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ChefTalk Knife buying, selection and care guide - Page 2

post #31 of 123
As far as the knife roll goes, get rid of it and get a good tool box that you can lock and carry all of your essential goodies in. That way you are ready for anything. I have

8" chef
7" santoku
10" slicer
10" scimiter
6" flexible boning
7" stiff boning
rubber spatula
arkansas stone
band aids
bamboo skewers
metal spoon
slotted spoon
fine wire whip
2 and 4 oz ladles
injector needle
larding needle
needle nose pliers
ice cream scoop
butcher twine
tomato shark
wine key
can opener
small immersion blender
meat mallet
measuring cups and spoons
lime and white truffle oil
pastry bag and tips/couplers
candy thermometer
fish spatula
small plastic mandolin

I know it sounds like a lot of stuff, but I promise you it will fit in a decent size Stanley tool box. Then you can walk in and kick ***. This is extraordinarily handy when interviewing for serious jobs and are required to do a tasting. Never rely on their kitchen to be stocked with the items you will need to pull off a miracle.
It's Good To Be The King!
It's Good To Be The King!
post #32 of 123
does any one know where you can get a old carbon steel(not high carbon new stuff) chef knife, i have checked ebay but most the knives on there seem beat up. I have read things about how the old knives you can keep really sharp and they stay that way for a long time. Im looking for a wusthof one in particular, or and old sabatier since they seem like the ones that were very well known for there knives.
post #33 of 123
i have been searching around and found sabatier still makes carbon knives. I cant find a dealer though in the use that carrys chef knives. Any one have any links?
post #34 of 123
I own a set of Henckles knives that I bought from U.S.A. about 22 years ago and they're still sharp. I keep honig them regularly, my colloegues are always using them too. That time around this set of knives had a lifetime guarantee, matter of fact one day i dropped my 8" the handle broke in two, and it was replaced without questions asked. Henckles the best
post #35 of 123

Japanese Knives

I am a strict Japanese Knife loyalist. Even western style japanese knives are far superior to anything the french, germans, or americans make. My Gyotu or chef knife is made by Nenox. It is quite expensive, but there are less expensive japanese knives available with outstanding quality, such as Misono and many more. There is a place called Korin Japanese Trading company in NYC. Check it out in person or on line. There is nothing quite as pleasurable as using these blades. As far as additional equipment. I always keep a paring knife (misono) a bread knife (embarrassed to say cutco) a few wooden spoons, needle nose plyers, an offset peltex, and a few slotted and normal large metal spoons, as well as a Kuhn Rikon veg peeler. Check out korin though, they have really cool stuff like a shark skin grater - the one morimoto uses to grate fresh wasabi.
post #36 of 123


I used to think (back in culinary school) that German, specifically wustoff, were the end all be all. My Mother allways swore by them, and that was the brand given to us in culinary school. I then quickly learned in the real world how wrong I was. If you really really care about your knife, and you should because it is a chef's best friend, then Japanese is the way to go. It takes some effort to learn how to properly sharpen them, but once you get the hang of it, you will find it to be part of your ritual after service every night. I never touch my nenox or my misono to a honing steel. 1) because it would kill my knives, 2) because I do not need to because I sharpen on a fine and then super fine wetstone every day for about 3 minutes, and 3) if a japanese cook ever saw me touch my knife to a steel I think he would take my head off and bury my knife. Seriously it is important to have a great Japanese knife. Perhaps nobody does more percision cutting than the Japanese. They really know finesse. Check out Korin Japanese Trading Company, look them up online. Or if you are in NYC they are at 57 Warren St.
post #37 of 123
That's a big statement to make. So please quantify how it's better and why so we can understand your claim.

I think there is premier level knifemaking happening all over the world including Japan. But that Japan gets a fake mystique from their samurai history. Pattern welding and differential hardening are easily exceeded in modern manufacture of powdered, sintered vacuum melting processes.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #38 of 123
It may be a big statement, but from my experience, and those of the many people with whom I have worked, Japanese knives (many brands) get sharper and are easier to sharpen than Sabatier, Wustoff, Henkels, Furi, and the list goes on. In addition, many of them are much lighter in weight. Now, that being said, much in the discussion has to do with personal preference of comfort, balance, etc... As I said in the previous post, I used Wustoff for a long time, and my world changed the day someone talked me into buying a misono. In my business, I do instructional cooking parties as well as private cooking lessons in peoples homes. While I myself use a Nenox Gyotu with a white Corian handle (it is way pricey), I have a bunch of misono's for my clients to use. Most of them have Henkels or Wustof that they probably got off of their bridal registry. The minute they pick up either my nenox or my misono, and dice or slice on onion, they are converted.
Now, this is not to say that the French, Germans, Australians, and Americans do not make high quality knives, because many of them are fine. But because so much of what makes a knife great is in the pudding so to speak, and not in the quantifiable atributes, I would say that while these others produce high-quality nice knives, brands like Nenohi(nenox), Misono, masamoto, togiharu, Aritsugu and others are simply better. I urge anyone in question to try them out.
Shun and Global do not count. If people are basing their negative opinions on these brands then I understand their feelings. try some of those I mentioned above.
post #39 of 123
I agree somewhat. The Henkels/Wusthoffs etc are not hardened sufficiently for really good edge performance.

