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looking for a new knife....would like some advice

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi, this is my first time posting, I have looked around the site for some input but still not too sure.....Oh, I'm Tams by the way.

I went to a vocational culinary school (8 years ago) and went to Johnson & Whales in Miami for 4 months (all my scholarships from there covered). I ended up losing (well, it got stolen) my knife set tho, for the life of me can't remember what I had!

I just got a job working for Michael Symon (Dream come true) and the job involves a LOT of prep and constant chopping (garlic, shallots, and most of all, rosemary) I want to get a knife that will hold up well to the rosemary after awhile. I have been looking into Mac or F Dick. would either of these knives hold up well? I know the F Dicks can be a pain to sharpen due to their design, tho. Any other knives out there that are a better choice? I would ask Chef Symon, but he's out of town for the next week!

Thanks for any help!
post #2 of 15
MAC is certainly a superior knife, and if you have at all decent skills will hold up famously.
post #3 of 15
first of all .. you are a lucky sob... I ate at roast in Detroit this summer and it was amazing!!

secondly.. i will second the mac knife... i have the msk-65, th-100 and hb-55.. they are all awesome... i was using them at work for the seemingly the same things as you.. tons of prep and a la minute chopping, mincing etc. ... the edge holds up awesome.. but don't dare drop them.. they will chip. and sharpen them with a stone not the roll sharp thing mac recommends

post #4 of 15

Chris is a very knowledgable guy. His words are gold.

Welcome to the madhouse.

Either would hold up well. A MAC Pro is a much better knife for most purposes than an F. Dick -- and probably a much better knife for your circumstances.

If you're talking about a different, less expensive MAC line, I think you'd probably be better off with something like a Togiharu Inox or Moly, or a Misono Moly.

Not true. The full finger guard doesn't make sharpening any more difficult, except for the last millimeter of so of the heel (called the "chin") which most of us don't use for anything anyway. That particular excuse is pure myth. You usually hear it from people who need a reason to describe why they wanted a new knife.

On the other hand, there are a lot of actual reasons including some related to alloy and others to geometry as to why an F Dick or any other German, stainless knife won't get as sharp as a MAC Pro or almost any well-made Japanese knife.

More generally, almost any decent Japanese knife -- even a "student" level -- can be made sharper than the very best of the mass produced, stainless Germans; and will hold the edge significantly longer.

On the other hand, the Germans offer a degree of "toughness" (an engineering term of art which is defined by an alloys tendency to bend rather than tear) which Japanese makers do not.

For most cooks in most pro kitchens, the sharpness advantages of the alloys used in Japanese knives, trump the toughness advantages of the alloys used by western manufacturers. Unless you're portioning lots of spare ribs, splitting chickens, or cutting the bases off of hundreds of gourds and pineapples, I'd go Japanese.

Without knowing a lot more about your preferences, I won't venture an opinion. It's hard to beat a MAC Pro chef's as an all around good choice. It wouldn't be my first choice for me, but I probably recommend it more than anything else mostly for its great handle and excellent stiffness. There are better blade alloys out there in the same price range, but not enough better to change the recommendation.

The area which concerns me the most is your ability to sharpen and maintain sharpness -- mostly because you didn't say anything about it. There's nothing magic about Japanese knives -- they get dull like everything else, although maybe not quite as quickly. You're still going to have to steel a couple of times a day, "touch up" on an appropriate stone every day or every other day, and a full sharpening every two to four days. Otherwise, it's just another dull knife.

If you can manage it, MAC Pro chef's knives seems to work best at a 15*/10* double bevel. Otherwise, I'd just keep it at the factory 15*. The knife comes with straight 50/50 symmetry, which is OK -- but it can handle as much asymmetry as you can give it. My preference is to not go much past 60/40 because it can still be steeled.

If you're currently using oilstones, you'll need to switch to waterstones, unfortunately oilstones are just too slow. Your final grit should be anywhere between 5000 and 12000 JIS. An 8000 - 10000 is ideal. You can get away with a cheap combination stone for a few months, but expect to spend more than the cost of the knife for a decent set of stones.

