All knives are concerned with taking some thing… and making it two things. Cutting in other words, or paring, slicing ect. It can be hard to decide what shape is the best form for purpose, or to decide what knife to buy.
The casually discussed “knife kit” involves 3 knives typically. A chef knife or all-purpose knife, the paring knife for prep work dicing ect, and the third knife is sometimes contested. Some say a serrated knife, but in my opinion the 3rd knife is a fillet knife.
The Chef Knife, or all purpose knife, is usually about 8 inches in blade length. There are two general styles of use. The first is a rocking style of cutting. The tip of the knife starts angled downwards, touching the cutting board, the heel of the knife is then dropped down repeatedly. The second style is more of a straight sawing motion. Where the cutting edge is usually more parallel with the cutting board as the knife is pushed forward and back keeping the edge relatively in line with the cutting board. The two styles of cutting dictate two different forms. Both forms can be discovered by looking at the shape of the belly of the knife, or the profile shape of edge. The first form has a larger curve to the belly and the second form has more of a straight or very slight curve to the belly or edge of the blade. From this point there are many different variations of course, but most chef knives fall under these two functional categories.
The Paring Knife or prep knife is the perfect accompanying knife to a chef knife. This knife is a lot smaller, usually around 3 or 4 inches, but rarely larger than that. This knife is used for coring, peeling, mincing herbs and garlic and even smaller dicing tasks. Depending on what you prepare most, the knife can be tall, short, long thin ect but in a very basic sense this is a knife for smaller tasks in the kitchen that the chef knife would be too large to handle in a practical sense.
The last knife in a casual knife kit, is a Fillet Knife or Serrated Knife. I will start with the Fillet Knife. This knife is generally thought of as a knife for fish, and it most certainly is the perfect knife for fish. However the Fillet Knife is a great knife for any thin cuts of meat. From a Beef Roast, Turkey, Honey Ham or Prosciutto this knife excels at all thin cuts. At this point you may have already discovered the only reason I would suggest a Serrated Knife over a Fillet Knife… And that reason is of course if you are not a meat eater. Vegetables very typically do not need to be sliced so thinly that you would need the expert slicing of a Fillet Knife.
I hope you found this very basic intro to choosing a knife helpful. Let me know if you have any questions!