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Zester and channel knives...recommendations?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Does anyone have a favorite zester and/or channel knife. The school I'm considering going to requires that I have them and I from what I've used in the past I can't stand. Most zesters that I I've used get dull very quickly, and as far as channel knives go, I've never used one, so I have no idea what is preferable and what isn't
I'm the kind of person who likes things that work very, very well, and am willing to pay the price to get it, so if you can this of the be-all-that-will-end-all of these two just let me know. Thanks
post #2 of 22
Honestly, Channel knives... I used mine in school a couple of times, and maybe at work a few times. Not really worth it. I would by the cheap one.

Zester - now I have one that is indispensable. I bought the Victorynox rosewood handle one for 23$ in '99, and it is still sharp like the day I first bought it. I use it a lot as well. Hands down, the best one for me.

Jason Sandeman

http://jasonsandeman.com

Developing Systems So You Can Cook

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Jason Sandeman

http://jasonsandeman.com

Developing Systems So You Can Cook

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post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks Jason! That's just the kind of info I was looking for. I'll give it a bit longer to see if anyone else replies but think I've found the winner in the zester department. :smiles:
post #4 of 22
I use a microplane as a zester, may be to radically different to pass inspection, but it sure works well.
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
No, no, no, your absolutely correct. I love my microplane. And that's on the list as well to of what's required. But for some reason, they also want a seperate zester. :rolleyes:

I'm just hoping that they're lenient on the knife list. I have have so many knives that I use that are so far removed from what would normally be used at school.

A fexable filet knife?Who the **** want's to use that when I could use a deba?
Why in the world would I want a granton slicer when I have one made by Takeda that parts everything it touches as soon as the food sees it? A butcher steel? On Japanese Knives? Are you nuts?!
These are my biggest fears....
post #6 of 22
If you're going to get through it successfully keep in mind that school is school and the real world is the real world, and the two do not necessarily jibe. So your best bet, as a student, is to go with the flow.

I don't even know what a channel knife is.

I have two tools used for zesting. For grated zest I just use one of my micro-planes. For those long, thin curls I have an Oxo. Bought it about four years ago and it's as sharp today as it was when I brought it home. Granted, I don't use it as often as the micro-plane. But it didn't cost a whole lot either. There's a side cutter on the Oxo for making strips as well. But I never use it, as a regular knife works just as well.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #7 of 22
Re the MicroPlane...

It was about 15 years ago that Leonard Lee, founder of the Lee Valley woodworker tool-supply company, announced that the MP, a newly-introduced, high-tech wood plane, made a heck of a kitchen tool.

I ordered one - the original, no-handle model - and was so impressed that we ordered six more (they were $7 back in the day) and gave one to each kid and used three for hostess gifts. All of ours are still going strong; our son uses his interchangeably in the kitchen and in his wood shop.

We were in a Williams-Sonoma a couple days ago, and saw at least 20 different MP products. They have really eaten up (so to speak) the culinary market! :p

Mike
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #8 of 22
Okay, you need to make a crucial distinction here, between what your teachers want and what you do at home or possibly later in the workplace. At least when you start out, have the knives they ask for. If you have much, much better knives, buy very cheap versions of the things they want. But if you have a great deba, for example, buy a really good filleting knife: nobody's going to want to see you cut with a deba, now or later, unless you work in a Japanese restaurant, and/or unless and until you are very well established as having terrific chops and thus the cred to use what you want. Until then, use the filleting knife and keep quiet. Don't parade your knowledge, expertise, or knife collection. Nobody will be impressed -- positively, anyway.

Do not smirk or sneer when the instructor teaches you how to sharpen. Yes, chances are, he won't be very good at it. Pay attention: you just might learn something anyway. If you're asked to sharpen knives, you do it as best you can, whatever that might be, using the equipment in front of you. Don't remark rudely on the bad oilstones and how you have great waterstones at home. Nobody cares. Examine the knives you use for school, sharpen them to your satisfaction, and don't carp that they can't hold a perfect edge: learn how to sharpen them as best they can be sharpened. That doesn't mean razor-sharp for 30 seconds and then rolled blunt thereafter, with lots of "oh, my Japanese knives are so much better," even though it's almost certainly true. It means as sharp as the knife can be and sustain that edge. Try profiling if you like -- it's a good skill to learn. And it's worth learning what Western knives can and cannot do -- they're not the garbage many Japanese knife enthusiasts think they are.

Ultimately, there is a chance that you will still run into problems. Some teacher will notice that your knives are different from others', because you have sharpened them differently. He or she may give you a hard time about odd sharpening technique, etc. Fine. Smile, explain yourself if asked, as humbly and yet precisely as you can. If the teacher is still a jerk about it, so what? Your knives are sharp, they do what you ask of them, and if the teacher wants to be a jerk that's his prerogative.

You are entering a profession in which you may well run into all kinds of narrow-minded idiots and martinets. That's true of just about every profession, but the culinary world is one in which some idiots pride themselves on being like this. Start learning to eat your pride. Learn to say "yes, chef!" no matter what, or "oui, chef!" if the school is run by total idiots (or in a Francophone country, of course).

