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Newbie knife question

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I just signed up for culinary school and looking for a new set of knives. I have been using wusthof for close to 19 years and would like to get somthing of better quality. I have been searching the I ternet for about a week or so now and just ended up confusing myself more and more. So I wanted the opinion of what true chefs think.

Thank you.
post #2 of 23
Start here- it will get you going. Read the rest of his blog posts on knives. Unless you specifically inquired with your school you may be required to use whatever knives the school issues.

Once you've gotten your feet wet we can probably answer your questions in more detail.
"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
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"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
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post #3 of 23
There are just so many factors that determine what the best knife for you is. You should, if it's an option, go to a cutlery store and handle some knives. It HAS to feel right for you.

But, a lot of people seem to be going Japanese these days. I'm looking into getting some new blades as well, doubt I will pick up an entire set. Will probably get things one piece at a time when the opportunity and need arises. I have been using Henckles knives for a long time...just got a japanese chef's knife and I am amazed and pleased. Looking into picking up a few pieces from MAC soon. They seem to have the weight and style similar to a western knife like you're used to, but the steel and edge of a Japanese knife. They won't break the bank either. (of course, I'm eyeballing a monster 10.5" chef's knife that isn't exactly a cheap buy, hah)

Handle some, do some research, start with a chef's knife and don't go buying up knives until you are sure of what you want and need.

But, of course, there are a lot of other people on this forum that know much more about knives than I do. If you need to know about knives, believe me, you're in the right place.

-Dave
“Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one's life.”


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post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
That is the problem I have gone to all the cutlery stores in my area and they all carry the same knives...Shun and Wusthof. I wanted to know some other brands to look out for so I can see if any other stores carry them within a good driving distance.
post #5 of 23
I just got a Shun and I am very happy with it. I think you should check out MAC...a lot of people like global...but I'm not really into the metal handles. Its a personal preference thing. But definitely check out MAC. Great knives and very affordable.
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“Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one's life.”


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post #6 of 23
Even though the price has increased slightly, I still think the Tojiro DP line is a good value. MAC is good as well. Kanetsune makes some clad VG-10 knives that compare favorably with Shun but with better geometry for a bit less money.

Plan on learning to sharpen your own knives, or else you're better off sticking with something cheap.
"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
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"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
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post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
I am going to learn how to sharpen them, I have some old knives that im going to learn on.
post #8 of 23
Where are you locate, Twin Chef? The name makes me wonder if it's The Twin Cities (aka Minneapolis/St. Paul). You may have some specialty places nearby.
"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
Reply
"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
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post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
haha the name Twin is because my wife and I just had twin baby girls. But, I live right outside of washington DC.
post #10 of 23
Ah, congrats! I don't know that area, haven't been there for years. Your best bet would probably be to check online. A few good stores:

Japanese Chef Knives

Epicurean Edge

Chef Knives To Go
"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
Reply
"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
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post #11 of 23
twin_chef,
My opinion is to not look for a set rather find a good value for each required blade. For a Chef's knife I would look at Tojiro DP, MAC, Misono, Masamoto. Also consider if you prefer japanese 'D' style handles or western.

Being able to physically handle a few really does help but not everyone is lucky enough to have a local dealer with a wide selection so you may end up shopping online. Phaedrus has given some solid sites, I would also suggest japanwoodworker I also heard good things about Korin.

added section below:
I would also look for a petty, slicer, and bread along with the chef's as a solid core to handle 99% of my needs. I see BDL also covered this in some detail he has been invaluable in my own researching and upgrading to better knives.

My personal set is currently 11" gyuto (Yoshikane), 10" bread (forschner), 10" slicer (Henckles), 6" petty (Kumadori), 3" paring (Forchner 3 pack for $12 cheap disposible for twine and such).
post #12 of 23
Considering that you're looking for something "better" than Wusthof (which is pretty darn good), you seem to be in the market for a middle to upper Japanese knves.

The advantages are edge taking, edge holding, weight and agility.

On the other hand, they are a little easier to damage and require you to schlepp something heavy around if you're going to split poultry or cut through spare-rib cartilage. Something like a regular Wusthof chef's will handle occasional heavy work better, but also requires back-up when heavy work is a regular thing.

Take a look at, http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/cooki...home-cook.html and you'll get some idea of which brands and what to look for.

The basic recommendations are to consider Hiromoto (which I forgot to mention in the other thread) -- either the AS or the G3; Kikuichi Elite (carbon) -- but not Kikuichi Elite Gold (stainless but problematic); MAC Professional; Masamoto CT or HC (both carbon), or VG (stainless); Misono Sweden (carbon, and highly reactive carbon at that), and Moly or preferably UX-10 (both stainless); and Sakai Takayuki Grand Cheff (stainless). If you have Any questions about a given knife, I'll answer if I have the information; or direct you to a different forum where someone will.