On the other hand, I don't think Japanese knifes are better than other really high end kitchen knives either. I do like that they are thinner in general though.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #40 of 123

the sharpest knives on the planet

as for me i graduated for the institute of technology and we were given mesamister knives. they were awsome for the time being but after working with a few chefs that were die hards in the kitchen i soon leaned to the MAC line. The feel and the weight are like no other in the kitchen, smoothe cuts and and they dont leave fruit or herbs brused. Dont get me wrong i also have a woustof grand prix and its a work horse also. but if you want something that will keep its value and give some prestige go with the MAC.:chef:
post #41 of 123

I hope I can shine some light.

I was a butcher for 16 years and have been in the cooking relm for about 3 years. Here is my two cents. I have used all types of knives and steels and find like anything else, you have to be a professonal before you can make anything work. Just as a professional golfer can hit any club within 1% accurecey, you will have to learn to use a knife and use it to perfection before you can realy make your own call on a knife. I am sorry but that is my take on it. Until you realy get good you will have to strugle with sharpening, cutting, and handeling a knife, any knife. Believe me I have the scars to prove it. Use what you can afford and don't worry about the rest until you have used knives enough to say this feels good or this sucks. It is then you can spend some money on knives that will make a difference in your performance. I have read all the advice these obveous professionals have given and all of it is good, but they have already been through the hours apon hours of working with knives and are trying to show you an easy path but they had to go through it and unfortunately so do you. I hope this will save you some money and aggrevation out of spending too much on something you are not happy with.
post #42 of 123
Apparently I have to make five posts before I can include links to other websites. So you will have to do search to see what I am talking about (if you haven't already seen them).

I just got a New West Knife Works "fusionwood" chef knife a few weeks ago, and I freaking love this thing. You may find many the choices for the handle colors atrocious, but I find the "cowboy" one looks pretty cool.

The steel is great. It gets very sharp, but is also easy to sharpen. As soon as I took it out of the box I gave it a few swipes on an oiled Arkansas stone and it was shaving sharp. The overall design seems like a good combination of Western and Japanese styles. The blade is not too thick or too thin.

I still love my old Trident, but this one gets and stays sharper. I also like the way the blade stays wide almost to the tip (more room for my knuckles).

Just my two cents...
post #43 of 123

wusthof gourmet series knife question

i'm thinking about getting a 7" wusthof gourmet Santoku Knife.
i'm a pantry line cook right now, and not in need of anything super high end.
is the wusthof gourmet series good enough for the rigors of every day use, or are they basicly made for light home use?
post #44 of 123
iv never used there goumet knives but i have there classic serries knives. If your serous about cooking just spend the money and get a good knife, if you get a 30 or 40 dollar knife and it last only 6 months and buy another knife at the same price you could have bought your self a nice knive. The choice is utlimily up to you.
I bought my 7 in classic santoku knife off of ebay for about 60 bucks. I also bought my classic 8 in chefs for about 55. I woudl definily try them out in my hand and atleast know if you like the feel.
If you dont want to go the ebay route i would sujust geting victorinox forcher knives there made by the the same people who make swiss army knives. A chefs knife is probaly around 30 and if you want a santoku i belive there alittle less. I have a few knifes of theres and love them very shap durable and pretty easy to sharpen. Cooks illistrated did a test on chefs knives within the past year and they rated the victorinox knives at the top. If you dont want to spend the money for a upper class wusthof i would buy victorinox. But thats me, every ones to there own opinion.
post #45 of 123
Just go to Tuesday Morning and look to see what knives they're selling. There are some aspects to the type of knife, but ultimately, it is how you use it. All too often I watch an inexperienced cook used the blade side to "wipe" the cutting board and move whatever is being diced to a specific area. As far as I'm concerned, this is the most common reason a knife becomes dull. If you need to move your prep to another area of the cutting board, hold your knife at the angle it is sharpened and push it to the desired area. Otherwise, use the back of the knife (opposite the blade), that way there isn't anything that will be dulled.

If you're cutting lots of softer vegetables, (tomatoes, cucumber, etc.), a thin blade works best. If you're chopping heavy items (carrots, root vegetables, etc.) a thicker blade is better, because you need it to wedge into the item.

