ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Chef Knife - A Cut Above

If you've got foodies on your list this year, sure you can gift them tea towels, loose leaf teas and thick shortbread cookies, but why not get them something they'll not only use, but a tool that takes them to the next level?

ZWILLING J.A. Henckels just opened their second one-stop shop for all your kitchen needs in Canada at Vaughan Mills. In addition to shelves stocked with modern cookware and gadgets, there are some phenomenal knives on display. After all, ZWILLING J.A. Henckels has spent the last 280 years making superb knives for chefs and home cooks alike. In fact, the legacy of the brand began with premium knives.

There is little more that a chef covets more than their knife. While many home cooks manage with "good enough," a "very good" knife makes all the difference in executing a meal like a pro.

Many chefs I know use very expensive knives, but they sure didn't start out with them - they gradually worked their way up. And all of the chefs I admire say you don't have to break your budget and purchase something fancy - all you need is a reliable knife that feels good in your hand, performs a multitude of tasks, and will last and last. Here's where to start:

Part of a knife series celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, this is sure to be the most valuable tool in your kitchen.

Made in Germany with a special formula German high carbon that gets hardened in ice, the no-stain steel blade forged from a single piece of steel is mighty powerful. Honed for a lasting cutting edge, it was made to slice and dice, cut and chop everything from meat and vegetables to fish and poultry. So whether your you want thin slices of fish for ceviche or big chunks of potato for cottage pie, this beauty takes care of most of the tasks at hand.

Sturdy but not too heavy - you don't want it weighing you down - it allows you to move around with ease. After all, you need to be nimble especially when preparing a chiffonade of basil and other delicate herbs, or julienning vegetables, both of which you'll need in making Anthony Bourdain's Vietnamese Chua Salad with Herbs, Scallions, Sprouts, and Egg, from his new cookbook Appetites, co-written with Laurie Woolever.

An ergonomic molded polypropylene handle means that no matter how long it takes to prep dinner tonight, your hand won't fatigue. And with the holidays on quick approach, no doubt it's all going to take awhile. Want to practice your dexterity chopping and dicing (BTW not the same thing)? A good ol' fashioned Beef Bourguignon, Ratatouille or Chop-Chop Salad (I recommend Chef Daniel Boulud's with Gingered Shrimp & Calamari) is the perfect exercise to learn to wield your knife properly and get your sizing just right.

It's even dishwasher safe (to extend its life and keep the blade from dulling, hand-washing is recommended).

Perhaps the best thing about this knife isn't the incredible workmanship and design, but that you'll feel like a pro with this in hand, no matter how novice your knife skills are.

You might not be ready to compete on "Top Chef" just yet, but with this knife in hand, you'll be one step closer.

Shop Four Star Chef's Knife 8" now. In fact, go ahead and shop all knives at ZWILLING J.A. Henckels. Cooking for the holidays has never been easier. Or more fun.

Stephanie Dickison

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