or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Food & Equipment Reviews › Cooking Knife Reviews › Which company has the best Knife?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Which company has the best Knife?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
I've been working in the industry for the last four years. And the chef knife that I use and feel that it is one of the best knives out here is my "Wushtof". This knife is like a third child to me..Once I dropped it and wanted to cry(lol seriously). I never have problems with it(easy to sharpen and can use it for everything, expect butchering). It has alittle weight to it but it is still great. I'm thinking about getting a tatoo of it on my forearm with my daughter's name on it. Well, enough about my knife what do you think is the best chef knife?
post #2 of 4
"Best" is a tricky term, pardner.

I've had a lot of knives, and still have quite a few. My favorite chef knives are my vintage K-Sabatier. I have two 10" knives, one from the sixties and another purchased from Amazon about 6 years ago. One is on permanent "loan" to my (grown) daughter.

While old carbon steel French knives are my favorites, they are by no means the "best." That is, if "best" relates to performance. For that matter, neither is yours.

There are a great many Japanese made knives and knives made in the European chef's profile according to Japanese knife making techniques, e.g., Murray Carter, which will out perform my golden oldies, in the sense that they are lighter, tougher, will take a better edge, and hold it far longer.

In those senses, taking and holding an edge, your Wustie Classic comes in a distant fifth place. The basic hierarchy goes: 1) Very good Japanese and very good knives made like Japanese knives; 2) Good Japanese; 3) Good European carbon and European and American semi-custom knives; 4) Modern high-end European stainless like Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu and Ikon; 5) Good European high-end stainless such as your Wusthof Classic.

This is not to say that your Wustie isn't a great knife, or even that it isn't the perfect knife for you. The fit and finish is as good as it gets, and the balance of the 8" and 10" chef's is exemplary. It sharpens well enough to julienne, brunois, and lyonnaise fine -- and what more do you really want? Quite a lot, actually.

In my experience, most people with good knife skills, prefer a French pattern to a German pattern chef's knife. Japanese chef knives, called "gyuto," are French pattern. The terms that come up repeatedly when the comparisons are made are "agile," "nimble," "easy to control," "light," and "non-fatiguing." The differences between Japanese and European style forgings and stampings is just as great, bringing up the same terms but adding the term "sharpness" to the list -- usually prefaced by a modifier like "incredible," or "I never knew."

The French pattern has less curve and less belly than the German -- and thus less metal. French pattern knives were/are typically made slightly thinner than Germans, lending a sense of "keenness." The French pattern is better for all fine work and most general tasks. The German pattern is better for rock-chopping (point on the board) large pieces of food -- as for lyonnaise cutting onions and potatoes, coining several big carrots at a time, and brings more power to tough roots, cartilage and lobster shells. Just to be clear, the French pattern knife will rock-chop herbs, garlic, whatever just as well. The difference is only felt when you have to get the heel of the knife high off the board. Other advantages to the German knives -- universally wonderful fit and finish, and great handles. Especially the Wusthof Classic and LCB.

The big German manufacturers are very aware of the penetration of mid to high line Japanese knives into professional kitchens, as well as the kitchens of aspirational home cooks. They're also aware that a few French companies like Four-Star Elephant Thiers-Issard Sabatier (is that a mouthful or what?) and K-Sabatier are making a big comeback. Indeed, of its four high-zoot lines, Wusthof has borrowed heavily from Japanese designs for their "highest end" LCB, Messermeister has redesigned its edge geometry to a very Japanese 15 deg polished, and Henckels has its own factory in Japan making what really are Japanese knives (Twin Cermax).

Don't feel like your choice is dissed. Remember, I don't have up-market Japanese knives either. The "good" reasons I don't use one of these include my existing collection of sharpening stones, the "collection" nature of my knife set, and the Sabs' almost stupid ease of sharpening. So much for good reasons. The real reason goes something like this: Not long after I left the food biz, in the mid-seventies, I was given a set of Henckels Pro S knives. I liked the heft of the Henckels and that it was stainless, so I wrapped up my Sabs and put them away. The tip broke off the Henckels and I replaced it with a Wusthof Classic, which was fine. Maybe ten years later my (now ex) wife found the Sabs and asked if she could have them. I said, "yes." So, I cleaned off the 10" chef's, sharpened it to a good edge, and that sucker just leapt into my hand. I couldn't believe how light, how comfortable, how sharp, how much better it was than the Wustie -- which she still has.

The two big knocks against Japanese knives is that "fit and finish" can be spotty -- even with some fairly high-end knives; and the ultra-hard steels can be a be-yotch to sharpen.

That having been said, limiting the selection to lines sold in volumes greater than a few hundred a year, my choices for best pro chef's knife would be: Nenox S-1 (expensive cosmetics might make this too low value), Hiromoto AS (excellent value), Misono UX-10, Ryusen Blazen, Kikuichi Elite carbon, Masamoto HC carbon, MAC Professional (value leader in this group, and can be sharpened on western style stones), and MAC Ultimate.

I did not include Shun Classic because I hate the handles and think they're overpriced for what they are, even if they are the current Knife That Will Change the World among U.S. pros. As far as I'm concerned, Alton's Angle is selling knives and getting a royalty. I've never tried a Ken Onion, although I find them intriguing.

Nor did I include Globals, the last Knife That Will Change the World, because their handles make them unsuitable for cooks with large hands, and because their spines are so fracking uncomfortable. Speaking of which: You can deepen your love affair with your Wusties by rounding off the sharp edges of the knife spine. You can do this by putting the knife in a vice and "shoe-shining" sand paper over the first inch or so of the spine from the handle, or with a Dremel, or by using a stropping motion on your coarse and medium stones. Unbelievable difference in comfort.

post #3 of 4
wow your post is pretty good... i had a set of knives bought me, they are german knives, not really a brand of any type, but it was a great start for a guy who occasionally got to do starters and prep.

im now looking for a second set of knives. and i do like the japanese ultra hard steel idea...

mainly i want a knife with an edge that, once sharpened, can be kept honed through a steel for a long period. i once had the pleasure of using my old head chefs knives, $120 global knives they were good, solid metal from the tang to the tip was a single piece, the handle was hollow and perforated, really really nice things...

but at that price tag it will be a one at a time thing..

what i need, is a guide on how to sharpen and keep the edge on a blade... i can hone a blade on a steel once its sharp... but getting it there..... thats another matter.
post #4 of 4

I've already done too much to hijack Craig's thread. I'll PM you with some thoughts. If you want to open it up for general discussion, let's start a new thread.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Cooking Knife Reviews
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Food & Equipment Reviews › Cooking Knife Reviews › Which company has the best Knife?