I have bought Victorinox, (nice medium thick blade without any hilt) and they are wonderful. Recently, I've been in Tuesday Morning, and found some decent, thin knives which are perfect for a pantry station. Be sure to sharpen them regularly, (whenever putting them to a steel doesn't correct them). If you don't know how to use a stone, make sure you learn on an inexpensive knife. That way you will know what you're doing when you have a pricey knife.

The Henkel Four Star are great knives as well, and I have several. Just make sure if you invest in them, don't let anyone borrow them. Keep some cheap knives to loan. Anyone who needs to borrow a knife should only be allowed to use your worst knife. If they don't like it, let them buy their own!!

post #46 of 123
Just get a cheap knife for work. In my experience their is always somebody around who doesn't want to be there and will treat all equipment like junk.
post #47 of 123

MAC changed me too!!

when i was younger, i fell for the german knife hype and worked and saved until i bought my first wusthof. then i worked and saved until i bought two more. then i tried out a MAC superior 7" chef's knife and WOW!! what a difference!

for a knife that costs less than half of a wusthof, there was a measurable
increase in the precision and quickness of my cutting. i couldn't believe how much better it sliced and then it was one more MAC after another then i branched out to sujimoto, shimamura, nenohi, tojiro, and the list goes on!

sold all my wusthofs on ebay cuz i was never going to use them again.

and for anyone who doesn't believe the japanese knives can take chopping
through hard squash and stuff like that, that is why i bought a $40 chan chee kee medium heavy chopping knife!
post #48 of 123
A very interesting thread with a lot of good information and a lot of bad.

A "diamond steel" is not a steel in the ordinary sense, it's a sharpener, and a fairly coarse one at that. If used properly it will net a sharp, but scratchy edge with a lot of tooth. It will also eat knives over time.

Most modern stainless steel knives manufactured by European and American manufacturers are made from what is called "world steel" as a result of trade policy. It's an inferior steel in many ways when compared to the specialty steels used by high-end Japanese manufacturers. Again -- a result of trade policy.

The Japanese manufacture knives specifically intended for Western cuisine. Japanese chef knives (gyuto) are geometrically similar to classic French chef knives. That is they have a flatter belly and narrower spine than German (and American) equivalents. The large spear-point paring knife called "petty," and the slicer called "sujihiki" are identical to European patterns -- at least as to blade. German, French and Japanese bolsters differ from one another. The remaining Japanese western "yo" knives actually have more in common with Japanese styles than actual western patterns.

Japanese western knives are usually sharpened to a 15 degree or less angle. The standard for western knives is around 22 degrees. However, the difference does not end there. Some Japanese knives are sharpened to a symmetrical "V," but most are not. Some are sharpened on only one side, and others are sharpened on both sides, but unevenly. The asymmetry is calculated to form a thinner, sharper edge.

Because Japanese blades are made of harder, thinner steel. Their narrow edges hold up at least as well as the edges on Wusties, Henckels, Messers, etc. The edge geometry means sharpening requires less material removal, so a reasonably skilled sharpener can actually sharpen a Japanese knife more easily. The asymmetrical edges are designed for use by right-handed cooks. The edges can be reset to be ambidextrous, or reset for lefties. Knives designed for the other hand are awkward at best, and at worse unsafe. Globals and Macs are symmetrical. Shuns are right-handed.

Globals are made of a type of steel common to upper-mid Japanese knives. Their design is unique. You'll either like it or not. Typically cooks with large hands -- even if they pinch grip -- find Globals uncomfortable. They're extremely well balanced because the metal handle is filled with sand before it's sintered to the blade. I disagree with the comment that Globals are in some way not Japanese. However, I don't like them because they're way too small for me and think their design is cold and uninvolving.

Another group of knives with good steel are the French carbons -- mostly, one way or the other, under the Sabatier name. I'm a big fan, and most of the knives in my block are either old or antique Sabatiers. If the idea interests you, go to The Best Things website and look at the Nogent (antique), Canadian Massif (antique) and Elephant Carbon (new) lines; or the Sabatier-Shop for a peek at the "Au Carbone" or "Antique K-Sabatier" lines. I should mention that of the many companies calling themselves Sabatier, Elephant and K are two of the four good ones.

These carbon knives will take an edge a little quicker than almost any stainless knife, but will hold it better than you'd think. The Sabs mentioned here are in the 55-58 HRC (Rockwell Hardness) range. Which is pretty hard. Your basic Wustie or Henckels is about 50. French knives are built with narrower spines than Germans and consequently the angle of the knife's body is more acute. This means the knife is suited for a slightly more acute edge. I sharpen most of my French carbon steel knives to 15 deg, and find they hold the edge well. German knives can be sharpened to angles more acute than 20 degrees and as long as you're not using them as cleavers they'll hold.

