Chopped & chef's knives

I watch a lot of the cooking competition shows on Food Network and one thing that I noticed on Chopped is that each of the challengers brings their own set of knives. How likely is it that chef’s really prefer their own set of knives, rather than whatever is owned by the restaurant where they work? I don’t see this on any other shows.


Very likely, if it’s anything above a chain restaurant. Chefs on Hell’s Kitchen and Top Chef bring their own knives. I’ve seen culinary students swapping links on Facebook for their dream knives, and I’ve taken a cooking class at a Michelin-starred restaurant where culinary students and chefs who attended brought their own as well.

My ex-wife had to bring her own knives to culinary school and that school did a lot to prepare you for working in a restaurant. But it’s really only going to be ‘fancy’ restaurants that have you bringing your own knives. The chef at the chain or even the mom and pop $25 per plate aren’t going to make their chefs bring their own, not that they can’t but they won’t be forced to.

It does make a difference though. We use a lot of knives at work and if a knife is too light it’s uncomfortable for me to use. Also, not that I have big hands, but if a knife has been sharpened too many times and the blade is too small I can’t use it because my knuckles hit the cutting board. I don’t do a lot of cutting so I just grab a new knife. I used to make sure we got those ones replaced the next time the knife sharpeners came in, but some of the other people (girls mostly) prefer them when they get smaller.

Some other shows just might not show that part, if the participants are professionals who are likely to have their own knife set. They either don’t film it or edit it out if it’s just not something they focus on in the theme of the show.

Hell I’m no chef and I bring my knives to my parents when I cook dinner for them because their knives suck. I often bring my own cook wear for the same reason.

Agreed, I’ve brought my own knives to my mom’s house and to a friend’s house. A good knife can make all the difference.

It’s why on Top Chef the parting saying is “Pack your knives and go” with a scene of the chefs packing up. They bring their own to the competition.

Hell, a good knife can mean not cutting yourself. I always think it’s funny when people are scared of really sharp knives. Like I said upthread we get our work knives sharped (every 2 weeks) professionally. When we first started doing that some people were terrified of the sharp knives and would go rooting through the drawers for the older ones. I had to explain to them that the nice sharp knives (watch as it practically falls through an onion) are the safe ones. Those garbage $5 light weight knives you have at home that are 10 years old that you have to put your weight into…those are the dangerous ones. It took some time, but eventually most people come around. Once a dull knife slips off an onion a few too many times then maybe you start reaching for the sharp ones.

Not to mention, when that cheap plastic handle crumbles and suddenly a detached blade is tumbling around in search of the nearest artery to sever…

(My ex-husband rolled his eyes when I wanted a really good pair of kitchen knives one year for Christmas. He magnanimously presented me with a WHOLE SET of cheapo Farberwares - you know, Walmart specials @ $35.00 for a set of 14 in a block. A few weeks later, when a blade came out of the handle while I was chopping up salad ingredients? Yeah, I no longer graciously used those knives just because they’d been a gift. Especially after I pointed out to the ex that the good knives I wanted? Were cheaper than one co-pay at the emergency room! Fifteen years later, I still use the Wusthofs I bought the next day.)

My stepson is a chef and he has his own set of knives. He’s always used his at whatever establishment he’s worked at.

All chefs own their own knives. DO NOT use one without asking permission.

Not a professional chef by any means, but I have some nice knives accumulated and keep them very sharp. No visitors are allowed to use then without supervision. :slight_smile:

This would be me. I have some very nice knives that are also very old. One was my grandmother’s. It’s not stainless steel, so it has to be washed as soon as you’re done using it, and dried thoroughly before put away. No one really uses it but me. Sometimes my husband, but I’m possessive of it and I keep an eye on it.

I’ve never seen a cooking competition (for pro chefs) where they didn’t use their own knives. There may have been some challenges or twists where they had to use crappy knives as a penalty, but that’s it.

Personally, I have an unusual 10" chef’s knife, and I’d rather not use anything else because it’s so awesome. I bring it with me when I cook outside of my home. I had to hand-whittle the plastic blade cover down to fit the odd handle shape.

My son-in-law is a chef, and he definitely has his own set of knives.

Thanks, everyone. I had considered that in most competitions (ICA, for instance) the chefs bring their own knives and I understand (at least intellectually) that a knife can be a personal object to the user. I have never watched Top Chef so I didn’t know about the parting line but it certainly makes sense.

And here I sit with my beautiful set of ~$50.00 knives. I do try to get high quality steel though.


Those are beautiful knives. I have a Ken Onion designed pocket knife but not those chef’s knives. Might have to treat myself.

They’re on clearance on thee site I linked! Fits my hand like a glove.

Isn’t this a logical extention or continuation of how a skilled craftsman in any trade is expected to have their own tools?

Going back to trade guilds, a journeyman was expected to begin to build up their own tool stock for the day that they become their own master and opened their own shop.

Most tradesfolk I know have their own tools, unless they’re just hourly workers in a bigger concern (like plumbers employed and provided equipment by the general contractor).

My sense is that a master chef would be like other master craftsfolk: fully equipped with their own stock of cooking gear, or at least knives.

What gnoitall said.

I would totally carry my own knives to cook unless I know the knives on location are pleasing to me.

I’m not a professional chef, though, I’m a database geek. I have never used a computer other than my own computer as my primary computer at work except for a couple of temp jobs during the dark days of unemployment and scrambling. It’s a negotiating point when I interview: I will be bringing my own computer and keyboard, I will expect from you a pair of good monitors, got a problem with that?

All the musicians I know bring their own instruments, except for a couple folks who play pipe organ.