This is the second installment of The Cutting Edge’s new article series: Hot Kitchens, Hot Knives! Cooks and foodies almost love geeking out about their knives as much as they love food (and at times, even moreso!), so we’ll be sitting down with chefs, kitchen crews, and bloggers all across the world to ask them about their knife collections and the culinary workhorses that they know and love. Check out this series every Tuesday if you want to find out what kind of heat the guys and gals in the kitchen are packing in their knife rolls.

Chef Amber Shea

Chef Amber Shea Crawley

Thanks to a mix of know-how, persistence, and pure moxie, 27-year old Chef Amber Shea Crawley has fought her way to the top of the food blog charts to bring her raw-ish and vegan food expertise to the adoring masses. Her blog, Chef Amber Shea, features consistently awesome content and recipes that befuddle as well as impress. And her cookbooks, Practically Raw and its dessert offshoot, are chock-full of recipes that the everyman can enjoy. Check them out if you’re sick of Cheetos. And no, cold pizza does not count as a raw food.

Here’s what she has to say about her knife collection, after the jump.

Soleil Ho: What was your first, real-deal kitchen knife? What was the experience of using it like?

Amber Shea Crawley: A 7-inch Santoku knife that my grandmother gave me was my best friend in the kitchen for years, before an unruly coconut nicked up the blade beyond repair. To this day I’m not sure how “professional” of a knife it was, but it always stayed sharp and never did me wrong.

SH: How big is your kitchen knife collection?

ASC: Not very big. Since I don’t eat meat or cheese, I can do without a lot of specialty knives. There are only five I use on a regular basis: my beloved Miyabi 7000MC 7-inch Santoku knife, an 8-inch Misono chef’s knife, a 3-inch Misono paring knife, an inexpensive serrated bread knife, and my cleaver.

SH: What are your favorite brands? Why?

ASC: I really love my Miyabi Santoku knife; it’s my #1 all-purpose knife in the kitchen. It’s light, but not TOO light, and has retained its edge quite well. Its D-shaped handle also feels great in my hand.

SH: What do you look for in a good chef’s knife?

ASC: I don’t like feather-light knives OR heavy, clunky knives, so I look for a happy medium in the weight, plus a comfortable handle and double-edged bladed. I personally prefer Santokus–perhaps because I cut more vegetables than anything else!

SH: Do you have any knife buying and maintenance advice for home cooks?

ASC: You can often find the best prices online, but I recommend going to a knife or kitchen supply store anyway to try out knives in person. You have to know what it’s going to feel like in your hand. Then you can always go order it online! As for maintenance, I always wash and dry my knives immediately after use, particularly if I cut anything acidic, like a lemon.