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Cookware upgrade

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 


When i was in my teens i used to really enjoy cooking but then i went to university and there were so many distractions that cooking fell by the wayside somewhat. Consequently the cookware that i purchased was not bought with much thought. Recently now that i am self employed and essentially make my own hours i find that have time in the evenings to experiment in the kitchen again. However now that i am spending that much more time in the kitchen i am quickly finding the limitations of the cookware that i purchased as a student, so now that i have found that my interest in cooking has persisted over the last several months i think its time to get myself some nice cookware. 


I have looked on various sites and see that there are alot of brands to choose from and often if i look at reviews and such often opinion is split. So what i am hoping for is some advice on a set of good quality pans. Also since i often find myself thinking it would be handy to have a 2nd skillet. and since it is probably the pan i use most often i am looking for a nice skillet or 2 if 1 is not included in the pan set. For reference i have a solid plate hob and am looking to spend somewhere north of $300 but south of say $700. Those limits are a guide not set in stone, just looking for some nice value for money.


Addtionally although i have had a chefs knife for years i think its years of lack of attention as a student are getting to it and my other array of knives consists a set of knives bought for cheap in a superstore that i no longer use as trying to cut with the blade of the knives is the same is using the back! There in i am looking to spend maybe $150 or so on a Chefs knife and maybe 1-3 other knives. However i know that i can build up a nice selection of knives over time so am willing to spend  said funds just on a chefs knife if you lot believe there is 1 worth investing in(considering now i have a renewed interest in cooking it will be well looked after). I noticed when looking through various chefs knives that Santoku knives seem to be very popular. Are they are superior to the European Chefs knife and if i decided to invest in 1 would my chopping motions need to be relearned that much? 


My thanks in advance for your advice

post #2 of 9

You don't need to spend that much on a chef's to get a good one, but you can easily spend more than $150 without wasting a penny.  It all depends on what you want from a knife.  Generally, if you're not going to learn to keep it very sharp -- don't waste your money on something expensive.  Dull knives are pretty much equal.


You want to develop a range of cookware shapes, sized and materials over time.  I suggest starting with a basic set of a few multi-ply pieces with stainless cores.  You don't need to buy All-Clad or anything equally expensive.  Cuisinart makes some good values, but are by no means the only manufacturer doing so.


Don't buy expensive stock pots or any large pot that's fully multiply.  A disk bottom is plenty good enough.


Do buy an 8 qt "spaghetti set."  Again, disk is fine -- you don't need a multiply core for the big stuff.


If money matters, try to buy seconds, from an outlet, or on sale.  There's is always plenty of discounted cookware available. 


Don't buy "non-stick."  It's nice to have a carbon steel frying pan for eggs and omelettes, and it's nice to have a couple of cast iron skillet or two as well.  Enamel over cast iron (like La Creuset) is nice for heavy casseroles, ovals and roundeaus,  but it's expensive.  Put off buying until you've put together a basic set.  In the meantime use relatively inexpensive glass baking pans for your casseroles.


Make sure you have enough lids.


Good luck,


post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice. Regards the knife, assuming that i am going to make the effort to learn how to sharpen and maintain it any suggestions on a brand?

post #4 of 9

We're probably headed towards Forschner Rosewood or Fibrox (Same knife, Rosewood has a nicer handle). but tell us a little more about yourself first.


Are you planning to develop good knife skills?  By this I mean, the pinch grip, the offhand claw, "cut and retreat," and so on.


Are you willing to buy a proper board?


Do you want an entry-level knife?  Or, are you looking for something you'll have and enjoy for a long time.


How much time, trouble and money are you willing to invest in learning to sharpen and sharpening itself?  Be honest about this.  The easy, inexpensive methods won't get you a very fine edge, but there are a few which will at least get you an edge and a few others which will at least get you a functional saw edge. 


