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Wolfgang Puck Knives

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
ok, help quick...dont know how long this sale is going on. I was looking on HSN for some knives (bc i cant afford to dump 300-500 at one shot and they do flexpay where i can break it into 3 or 4 payments)

But i came across a "special deal" on Wolfgang Puck knives.

Wolfgang Puck 20-piece Cutlery Set with Block at

now, to me i would think that bc it includes the steak knives, prolly means they are a filler for lack of quality. But the msrp is $300+ on these. Its on sale for about $90! Seems like a no-brainer if thats the truth, and I'm not buying a name.

anyone ever use these? know anything about them?

++Also, I am enrolled in culinary school starting in August. I have to buy a couple different "kits" that include knives. I was thinking I didnt want to use those at home and school. Or maybe I should. I dont!!++
post #2 of 16
Okay, that page doesn't load, nor do several of the others I found on Google. In the interest of making this discussion possible, here is the text and image, dug up after some effort:

Turn your kitchen prep work into performance art with this Wolfgang Puck 20-piece Cutlery Set. Featuring high-carbon stainless steel blades that stay sharp and resist corrosion and full tang blades for sensational balance and control, this amazing set gives you the professionally inspire performance and durability you've been waiting for. Wolfgang Puck 20-piece Cutlery Set with Block Includes:
7" santoku - approx. 12-1/4"L x 3/4"W x 2"H with handle
5" santoku - approx. 9-3/4"L x 3/8"W x 1-1/2"H with handle
3" santoku - approx. 7-3/4"L x 3/8"W x 1-3/8"H with handle
8" chef knife - approx. 13-1/8"L x 3/4"W x 1-3/4"H with handle
8" bread knife - approx. 12-7/8"L x 1/2"W x 1-1/8"H with handle
6" utility - approx. 10-1/2"L x 3/8"W x 1"H with handle
(8) 5.4" steak knives - approx. 9-3/8"L x 5/8"W x 7/8"H with handle
5" tomato knife - approx. 9-1/2"L x 5/8"W x 7/8"H with handle
4" paring knife - approx. 8-3/8"L x 5/8"W x 7/8"H with handle
2.5" curved paring knife - approx. 7"L x 5/8"W x 7/8"H with handle
Shears - approx.10-1/8L x 5/8"W x 2-1/4"H with handles
6" carving fork - approx. 10-1/2L x 1/2"W x 5/8"H with handles
Wood block with sharpener - approx. 10-1/4"L x 4-3/4"W x 9-3/4"H
Product Features:20-piece cutlery set - an incredible assortment to match any job and occasion
High-carbon stainless steel blades - smooth slicing and durability Full tang blades - Blade metal extends through the hands for exquisite balance 7", 5" and 3" Santoku knives - stick resistant dimples for all purpose cutting 8" chef's knife - excellent control for chopping, slicing and mincing 7" bread knife - make consistent slices in bread without tearing or crushing 6" utility - perfect for sandwiches, meat, cold cuts and fruit (8) 5.4" steak knives - exquisitely crafted for elegant table service 5" tomato knife - serrated blade with sharp prongs at the tip for piercing 4" paring knife - perfect multipurpose blade for peeling, trimming and dough-cutting 2.5" curved paring knife - short, sickle-shaped curved blade for precision control Shears - heavy-duty blades and handles for cutting meats with control and power 6" carving fork - long diamond-shaped prongs for extra control and leverage 19-slot wood knife block with sharpener - gives convenient stowage that protects your cutlery Removable steak knife block can also be used for table service Built-in blade sharpener helps keep your blades in perfect working order Rubber, non-slip feet keep block in one place VPN- WP20PCCUTLERY Cutlery is high carbon stainless steel with polyoxymethylene handles Block is wood Cutlery is hand wash only Made in China Comes with a manufacturer's 5-year limited warranty
The actual standard price is $150 -- look around, and you can find it for that at many sites.

