I think we are assuming that YOU are the new chef.
In that case, brand is up to you, but you need 1 8-10 inch french knife, an nice paring knife, and a 12-14 inch round nose slicer.
Pick it up. Too heavy? handle uncomfortable? Get something else.
If you are buying for someone else, then any quality knife will usually be appreciated;
Wustoff/trident (old school)
Messermeister (old school my current knives)
Forschner (inexpensive, but get the job done)
Global. (trendy, hip, effective)
Chef cutlery (currently CIA student kit I hear)
But inceasingly I see some very experienced chef's forsaking the whiz bang, and going to Dexter Russell Connoisseur series knives:http://www.dexter-russell.com/produc...onnoisseur.asp