We can make it work, but even bad sharpening is something few people learn to do. Just as there's no point in buying an expensive knife if it will just get dull, there's no sense in spending extra for a knife with great edge qualities if you won't use them.  More, there are a few, very inexpensive knives which are heavy enough so that the weight itself will compensate for a poorly sharpened blade.  


The modern trend is towards lighter knives with outstanding edge characteristics.  I'm a bit of a pied piper proselytizing for the movement and would like to have you in our cult... umm... merry band.  However, it's about you and not about me. 


If you see cooking as an important part of your life, want your equipment to reflect that, want to learn knife skills (sharpening being one of them) and are looking for a knife that won't fight you (alas, more expensive than a Forschner), there are a few choices which, with a little stretching, will fit your budget. 



post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

As far my current knife skills go, i have had no formal training but the more interest i find my self having in the kitchen the more i realise that better fundamental skills will benefit me so yes i will be working on learning to improve my knife skills which would include sharpening. I found out recently that the way i hold a chefs knife naturally without training was actually the proper pinch grip so thats a decent start but yes i am willing to learn.


If you think it would be advantageous i would think about getting a medicore knife until i have improved my knife and maintainence skill set however from my personal experience and also from what i read the main thing with a knife is getting comforable with it so it becomes an extension of yourself. There in i would prefer to get 1 knife so that i would get used to it sooner rather than getting 1 then getting used to another later on. However if my present inexperience would make the expense a waste that would be good to know.


Regards a Board. At the moment excluding little boards i have 2 main chopping boards a thick solid wooden 1 and a granite 1. Without knowing alot about it i would think the wood is better? would assume that everytime the knife edge comes down on a solid stone surface it would work towards blunting it?


Regards what money/time i am willing to put into learning to/sharpening any knife. I would put in as much as was required within reason. I know the basics of using a Sharpening Steel just have not had to much practice at it but a good knife would give me ample reason to practice. Also i have my present/old chefs knife which i could use to practice the technique to avoid making intial blunders on a new blade.


Yes i see cooking as being an important part of my life. I think the fact that i am here asking questions as oppose to going out and buying a knife based on what is most expensive is a testament to that.


Thanks for taking the time with this post. I hope i answered your questions enough to help. Let me know if u need any more info.

post #6 of 9


Starting Cheap:

You won't learn better with inexpensive knives.  However, if you're working off a limited budget, an inexpensive knife will give you some breathing space to develop your skills and get some sense of what you don't like in inexpensive knives and want in an expensive. 


On the other hand, the step from the German profiled chef's knife to decent French profile, Japanese made knives is not cheap.  Japanese made knives (and French carbons too) are more encouraging to better skills because the skills are better rewarded.


A $40 Forschner Rosewood won't get as sharp, stay as sharp, feel as good, or be as agile as say a $100 Misono Moly -- itself an entry-level knife.  However the Forschner is perfectly serviceable if a little awkward, can be made quite sharp, even if dulls quickly, and so on.  It's still pretty good and a lot better than what you're using now.


In addition, if and when you do end up with a Japanese made knife, it's nice to have something very durable in your block for the heavy duty tasks.   The Japanese make their chef's knives to get and stay sharp, not to split chickens.  Your old knife can handle the rough stuff for awhile, but you'll want to improve that too eventually.


If you can afford it make the step into Japanese made knives.  French carbons are another possibility if you can live with carbon (as opposed to stainless) steel. 



The granite board is for pastry, not cutting.  It will only blunt your edges, if you're lucky.


Board management is a one of the most important parts of knife skills.  You want the largest board you can conveniently manage in your kitchen.  12 x 18 is a sort of minimum.


Nothing is as good as hardwood.  Endgrain is better than edge grain.  Bamboo is not hardwood.  The bamboo itself and the huge amount of glue used to hold bamboo boards together are very hard, so the boards aren't as good as regular hardwood -- but they're better than plastic, fiberglass, nylon, composition, stone, metal, or anything else. 


Well other than Sani-Tuff.  Sani-Tuff is a sort of rubber board.  They're okay, especially in commercial kitchens.  There are a lot of reasons not to like them in the home, but if your choices are limited, they beat plastic.