You don't need a heavy knife to cut a carrot. On the contrary, a sharp light knife will cut one better. A heavy knife with an obtuse angle is good for going through cartilage like rip tips, splitting chicken, chopping pineapple crowns and other cleaving. Otherwise a light knife is almost always a better choice as long as you like the feel.

Everything else being equal, a knife made from softer steel will dull faster than one made from hard. But everything is never equal. Knives most often go dull quickly from poor sharpening, improper storage, or improper use. One of the most common reasons a student's or inexperienced line chef's knives dulls quickly is because it is sharpened to a "wire edge," rather than a true edge.

Almost any knife can be sharpened to where it will take hair. That's not a particularly good standard. Someone in this thread talked about a knife "falling through" a tomato. That's exactly sharp enough. Less is not sharp enough. Most factory edges aren't nearly as good as one you can do yourself, once you have the hang. If you can get a knife sharp, you need to use a fine, a smooth, or a combination steel. A smooth steel is best on a really sharp blade. When you notice that steeling isn't doing what it should do, switch to the fine. F. Dick and HandAmerica make the best steels.

Japanese knives, whether carbon, stainless, or carbon wrapped in stainless cladding, tend to be made of harder steel than western knives. HRC above 60 is not at all uncommon. But Globals and Shuns are about 58-59, as are all knives made of the most common high-end stainless, VG-10. I believe the steel was originally formulated for golf clubs as "V-Gold." Modern high-tech steel formulations like "Sandvik powder steel" and traditional, local steels like "Aokami blue" are much harder. Perhaps the biggest drawback to good Japanese knives is a tendency to chip. Brittle is sometimes synonymous with hardness. One way around is to use carbon instead of stainless knives. The steel tends to be both harder and more flexible. Go figure. Of course, you have to be willing to put up with the extra maintenance. Also, with the exception of a few manufacturers, Japanese carbon lines are less expensive than their upmarket stainless -- and consequently don't get the same fit and finish.

The whole samurai sword thing is way overdone. It's mostly just advertising. However, one or two techniques do cross over. One is worikami -- surrounding a very thin, hard piece of steel used for the edge, with protective, softer steel sides. A good example, suitable for a working pro chef is the Tenmi Jyuraku AO line from Hiromoto. So, what's not suitable for a working chef? If you don't know how business is done in Japan, it seems counter-intuitive, but the really high-end Japanese knives like Nenox aren't intended for a commercial kitchen -- and really not intended for cooking at all. They're meant to be "presentation" gifts, and as such, to be kept in their original boxes and packed away in a closet or displayed on a stand.

The Santoku is not a traditional Japanese shape. A lot of cooks like them. Personally I don't get it. They don't do anything a mid-sized chef's knife won't, I don't care for the "sheeps-foot" dropped point, and just don't like their looks. Don't let my bad-mouthing influence you. They seem very friendly to people with small hands, and besides, what do I know?

Ignorance is not always bliss. If you don't know how, LEARN TO PINCH GRIP. Everyone talks a lot about "balance," but more than half don't know how to hold the ****ing thing.

Your knives are the tools of your craft. If you take pride in it, it's worth investing in good knives for your most frequent tasks. On the other hand, if you don't do much garde manger or butchering you don't need the high-end specialty knives. But if you might still need something functional. The name Forschner has come up often in this thread. Forschner is the best when you don't need the best. I like the Rosewood line, personally and have a bunch of them. F. Dick's commercial lines are Forschner's equal in every respect.

Conventional wisdom is that forged blades are better than stamped. Take it from me, not true anymore.

Give up yet?
post #49 of 123
Amen to all that. Amen to the "Diamond steels" Amen to the "Supposed inferiority of stamped steel blades" and one heckuva Amen on how to properly handle a knife.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #50 of 123
great basic knowledge!

(A "diamond steel" is not a steel in the ordinary sense, it's a sharpener, and a fairly coarse one at that. If used properly it will net a sharp, but scratchy edge with a lot of tooth. It will also eat knives over time.)

true, and yet ... how long do you want a knife to last? one head chef i know changes his knives (globals) every four/five years. a sushi chef i know SHARPENS his yanagi every day, and has worn his aritsuga from 10" down to
where it is now 8.5". i personally go for a fine grit ceramic "steel" as with the
hardness of my japanese knives and the angle i sharpen them, edge rollover is not a concern (as will happen with softer metal). sure, a very little metal is removed every time i use it, but it is very very little.

