In these times of open-kitchen tasting-menu restaurants and nose-to-tail butchery classes, the knife has become a fetishized object—not just among culinary-school grads but on the countertops of everyday Americans. Amassing the ideal cutlery collection is a high-stakes prospect, fraught with questions about single versus double bevels and whether to use a cleaver or a meat saw to carve a whole hog. To help you make the right investments, we created a compendium of expert knife picks, from oyster shuckers to steak knives.
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Photos by Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
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Carving a Goat: Nenox G-Type Sujihiki Slicer. This double-bevel style is long and thin enough to slice a full goat or pig cleanly, but thick enough for more mundane tasks like onion-chopping.
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Butchering a Hog: Mound Tool Hand Saw. Home butchers looking to take apart whole hogs should try this saw. Easier to use than a cleaver, simply grip the handle horizontally and move back and forth.
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Serving Steak: Laguiole en Aubrac Steak Knife. The straight edge is better for clean cuts into well-aged, well-marbled meats, which don’t need to be torn through so much as sliced.
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Skewering Beef Ribs: Tramontina Passador. These sturdy Tramontina Passador knives handle almost like a small sword and are intended for Brazilian barbecue chefs.
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Shucking Oysters: French Oyster Knife. This knife is strengthened with a full tang (an extension of the blade that’s hidden underneath the handle)—helpful for prying apart stronger shells.
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Peeling Radishes: Shiro-ko Hongasumi Usuba. The usuba is made for the meticulous vegetable chopping common in Japanese cooking; the razorlike knife is perfect for slicing baby turnips and carrots.
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Making Noodles: Suisin Inox Menkiri. For soba geeks, this is an essential tool, highly specialized for cutting long strips of handmade Japanese noodles.
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Serving Hard Cheese: Boska Cheese Slicer Taste. This rosewood-handled, stainless-steel-bladed Boska knife is a formidable match for even the hardest Cheddar.
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Sabering Champagne: Laguiole Champagne Saber. This polished sword continues the Napoleonic tradition of using a saber to strike a Champagne bottle and whisk off the neck in one fell swoop.
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Serving Fancy Cake:ThermoHauser Pastry Knife. This 12-inch knife is made with a pointed tip, so slicing large cakes is easy and clean. Use it to remove a layer cake neatly from a springform pan.