Sara's Kitchen Revelations – Small People Need Big Knives

This is not about my Napoleon complex. I really mean it -we little people work better with a bigger knife. Actually, mostly, big people chop more efficiently with a bigger knife too.  Why?

Well, Here are two chef’s knives, side by side, an 8-inch and a 10-inch:

different size chef's knives

The 10-inch knife is heavier.

The heaviest part of any knife is where the blade meets the handle:

The heaviest part of the knife

that is where you should position your “victim,” aka the item you are going to chop. If you put your vegetables or herbs or whatever you are chopping right at that spot the knife will naturally come down heavily on top of the vegetables. You don’t have to force it, the knife does the work for you.

But something else is going on here. The “sweet spot” on a 10 -inch knife is a lot longer than that of a 8-inch knife. The “sweet spot” is the area of the knife blade that you will use to do most of your chopping. Just look at the difference:

The sweet spot on a 10-inch knife

about 5 1/2-inches


The sweet spot on an 8-inch chef's knife

about 4 1/2 inches

Which means that you can chop more of an ingredient using a 10- inch knife than an 8-inch knife

much more work gets done with a 10-inch knife

and work less at the same time because the knife is heavier. Hooray!!!


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8 Responses to Sara's Kitchen Revelations – Small People Need Big Knives

  1. Sue Hatch says:

    Hi! Thank you for the knife tip. My son is entering graduate school and furnishing his first apartment. He likes to cook, so I would like to buy him a set of good knives. What brand would you recommend, and what knives?
    Many thanks,

    • moulton says:

      I like the Wusthof knives. I suggest you get him at 10-inch chef’s knife, a serrated knife and a paring knife. If you want to add a few more, a boning knife and a santoku.

  2. Mony says:

    Hi Sara

    Thank you for this. My Dad is constantly watching cooking shows and teaching himself new ways of cooking. He’s looking for a knife that has a blade 14-16″ long with a preference towards the longer blade. Where would you suggest I could find such a knife?

    Thanks so much!

    • moulton says:

      I a hoping you live near a cookware shop? Buying a knife is very personal and your Dad should be able to pick up a prospective knife and see what it feels like. I prefer a 10-inch knife but you can buy a longer one. However, the store might have to special order it. But they will do that for you unlike a mail order source.

  3. Leon says:

    Hi! I was flipping channels with the sound off and up popped an image of a leek being chopped up with a very big chef’s knife, looked like an 11 or 12. And I thought, that’s got to be Sara. And it was! I have a couple of monsters in my knife drawer and I absolutely agree, bigger than I was can do things smaller knives struggle with. Love your work, love your show and I frequently tell people I meet in the kitchen about this relatively small woman effortlessly wielding a monster blade, and suggest to them they give it a try too.

    • Sara Moulton says:

      I think larger knives make less work for the user. Larger knives have larger sweet spots and more heft to come down on the item being chopped, diced, etc so you don’t have to work so hard.

      • John says:

        Sara, I’m an amateur and had been cooking a LONG time before it clicked after seeing one of your videos that you use a 10 inch knife. As they say, a “game changer.” Interesting that not took many TV cooks use them. Probably old school tradition. Do you know which knives Julia Child used?

      • Sara Moulton says:

        I don’t know why they don’t. Julia I believe used a 10-inch chef’s knife too.

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