style, and cooking needs.
What types of knives do professional chefs use?
Professional chefs know not to skimp on quality. Most professional chefs prefer precision forged, full-tang stainless steel blades.
What is the best all-around knife?
If you’re looking for a versatile knife, a chef’s knife or Santoku knife would be a good bet. While they’re not up for every kitchen task, these knives are intended for a wide variety of uses.
Written by Cassie WomackBased in Richmond, Virginia, Cassie enjoys trying challenging new recipes with her cat for company.