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ChefTalk Knife buying, selection and care guide

post #1 of 123
Thread Starter 
I am a first year culinary student looking to buy my first, and hopefully last set of knives. Looking for any advice, and specifically the difference between the shun pro and classic models. Is the price difference worth it? What the exact difference is? thanks
post #2 of 123
I think there are lots of threads on this already. Search for "knives" under the search option. I think you will find many answers :)
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
post #3 of 123
Instead of buying a whole set of knives you might want to check out just buying a knife or two at a time to clompleate a set, i have a pretty full set of wusthof knives, but i do have a cople other knives from other companies.
post #4 of 123

buying a new knife

im looking to buy a new chefs knife, the one i have dosent keep an edge for that long, from the different sights i have looked at it looks like for a good quality 10" chefs knife i will have to spend around 100-140. im ok with that cristmas is coming up. any way i have looked at global, hinkel, wolsof, MAC and a few others im thinking MAC because there hub is only 20minutes away and im thinking i might beabel to buy from them and get it a little cheeper and i know a few people that have them and are happy. but let me know what u think

please give me your experance with the knifes and if u think that there worth that. remember i am a poor culanary student but i do want to have good equment.
post #5 of 123
if your knife isn't keeping it's edge, i can only assume two things. either you:
A. have a knife that is stainless steel and is a softer metal than high carbon knives or
B. you are needlessly hacking into things like bone or shellfish.

i'll give you the benefit of the doubt. sounds like you need a knife made of harder steel. if you are using a german chef's knife, you may want to switch over to japanese ones. i recommend Shun which has a a steel called VG-10. it allows the edge to be sharpened to a much narrower angle and still be durable. if you have about 250$ to spend, go for the Kaji line which has steel called sg-2. harder steel, shinier, prettier, and a bit more comfortable.

OR if you take care of your knives REALLY well, invest in an all-carbon steel knife. it'll rust a lot easier because of the lack of chromium in the steel compound and it chips a lot easier, but if you keep it dry and don't drop it, nothing else holds it's edge better.
post #6 of 123
I HATE Japaneese knives...

Sorry, I just had to get that out of my system.
As for knife selection, your best bet would we go to a Chefs Depot or warehouse and hold them in your hand. You need to get what feels best in YOUR hand. "Harder, shinier, prettier, and a bit more comfortable."
Well, number 1, what may be a bit more comfortable for you, might be alot LESS comfortable for other people. Number 2, I really hope a chef or somebody who works in a commercial kitchen did not just describe a knife as shinier, and pretty. Wow.

As for me, I use a Wusthof, and am an adamant supporter of Wusthof, and will try to convince anybody to go and hold one and try one out.
However, I am also aware that they do not fit well in everybody's hand, like they do in mine.
I love my Whustof's , and take very good care of them, as you should whatever direction you choose to to go (which will hopefully not be the Japan route.) I have had mine since my first day at Johnson and Wales, which, was a good time ago. ( I am 38 going on 39) and graduated in 91, and they still slice through the skinside of a tomato like they day I Got them.
And againnn, I know i sound like a broken record, but please to go a warehouse or depot and try some in your hands. Get a feel. You will be doing yourself a favor!
post #7 of 123

get a good dick in your hand!

I'd stick with german knives, Ive always really liked them. I have a few Globals at home I recived as a gift and they just feel kinda flimsy, they're sharp but just dont feel great. I really like the F.Dick 1905 series they look sexy, they're high carbon so they stay sharp and the balance is perfect. The professional series is really nice as well. I have One J.A. Henckel that I've had for 15 years, but that was when they were good - Now that you can get a one at Target, I just don't trust the quality

P.S. Stop chopping so much and roll the knife -it will stay sharper longer.
nel maiale, tutto e buono!
nel maiale, tutto e buono!
post #8 of 123
I have wusthof knives and love them except that the seem to need to be sharpend very often, but i hate even a remotly dull knife, once my knives have trouble cutting tomatoes i sharpen. I dont like the thoght about getting a japense knife but the next knife im looking at getting is a mac.
post #9 of 123
I started out by building a set of Henckels a piece at a time.
I have many brands, Wusthof, F. Dick (everyone needs an 8" dick), Globals, some ceramic, Dexters, Forschners, the list goes on.
I definitely don't need a new knife anytime soon, but that has been the case for a few knives now.
When does need have anything to do with it, lol.