To my mind this set is not a great deal. The collection of knives is peculiar, to say the least. You get 2 versions of several knives, for no particular reason. For example, you don't need both a 7" santoku and an 8" chef's knife, and neither is an ideal mainstay knife in the first place -- a 10" chef's would be much preferable.

Why would you want a 6" utility knife, a 5" santoku, and a 4" serrated "tomato knife"? A tomato knife is useful as a substitute for a sharp knife, and is otherwise junk. The other two are just repetition again, and with a chef's knife (or santoku) as short as the ones provided here, these are unnecessary.

The paring knives could come in handy, to be sure, but you can get very good ones for about $5 apiece so that's no big deal. And why, with two paring knives, would you want a 3" santoku?

Shears you probably won't use. The sharpener you should not use. The bread knife is useful, as is the fork.

So what do you really get here?

8 steak knives
1 mediocre chef's knife or santoku
1 bread knife
2 paring knives
1 fork
1 block

Since you're off to cooking school and will have to buy knife kits, you're going to be forced to buy a chef's knife, bread knife, paring knife, and fork all over again, and chances are you won't get anything particularly good that way either -- cooking school knife kits are notoriously mediocre.

If you want to really learn something at home, and not bring your home knives to school (which is a good idea, probably), I'd say spend the money more wisely. What you actually should have and practice with is:

1 10" chef's knife, preferably carbon steel
1 paring knife (buy cheap)
1 combination sharpening stone (try a King 1k/5k for starters)

If you look around, you should be able to get all of this for under $150 and have more real cutting power than this whole set -- or than you're going to have to buy for school. Let us know if you want brand suggestions.

In short, I'd pass on the Puck knives.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

Well thats sort of what i was thinking, but i wanted to run it past the "experts" first!

thanks for the info
post #4 of 16
My basic principle with knives is simple: the fewer and more versatile the knives you have, the more you'll use and get good with them. In my opinion, your total minimum set should be:

10" chef's/gyuto
bread knife

To this, add the following depending on what you actually need to do regularly:

heavy chef's/chef de chef
long slicing knife
fillet knife/deba
meat cleaver

I can think of very few things you can't do admirably with this total group. Some things you will do almost never, such as the things that really require a cleaver -- breaking down a whole veal saddle, for example, is not something that comes up often.

A paring knife can be had very cheaply: try Victorinox, Dick, Forschner, etc. from a restaurant supply place.

A bread knife can also be had cheaply, but be sure it's durable.

A good chef's knife is going to cost you. I would strongly recommend Japanese -- not Shun or Global, but one of the many inexpensive gyuto that can be found online through places like Korin, JapanTools, EpicureanEdge, etc. If you get one and get it very sharp, your practicing at home will likely keep you from developing too many bad habits. You may also start to get irritated with the knives in your required kit, but I recommend that you keep quiet about it -- nobody likes a know-it-all.

Bear in mind that carbon steel and raw wooden handles are forbidden to professional kitchens in some jurisdictions. Nevertheless, you should probably buy this for home use: it's cheaper, easier to sharpen, and you'll get into great work habits -- because if you don't, the carbon steel will rust on you and you'll learn a hard lesson effectively.

If you have not sharpened knives by hand before, I suggest you snoop around here and ask some questions before giving it a go. Based on what I have read, cooking schools tend as a rule to teach bad sharpening practices, so do what they tell you when they're watching and learn to do it right at home. When you get a job, your chef will be pleased if you cut fast and well with sharp knives and don't make a fuss about it.
post #5 of 16
I strongly agree with 98% of what Chris wrote. As to the other 2% -- a couple of niggles not worth going into.

When and if you're interested in purchasing a decent knife set we can discuss what would work best for the way you cook, the way you want to cook, how you sharpen, how you're going to sharpen, and your budget. It sounds complicated, but isn't -- not really.

