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Culinary School Knife Kit

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I need help here:
We are putting together a knife kit for our students and while we know the pieces we want to include, we need to provide the best, low cost knives so our students will get a long life out of them and can afford them too.
I would like to keep the 7 pc set under $200.
Any suggestions?

chef knife
4" paring
serrated (bread)

Add on:
parisian scoop
fish spatula

We looked at Edward Don sets and in the past used Mercer, Chefware and Chicago Cutlery.
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry
post #2 of 26


Your entry surfaced while I was working on a knife project. I work for a company that is developing a range of culinary kits from entry level to professional. Unfortunately, I don't believe we'll be ready to present something to your school until this fall.
I'd be curious to know what you end up selecting and why. What has the school recommended in the past? Given the choice of picking anything at any price, what would the picks be?
On a side note, how many students in the culinary and pastry programs?
post #3 of 26
$200 is a very low price threshold. However, because it's a group purchase you can probably get a decent discount.

At the price, I can think of three decent choices -- none of them all that good.

Mercer: Mercers are probably the cheapest knives which will take and (sort of) hold a reasonable edge. In shape, weight and balance, Mercer "Genesis" is pretty much a Chinese (Taiwan) clone of Wusthof Classic. You said you went with Mercers before. Since you're searching for something else, you're probably aware of the drawbacks.

Dexter Russel i-cut: Modern shape similar to Wusthof Ikon. Same "German" steel as in most German upmarket German knives. Like the Mercer, forged and not stamped -- although that doesn't mean anything anymore. I'm not sure where they're made -- not the US or Europe -- Asia or South America, probably. Decent student knives.

Forschner Fibrox (or Rosewood): Except for the handles they're the same, stamped steel knives. A real favorite in Cook's Illustrated knife reviews. They're a big step up in fit and finish compared to Mercer. They're easy to sharpen and take a good edge as European knives go, but don't hold it very well. I find the Rosewood handles very comfortable -- much better than the Fibrox. Although, at your budget you may not be able to afford the Rosewood. In addition to their better edge characteristics they're more comfortable than

Dexter Russell Tradition: Plain, ol' fashioned Dexters. They come in carbon and stainless. The carbon have much better edge characteristics than the stainless, but require more care than we dare ask of a modern culinary student. In either steel, the fit and finish can't compare to Forschner's. But F&F aside, they're pretty much the same thing.

Chicago Cutlery and Don Edward: I don't know enough about Don Edward tocomment. Chicago Cutlery hasn't manufactured their own knives in quite some time. They go through periods of designing knives and having them made for them (usually in China), and periods of just buying what's available (also usually from China) and having them branded. Sometimes a great deal, sometimes a scalping. Highly unreliable.

Small tools: You can't beat Dexter for price, selection or quality. The dernier cri of reasonably priced small tools.

Sharpening: A sin in my book. Speaking of sharpening, your proposed knife set didn't include any provisions for it. You can use traditional oilstones with any of the knife sets in your price range. Your best bet is a Norton combination India stone (coarse and fine). The standard for many years has been the Norton IB-8; but I think they're flogging a slightly thinner "culinary" stone labled as IC-8. They go for around $20. The best low priced rod hone ("steel") -- bar none -- is the 10" Idahone. Under $20.

Unless you want to go with a lot of mix and match, including some non-stainless, you can't afford Japanese made knives; which, at every other price range but the very lowest, are very much better than knives made anywhere else. The difference in quality is real and huge.

Now that I've got all this off my chest -- you're wasting your time asking on this forum. Call someone like Cutlery and More, and tell them what you're trying to do. They'll work with you. Also, call MAC Kinves in Sacramento and see what they can do for you -- the sort of set you're thinking about will go for considerably more than $200 (even discounted), but they're much better knives than anything already mentioned.

Good luck with this, let me know if there's anything I can do besides generic advice.

post #4 of 26
A passing note...

I wouldn't set any store by those reviews. The testing method on non-serrated knives explicitly favors one crucial factor: how sharp the knife was when it arrived. Anyone who thinks that should be the most important factor in reviewing a knife knows nothing about the subject. Not to say that Forschner isn't any good -- it's not their fault that the Cook's Illustrated folks are idiots.
post #5 of 26
I still have some of the dexter-russell pieces out of my kit from J&W given to me in 1979. They still work and hold an edge. they include a boning knife, serrated, and slicer. So they might be an option, the company is still in business in Southbridge, MA.
post #6 of 26
Just mentioning. I put the same faith in Cook's Illustrated as I do the Tooth Fairy. No. Strike that. Less.