If you can develop a thick skin about things like this, learn to do what you're told even when you think it's stupid, and say "yes, chef!" when some a** who happens to be above you in the brigade screams in your face because he's screwed something up, you will have learned some very important skills in your school.

And then, of course, there is always the possibility that the guy above you -- in the restaurant, at school, whatever -- will actually ask you, "why do you sharpen your knives that weird way?" and listen seriously when you answer respectfully and precisely. And he or she might even cut with the knife, and notice that it works better, and think better of you because of it. Who knows, you might even eventually get an opportunity to mention that you would much prefer to use other knives that you have at home, and would that be OK, chef? (Bear in mind that the ones with the wood handles may be forbidden by the morons who run health and safety, so that may be out of the question.) If you sneer and think yourself superior, this will never happen, your superiors will always think you're a supercilious jerk, and you will never really move up.

You know what? They'll be right. Your job -- when you start school, finish school, enter the restaurant -- is to shut up and do what you're told. That guy holding down his end on the line who's been doing it for 10 years may not have finished high school, may speak little English, may never have darkened the doors of any cooking school, but he can kick your butt on the line, and don't you forget it. Chef certainly won't. Until you have the chops to start pushing your opinions -- about knives or anything -- keep your mouth shut in a smile, except when you say "yes, chef!"

If you've never heard any of this before, I suggest you go read Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, for starters. Then go read a bunch of threads in the Professional Chefs forum -- don't post, just read. Consider reading the recent thread about hiring Hispanic workers, for example, and notice what the seasoned pros say as opposed to the recent culinary school grads say. Guess who's going to be your boss?

Keep your nice knives at home. Buy what the school tells you to buy, and learn how to make the best of them.
post #9 of 22
One of these:

It cuts triangular channels into fruit and vegetables. Isn't that interesting? You know how often one of these suckers sees use in most professional kitchens? :rolleyes:

Incidentally, for the OP, this knife is $8.38 at BigTray. Check it out.
post #10 of 22
My favorite channel knife is one I found at Cash & Carry (United Grocers), in the bar section.
I had to pry the channel open a little more, but it works great.
Rarely use it, but when I do, it's to channel citrus or cucumbers, so when sliced into wheels the wheels look sort of cool.
I also save the pieces removed and put in ice water for garnish.
Microplanes do a better job than zesters for getting zest for a dish.
But the zester is a good tool for getting nice pieces of zest for garnish.
I'm not a fan of the zester/channel knife combo.
I've had a couple and they either do one or the other well, but never both, or they do both equally poorly.
I'd rather use a tool designed for one use.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #11 of 22
Thanks, Chris.

Reminds me of those fruit & veggie carving sets. Lot's of kewl looking tools that maybe what? .01% of cooks will ever use?

>You know how often one of these suckers sees use in most professional kitchens? :rolleyes:<

Hmmmmmm? Do I get more than one guess? :look:
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #12 of 22
Jim, the OXO has both. The zester does a super job. The side-cutter (which I now know is called a channel knife) may or may not. I've never used it for anything.

As a general rule, though, I'm like you. If I really need a tool, I want the specific tool for the job for the very reason you gave.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #13 of 22
Mike,

According to the folks at Microplane, there are 8 blade configurations: Medium Ribbon (the only one that cuts in both directions), Coarse, Extra Coarse, Fine, Zester, Zester/Grater, Small Shaver, and Large Shaver.

Each of them performs certain functions better. So, it's important when buying, that you know which blade is installed in the gadget.

What is now called the Zester, btw, is the original microplane that Lee Tool introduced.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Ask a question and get a novel. Thanks for taking the time to write all of this. I'll take your advice, and go and do the reading. I've been reading a lot of other forums as well for some time, but I haven't posted in any until now. I've read some of your comments over on foodieforums and they've been equally helpful. I'm going to join eventually, KF as well, but only when I'm good an ready and feel like I can contribute.
Consequently reading everything over the past few years has led me to buying such knives, as mentioned, and learning with them.
Going to Euro is going to be a pain especially since all of the knives that are allowed in most places are stainless, where as the best euro, French especially, knives are carbons (Which I love)! And are they allowed? Depends on the state, but almost all will say no. Same with the untreated wood handles, which means I might have to buy something like a Hattori FH Yo (Been wanting to try an FH to), a Masashiro MH-V (Yo), or a Misons UX-10.
Or I could just skip the whole thing and just work for free for a week and then see if the places will take me on as an apprentice. Most gear chefs hae done this after all. I've already been doing that with a butcher, and BTW, a hankotsu beats the life out of a Euro dessouser (Boning knife).

If I had to put it in better terms I 'd have to say that the real problem I face is being forced to do things the wrong way or at best the mediocre way. When inside, I know perfectly well that that there is a better way. THAT is the problem I see with school. Maybe apprenticeships are for me after all... I just don't see there being swarms of overly enthusiastic people in the industry. Where as culinary school would naturally harbor and cultivate that.