I recommend an Idahone fine ceramic "steel" as the best choice for an all around rod-hone. MAC makes an excellent and rather break resistant ceramic, but it's significantly more expensive than the Idahone and doesn't work any better. You can use a very fine or smooth steel rod-hone if you like; but avoid ovals, and absolutely stay away from anything as coarse or coarser than a "medium."

Hope this helps,
post #5 of 15
If you're talking about that full dropped bolster (which not all Dick knives have) yes, it does mess up a knife through sharpening. Over time as you sharpen it, your edge no longer makes full contact with the cutting board so you cuts aren't complete.

How big this issue is will vary from user to user, but for me, it's a deal breaker. You can fix it by grinding away the bolster, but it's really just bad design.
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 #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
thank you for all the input. I am seriously thinking of going with the Mac Pro. It's still gonna be a while *unfortunitly I think* til I can make the purchase! Maybe Santa will be good to me this year! ***fingers crossed***
post #7 of 15
Wow, that's an awesome experience! The little I've seen of the him, he seems like a great, fun guy and I'm sure you'll learn a ton.

I personally have a MAC Pro and, although I'm not using it in a professional kitchen by any means, I highly recommend it. I haven't yet sharpened it because, for one thing, it hasn't needed it yet and, secondly, I need to practice first on some cheaper knives. Sorry I can't comment on this aspect of the knife, but, overall, it's been fantastic for my current uses (cutting raw and cooked meats, chopping vegetables and herbs, etc...general prep work). I would not at all recommend it for splitting bones, but I'm sure you already know that that's best left to a knife with more heft.
Sono pazzo della cucina!
Sono pazzo della cucina!
post #8 of 15
The MAC Pro is a great chef's knife. I like recommending it because the recommendation never comes back to haunt me.

It may not be made of the steel that gets the absolute sharpest or stays the sharpest longest; but it's easy to sharpen, easy to maintain and gets plenty sharp and stays that way plenty long. Then, there are the excellent handle, very good geometry, and best-in-class stiffness. In short, it's a knife without any real drawbacks; and that's an excellent thing.

Since you've got some time in a big deal kitchen, before firing up the credit card, you'll have opportunities to see and try a fair number of knives. Who knows? Maybe you'll fall in love with something else.

Happy Holidays,
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Yea, I have tried out a fellow coworkers Wustoff, and I'm not totally impressed by it....I don't know the EXACT knife he has, but it's all steel *handle and all* and just very small all around. It, in a sense, scares me more than anything just due to the fact that I fell that the handle is gonna slip while I am holing it, like for instance, if I am in a rush and have the TINIEST bit of oil or something on my hand. He thinks it's be BEST thing in the world, and honestly, even after he sharpens it, it doesn't get terribly sharp. He refers to it has "his Wustoff" or if someone picks up our KM's wustoff (his has a wood-type handle) and says "is that your Wustoff?" he's just basically a jackass all around tho. haha.
The 'kitchen" knives that we have for everyone to use is the basic, and very horrid, Knife Pro. We get them from a knife service company that switches them out weekly for sharpening and such, but once we get them, after 15 mins of use (by about 20 different people) they are as dull as teaspoon.......ok, not that dull, but you get what I'm saying. I understand that there are people in the kitchen that don't really know what they are doing in the sense of taking care of knives and such, and they are "free for all to use knives" so whats the point for, even Michael Symon, got get awesome knives for the staff!

Again, I can't thank you guys enough for your input!
I haven't looked around the rest of the site much yet, but is there a "Rant" section so I can go on after work to rant about fellow coworkers? :lol: Noone would understand me more than fellow cooks/chefs! hahaha
post #10 of 15
Last night Food TV reran a late 2008 Iron Chef episode with Michael Symon and Cat Cora.

In that episode Symon used Nenox "S" knives. Nice, but very expensive. The good news? You don't have to run out and buy them; they're not just expensive but too expensive, you can't afford them; and there are knives as good for far less money.