(The Japanese manufacture knives specifically intended for Western cuisine. Japanese chef knives (gyuto) are geometrically similar to classic French chef knives. That is they have a flatter belly and narrower spine than German (and American) equivalents. The large spear-point paring knife called "petty," and the slicer called "sujihiki" are identical to European patterns -- at least as to blade.)

which makes me wonder why some posters claim they don't like the feel of japanese blades when the handles are virtually identical. agree also with what you say about the blades being thinner and harder and therefore sharper. a less thick blade "wedges" less so as to slide through food faster.

i have had my "western styled" symmetrically sharpened blades reground to
a more 70/30 or even a 80/20 edge. this is in itself something that can make a knife feel sharper (because it is a narrower angle).

(The whole samurai sword thing is way overdone. It's mostly just advertising. However, one or two techniques do cross over. One is worikami -- surrounding a very thin, hard piece of steel used for the edge, with protective, softer steel sides. A good example, suitable for a working pro chef is the Tenmi Jyuraku AO line from Hiromoto. So, what's not suitable for a working chef? If you don't know how business is done in Japan, it seems counter-intuitive, but the really high-end Japanese knives like Nenox aren't intended for a commercial kitchen -- and really not intended for cooking at all. They're meant to be "presentation" gifts, and as such, to be kept in their original boxes and packed away in a closet or displayed on a stand. )

japanese cuisine is much different than in a western kitchen. rarely do you
ever hear the loud chopping and hacking you may hear in a western kitchen. usually pretty quiet. here in san francisco, i know of maybe 12 or 13 sashimi chefs who use their high end ($350 and up) knives for day to day work. i have asked them about chipping of knife edges and it is unheard of to them because they don't hack, twist, or whack their blades. to them, if this happens, you aren't "one with the blade" ... their words.

(Ignorance is not always bliss. If you don't know how, LEARN TO PINCH GRIP. Everyone talks a lot about "balance," but more than half don't know how to hold the ****ing thing. )

pinch grip is one of the better grips. seems interesting to me that the best sushi chefs use the pinch grip with the index finger on the spine of the knife (iron chef morimoto and iron chef sekai both use this grip on there most intricate knifework ... check it out on old "iron chefs")

(Conventional wisdom is that forged blades are better than stamped. Take it from me, not true anymore. )

amen to that, brother!! i have checked out over 5,000 knives at the various knife shops i frequent and i can say with great certainty that "stamped" knives (although a lot of stamped knives nowadays are water cut or laser cut) tend to be a LOT straighter than forged knives. and to me, if a knife
isn't straight, it is useless to me.

my two cents.
post #51 of 123
And a few other things too!

Don't get me wrong on the good German and American knives. The big names make good knives. Not great knives, but some darn good ones. I'm certainly not criticizing anyone who chooses them either. Like it? Fine. As it happens, I put the better Messies, Wusties, and Henckels (Hankies?) and their ilk, way up on the "certainly a valid choice and way up near the top of the list" scale. They clean easily. The look beautiful. The fit and finish is superb -- on the whole much better than most Japanese knives. Like any decent knife they can be sharpened to perfection. So what if they don't hold the edge quite as long? I mean, what the **** do you want?

If you take anything from me on knives and knife-technique take these two things:

1) If you pinch grip, ease the corners on your knives' spines -- or have it done for you. This will make an incredible difference in the quality of your evening at work. And good bye knife calluses! (I did it for my knives by holding them at a 45 deg angle to my coarsest stone (coarse India) until I could feel the new angle, then halving the angle of the newly ground face to around 70 deg where it met the old faces. Then I progressively polished the edge with a fine India and soft Arkansas allowing a little flex in the stroke to round off the bevel. I kept the width of the eased area to the width of my stones (2"). Perfect. Like buttah, even. As I said, you don't have to do this for yourself, you can have it done. If I were to do a whole set again, I'd use a dremel or a wheel.)

2) If you call yourself a pro and you don't pinch grip, what the heck is wrong with you?

On to other things:

There used to be a clear best choice for European style knives, and that was Sabatier. Unfortunately the *real* Sabatier gave up exclusive rights to the Sabatier name long ago -- like the beginning of the last century. Some of the rights-holders make wonderful knives in France and some of the holders make lousy knives all over the globe. Even the good manufacturers went through a period of lousy quality control during the late sixties and through the seventies. The good manufacturers were also somewhat late to respond to the challenge of stainless -- preferring to cling to old tech, varietal, carbon steels.

Well boys, they're baaaaaaaaaaaaack! There are two "good" Sabatiers (of which I'm aware, anyway) with any availability in the US. These are "Elephant" a k a Thiers-Issard, Sabatier-K, and Lion Sabatier. Elephant makes stainless knives on a par with the best Germans, but according to the French patterns -- which I prefer for their agility. And when it comes to good carbons, Sab-K and Elephant may be your last big-name, modern, western sources. "Lion" Sabatier used to be pretty good, but they don't have any presence in the market anymore.