Thanks to everyone for the help with the recomendations. The OXO seems like the way to go in this case... If school ever happens that is...
post #15 of 22
Sorry about that. It's an occupational hazard -- I'm a professor. And you've touched a nerve, too.
I have not used them, but I have heard that the new Wusthof line made in Japan, despite the silly-looking handles, are hardened quite high. The handles are some kind of plastic, and the blades are stainless, so they should be okay in any pro kitchen. And nobody would notice, really -- they're just slightly oddly-handled Western knives. Just a thought. I think they're a bit pricey, but I'm not sure.

Do you know if Sakai Takayuki makes plastic handles in the Grand Cheff line at all? Those would match your specs.
Two things here.

First, you still have a good deal to learn about how Western knives are properly used. True, there are better methods, using better knives, for many things. But not all, I assure you. There's a reason the gyuto has made strides in Japan, despite being a Western chef's knife: it's a superior all-around knife to anything in the Japanese arsenal, with the limited and very problematic exception of the usuba. And there is a reason the high-end chef schools in Japan generally teach you to fillet salmon with a gyuto -- whereas almost every other fish is of course filleted with a deba, or in certain odd cases (e.g. mackerel) a yanagiba. So I'd advise you to start with the realization that you don't yet have enough mastery of Western knife shapes to make really blanket claims. Unfortunately, whether cooking school is going to actually teach how to use them well enough to assess the differences fairly is quite another matter, and from what I've heard and read, the chances are slim. Oh well, them's the breaks. But bear in mind that Western chefs have been doing extraordinary things with Western knives for quite some time: they're not garbage.

Second, the "overly enthusiastic" thing is not quite what I keep hearing here, in the form of complaints and moaning from pro chefs dealing with culinary school grads. What I keep hearing is a sense of entitlement and superiority. "Hey, I went to culinary school, I've got a CIA degree, I'm not mopping the floor!" A variation on this theme: "Hey, I know the best way to fillet this fish, I'm not doing it your dumb way!" This is what I'm warning you against. Your future bosses will hate this. You do it chef's way, whatever that may be, until you reach a level of stature in chef's kitchen at which chef is interested in your alternative ideas, and that won't be for a while -- and with some chefs, possibly never. Your cooking school teachers will hate this too, of course, but the only reason you really care what they think is that they can make your life unpleasant while you're in school; after all, if you're semi-competent and do the set work, you can't really fail out, so it's just a matter of what you glean along the way and how pleasant or unpleasant the process is.
You might just check with them and be sure it's OK. I mean, you don't want to buy the OXO and then get told you can't use it because you have to have a separate zester and channel knife. It's not like you're going to get a lot of use out of the thing apart from school.
post #16 of 22
When I was taking continuing education courses for electronics I frequently had to use test equipment tat was a joke. The idea behind the class isn't about the equipment used, its about the proper technique! Once you learn the proper technique you can go ahead and use what you are most comfortable with.
post #17 of 22
Victorninox (a.k.a Forschner) makes a decent zester and channel knife. Bought both of them together about 20 years ago, and they still function well. The channleing knife I would use for months on end and then never for a few years, then again. Comes in handy for lemons and stuff for graved lox and the like, kinda kitchy, but if that's what they want....

I have both the microplane and the zester, each for it's purpose. Microplane is great for lemon zest as an ingredient, say lemon zest in a sweet dough. The zester will give you long thin strips--almost a julienne, if you use it right. This can be attractive in sauces like the classic cumberland or as a'la minute garnishes for stuff like pasta or desserts.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #18 of 22
I was going to suggest OXO, too. Absolutely THE most comfortable tools to handle. And the blades are good enough -- our veg peeler is still going strong after many years.

As for Microplane: :bounce: :bounce: I've got, um, six of them, starting with the original and including the nutmeg grater with the storage box. BUT: to me a "zester" is the tool with the little holes at the end of a very short blade: (this is the OXO version), to make julienne. Sure, you can do that with a knife, but this tool gives you long, continuous curls. I had to use one at work for orange, lemon, and lime zests for gremolata. (Didn't have the OXO, though. :()
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #19 of 22
As with knives, etc. this is an individual thing.
None of the OXO products feel comfortable to me.
But they must appeal to many, they're everywhere.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #20 of 22
I like the vegetable peeler, but I dislike the rest. I can't seem to get used to that squodgy black stuff they use for handles. I don't know why I like the peeler: I guess I just haven't found a non-squodgy one I like.
post #21 of 22
I think vegetable peelers can be classed with can openers: there are no good ones, just some that are less bad than others. And they both keep most of us on a quest.

I have two that I've been using for awhile. An OXO, which I've had for many years, and a no-name European-style, which I bought about a year ago. They both do the job adequately, both have thick handles (although the no-name is all metal, not the cushioned stuff of the OXO).

Until something better comes along, adequate will have to be good enough.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #22 of 22
I have the peeler in a drawer at home, I think the wife likes it.
Another thing I dislike about the "squodgy" handle is that it looks like a bacteria trap.

My favorite peeler is an old ECKO that sits in my knife bag.
Had it for years and still does the job.
Possibly because I peel on both the up and down strokes, doubling it's life, I dunno.
I do have a similar looking peeler with a bean splitter on the end.
Don't like it.
My ECKO and my bean splitter both do a better job than that thing.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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