While they are good knives, I am tiring of the Wusthofs, Henckels, etc, with a bolster.
I get a longer life out of a Japanese knife without a bolster, and while it won't hold an edge as long as a German, it is easier to sharpen.

As far as how a Wusthof feels, they have a few styles, so you may find one that feels good.

On a side note, Henckels has really whored themselves out, with never need sharpening knives, and they are even stamping their name on Spanish and Japanese steel.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
post #10 of 123
Quick question, what are you using for a cutting board. if your using glass or marble your probably hurting your knife more than you think. you should use plastic or wood. it accepts the blade. harder surfaces round the blade so youll have to hone the blade often. I would suggest SHUN knifes. they are really nice.
Robert Forti A.K.A. GourmetAmor
Gourmet and Compay

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Robert Forti A.K.A. GourmetAmor
Gourmet and Compay

"Good Food And Good Wine never tastes as good without good Friends And Family" Visit my myspace page. forget to add me as a friend.
post #11 of 123
well, a good functioning knife should have a comfortable handle, good balance, and a steel compound that allows it to hold a good edge. anything after that is glim and glamor. power windows and leather interior. so the kaji line pretty much offers only that after the harder steel. damascus, engravings, it's all just "pretty and shiny". i don't know how else you want it described. "more aesthetically pleasing"?

point being, if you find a knife you are happy with in term of practicality, any dollar spent on it afterwards is going into looks and brand. i like a good looking knife so i spend the extra bucks. shows that i care to have something finer even though i use it everyday.

as for hating japanese knives... to each his/her own. i appreciate the heft of a german knife (if i'm going to be hacking away at squash all day), but if i'm going to be doing fine julienne and fine dicing all day, i rather have a lighter knife. also, i HATE german knives because of the bolster (gets in the way of sharpening) and the spine of the blade is way too thick for me (dicing onions is easier with a japanese knife IMO).
post #12 of 123
well it sounds like it need to go to a cutlery store and see how they fit in my hand,
for the question about cutting bords, no i would never use marbal or anything that hard for my knifes, its plastic and wood.

right now i have a set of Messermeister which i got from school and i have used MAC and a few other high end knives and i can tell the difference, the knifes i have a good they are just not the best. i would like somthing that can keep an edeg a little better then what i have. also im not sure if i should go with germin or japanis.

sounds like germin will hold an edge longer and take more abuse, but japanise knife are shaper and will not stay sharp with abuse. is this sound about right?
post #13 of 123
german knives hold an edge longer because it's sharpened to about 22.5 degree angle. the angle that most western culinary schools will tell you to sharpen your knives to.

however, japanese knives tend to be sharpened to a more acute angle. something like 15 degrees. this of course give a sharper edge, but lacks in durability. they counter this downfall by using harder steel compounds. depending on the compound, this either totally makes up for the drawback of a more acute angle, or it just makes it slightly more durable compared to the same angle applied to a german steel knife.
post #14 of 123
Im not sure what kind of Wusthof you have, or how you take care of it, but like I said, I have had mine for a while, and as long as you run it across your diamond steel quite often, you do not need to sharpen much at all.
post #15 of 123
See i dont have a diamond steel, i just have a f dick sharpening steel(which just hones and doesnt sharpen. Iv always heard that you can mess up a knife with a diamond steel. Idk if its true or not though.
post #16 of 123
Like I said, I have had my Knives and Diamond Steel since I started school at JWU, actually, even before that, and my knives are in perfect condition, and I always run my diamond steel on them.
post #17 of 123
ChefTorrie, how is your diamond steel holding up to all that usage? Is it a Wusthof brand? The reason I'm asking is I have Chef's Choice diamond steel maybe 7 years old and it's developed a few bald spots on one side that I find a bit annoying.

Adamm, using a diamond steel won't hurt your knives if you use it carefully. It certainly can and will scratch anything you drag across it's surface like laying the blade flat on the steel's surface. A light touch gives the best results, sometimes I follow up with a regular steel depending on the knife.
post #18 of 123
I also use a regular steel on occasion.

But do answer your question, yes mine is a Wusthof, but no it does not have any bald spots. I did have to buy a new one a couple of years ago because it was stolen from the restaurant, so I dont know if I would have, had I still had the same knife. But I do not recall any deformities or anything wrong with it at the time.
Hope I helped.
post #19 of 123
I dropped my Shun the other week, haven't sharpened it since (just used a steel before shift); it's still sharp as ****. Shun is awesome: the blade is thin, strong, and easily sharpened (because it's thin). I have the 10" chef knife, and it's amazingly comfortable.

