20 Cooks, 20 Knives: This month, we're taking a close look at a chef's most important tool: her knife. We asked 20 cooks, amateurs and professionals, to share their favorite knives and the stories behind them. While chef's knives are featured prominently, no two are exactly alike, and there are also a few surprises.
Profession: Editor, Ingredient Magazine & Butternut Magazine
City: St. Paul
Jill Colella calls herself a recovering picky eater. In her mid-20s, favoring grilled cheese and pizza over just about everything else, she became food literate, learned how to cook, and started writing cookbooks for families and children. Now she publishes two internationally distributed magazines about food for kids: Ingredient for kids 7 and up, and Butternut for littler ones ages 3 to 6.
What is your go-to knife? 7-inch Wusthof Classic Santoku, but if I'm teaching kids, a plastic lettuce knife. It is remarkable what it will cut.
How long have you had it? I received one as a gift 15 years ago. When divorcing, I left behind all gifts from my ex and bought a cheapie knife at Target. I dealt with it, regretted it, and missed my knives. I've been in touch once with my ex in the last three years, to ask for my knife set back. He wasn't feeling it, so I bought my own santoku — the start of a new collection.
Why did you choose it? It feels really good in the hand. I used to teach a lot of cooking classes (for adults and kids), and the key piece to cutting with speed and ease is feeling competent and in control. This knife makes me feel that way.
Where did you buy it and how much did it cost? I bought it at a local cooking store, Cooks of Crocus Hill. It cost about $130.
Do you sharpen it yourself or pay to get it sharpened? My local grocery store offers sharpening. Super easy and always well done.
Where do you keep it? I keep it in a drawer.
Are you possessive about your knife? Is anyone else allowed to use it? Not really, but I'm careful about washing it and putting it away. I'll allow someone else to use it, but I'll wash it.
What's the last thing that you made really well using your knife? Ina Garten's panzanella.