1) Forged or stamped?
Stamped knives utilise blades cut from large, flattened sheets of steel. The edges are ground and polished, leaving the finished product relatively lighter than forged knives, which are made by pouring hot steel into a mould and subjecting the knife to heating and cooling treatments, which harden the blade and build resilience.
2) Turning Japanese?
Japanese-style knives are becoming increasingly popular among high-end chefs, which are typically lighter than their European counterparts. However, Japanese knives are generally designed for slicing sideways rather than down into the chopping board – doing so can increase the chances of blunting.
3) Don't go nuts
Young chefs and apprentices shouldn't splash the cash on ridiculously expensive knives early in their career, according to James Mackenzie, chef-patron of the Michelin-starred Pipe & Glass Inn.
"What I say to my apprentices who've just started cheffing is that there's no point in getting a full set of 20-odd knives," he says. You'll use a core group of knives so start off buying some good ones – not the cheapest ones, but definitely not the most expensive ones."
4) Top skills
Additionally, Mackenzie says young chefs need to learn several basic skills before investing in knives. Dicing onions and learning the classic cuts are a top priority.
"It's quite sad but, as a chef, there's something quite gratifying about seeing all the vegetables chopped perfectly," he says.
5) Washed out
Running your knives through the dishwasher is the cardinal sin of knife maintenance. It can cause them to bang against anything else you may have in there and can create nasty indentations and nicks on the blades. Always wash knives by hand and store them separate from other cutlery when drying.