I've no personal familiarity with WP cutlery, so did some 'net research. From what I gather, no matter how cheaply they're sold they're still overpriced. Not worth the shipping. If Chris hasn't not only talked you out of the particular set but out of WP knives in general, please consider this post a push in that direction.

A strong push,
post #6 of 16
Sorry to butt in, could you add some additional depth to this please Chris? Normally I read that within reason it is recommended to go with the knife that feels right - why the Gyuto over the Global or Shun?

post #7 of 16
Gyoto is a shape of knife, not a brand. Much like a French Chef's knife but thinner, harder and somewhat less curve.

Global and Shun are more marketing hype. Not bad knives, but you can get better quality for the price which is what Chris is getting at.
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 #8 of 16
Thanks phatch, I appreciate the heads up.
post #9 of 16
"Gyuto" isn't a brand. It's the Japanese word which means "Knife with a European style chef's knife's blade." Actually, it translates directly as "cow knife," or "cow sword."

Shuns and Globals are both highly idiosyncratic in many ways. That doesn't mean they're bad or invalid choices, just not for everyone. I don't think Chris meant to invalidate the choice entirely. Rather, I think his position is that despite the fact that those are the most available Japanese knives there are better choices for most people. That's my thought anyway. Of course, Chris may speak for himself.

Among other things to dislike, the Kershaw and Onion designed Shun chef's knives have a very unusual profile as Japanese chef's knives go. The topline is straight almost to the point, with very little drop at all -- which means an exteremely high point. In turn, that means a lot of angle to get the point down to the board; and point on the board is important for a lot of things, scoring for example, or chopping onions.

Also, Shun chef's knives are designed with a lot of arc (from heel to point) on the edge -- reminiscent of German (as opposed to French/Japanese) chef's knife shapes. The curve helps with some kinds of cutting, hurts others. Without getting too deeply into technique, let's say that generally a more curved knife is less conducive to developing skills and less helpful in skilled hands than a straighter, more triangular shape. But not for everyone and not always.

There's also the "feel" imparted by the cladding (extremely subtle, very few people will notice) when chopping, the poor construction of the cladding (the "damascus" pattern -- which is actually suminagashi -- quickly and inevitably fades to inivisibility), and the fact that superior knives are available for similar prices.

Their "D" shaped handle makes them "handed." Many, but not all lefties, will be uncomfortable with right handed handles. Nearly all, but not quite all righties, will be uncomfortable with left handed handles. Big problem in a mixed household.

Criticisms of shape are limited to the chef's knife. Shun petties are excellent -- as long as you don't mind the damascus or the handle.

Globals are Globals are Globals. They have very odd handles -- supposedly "ergonomic" -- which are decidedly not for everyone. A lot of people who initially find them comfortable end up with hand, wrist and/or arm pain (sound like carpal tunnel to you?). The individial profiles are well designed. The knives are very light, agile, extremely stainless, and almost ridiculously well balanced (if you like neutral balance).

A lot of people choose Global because of their sort of Bauhaus visual aesthetic. Unfortunately, once the knives start to dull they require some effort and the small handles maximize the amount of grip pressure needed to keep the knife from slipping. So, unless you have a consistent sharpening regimen, and soft, sure grip they're a poor choice.

My impression is that the handles tend to be more natural for smaller hands. Personally, I've always liked them and have never had any problems even though I have large hands. This might be my soft grip, or it might be never using one over any length of time.

It's always a good idea to discuss sharpening. To their credit Shuns and Globals sharpen easily and well, and hold their edges farily well.

Unfortunately, Globals and Shuns are the most widely available Japanese knives; sometimes the only available Japanese knives to "test" before buying. Many people consider going to the store and holding the knife, waving it around a bit, and doing some mock chopping to check it's "feel" and "balance" an essential part of purchasing. It's certainly the CW (conventional wisdom). For those unfortunate people, Global and Shun are the only Japanese choices. There are much better, really.

post #10 of 16
Thanks for that full and generous reply BDL - as always, your help is much appreciated.:cool:
post #11 of 16
As usual, I agree with what BDL said. (Still irked about that 2%....)

