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When we imagine a chef in a restaurant working to prepare a dish, we may think of them using various knives to complete their task. But what about the average home chef? Do you actually only need one knife in the kitchen?

First, it’s important to think about what each knife is typically used for. For cutting meat and chopping vegetables, you need a shorter, sturdy knife. This kind of knife is commonly called a chef’s knife. This type of knife allows you to safely cut through various thicker textures and is the knife you will be the most likely to use every day. While it would be tempting to determine that this is the only knife you need for basic cooking, let’s explore other types of knives and their functions.

Skinning fish and boning or thinly slicing meat requires a longer, more flexible knife. If you tend to buy your meat and fish ready to cook, you could potentially go without this type of knife.

A paring knife is nice to have for peeling fruits and vegetables. It is also handy to have if you work with smaller ingredients like garlic, herbs, dates, or olives. It resembles a chef’s knife’s shape and sturdiness, but its smaller scale makes it the perfect tool for fine work, such as removing pits, skin and scoring vegetables and meat.

The other knife chefs consider a standard in the kitchen is a bread knife. This kind of knife has a serrated edge and is specifically designed to cut through bread without compressing it. This makes it the perfect tool for cutting soft fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes and melons. It can also be used for carving a roast.

The question of whether you could get by with only one knife clearly depends on how much ingredient preparation you are doing. If you are short on space and tend to buy prepared vegetables, dried herbs, minced garlic, and sliced bread, you may be able to do almost everything else with one good chef’s knife. However, owning a complete set of knives will ensure that you are prepared with the right tool for the task, no matter the ingredient.