Food & Drink

Top Knives for Southern Cooks

The best blades for keeping your kitchen game sharp

Editor’s note: This originally appeared as a Good Hunting newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter here.

The joy I get from cooking is directly related not only to the ingredients I’m using, but also the tools I’m choosing. Truth be told, before I put together a collection of go-to kitchen knives, I dreaded the simple task of chopping an onion. Now, after slicing everything from the holy trinity to fresh fish to an oozy camembert to the hundreds of strawberries my young kiddos eat every week, I’ve found these to be the best blades for keeping my kitchen game sharp.

Smooth Slicer

A beautiful Southern tomato deserves a knife that will slice, not pulverize, it. A New York City chef taught me about Global knives fifteen years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. This 6-inch serrated blade easily slices through foods with firm skins or crusts and soft interiors—from sausage to banh mi–style sandwiches to the juicy heirloom tomatoes we’ll be plucking from the vine come summer. $75;

Bread Winner

Forget burning arm muscles and a squashed focaccia. While the wide-set teeth on this bread knife from Mercer are key to breaking through crust, I was most impressed with the grippy, textured handle, which fit in my hand perfectly with zero slipping as I cut a borderline-stale loaf into ⅛-inch slices (for bruschetta, of course). $24;

Kitchen Trio

The kitchen is our family’s hub—it’s where we cook, do homework, sort mail, and (most important) build Legos—and counter space is precious. In other words, a bulky knife block isn’t happening. With just three knives, this sharp, sturdy set from Food52 has the everyday essentials we need and can be stored neatly in a drawer. The set includes an 8-inch chef’s knife, a 9-inch serrated knife, and a 3.5-inch paring knife. Bonus points for the pretty color options. $139 (set of three);

Fresh Catch

Whenever the weather—and the kids’ sports schedules—cooperate, we’re out on the boat. And though we release most of what we catch, we do enjoy a couple of trout or flounder for dinner—and occasionally breakfast. I love that this Made In set—designed in collaboration with the chef (and avid fisherman) Tom Colicchio—includes both a 7.5-inch flexible fillet knife and a serrated knife. We keep the fillet knife in the kitchen for prepping and skinning fresh catches, and the serrated blade lives on the boat for cutting bait or heading and scaling fish at the marina. $89 (set of two);

The Utility Player

This Victorinox Santoku knife has become my go-to all-purpose knife for slicing, dicing, and chopping. It’s shorter, lighter, and thinner than most traditional chef’s knives, so it can also pull-off more precise jobs like coring and mincing. And that pretty, scalloped edge creates air pockets that help clingy foods like cheese and cucumber (two favorites at our house) release easily. $75;

Don’t Forget the Cheese

This one is on my wish list. I have a cheese board and I have cheese knives (somewhere) that I scramble to find before guests arrive. The genius of this set from Be Home is that the knives slip neatly inside the board for storage. It includes a pronged knife for serving soft or semi-firm cheeses, a flat knife for wider slices, and a pointed knife for chiseling off hunks of Parm. Fun fact: The board’s marble comes from Agra, India, home of the Taj Mahal. $118;

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