In any case, Forschner Fibrox/Rosewood are the high end of budget knives -- or darn close.

post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 

thank you for the feedback!

For now, for the pastry division, I am offering either the Edward Don or Dexter knives as they are the most utilitarian, I still have my Chicago Cutlery set from J&W (20 yrs +) for work and a set of Ikons for personal use.

I have left the culinary division to find their own way.
As I do not use my knives as they do, I felt silly to comment. :look:
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry
post #8 of 26
Does this mean you're unasking the question?

post #9 of 26
I have the forschner fibrox that I bought as a set Forschner Fibrox 7-pc. Chef's Knife Case Set - Forschner Cutlery Sets

the set is only $120 so the rest of the pieces could be added and stay close to your budget.
post #10 of 26
CI has a lot of great info- on cooking. They don't seem to know squat about knives. I agree that the Fibrox is great if you can only spend $25, not a lot of competition there. They will get pretty sharp and they're great for someone who loves sharpening, because you're be doing a lot of it.;)
"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 #11 of 26

LOL. I know I'm coming into this thread a little long in it's time, but I think this a good topic for discussion still. I like the suggestion MaryB made, but I think the case that set comes in is way to big for what it carries. I think Victorinox Forschner puts out a better set anyway. 

Those in the market for a "Starter Set" would be good looking at these to: 


Victorinox Forschner Fibrox Deluxe Knife Roll Set


Victorinox Forschner Rosewood Deluxe Knife Roll Set


I think the Fibrox handles are good for a rookie, but I think there are better sized knives in the Rosewood set. Unless they are well marked, I've seen Fibrox stuff get mixed up in the standard kitchen house stuff. That sucks. 



As for the opinions of Cook's Illustrated ..... The people writing those reviews are not plumbers, they are real chefs. Yeah, yeah, yeah ..... we all have different definitions of "Real Chef", but still, they are good reviews for the real world. 

post #12 of 26

I'd NEVER get a Victorinox chefs knife. Simply put, it's NOT a good knife. Fibrox or Rosewood it's all the same, you cant possibly claim to have that perfect control you want when for instance dicing an onion with it.


If on a budget, get a MAC or if youre head is all screwed on the wrong way. A Wusthof or similar


That said, Victorinox has a ton of solid knives like paring knives or flexible knives. Cheap and serves their function, their bread knife is allso good. Same about their white plastic peeler. So the best solution here is probably to let the students choose the chef knifes separately and make a set with the rest of the knives.

post #13 of 26

LOL. I gotta stop responding to threads. I'm dieing here. 

post #14 of 26

m brown:

I own: Dexter-Russell, Forschner, Chicago Cutlery, Mundial, Tramontina.

I still prefer LamsonSharp PRO cutlery, Cutlery, 12" Maple Steel, Knife Safe, Utensils, [Rosewood], [Earth]

Knife Cases

Edited by TheUnknownCook - 4/19/11 at 8:20am
post #15 of 26

Financial responsibility is definately a issue, especially in the current economy. My class was the last to be issued forged Friedr. Dick kits, (outstanding for school in my opinion), and then began to issue Mercer forged, which is also very good quality for school. Most companies will raise prices even on certain discounts, and it's better to buy new ranges, and combitherms, and robot-coupes in my eyes, than to spend a fortune on Wusthof Ikon's for new students. Don't get me wrong, quality is also important, but it's better to save knives like Ikon's and Shun's for graduation or home use. Most of them'd might get stolen.

post #16 of 26

My opinion in that case is Giesser. German knives, very good quality and more than reasonable price. Check their web, its company with long term tradition and their products are relly good. If

you´re interesting and you have problem to get these knives, just let me know, I´m gonna give you a contact.


post #17 of 26

My kit is all Dexter-Russels, the white handles. There is a carving, bread, paring, boning, chefs in there and a stone. I paid $125 for it through the hospitality club at my college, which ironically I am a part of but we don't make a ton of money off selling the knife kits. At cost I think it would be under $100 and its a starter kit not the kit that will take you through your life.

post #18 of 26

Nothing wrong with that set of knives for a starter kit. Add to it as you need. You go to school, they are going to get stolen or lost or end up in the trash.

Nothing wrong with Forschner, as others have down talked them, that's all that fits well in my hand. That's all I will buy. I have a few that are 30 yrs old, they hold an edge just fine, and you won't go broke buying them.

post #19 of 26

Mac Chef Knife: $50

Mac Paring: $22

Mac Boning: $40          You may wonder why I'm referring Mac. I honestly only own 1 mac Chef knife and I don't use it too often because I have several other chef knives, etc. Mac is awesome because they are pretty cheap and their Japanese steel---I'd say comparable with Shun, just not as pretty. They use amazing steel. You'll end up sharpening it less than a Henkels or Wusthof and get a sharper blade. I learned about Mac from my chef at Baltimore's finest Italian Chef....rated.