My basic point is that if you're going to drop $100+ on a chef's knife, you want Japanese unless you have some very particular love for something else (like BDL's attachment to old carbon Sabatiers). If you're going to buy Japanese, you want the best you can get for the money, and that's not Shun or Global. They are not junk knives -- far from it. But you can do better for the money.
post #12 of 16
Chris, I appreciate the message that there are better or equally good knives that may represent better value - are you able to expand on that and suggest noteworthy alternatives?

Thanks, and apologies to DReed3 for my extended presence in this thread.
post #13 of 16
I have canvassed some experts, and the best suggestion I know of is a Togiharu Molybdenum gyuto, right-handed, 270mm.

Korin carries them. I just checked the site, and it's $83 without shipping.

That's a stainless knife, actually, but that's no sin. Apparently (I have never used one) it sharpens fairly easily and takes a wicked edge.
post #14 of 16
Cheers Chris.
post #15 of 16
At one point Tojiro would have been my go-to, no-brainer suggestion but their recent price increase changes this slightly. The 240mm @ $100 is still a good deal but there's some competition at that price. is a great vendor and has some really good deals, too- their Fujiwara line looks like a great point of entry.

I'll echo the sentiments of many previous posters; you're way better off having a few good knives than a huge block full of junkie ones. The basic knives I'd get are as follows:

Gyuto/chef's knife: The majority of cutting tasks in the kitchen can be done with a gyuto. A Japanese gyuto is patterned more on the French shape, while German chef knives (and some Japanese brands such as Shun) have a rounder shape with more 'belly.' Since this knife will get a ton of use, invest the most in this one. I personally like the 240mm size (about 9.3") best- it's a good compromise size.

Serrated bread knife: This knife has several uses but primarily you'll just use it on breads and sometimes cakes. Mac's 10.5" is probably the most widely recommended here and it's a great choice. The Kershaw Kai Pure Komachi 8" bread knife is also a good choice if you don't need the extra length. It's not as nice but it's about 1/4 the price and has the same basic scalloped serration pattern.

Paring knife: As many will tell you, here Shun makes one of the best. But you can also buy a handful of Victorinox cheapies and get by very well. Personally I almost never use a paring knife myself, and when I do I tend to grab an inexpensive Messermeister tourne.

Boning knife: If you're going to fabricate meats it's very useful to have a boning knife of some sorts. I'm leery of making sweeping recommendations, here...while I use mostly Japanese knives I don't have much experience with Japanese fillet/boning type knives. I guess I'm just used to a curved European style blade with some flex. Maybe I should learn to peel tenderloins with a Honesuki but for now I use a Fibrox.:lol:

Slicer/Sujihiki: It's very useful to have a long, thin slicer, be it Western or a Japanese Sujihiki. If you're on a budget this one can wait since most things you'd do with it can be done in a pinch with your gyuto, but the slicer is better suited to some things.

It's tricky to recommend brands. Many will tell you that Japanese knives are the way to go, and I wholeheartedly agree. Some will say they're not for beginners but why not simply start out on the right foot? You'll eventually end up with J-knives anyways!;) I've heard good things about the Togiharu line at Korin (I think they're basically their new 'house' brand). Tojiro makes good knives for the money.
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
post #16 of 16
I have to respond to this even though it's an old thread just in case anyone else is thinking of Wolfgang Puck knives. I bought a set of Wolfgang Puck knives years ago and to put it bluntly these knives were quite bad (and blunt). The steak knives have an odd design with half the blade being serrated and the other half a blade, let's just say I really didn't care for these knives and regret giving away an ok set of Tramtina(sp?) knives when I bought the Wolfgang puck.

I now am going with MAC but from what I have read if budget is a concern go with Frocshner(sp?).
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