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What knife should be my first?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I know there is a lot of info on knives here, but here is my dilemma. This will be my first "expensive" knife purchase so I am looking at eithor a chefs or a santoku, but where can I try out or at least handle different knife brands? I am thinking Wusthof, Messermeister, Global and Shun. Any other recomendations? I would like to spend $100 or under. I have a beautiful Messermeister Knife case waiting to be filled!

I am really just beginning to learn culinary art by using the book
" On Cooking" and am taking classes from "Cooking with the Best Chefs"
at local restaurants.

I really appreciate all of your help and I am so thrilled to see people other than professional chefs that love to learn and enjoy everything about cooking!
Thanks!
Natalie-Mom of FOUR BOYS who is tired of "LITTLE BOY FOOD"
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Thanks!
Natalie-Mom of FOUR BOYS who is tired of "LITTLE BOY FOOD"
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post #2 of 19
I think you'd be happier with a classic Chef's knife. And to be honest, I like my inexpensive Forschner as well or better than my Wusthof or Henkels.

I happen to like 10 inch chef's knives, so I find santokus a bit small for general duty. If you are more a fan of an 8" chef's knife, then a 7" santoku might please you more than it does me.

There's a lot of personal ergos and preferences that enter into knife choice so there is no one authoritative answer.

Phil
post #3 of 19
You will indeed get loads of opinions, but I'm with Phil on this. I love my very inexpensive (@ $25.00) Forschner Chef's knife. I have smallish hands and small wrists, so I'm more comfortable with an 8 inch while my husband prefers the 10 inch. You need to have it in your hand and see how it feels cutting. And I use it for just about EVERYTHING. While I am a home cook and would never be putting my knives through restaurant-style stresses, I do lots and lots of prep practically every night.
I heard about Forschner from the teacher in my knife skills class at a local culinary school (the class was for non-pros).
Emily

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Emily

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post #4 of 19
Whatever knife you choose you should handle it first. I like a knife with a high curved arch at the handle that way you don't crack your knuckles when doing those fine julienne or chiffonade cuts. But the knifes I have would only embrass your fancy case. I have handled Wusthoff they seem like a fairly balanced knife I have proably 4 or 5 different ones that I use for special purposes here and there but its really up to you has to how the knife feels in your hand. Just an opinion. Not an expert.
post #5 of 19
Natalie, where to go to try out knives?? Wherever they are sold. I don't know what kind of retail stores you have in your area but there are the standard Williams Sonoma, Sur la Table, Macy's Cellar and any cutlery shop. Check your yellow pages. Not to say you should buy at these places but you can put your hands on the knives to see what feels right for you.

IMHO a Santoku is not a substitute for a chef's knife. They are two different animals made for different purposes. I use my santoku for light work like chopping veggies for example. The the thinner blade makes the job easier. It is altogether too light for heavier work like cutting up a chicken. My wife who has much smaller hands than I do is always trying to sneak my Santoku because she thinks it looks cool instead of using the 6" chef's knife I got her. She's terrified of my 10" Wusthof knife which is perfect for me.

For a light weight chef's knife (if that's what you are looking for) I understand Globals are pretty good. The inexpensive Forschner that Phil and Pheobe endorse also has a good reputation. I personally don't like the feel of the stamped blade of the Forschner and prefer the forged blade of the Wusthof. Although the material is the same in both types and there is no loss of quality from that standpoint. It really is a very personal thing.

Welcome to our world of food. It really is a wonderful place.

Jock
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 

Patch, Phoebe, Cakerookie, Jock

Thanks for all your help. I have decided to go with an 8" chef's.

Being out by Rockford Illinois I am over an hour from any Williams- Sonoma or Sur La Table. I had not thought of cutlery dealers in the phone book though, I will certainly check them out.

One more question, I too have small hands and I also had carpal tunnel surgery a few years ago so my wrist is quite weak. ( I can't even flip food in a large skillet ):( Would a little bit heavier knife work in my favor?
Thanks!
Natalie-Mom of FOUR BOYS who is tired of "LITTLE BOY FOOD"
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Thanks!
Natalie-Mom of FOUR BOYS who is tired of "LITTLE BOY FOOD"
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post #7 of 19
If you keep it really sharp the knife will do much of the work. On the other hand (no pun intended :roll: ) you may get tired slinging a heavy knife around on big prep days like Thanksgiving. I've never had carpal tunnel so I can't imagine what it is like for you.

Jock
post #8 of 19
you might try a 6 inch classic Chef's knife, if weight or size is an issue. I find I can do most tasks with a 6 inch as easily or more so than with a 8 or 10 inch. Mundial (a Brazilian company) makes some wonderful, inexpensive forged knives. I used them extensivly in my last restaurant, and still have and use daily, an 8 inch Mundial Chef's knife.
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
I did it! I bought my first "BIG" knife. Boy, do I love it. I bought an 8" Shun Classic and I think it's one MACK DADDY of a knife. I found that I liked it's D shaped handle by far over the other ones. Global felt way to light and the handles on Messermeister and Wusthof Classic were not quite as comfortable. I still think I might buy a Wusthof Grand Prix because that handle was quite nice and I did like the bolster, I felt it made my grip more comfortable.

Thanks for all your help everyone!