Hope everything is going well,
post #11 of 15
Where are you working for Michael Symon? If you are in the Detroit area drop me a PM and I'll buy the coffee. I think the F.Dicks are a fine place to start if you can't afford more right now. F.Dick is a good working knife at a great price and theft can be an issue where ever you go. While the Mac Pro is a fine knife it's not inexpensive for some one just starting out and you can (and will) always add more and better knives to your kit in the future.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
post #12 of 15
I am going to be the contrarian here. I disagree with the general consensus about buying Mac cutlery, unless you want to buy them. The Kabar Union Cut.Co and Dog's Head sets are Made in Japan of AUS 8A stainless steel, and resemble the Mac Pro Series knives.
Bear in mind, that Japanese cutlery was made single-bevel, right-hand, for right-handed Japanese cooks for cutting fish and vegetables. Typical edge geometry is 15-7 degrees. If you are left-handed, you must buy the left-handed beveled edge blades. You will also have to buy Japanese waterstones, and a ceramic honing rod.
I have worked as a sushi cook, but did not have expensive Japanese cutlery, but my cutlery sufficed for the tasks at hand.
If you wish to buy Japanese-style, double-bevel cutlery, here are some to consider:

Dexter-Russell Japanese Chef's[Made in Japan]

Mundial Sushimen's Line[Made in Brazil]

Wenger Grand Maitre Japanese-style knives[Made in Switzerland]

Chroma Haiku Yakitori[Made in China]

Lamson Sharp Santoku[Made in USA]

Boker Arbolito[Blade made by Kyocera, assebled in Argentina]

These are more expensive, but worth considering:

F. Dick Asiacut[Made in Germany]

Fallkniven[VG-10, Made in Japan, designed in Sweden] [Rigid Knives & Cutlery]

You need not spend a fortune to buy Japanese cutlery, unless you can afford to, but considering that your previous cutlery was stolen, I am recommending that you purchase affordable knives, just in case something were to happen to them again. I hope that you do not get caught up in the brand snobbery for merely status symbols, like so many cooks and dilettantes. Buy whatever feels comfortable to the hand, and is affordable. Good luck at your dream job!
post #13 of 15

Your post is based on false premises. MAC Pro chef's knives, the particular MACs under discussion, are western style knives, with western handles, sharpened on both sides with 50/50 symmetry and 15* edge bevels (30* included angles), have a traditional French profile, etc. It's a fairly common knife in high-end pro kitchens.

Also, the terms "single bevel" and "double bevel" do not mean what you seem to believe they do. Rather, those terms relate to the number of bevels on a given side, not whether both sides are, or are not beveled. A knife beveled on one side only is called a "chisel edge" or "chisel grind" knife.

When a knife is beveled on both sides, the grind is most commonly called a "V" grind or "V" edge. Just like a chisel edge, and a V edge may be sharpened to many different geometries, including single bevelled, double bevelled, triple bevelled (like a Chef's Choice "Trizor"), or convex. But only a chisel edge can be hamaguri.

The purpose of a double, other multiple, or convex bevel is to create an edge that is both stronger and less prone to wedging than an ordinary flat, single bevel.

If a knife is sharpened top and bottom, no matter what the edge geometry, it's called "double edged."

You seem to know a lot about low priced/high value Japanese style knives. It's a bit of a different topic, but do you have any specific recommendation for a western handled chef's or gyuto? It's my impression that was the type of knife in which Tams, the OP, was most interested. In any case, it's a topic that fascinates the heck out of me, and I'd be interested to read your thoughts.

