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I am in the process of upgrading my kitchen hardware. First thing's first: I need a better set of knives than what I currently have.

Rather than breaking the bank by buying a whole set without knowing what any individual knife does, I would like to build it one knife at a time.

Would anyone be able to recommend the first type of knife I should get? I will also appreciate any brand recommendations!

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Although the questions aren't 100% identical, many of the answers (eg, mine) go into the details of what you're asking. –  Joe Jun 21 '13 at 16:12
    
I suspect most of the answers will be the same. On the off chance that this isn't closed as a duplicate I will add one note that isn't there. I have a local shop in my community (Calgary) that lets me hold, and test out knives before I buy them. It might be nice to get a feel for it before you spend the money. I'm partial to some leser known handmade japanese knives, but they definitely aren't "starter" knives. –  talon8 Jun 21 '13 at 17:06
    
Thanks, Talon! You live in Calgary? That's cool, I work for a company whose worldwide headquarters is based there. –  Throckmorton Q. Dirktwister Jun 21 '13 at 19:28
    
well, i was digging through my kitchen cabinet this weekend, and i found a couple of Wusthof paring knives. they must have been gifts from when i got married, so scratch one of my to-acquire list! –  Throckmorton Q. Dirktwister Jun 24 '13 at 16:42
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marked as duplicate by Joe, Mien, SAJ14SAJ, MandoMando, Kate Gregory Jun 22 '13 at 2:54

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2 Answers

Buy a decent quality steel and sharpen the knives you have. Replace the ones that your are least comfortable / use the most first.

Essentials:
Chefs knife 8-10" blade pointy tip helps but not essential. (think mines about 8)
Pairing knife 3" pointy tip.
Knife w/ Serated edge. Think tomatoes, bread (big one for bread, little one for tomatoes/veg)

Next:
Filleting knife (ultra flexible, sharp skinning and filleting fish)
Boning knife (less flexible - almost stilleto like knife for dealing with carcass deboning - meat)

On:
Carving both meat and cured fish.

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I agree with most what ferdiesfoodlab said above but my suggestion are slightly different:

  1. Invest in a good chef's knife. I love my Wusthof but there are many other good brands.
  2. Get thee a honing steel.
  3. Then buy a knife sharpener.

The honing steel actually does not "sharpen" the blade but straightens it. Sometimes inaccurately honing irons are advertised as "knife sharpeners". Always use it prior to using your knife. When the honing steel ceases to work then it is time to sharpen the knife. If you use a sharpener all the time, you reduce the blade life expectancy. There are many sharpeners out there, I suggest to avoid the electrical ones. I use a wet stone as a sharpener.

To see how to sharpen knifes, an introduction to the types of knifes and other basic info, I strongly recommend the book "The Professional Chef" by the American Culinary Institute.

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