I reccommend buying a knife by how it feels in your hand. If it's uncomfortable, it'll give you a callous, which may be considered cool, but hurts like a ***** in the making. Regardless, keeping your knife sharp is going to make more difference than anything, so I'd spend money on a tri-stone before a new knife.

I reccomend against Globals. They feel good at first, in the store; but, after a couple weeks using a Global, you'll have a ridiculous callous. Globals also suck to sharpen; I sharpen my own knives on a tri-stone, and neither I nor a former chef of mine could get my Globals as sharp as my Shun. Actually, that's not true; for one whole shift, we did. Shun > Global, 'nuff said.
post #20 of 123
You have two misconceptions in your question.

The first is that you'll need or want a "set" of knives. Like cookware, no set really "does it all," and certainly not what you may eventually be wanting to do.

The second is that you won't become an incurable knife freak, spending the rest of your days on this planet (and much of your hard-earned money) seeking new just-gotta-have-it cutlery.

So, figure out what you'll need for your school and internship. Certainly your school will be a great help with this. Then, shop around and ask questions, especially of those about to graduate.

Lastly, just remember that no matter anyone tells you, there simply is no "best" knife. It all depends upon YOUR hand and YOUR skills and YOUR needs and, alas, YOUR budget.
post #21 of 123
Good advice! I never bought into sets of anything! lol I find that I can do just fine with a 10 inch chef, 3 in. pairing knife, 10 in. bread knife and 5.5 in. boning knife . Although there are days that I reach for a 10 inch slicer as well. Great removing the skin off salmon and nice slices for pork loins, roasts, etc.. I"m still using the one that came with culinary school knife set .:D

post #22 of 123
Get the cheap ones (e.g. victorinox). They're good for a first year. Comfortable handle, and relatively good steel. Also, you can practice sharpening on them, until you get a better knife.
post #23 of 123
Thanks for the information ChefTorrie.
post #24 of 123


Still the best out there.... Stays sharp for weeks.....
post #25 of 123

My first knife roll

Hello everyone! I've finally arrived at the point in my short career where I felt it was time to start getting my own knives. Until now, the few kitchens I've worked in always supplied knives. I did a little research and with the help of some of you here, I went with an 8" Mac. I went for the 8" because for me I felt like it would be good for finer cuts and if I was doing some serious prep, it wouldn't be so heavy in my hand. Next month I'll go for my own 10". For now we have plenty at work I can use, but it's been so much fun using my own knife. :) I also bought a knife roll. So far all I have is my new Mac, and some knives my old boss gave me. (paring, bread). I also put a quick read thermometer and poultry sheers in as well. These are all things I use every night. So what I'm wondering is what do some of you include in your knife rolls? Thanks guys! Take care all.
post #26 of 123
Chef knife
PAring knife
slicing knife
utlity knife
boning knife
3 wooden spoons
fish spatula
shark sharpener (works fast)
measuring spoons

things in it that I mean to take out but never do,

offset spatula
straight saptula
pastry brush
parign knife (extra)
post #27 of 123
Get a good knife steel to help keep them sharp.
post #28 of 123
Get a bench knife. It's handier than you think. :)
post #29 of 123
i carry a 8 in chef, 7 in santoku, 10 in. scimeter, clever, boning knife, filet knife, slicing knife, serrated slicer, paring, birds beak, diamond steel, sharpening steel, pastry brush, bench scraper, measuring spoons, rubber spatula, wooden spoon, channel knife, tongs, fish spatula, pizza cutter, microplane zester, melon baller. I proabaly have more but thats all i can think of right now.
post #30 of 123
I agree that you should not just buy a set of knives for the name. Mix and match. A very good value for a decent knife is the Forschner line. They have everything from basic short tang plastic handled jobs to really nice blades, and they won't cost you a week's paycheck.

Also, it seems that everyone is playing up the hardness of the steel. It is true that the harder the steel the longer the edge will last, but try resharpening a Shun or other really high carbon knife on a tri-stone when you are just learning your knife craft. Remember back in the day, those old crappy looking knives that always needed polishing. Those knives had soft blades and were absolute hair splitters. A couple of licks on a steel throughout the day, and it would fall through a ripe tomato.

You have to balance the sharpenability of a knife with the durability of the edge. To simplify, if you want to to know the quality of a blade in an instant, tap it against a metal prep table. A good hard blade will have a high pitched ring, a low quality blade will make a hollow click.
It's Good To Be The King!
It's Good To Be The King!
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