A chef knife is a larger kitchen knife that can be used for almost all foods (meat, fish, vegetables) and all cuttings styles (cutting, chopping, mincing).
The name chef knife comes from the French name for the head cook – "chef de cuisine". Around the world, there are regional differences in the types of knives considered to be chef knives. They all share in common a relatively long blade and a massive handle that balances it. Usually, the blade of a chef knife is wide and thick in order to handle firm foods, such as meats, vegetables and hard-skinned fruit. Regional differences in the type and construction of a chef knife can be explained with different culinary styles. In East Asia, food is cut into bite-sized pieces before cooking, while most food in the Western world is cut on the plate. Since Western cultures mostly use rough cuts in the kitchen, Western chef knives are bigger and heavier than their East Asian counterparts. They usually measure between 20 and 25 centimeters in length and have a blade that thickens on the handle side. In many cases the blade has a slightly convex edge, which prevents food from sticking to it.
Western chef knives have a straight spine with an upturned blade tip (regular blade), which makes it easier to pierce the food and make rough cuts. The handle of Western chef knives is often rather heavy with an ergonomic shape for a firm grip even when cutting with great force. Since chef knives need to handle very different types of substances, they must be hard and elastic at the same time.
Some are made from multilayered steel with alternating layers of hard (edge-retaining) and soft (elastic) steel.