FWIW a couple of better U.S. schools are recommending Elephant stainless to their students and Sab-K "au carbone" is still really big in UK and French kitchens. My A number 1 10" chef's, my first go to knife, is a Sab-K au carbone. I bought an NOS Lion paring knife from Amazon a couple of years ago. The steel and handle scales were excellent, but whoever put the grind and edge on the blade must have been hung-over. Don't worry, it fixed-up fine.

Never buy a knife because it's supposedly the "sharpest" out of the box. Unless it's from a custom maker, the edge it comes with can almost certainly be improved, because a good hand-ground edge is better than a wheel edge. Anyway, [i]the hardest, most bestest edge in the world won't last all that long and you have enough evidence to already know how evanescent an edge is. How many good shaves do you get out of a blade?[i]

Your knife is only as good as your sharpening regimen, your storage, and your board. If they have a tri-hone in your kitchen learn to use it. Buy a few el-cheapos from a flea market, order a Norton IB-8 (compound India stone) and learn to sharpen a knife. If they don't have a tri-hone try and talk 'em into buying a Chef's Choice machine. It's not as good as a deluxe tri-hone with Arkansas stones, but it's easier and cheaper!. Easier means it gets used more. Getting used is key. Cheaper never needs explanation. Plastic boards are not as good as wood boards. Wood boards are self-healing; and to amazing extent, self-sterilizing. Plastic develops deep scratches which breed bacteria. If they've got anything other than nylon or wood at work, try and talk the boss into wood. Sell the benefits of hygiene and the time savings of less frequent sharpening.

Diamond steels and other coarse sharpeners are less-good alternatives. One of their characteristics is putting "scratch" or "tooth" on the edge. This allows the edge to function as a saw. These edges last longer, but don't make as clean a cut as a polished edge. The cut feels different, too. It grabs, instead of gliding -- tears, instead of slicing. The differences are the same as those between a saw and a scalpel. Some people like a scratchy edge. It's excellent for tough, thin skins like tomatoes and bell peppers; and holds up to far more prep on those than a smooth edge. If you prefer a rough edge you might want to try a "Chantry" instead of a diamond steel. Much easier to use. Plus it looks good on the counter, and it's too heavy to steal.

Personally, I prefer a polished edge for chef's knives and parers, and a very highly polished edge for slicers and boners. The polishing stone I use is a black Arkansas. Then on the chef's and parers, I take the edge down a little with an "extra fine" Henckels steel, and maintain the edge with the same steel. The slicers and boners get maintained on a "HandAmerica" glass, smooth steel. Too inside baseball for you? Get a good, fine steel. Standard steels are too coarse for almost everyone, but are sold because they scuff up the knife and create the illusion of sharpness.

Another plug for ChefsChoice electric sharpening machines: They are very good; unlike stones, they are also very fast, and don't ask anything from you. They're also gentle on your knives if you use them frequently enough to avoid the coarse wheel more than a few times a year. That being said, a hand ground, straight faced edge cuts better than one of their bevels.

You're a working pro in a kitchen where knives get borrowed. Do you bring in a great knife and worry? Or, do you bring in a good, but inexpensive knife? Self answering question, isn't it? And yet another argument for the rich, juicy goodness of Forschner's and F. Dick's commercial lines. Speaking of Forschners, they're good enough to bother resetting the edge and easing the spine. Just like their Swiss Army pocket knives, they take a great edge easily. And unlike the pocket knives, the handles stay on.

You're a working pro and you've decided to try out the virtues of carbon steel at work. Are you nuts? Where are you going to find the time to rinse the knife after every onion?

How often should you steel your knives? Simple answer. Every time.

Thanks for letting me vent,
post #52 of 123
Do you have any data to support this? I have seen reports--one presented by Alton Brown--that shows there is virtually no difference between wood and plastic when it comes to harboring/growing bacteria and/or their ability to be sanitized. And what about the new plastic boards that have microban(?) impregnation and are bacteriostatic?
post #53 of 123

Among others, the Cliver study, intro reproduced here: Bacteria and Various Cutting Board Materials by Dean O. Cliver Ph.D on the Natural Handyman home repair and do it yourself website

That having been said, when it comes to actual sanitation, not propaganda designed to get the boss to buy you a wood board for the benefit of your knives, maintenance is FAR more important than material. If you need a study, I've got one.

