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I threw out my old knife set for one really good chef's knife, and I have no regrets

side-by-side showing salmon prepped with wusthof knife on the left and the knife itself on the right
My Wusthof knife (right) and a vegetable-heavy meal I prepped with it (left).
Julia Pugachevsky/Insider

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  • I used to own a big knife set, but the knives were lower quality and dulled quickly.
  • Instead, I invested in one multi-purpose knife, the Wüsthof Classic Ikon.
  • Recommended by us as the best overall kitchen knife, it was well worth the heavier price tag.

A few years ago, my friend crashed at my apartment for a couple of days. In return, she made me dinner, aided by the knife set I bought a few months before. Because she's someone who cooks really well and is the type of person to go get her knives sharpened, she had some feedback for me: mainly, my knife set sucked. 

It took her hours to hack through thin carrots with my knives and she politely told me it was time to toss out the knife set and invest in a few good knives instead. She spent time giving me pointers on the handles to look for and the main differences between different knives.

I listened, but like most things in my life, I had to really endure maximum inconvenience and discomfort before I actually did something, so when I kept cutting myself on dull knives three years later, I finally decided to heed her advice.

Wusthof Classic Ikon knife next to potatoes
I got the Wüsthof Classic Ikon knife, recommended as the best overall kitchen knife by Insider Reviews.
Julia Pugachevsky

Unfortunately, I retained almost nothing my friend said about knives, so instead of asking her to repeat everything, I just went and bought the "best overall chef's knife" in our own roundup, the Wüsthof Classic Ikon. According to my colleague Owen Burke, this "is the chef's knife for the average household in which blades aren't generally taken care of" (aka me!), so that was all I needed to be convinced.

With the caveat that I'm a very clear non-expert in knives, this knife feels fairly lightweight, has a long handle that works for larger-handed people like my boyfriend, and doesn't require a ton of pressure to actually cut through vegetables. Since buying it, I've used it for everything from chopping through zucchinis (goes through like butter!) to piercing through a kabocha squash (a Japanese pumpkin that would probably bend my old knives in half).

Kale salad with kabocha squash, leeks, pepitas, and tahini dressing made with a Wüsthof Classic Ikon knife.
The knife was amazingly useful for chopping up the kabocha squash in this salad.
Julia Pugachevsky/Insider

I saved a few small knives from my set for easy things like halving an avocado or button mushrooms, but other than that, I use this knife for all my cooking. As a bonus, it's given my small Brooklyn counter a little extra space sans a knife block, which is arguably the best part. I've only kept a few smaller knives and a higher-quality bread knife and it's more than enough.

Salmon and summer vegetable salad made with a Wüsthof Classic Ikon knife.
I used the knife to chop up all the veggies and herbs in this grain salad and garlic salmon dish.
Julia Pugachevsky/Insider

Anyway, if you already have a knife set you kind of hate but stubbornly don't want to get rid of: learn from me! I may never get the hours I spent gently sawing through beets and sweet potatoes back, but at least I can move forward a wiser (and more enthusiastically culinary) person!

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