You said you were going to learn to sharpen -- that's a very good thing. In order to get anything approaching what a good Japanese knife is capable of, you need to do your own sharpening with a quality kit.

It's a good idea to talk with your school before buying. A phone call may be enough; or it may be prudent to wait until you're actually attending classes and have a chance to assess the lay of the land. I'm sure you don't want to create friction by showing up with what are somehow the "wrong" knives.

As a basic knife set for a student roll, you'll want a chef's knife (approximately 10") for most things, a smooth-edged slicer (also approximately 10") for portioning proteins and for carving, a bread knife, and a petty/parer. If it's appropriate to bring good knives to school, I suggest investing in a good chef's (aka gyuto) and a good slicer (aka suji, sujihiki, etc.), and saving on the bread and petty. In fact, you may want to invest in a box of disposable paring/petty knives like Kiwis or Forschners -- and just toss them when they get dull, rather than dealing with it.

Personally, I use a high quality 6" petty (Thiers-Issard Sabatier "Nogent" carbon) for most prep because it's a good blade on a great handle, plus it fits in my "collection;" and an el cheapo 3" or 4" paring knife for opening packages, cutting string, and that sort of thing, as well as the decorative cuts I hate doing right down to my toes, but occasionally get sucked into.

When you take your first class which involves butchering, you'll probably want to add one or two specialty meat knives to your kit (boner and/or fillet, possibly cimiter); and when you start garde manger you'll want some decorative tools and perhaps a "bec de oiseau" or "pie de agneau" for tourne. Forschner, Mora, Dexter, make great and reasonably priced butchering knives. Sabatier and Forschner make my favorite tournes.

BDL
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
So it looks like the jap knives are the way to go. The only ones that I have had a chance to play with were the Ken onion ones.
post #14 of 23
Friends don't let friends buy Shun.

Actually Shun makes a lot of good knives, but most of their chef's knives (aka gyuto), including the Onion have lousy geometry. Additionally, there are better chef's knives for the same money -- especially Onion money; that's a lot of dough for a handle. Also, their "Damascus" look (it's only a look, the blades aren't actually damascus) is very fragile, scratches easily, and fades quickly. A couple of their non-chef's profiles, if not best in class, are way up the list.

BDL
post #15 of 23
Perhaps it has lazy geometry, but it can tear through a pile of onions like nobody's biz. It's all in the hands of the...well, of the holder. hah.

I'm not trying to vouch for Ken Onion, I could care less about him or his knife. But I own the Onion 8" chefs and it's my main workhorse right now. We have personally spoken on the subject before...but, seriously, it's not a TERRIBLE knife.

It's a nice knife...but a lot of people who know a lot more about knives than me could steer you in a better (subjectively, I would like to think) direction.

Just my 2cents. Listen to BDL though. This guy seriously knows what he is talking about when it comes to knives.

And BDL, just messing with you about the onion knife. I do use it as my anchor...the rest of my kit, as you know, is not the greatest. Your points against the knife are totally valid, and I understand you steering him away...but it's not a terrible knife, like I say...

If you like it, and it gets the job done...then what else really matters?

Well, of course the price thing is a little ridiculous, I got mine as a gift though...so, I can't say anything about that.
“Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one's life.”


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“Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one's life.”


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post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
Well the thing that made me look at them is the fact that they have a lifetime warranty. Am I going to get any kind of warranty from these other companies?

Have you guys heard of Kikuichi knives? I found a place close to me that sells them and I was wondering if they are worth looking at?
post #17 of 23
Dave -- Good point about "free." You don't look a free knife in the edge.

Most of them don't have enough American presence for a warranty to be meaningful -- you'd pretty much have to look to the seller. This is something you're going to have to do for yourself before any purchase.

MAC has a 25 year limited warranty and an excellent wholesale/retail arm in the USA, located in Sacramento. I've never dealt with the guy who runs it, Harold Whatzizname, but Pete McCracken has, you could PM Pete. I only know Harold indirectly, from the way he's handled other peoples' problems (not that there's been very many); and in that sense MAC's service is excellent. Harold even went out of his way to "make right" a problem with a knife bought, sold and used in Europe. So...

The Kikuichi Elite are way up the short list of excellent non-stainless carbons. The handles aren't as good as the Misono Sweden, but the blades are excellent and less reactive. Pretty good F&F too, especially for a Japanese carbon.

Their top of the line, stainless, yo-handled (western style) knives don't seem to be as good. I wasn't impressed with the two Kikuichi Elite Golds I played with at all. Both had indifferent F&F for one thing -- something you get used to with Japanese knives, but still... there wasn't enough to otherwise make up for it. Both had handles and edges which took a fair amount of work. But, more importantly, (I think Kikuichi) uses VG-1, an early all-round "wonder-steel" which by today's standards is OK, but nothing to write home about.

