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If you’re anything like me, you’re a constant work in progress in the kitchen. While you may already pay close attention to ensure you are using quality ingredients or may have invested in a set of cookware that makes cleanup a cinch, now it’s time to sharpen that culinary credibility and focus on a quality knife that will have you slicing and dicing like a pro.

I spoke with Danielle Turner, chef, food writer, and food stylist for the PBS cooking show “Pati’s Mexican Table,” who gave us a rundown on how to choose and use the perfect chopping knife.

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1. When selecting a chef’s knife, make sure the blade extends the entire length of the knife, even through the handle. This is a sign of strength. Knives with a plastic or wooden handle simply attached to a blade will eventually weaken and break.

2. Try your chef’s knife on for size before you buy it. If you use your knife frequently it will soon feel like an extension of your arm so you’ll want to make sure it’s comfortable to hold and use. Don’t be afraid to ask the salesperson to let you hold several knives to see what feels best.

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3. Always cut or chop on a cutting board. Countertops and glass can damage your knife and can be too slippery for safe chopping.

4. Spread a damp paper towel underneath your cutting board to keep it steady while you chop.

5. Dull knives are dangerous so be sure to keep yours sharp. If you’re not comfortable sharpening them yourself, check your favorite kitchen supply stores. Many of them will sharpen your knives while you shop.

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6. Don’t feel pressured to buy an expensive knife set when you’re just starting out. Invest in one quality chef’s knife then purchase additional knives as you need them.

7. Safety tip: Never place knives in a sink full of water.  That’s a surefire way for you or anyone cooking with you to reach in and potentially get cut.

Skinny Mom Picks:

Zwilling: J.A. Henckels Pro S Chef’s Knife

An amazing knife for the more experienced chef, this 8 inch chef’s knife will become a fast favorite. This knife has great balance and fits beautifully in your hand for ultimate control.

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KitchenAid Black Ceramic Chef’s Knife

Ceramic knifes are all the rage in the culinary world recently, and for good reason! Ceramic knifes are super durable, will not rust and are dishwasher safe. A trusted name in kitchenware, KitchenAid brings us this amazing 6 inch ceramic chef’s knife. This knife is definitely a go-to.

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Caphalon: 5-in. Katana Series Santoku Knife

This high-carbon stainless steel knife is similar to a chef’s knife but with a flat edge. The knife’s indentations help to insure that food does not stick while cutting. This knife has great weight and feel.

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For more tips from Chef Danielle on choosing and using a knife like a pro, check out the following links:

Choosing a Chef’s Knife
Tips For Using a Chef’s Knife
How To Hold a Chef’s Knife
Honing VS Sharpening