Looking online, I feel like I'm shooting in the dark. Got any advice for brands to check out?
Sent by ArielleEditor: Arielle, our first piece of advice would be to go to Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, or another cookware or cutlery store near you and just spend an hour holding knives.
As we say in our video on How to Learn Basic Knife Skills, a knife is a really personal thing. It should feel comfortable in your hand, and you should be able to grip it in the ways we demonstrate without it feeling uncomfortable. For instance, I recently used a chef's knife while traveling that was much too big for my very small hands. I ended up with a uncomfortable blister where my index finger meets my palm. If you're using your knife properly you will probably develop a callus in that spot eventually, but this knife was just too big for me; I couldn't grip it comfortably.
So you should go and try out a lot of knives, balancing them in your hand.
Having said that, here are a few past threads with some great suggestions for inexpensive and reliable chef's knives. I still really like my Victorinox knife; it gets professionally sharpened every year and is going strong.
Readers, knife-search tips for Arielle?