If you do like the knife, be aware that you can get it sharp -- but not as sharp as better alloys. A nice thing about buying in person is you can make sure the knife's F&F meets your expectations -- a thing which can be an issue with Japanese knives.

BDL
post #18 of 23
Now there's one I don't hear a lot any more. I've had a few Globals for years. The gyuto is a titch thinner than a Wusthof but that's about it. For the money both the Mac Pro and Masamoto are the stand outs on this thread to me although the Hiromoto looks very tempting. Here's a spine shot of the Global Vs the Wusthof and a wide heavy Wusthof. FWIW I wouldn't buy another Global nor do I suggest them to any one unless you have handled one and happen to love it.
The OP may also want to consider the JCK Kagayaki. I hate to admidt it but the WA gyuto version of this is changing my opinion about VG-10.

KAGAYAKI VG-10 Japanese Knife,Japanese Kitchen Knife,Japanese Cutlery,Japanese Chef's Knives.Com


I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 
just for comparison since I have received alot of Jap knife brands what about some other european knives?
post #20 of 23
A few common brands that get little play here, Messermeister, Gude and F.Dick. Gude being the stand out in that group for an up-grade.

solingenmade.com - Knives and Scissors by Güde
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #21 of 23
My favorite Germans are Messermeister and the Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu line.
"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
Reply
"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
Reply
post #22 of 23

knives

My best advise to you is handle as many knives as you can till you find a fit but id have to agree with my fellow chefs middle uper jap. Knives are the way to go first off stray from damacus folded blades for now they scratch up easy also its hard to hone at the 16 degree angle they call for misono is a great rather inexpensive knife holds a great edge hard to break (not impossible) handles are simular to german and english style so its an easy transition to jap. Another new to the market knife is the bob kramer. By shun. Nice handle 64 layers od damacus if you go with this one I highly recomend you invest in water stones. Good luck breaking it I demoed this knife for williams sanoma and took a pair of vice grips folded it 90 degrees folded it back and did a 35 slice cut on a garlic clove. Go look at and hold each knife iv recomended and keep in mind, can I cut for sevral hours with this? What's the waranty on it? Dose it look cool hah? Well good luck in your serch if you have any question e mail me. I hope I'v helped in your decision.
post #23 of 23

My advice: do not worry about upgrading your cutlery set, until you have completed your program at school, because knives, invariably, become abused, broken, stolen, at school, or at work. The school will most likely, wish to sell you their cutlery kits, which you might be mandated to purchase. If not, then, you have the option to buy from open stock, and pick and choose which knives you would like to own.
Unlike other cooks, I do not like knife rolls. I prefer tool boxes. I did not buy the standard 8 in. cook's knife, which my school was selling. I paid the salesman, to upgrade my cook's knife to a 10 in. blade. I do not recommend Henckels nor Wüsthof-Trident knives either. If you prefer German cutlery, consider: F. Dick, or Messermeister. If you prefer Swiss cutlery, then, consider Wenger: Swibo, Grand Maitre.
The LamsonSharp forged cutlery is Made in USA, of German stainless steel, but I never liked forged kitchen cutlery, as the full-bolster, made the last part of the blade, impossible to sharpen. Forged cutlery is also heavier than stamped cutlery.
If you do buy Japanese cutlery, you must ask yourself, do you want single-beveled or double-beveled edges? Are you right-handed or left-handed? What most American cooks fail to realize, that Japanese cutlery was designed to cut fish, not chop walnuts, rosemary, etc. I was a sushi cook, but I did not need to have expensive name-brand Japanese cutlery, in order to do my job.
If you want to buy Japanese-style cutlery, there are less-expensive brands on the market, e.g., Mundial's Sushimen's line[Made in Brazil], Dexter-Russell's International Japanese Chef's line[Made in Japan], Chroma's imported Haiku Yakitori[Made in China]. Fällkniven's K1[8 in. cook's] and K2[Santoku] knives are designed in Sweden, but Made in Japan, of VG-10, laminated stainless steel.
You could peruse: KnifeMerchant, to see what other brands are available. Also bear in mind, that Japanese cutlery require waterstones and ceramic honing rods. I would not recommend using single-beveled-edge cutlery for chopping hard foods. In such cases, use double-beveled-edge cutlery.
I know that you cannot handle any of the aforementioned brands of cutlery, if you were to order them online, but unfortunately, most of the cutlery or gourmet shops around you, mostly carry the popular brands of cutlery, since that is what sells. Learn as much as you can at school, and try to get a part-time job as well. I hope that you do not waste a fortune attending a private cookery school, but consider attending a community college instead. Good luck.


Edited by TheUnknownCook - 12/16/10 at 12:07pm
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