By the way I bought the knife at a place called Sharpen It. The owner Jeff pulled a bunch of knives at his office and let me try them all. Showed me how to re-align with a steel and answered all of my questions. They have a big truck that is packed with restaurant supplies and they travel to wherever and sharpen your knives and sell inventory right out of the truck. They are out here in Rockford, but go into Chicago and the burbs frequently.:chef:
Thanks!
Natalie-Mom of FOUR BOYS who is tired of "LITTLE BOY FOOD"
Reply
Thanks!
Natalie-Mom of FOUR BOYS who is tired of "LITTLE BOY FOOD"
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post #10 of 19
Sounds like you got a deal. Glad you found one.:bounce:

cakerookie.
post #11 of 19
Well done Natalie. It's great when you find a retailer who knows his business and cares to take the time to explain things to you. Enjoy your new knife.

Jock
post #12 of 19
I would not buy very expensive knives till you build your sharpenning skills. IMHO Victorinox are ideal for a beginner.
post #13 of 19

Knives 101

I'm going to revive this thread again for a couple reasons. First, I'm a newbie to this forum, not the biz and second, it is a very important subject near and dear to just about any BOHer.

A knife, simply put, is a piece of metal or ceramic, which has been forged or shaped with particular attributes which have evolved over time.

There are two primary types of knives which include straight edge and serrated edge. Of the straight edges, the Chef's knife, a filleting knife and paring knife are predominant. Most others are variations of these. The chef's knife can vary in size from 6-10" (or more depending on what brand you buy and what function you want). The filleting knife blade can be either very firm or exceedingly flexiable, again, depending on the use. The paring knife is the short little all around utility knife that gets hours of use and little glory.

Within the serrated egdes are the ground 'thumbprint' (my word) and the true serrated blade. These are used for salmon/ham and breads respectively although the 'thumbprints' can be used interchangably.

Discounting ceramic knives which are an animal to themselves, the metals used can range from carbon steel to stainless steel. They can be solid, hollow or folded. Carbon will hold a much better edge but not for long. It also discolors when used with acidic products. Stainless is typical to most knives for it's overall durability, the ability to hold an edge and not discolor. The choice is the users; ease of use or use with a lot of maintenance.

Several posters noted that by starting off with a lesser quality brand such as Mundial, etc., is a good way to get used to a knife and it's maintenance. I agree only due to the price involved. However, to me that's like saying, "I'll only own a Ford because I can't drive a Porsche." You might not be able to afford the Porsche, but the actual task of driving is identical.

People should purchase knives that are comfortable in their hands. If they are uncomfortable with a 10" chef's knife, it's use is more likely to cause an accident. They should always 'optest' a knife before buying. Buying an unfamiliar knife from an online source is akin to pointing and saying, "I'll take that." You don't know what you're getting and how it's going to feel to you. You may get lucky or you may not.

Natalie was very fortunate that she found a place that let her testdrive her knife and also provides support. It's really nice to see those places are still available.

For anyone who lives in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina, there is a man who goes to the state fair grounds flea market on the weekends. I believe he charges a buck a blade, but does your smaller ones for free. I take mine to him (it's over an hour away) every six months or so, drop them off and pick them up when they're ready.

Ciao,
Order In/Food Out ~ It's NOT magic.
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Order In/Food Out ~ It's NOT magic.
- * - * - * - * -
"It's not getting any smarter out there. You have to come to terms with stupidity, and make it work for you." Frank Zappa
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post #14 of 19
Natalie, if you want to handle a Forschner, Penney's carries their less expensive models, but I believe the handles are the same. I know everyone laughs when I told them what brand of Chefs knife I have, it's cheap, but fits my hand so who cares? :lol:
post #15 of 19
don't be ashamed of your inexpensive knives! a lot of the cooks at the restaurant i work at include the "kiwi knife" in their toolboxes - it retails for about $12 at a popular asian grocery and supply store here in the twin cities. it's lightweight, sharpens nicely, and is good for a multitude of tasks.

post #16 of 19
Exactly. We have expensive knives as well as our first knife we purchased at a restaurant supply store for only $13 (I've never seen one where the public wasn't welcome to go in and spend money). We still use that $13 8" chef's knife along with a new $16 Japanese vegetable knife I found at a different restaurant supply store which has become my favorite.
post #17 of 19
When my mom downsized from her house to a retirement community she pitched a paring knife she'd been using for at least 45 years. Part of the wood was gone on one side of the handle (it was full tang); the blade was sliver-thin, the point was long gone, and it looked like heck. But she turned out wonderful meals with it, and I learned to cook using that knife. She bought it in a grocery store. I wish she'd asked me if I wanted it before she got rid of it!
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post #18 of 19
this is a double edged sword

im a firm believer of do it right the first time....therefore i have knives that i will never really "need" to replace unless i want to.

ALL my knives are Henckles. Period.

all my go-to knives are Henckles Professional-S. and i have an assortment of cheap henckles paring knives that i beat on every day.

for your first knife, buy a good chefs knife.....it can do almost anything. youll need to do starting out
my AM prep squad calls me "captain cucumber"

my PM chefs call me "the weedwacker"

pushing food 10 tickets at a time
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my AM prep squad calls me "captain cucumber"

my PM chefs call me "the weedwacker"

pushing food 10 tickets at a time
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post #19 of 19
GLOBAL all the way. They are ultra light and super friken strong!
Chef Kail
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