I get it. I get it. One knife. Let's take a look at the options:
- Forged Global Chef's knives, maybe. The blades are certainly thick enough and the alloy isn't hardened past its limits. Whether or not their (supposed) versatility is enough to trump their many mediocrities... can't say. And can you live with the handle?
- Can't think of anything else.
- Sabatiers have the profiles for sure. The stainless alloy the Sabatier companies use is pretty much the same as the ones used in the better German knives; and maybe even slightly less good.
- Messermeister approaches a decent edge profile, and no edge guards to bedevil you. The big deal German knives have a lot more in common than not, but Messers might just be at the top of your particular pile.
- Wusthof Ikon has a modified profile, which like Messer, approaches French. Like them or not, they are beautiful knives.
- Cheap stamped Rosewood and Fibrox Forschners can get a little sharpener and at least mimic holding an edge longer than other "German" type knives. Perhaps the best thing with a Forschner, if you don't like the knife, you're not out much. Mundial too, is cheap enough to toy with, sturdier than Forschner, and like Forschner will at least tell you if you can live with a German belly.
- The good Germans (and Lamson, too) are really designed for this. But like the Forschners they have German (duh) profiles. That might be of some service in terms of power-rocking them through chicken ribs and the like. German knives are very much in the do everything mold. If you were pressed to say something good about the alloys European makers use for their good knives, you'd probably point to durability. And the high end Germans are all so very beautifully made.
- Dexter Green River stainless cleavers are about halfway home in terms of capabilities. But they're relatively short, relatively heavy, will force you to relearn knife handling, and are about un-French as anything can possibly be. You might want to talk your buddy into one as Green Rivers are much better all-rounders than a Wustie cleaver. Similar edge characteristics, a lot more funkitude, but not as shiny and quite a bit cheaper.
The greater question is whether or not its worth it to put up with the limitations in performing 90% of your tasks with one knife, and 10% of your tasks with another, imposed by using a particular knife which can limp through them all. Since "do-everything" is what European and American made chef's knives are all about, you can probably find quite a few which are adequate -- but probably not any that are very good.
There are reasons the trend with skilled cutters is away from German and towards Japanese knives, even though that means keeping something around for the punishing jobs. The work goes faster, better, doesn't hurt as much, and is more fun, but otherwise...
To make matters worse, you're handicapping the enterprise a great deal by asking for stainless with a French profile -- thus eliminating the obvious, best choices.
Adding a "chef de chef" to my block and profiling it and my go-to chef's to their best respective edges made a very positive difference in how I felt about prep and service. (Yes, I was already pretty well on the way to figuring out edge profiles, and maybe that made a lot of the difference; but sharpening, as much if not more than anything else, defines what a knife is all about. Plus you're starting with the benefit of having that knowledge easily available anyway)
If only as a paranthetical afterthought, it's nice to get to say nice things about German type knives. While they can't compare to Japanese made knives when edge characteristics are determinative, they are so very good in many ways.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 8/25/10 at 1:19pm