Why You Shouldn't Bother Buying Knives From A Restaurant Supply Store

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Knives are all-purpose tools in the kitchen. They can chop, carve, dice, and slice with ease. Many, if not most fancy restaurants require chefs to bring their own knives. (That's how important a good tool is in the pro world.) When acquiring a set of professional-grade knives, it can be tough to know where to look. Restaurant supply stores may seem like the place to shop, even as a home cook, because, "Hey, that's where the pros go, right?" But the knife section in particular, is worth skipping over completely. 

These are the stores (brick-and-mortar warehouses or online shops) where you'll find affordable entry-level gear like plastic cutting boards, steel mixing bowls, sheet pans, and rubber spatulas — in other words, things you can use and abuse in a commercial kitchen. They're ideal one-stop shops for stocking a kitchen without breaking the bank. But the knives at one of these stores won't be the tried-and-true tools that professional chefs swear by (and look cool brandishing). 

Cook like a chef and use a chef's tools

If you're looking for knives, restaurant supply stores can supply them, but you get what you pay for. For any regular home cook, it's worth it to invest in and maintain a more quality model. Even an entire drawer full of knives is useless if all of them are so dull they tear your poor tomato skin to shreds. Instead of buying an entire knife block of semi-functional cutlery, it would be better to spend the same amount on a single, reliable tool — and make it a chef's knife

In his magnum opus "Kitchen Confidential," Anthony Bourdain writes, "No con foisted on the general public is so atrocious, so wrong-headed or so widely believed as the one that tells you you need a full set of specialized cutlery in various sizes ... Please believe me. Here's all you will ever need in the knife department: ONE good chef's knife, as large as is comfortable for your hand." 

The ideal knife is comfortable to hold, sharp, sturdy, maneuverable, and durable enough to last. Supply stores are selling you the price, but knife brands are selling their knives' reputations, so they care about steel quality and ergonomics. For instance, this highly-rated, solid stainless steel Global G-2 Chef's Knife runs for $140, or this Japanese-made Mac Mighty MTH-80 will set you back just a few bucks more. But with proper maintenance, both of these quality knives should last a decade or longer.