An artist is only as good as her tools allow her to be. This is especially true for the culinary arts as having quality tools takes a lot of the sweat and effort out of prep and cooking. Investing in quality cooking knives, tools and accessories is going to be a life-long occupation. That said, you dont need to mortgage the house to buy quality cooking knives if you know what to look for.
If you are just setting up house or buying good quality cooking knives for the first time you only need to buy a few basic tools to work with. A quality chefs knife is essential for prep and chopping things like peppers, onions and the like. If you cook a lot you will find that the work goes much faster and takes less effort with a quality chefs knife.
Do not buy cheap knives at your local big box retail outlet. I repeat, do not waste money on a cheap knife. You will find it impossible to keep a sharp edge on it and using cheap quality knives can put more stress on your body and lead to developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Get a good quality forged steel chefs knife with an ergonomically designed grip. Dont choose the first one you see or the cheapest one. You will want a knife with a blade between 6 and 10 inches long.
You can get a great chefs knife for under $200 and a good one for around $100. Invest in one good chefs knife that you can use for decades instead of a series of cheap throw away knives that lose their edge quickly.
The second knife you will need is a good paring knife. Once again do not skimp on this investment. You will literally use this knife for years and buying quality means easier work, less effort and keeping your attention on the food where it belongs.
Get a paring knife with a quality forged steel blade that will take an edge easily. Good quality knives sharpen with just a few strokes on the steel so that you can start carving those delicate tomato roses quick and easy.
To make the job easier, get a paring knife with an ergonomic grip. If you do a lot of prep work, your hands will thank you for it. Buying a quality paring knife is one of the best opportunities to get quality for a good price. You can find high quality carbon steel Kershaw paring knives for under $20 or if the budget permits get a professional quality paring knife for around $100. The return on your investment will be years of faster and less stressful kitchen prep.
These three knives will be big guns in your kitchen arsenal. Invest a bit more to get quality knives now and you can add other cooking knives and tools as time and your budget permit. Cooking knives that handle well, feel good in your hand and keep their edge well are any cooks best friend in the kitchen.