The proposition that there's little difference after cleaning is probably true. The Truth About Cutting Boards and Bacteria

That having been said, Alton Brown is fine, but let's not confuse him with someone who's actually knows what they're talking about. He's a Jr. High teacher who became a TV cooking teacher, not an actual scientist. Not meant as a criticism, because Brown presents good information in a responsible way. Just sayin', let's keep some perspective. Like me, he's only repeating what he was told by his betters.

post #54 of 123

I've got no brief for or against diamond steels -- just telling the truth about them. To the extent that I don't like them -- it's the coarseness of the edge, not anything else. Basically, it's a "fast and dirty" edge a k a "good enough for Government Work." Sometimes and for some people, that's perfect. I wouldn't recommend my sharpening system -- two man made, two Arkansas stones, and two steels for anyone other than a hobbyist. Big over-train.

I'm guessing a lot of people don't like the feel of Japanese knives for two reasons. They miss the heft of western, forged knives. They miss a German bolster. The second means that the cook is substituting the bolster for a proper grip. Let me add that I mean "proper" in a pedagogical not a practical sense. Whatever gets you through the night.

Regarding the finger-on-spine grip -- It's an intuitive grip for precision cutting. It also helps to accurately place the tip of a very long blade. I find myself using my index finger the same way when I make very thin, shaving slices in meat using a slicer -- also a long blade with a narrow face. I'm not sure that it actually helps. It may be one of those things we do when trying to do fine work -- like making faces. I've noticed the grip becomes increasingly less productive with whatever effort is required to get the blade into the product, and starts pointing the knife in all sorts of weird directions.

The pinch grip's superiority seems to be absolute with a chef's knife, though. It's precision comes from keeping the wrist inline with the forearm. It's not intuitive and takes some getting used to, but it's mechanically better.

Asian cooks making Asian foods live an entirely different world. Different tools, different techniques. However by Japanese standards $400 is NOT an expensive knife, it's an "I have pride in my craft" mid-grade. Your good yanagiba run up from $1K, neh?

post #55 of 123
Thank you for the links!

Just so there is no misunderstanding, it was not Alton Brown's opinion or his study. He simply presented the results of a study done by some else. I think it was NSF or USDA, but I'm not 100% sure on that point.
post #56 of 123

Japanese Knives and Pride

My Nenox Gyotu chef knife has a corain handle and was $370. Yes, it is pricey, but price, like everything else, is relative. There are Yanagi knives that sell for 3K. Price is not the point though. The Japanese make knives that are so superior in craftsmanship, ease of use, balance, sharpness, ease of sharpening, etc. I happen to think that the Nenox I have is the perfect sort of best of both worlds sort of knife. It has nice weight to it, although it is not heavy and very well balanced, It is a western style knife made by the Japanese. Now, I know that it is tough for a lot of people to justify spending that kind of money on a knife - especially considering average salary of those in our line of work, but 3 things...
1) You do not need to spend so much - the nenox is one of many great Japanese made western style knives ...try togaharu, misono...
2) You use your knife more than any other tool... your money will go a long way if you take good care of it.
3) The ease of precision cutting at great speed is important if you take your work seriously, whether you are a high-end sushi chef, or a banquet hall caterer. This as someone said previously is about pride of your work, and these knives are unparalleled in allowing you to take pride from the time you get your ingredients on your cutting board.

check out Korin - Fine Japanese Tableware and Chef Knives
great japanese knife site - the store is in NYC
post #57 of 123
Price isn't the point. Exactly and if a $60.00 knife can do the same job as a $400.00 knife then price really isn't the point. Granted $370.00 for a knife for a seasoned pro in a small kitchen where everybody knows everybody and looks out for everybody isn't a problem.
But $370.00 for a knife is too much for someone who hasn't developed the required skills and is starting off in a kitchen with many different people, some coming, some going, delivery guys hanging around waiting for a signature on an invoice and eyeing some poor schmuck's knife kit when the owner's in the john or called away. Sadly, this is a fairly typical scenerio.

There are many of us here who don't subscribe to the point of view that clothes make the man. This view gets extended to knives don't make the cook. Many employers, Chefs and co-workers look at the skill and dexterity of the new guy rather than the knife itself. In the end, a knife is just a hunk of steel with a sharp edge, the magic is in the user's hand.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #58 of 123
I want to be very careful talking about Brooklyn's Nenox and foodpump's response to Brooklyn's endorsement. For one thing, my entire experience with up-level Nenox is watching other people I don't know well, or reading comments on 'net forums -- including some by people who I do know well, but only in teh internets kinda way. For those of you who don't know, the internets are like tubes. But I digress

I agree with Brooklyn and foodpump. I think Neno-hi makes wonderful knives, but would never recommend a Nenox S1 or SD knife to someone asking generic questions.