Fork: just buy something that's inexpensive and has some weight to it. Chances are, If its flat and light, Its cheap. $15

Mac Bread knife: $50 I recommend Japanese for bread knives because you don't want to continuously sharpen serrated knives.

Chinese mandoline: $40...though you can receive some even at stores like Wegman's  for like 15$


All day this is $217 at retail prices. You could for sure get a discount just at williams-sonoma that will bring you under $200....You will definitely get a whole sale discount that will bring the price of these below $170.


Good peelers are $3 retail

fish spatulas are $10 retail

and parisian scoop $5 retail.      If you shop wisely, you'll come across some great deals and be able to profit or sell for less. regardless, These are your best bet for your money. dont use brand name for some smaller stuff, it usually turns into a huge waste....



Hope this helps.





post #20 of 26

I think those MAC prices are a little out of date...  I can't find a MAC chef for less than $80-90.


post #21 of 26

Here's a special "Knife Kit" ............... limited edition. 



post #22 of 26

I think some of your information is a little off, so I put my personal review below:


Dexter Russell- Though the Connosuier is a great brand they can be way more expensive for what you get since made in the USA.  They pull some tricks on their I-cut line by only putting in a rat tang versus a full tang.  Some steel is also sourced and sometimes from China.  Victorinox, Mercer and Wusthoff all sharper out of the package and hold edge longer.


Victorinox- Makes a great knife, but again expensive due to the Swiss franc recently rising.  Great blades all around though, the Mercer Millennia does hold an edge longer than the Victorinox Fibrox knife.  Although Fibrox comes out of the package sharper. 


Wusthof- Highly expensive because it is made in Germany, great classic knife holds great edge, sharpens easy


Mercer- I have some of their Genesis line (very similar to the Wusthof Pro Series) and their  Renaissance line (exactly like the Wusthof classic).  Great steel, same hybrid steel as Wusthof except much more affordable due to manufacturing in Taiwan. Both lines are great forged knives, holds great edge and sharpens very easy.


Canada Cutlery- Did not like, very heavy, did not hold edge well and tougher to sharpen.

post #23 of 26

Zombie threads seem to have been cropping up like mad.


This one is resurrected only 4-1/2 years after IceMan's wonderful picture posting (Post #21 above).


Okay folks, let's start singing: Ataaack of the Killer Tomatoes.......


(See Post #62 of this thread  for explanation)




post #24 of 26

If someone isn't pointing out zombie threads, someone else is telling newbies to look for old threads for their answers.

How about we just be helpful....or silent.

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 #25 of 26

I believe the philosophy a lot of us follow is to, firstly, get to understand individual needs, supply any new information required there, and whatever else pertinent is convenient to deliver in the limited amount of time most of us have to spend here, then suggest perusing what is already in the archives as it is too voluminous to recreate with each post.


And anyways GS was the recipient of one of my Too Cool for School awards for his Attack of the Killer Tomato post.  ;-)~

post #26 of 26

I guess I'm going to have to jump back in on this one.


After 4-1/2 years of inactivity on this thread, BladeRunner jumped in with a first (and so-far only) post.  My guess is that he (or she) was led to that thread by a search engine, either ChefTalk's own, or an external one (such as Google).  Fair enough, and when there's good and new relevant information, then there should be a new jump into a subject.  As for looking up what is in the old threads, what we have archived here on ChefTalk really is a treasure-trove.


If BladeRunner had a question or some other newbie query, then I probably would have jumped in with a response appropriate to giving the relevant information - probably at the cost of repeating what I may have said in other posts and threads.


However, BladeRunner was giving a generic review on several lines of (European) knives, and completely missed that most of us have pretty much passed by European mass-market knives in favor of more recent steel technology, mostly Japanese.  That BDL gave a number of detailed and informative posts in this thread should have been a tip-off to BladeRunner to carefully read the entire thread.


Normally, I (and others) should let the ordinary postings in a thread be allowed to take their due course, but when there are years between postings and someone jumps in with declarative statements, then that will get my attention.  And when it gives information which is not necessarily current, then a response may be needed, if only to leave future readers to know that there was such a drastic time jump.


Yes, I will admit that invoking Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is a wee bit snarky.  But, it was as much intended to let future viewers of this thread know that BladeRunner was jumping in after 4-1/2 years, when almost everyone earlier involved would have forgotten this thread.  Not that many people look up the posting date information.



Galley Swiller

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