Anthony Bourdain tells it like it is.
But before all that, there was his bestselling 2000 memoir “Kitchen Confidential,” in which he confessed the grittier truths of life as a chef in Manhattan. In it, he doesn’t hold back.
Bourdain feels particularly strongly about a staple of many modern-day kitchens: the knife set. He writes:
No con foisted on the general public is so atrocious, so wrongheaded, or so widely believed as the one that tells you you need a full set of specialised cutlery in various sizes. I wish sometimes I could go through the kitchens of amateur cooks everywhere just throwing knives out from their drawers — all those medium-size ‘utility’ knives, those useless serrated things you see advertised on TV, all that hard-to-sharpen stainless steel garbage, those ineptly designed slicers — not one of the damn things could cut a tomato.
Please believe me, here’s all you will ever need in the knife department: ONE good chefs knife, as large as is comfortable for your hand.
He goes on to say that knives from classic European companies such as Henkel or Wusthof are high quality, but they’re expensive, heavy, and require a level of maintenance that just isn’t realistic for most amateur chefs. “Most of the professionals I know have for years been retiring their Wusthofs and replacing them with the lightweight, easy-to-sharpen and relatively inexpensive vanadium steel Global knives, a very good Japanese product which has — in addition to its many other fine qualities — the added attraction of looking really cool.”
But, he says, you still really only need one good chefs knife. “Like a pro, you should use the tip for the small stuff, and the area nearer the heel for the larger.”
That’s not to say that you can’t find any other useful knives, especially if you’re a professional or aspiring chef.
Bourdain himself also carries a flexible boning knife from Global to “fillet the occasional fish” and trim meat, but if you have a butcher who carves up your meals, you can do without. He keeps a paring knife on hand for the more elaborate carving of vegetables, and admits that an offset serrated knife, which is a basic serrated knife with an ergonomic handle that isn’t flush with the blade, “is a truly cool item which, once used, becomes indispensable.” It can be used for everything from bread to tomatoes to meat to fish … and you can get a good, stainless steel one for about $25.
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