The up-level Nenox are aficionados' knives. When you look carefully at what goes into their kasumi/honwarikomi construction you see that a lot is spent on appearance. You don't get any performance benefit out of the extra layers in the "damascus" jigane. They're strictly for appearance. OTOH, Neno-hi's hagane, has a reputation as being wonderful to use, easy enough to sharpen, and compared to the Hattori KD, surprisingly tough and resilient.

Nevertheless the knife isn't a better performer than say, a Ryusen Blazen or a Hiromoto AS -- to name two very different knives that cost half as much and are still beyond the scope of most people who don't have a very good sense of what they don't like about "normal knives."

None of this is to say the Nenox isn't worth the money, or a superb pro-knife. We have to trust Brooklyn regarding the second proposition and value is in the eye of the beholder. But because it's an aficionado knife, I assume anyone who asks the sort of questions which don't point (more or less) directly at a Nenox isn't a good candidate as a prospective owner. For heaven's sake how can you recommend a Nenox to someone who doesn't know how to sharpen?

FWIW, I get asked a lot, and am very reluctant to recommend my type of knife -- carbon steel -- to a pro.

Your pal in knifitude,
post #59 of 123

True, But

Agree completely. I do think, however, that there are some great Japanese knives for beginners, ones that are far less expensive than the aforementioned nenox, that would get a beginner farther, faster in his/her learning/training than would their German or American counterparts. I once worked with someone who made an interesting statement that you have only become a master at using your knife once you have destroyed one knife and 1 stone through heavy use... A good point on several levels. Aside from catering, my company offers Private Cooking Lessons and Instructional Cooking Parties in peoples' homes. I use misono for these lessons, and my clients, most of whom have Wustoff or Henkels in their kitchens, often go out the next day and buy a misono due to their ease of use compared to the heavier German knives. I get an extraordinary amount of thank yous from them telling me that my advice on these knives changed their entire cooking experience. There are some fantastic knives out there for beginners coming from Japan, and many cost under $120!

Happy Cutting
post #60 of 123

The folks I run into who want knife recommendations fall into several groups. They want knives worth sharpening that don't cost much. They want knives that are good enough to be their "last set," without spending too much. And they want the best knife money can buy without getting silly.

For the first group, I recommend Forschner Rosewood.

For the second group, I try and get a sense of how invested they're going to be in sharpening and maintaining their knives, whether carbon is appropriate for some of their knives, and whether they'll ever learn to use a knife well enough to build a set around a 10" chef's. If they're amenable to carbon, I like to recommend the Hiromoto HC line from Japanese Chef's Knife, Warther, and Sabatier Elephant or K carbons. If they want stainless, I recommend Mac, Sabatier Elephant "French Style" stainless, or Furi Coppertail, and if those are too expensive, it's back to Forschner Rosewood.

For the third group, I recommend Sabatiers -- antique and carbon if possible, Glestain, Hiromoto AS, Ryusen Blazen, Misono UX-10, and Misono Swedish Steel (love those engravings). People with small hands can fall in love with Globals.

Generally I recommend that people choose European style boning knives over Japanese garasuke and hanasuke. The Japanese knives are really designed for different tasks and have a tendency to take little slivers of bone when you're boning out large cuts. I also recommend that people buy a few specialty knives for things they only do once in a while, rather than making do with an unsuitable tool especially if the task might hurt the cook or the knife. This includes knives like sheeps-foot parers, tournee knives, cimiters, lobster crackers, salmon slicers, etc. Again, I usually suggest Forschner Rosewoods. Oh yeah, and Furi as bread knives for serious bakers.

My experience with most folks who can afford good knives is that their first purchase should be a Chef's Choice electric sharpener. While they're often willing to learn to use the knife, that willingness doesn't extend to a set of stones. My experience with cooking at other people's homes -- something I used to do professionally too, and something I still do socially -- is that the sharpest knife in the house is a steak knife because they can't or won't sharpen.

I've had wonderful luck with the "Nogent" style Sabatiers. It's kind of an interesting story. There are a couple of versions floating around. In the nineties, Thiers-Issard ("Elephant") Sabatier announced they'd found a cache of pre-WWII blanks in several of their warehouses. They've given a couple of versions of how these blanks came to be lost, then found. My speculation is that they were hoarding steel to keep it from the Germans during the war, then to keep it from the tax-man. Eventually, since it was off the books, it was just forgotten. Whatever. Once you reset them to 15 deg, they take a great edge. While the steel may not be as hard as modern Japanese steels, it's 56 - 58 HRC and hard enough to hold a decent edge for a month or so of household use. They have a wonderful, old time look with real ebony handles. But their outstanding characteristic is the way they handle. They're light, they're agile and they're the most comfortable knives I've ever used.

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