The Food TV "chefs" frequently use different colored nylon boards for chicken, fish, etc.  They don't really help with sanitation -- at least not if you clean as and when you should by wiping, sprtizing with sanitizer, wiping again -- and they are likely to chip your knives.  The better and sharper your knives, the more likely to chip on plastic or nylon.



I'm not sure if you really can rate the importance of the different aspects of knife skills because of the way they all work together.  But if you could, sharpening would be number one.  It doesn't matter what else you do well, what else you own, or how expensive your knives are -- if the edges aren't good, the knives won't properly function.   


Any knife you're likely to buy will profit from a good steel, properly used.  It's dumb not to think of steeling as sharpening.  But while a rod hone is part of the actual sharpening regimen it isn't actually sharpening.  


There are steels which are actually coarse enough or studded with an abrasive such as diamond that they will grind away enough metal to be considered sharpeners -- but they are extremely difficult to control and almost always do more harm than good, even in the best of hands.


There are several ways adequate ways to sharpen.  The more expensive, difficult to learn, and just generally PITA ways work best.  The question is whether you're going to end up with some sort of inexpensive bench stone setup, or one of a variety of contraptions which won't do as good a job but don't require you to learn a skill.



post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

When you talk about japanese made knives would i be right in assuming you are talking about folded steel knves?


Since i live in the UK i converted my limits to dollars because i figured alot of ppl here would understand that. However it seems that i forgot to change the limits for the knife to dollars so when talking knife prices we can talk anything up to say a top end of $275 maybe $300 if something u feel is really good falls around there. Where i live there is no where that really sells higher end kitchen equipment hence i have to buy the knife online. Since i am not going to be able to hold it before i buy it i am trying as hard as possible to get a really nice product that has a good track record. Now whilest i know that knives get alot more expensive that $300 i am certain that something of very good quality will fall into that range. Hopefully you will be able to recommend something specific.


Figured i would post a couple of links to 1's that caught my eye:


Chefs Knife:

Santoku Knife:


Thanks again for your time.

post #8 of 9

When you talk about japanese made knives would i be right in assuming you are talking about folded steel knves?


No.  Absolutely not. 




Even with postage and duty, you don't have to spend anywhere near that much.  We've had a lot of conversation regarding two different, stainless knives around here, the MAC Pro and the Masamoto VG.  Either of those would be very good.  So would the Ichimonji TKC, and the Sakai Takayuki Grand Cheff (the model with the black handle and plain blade -- not damascus or hammered.  


If you can live with non-stainless carbon steels and their vicissitudes, the Masamoto CT, Masamoto HC, Misono Sweden, and several of the French Sabatiers are very nice.  I own a lot of K-Sabatier au carbone, and several pieces of what they call "Canadian" and recommend them highly.


My generic recommendation for someone's first good knife is the MAC Pro Mighty Chef's -- probably in the 9-1/2" length for you.     


You'll also need to consider how you're going to sharpen.  Whether you want to climb the learning curve and master waterstones, whether you're going to use an Edge Pro, or whether you're going to opt for convenience over quality and go for a Chef's Choice electric (assuming they're even available in Jolly Olde).  If you want an easier, less expensive sharpening method, we might want to rethink the knife and get something a little cheaper.  There are scores of wonderful choices. 


Bottom Line:

A knife is no better than you sharpen it. 



post #9 of 9

for the home chef, and something i did while i was single and living the 90 hour a week kitchen life, i went with one thing and one thing only...a cast iron skillet.  the is an insane amount of uses for it and i still have it to this day.  it is my favorite thing to cook with even though my wife (also a professional chef) and i have a full set of all-clad cookware with a copper core saucepot.  not to knock all-clad (it is my favorite) i still love my castie as i call it.  if you learn to use it well then you can upgrade to other stuff when appropriate.  there is no need for anything else with the exception of a water boiler of sorts


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