post #14 of 15
Thanks for the clarification. I did not want to confuse Tams with the various grinds. I believe that you might have misunderstood my previous post. A blade ground only on one side, is a single-beveled blade. Yes, it is also called, a chisel-ground-blade. A blade ground on both sides, is double-beveled, and is also called a "V"-ground-blade. But there are many different grinds: Hollow, High-Flat, Full-Flat, Flat, Sabre, Chisel, Scandi, Double-bevel, or Compound-Bevel, Convex, Full-Convex. I hope that I have mentioned all, if not most of the various grinds anyway. I have a friend, who is a custom knife maker, and I would have to consult with him, but I do not live near him anymore. Yes, an edge may have several bevels, such as the Chef's Choice Trizor 10X series knives. I am not here to confuse Tams with technical terms about bladesmithing, or blacksmithing.
If I had a dollar[no, make that an ounce of silver, or better yet, gold!], everytime I have read questions about "what knife should I buy?," or "which school should I attend?," I would not be sitting here, but laughing my way to the bank, or on second thought, considering how banks are failing weekly, a credit union instead! But seriously, I do not know what Tams' budget is, nor do I know what kinds of knives she is seeking to purchase. Also, please excuse the typographical error in my previous post. My fingers do not always keep up with my thoughts.
The aforementioned brands of cutlery posted above in my previous post, should suffice, as I believe that they are double-beveled, or "V"-ground, if you will. The traditional Japanese kitchen cutlery is typically chisel-ground, and cost considerably more than double-beveled, or "V"-ground cutlery, if you will, again. [If those wooden handles loosen, gently tap them on again with a small mallet. The Japanese are more concerned with the blade than the handle. I would also suggest oiling those wooden handles thoroughly, with boiled linseed oil.]
If Tams desires forged cutlery, then, the Chef's Choice Trizor 10X cutlery is the best American-made, forged cutlery. I like the partial-bolster feature. I had worked with an extern, from the C.I.A., who owned a complete set, and was quite satisfied with them.
Many years ago, I had called Edgecraft Corp., and conversed the president, and was quite impressed. He explained to me, how they painstakenly developed that formula, and they believe that their knives are superior to any European or Japanese kitchen cutlery. He said that the disadvantages of Japanese cutlery, were that they were expensive, and brittle. He was an engineer by training. They import a German-made line called Master Series 2000, which is made by a German cutler, which has been making butcher knives for generations. I was not told which company was subcontracted to make those knives. Nonetheless, they slightly resemble the F. Dick ProDynamic product line.
The LamsonSharp Forged Cutlery is Made in USA with German steel. However, I do not like full-bolsters, which are commonly found, on forged kitchen knives, due to the manufacturing processes. I called Lamson & Goodnow, and was told that EdgeCraft Corp. had contacted them to subcontract the Trizor 10X product line, but since Lamson & Goodnow is a small cutlery manufacturer, they declined.
I see the Dexter-Russell is now offering a Lifetime Warranty in order to compete with Lamson & Goodnow. Dexter-Russell is the largest manufacturer of commercial kitchen cutlery in the U.S.A., and the world. They are consistent in their Quality-Control, and have a vast selection of cutlery.
The Chroma Japan Chef might be a good alternative to the Mac Professional Series.
I prefer stamped blades in the kitchen, instead of forged blades, because they are lighter, and less expensive. I personally have the LamsonSharp PRO line of cutlery. They are Made in USA, have a Lifetime Warranty, manufacture a complete line of cutlery, including turners and palette knives[spatulas]. [The best prices online: Cookware.]
I am intrigued with the Mora[formerly, Frost's] cutlery. [U.S. websites: Frosts-Scandia, Scandia-International.] They have nice rubber handles. They have excellent Swedish steel. Some Japanese cutlers are using Sandvik steel to make their blades.
ICEL makes Professional and Household cutlery. They have a good reputation for their butcher knives.
A restaurant supply store owner, told me that Forschner/Victorinox, subcontracted with Lamson & Goodnow, to manufacture their Chinese Cleavers. I also noticed the other Forschner Chinese Cleaver was made in Portugal.
I think that I have given Tams a wide variety of brands to choose from. I would also suggest that she buy a good honing rod by F. Dick, LamsonSharp, or Norton; dough scraper[for scooping up the chopped Rosemary, etc. I prefer a 12 in. Chef's Knife for chopping herbs.], regular or long; and a sharpening stone, by Norton, coarse, medium. Last, but not least, I would like to suggest to you, Tams, consider buying a sturdy, heavy-duty, commercial, tool box, which does not have hinge-pins, which can be removed with a pair of pliers, and a small luggage lock, as a padlock might not fit the latch. Good luck. :chef:
post #15 of 15
"I would also suggest oiling those wooden handles thoroughly, with boiled linseed oil"

I would suggest a bit of caution with that to those using traditional or WA knives. Linseed oil sets up hard and is often the finish on wood like gun stocks. I would not want to seal my handles like that. I prefer to keep the pores of the wood open to some degree. If you seal the wood tight the handles may crack or split from drying out.
I use cutting board wax on mine. It's very east to make board wax by melting 1 part paraffin or bee's wax in ten parts of mineral oil.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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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