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Ideal Set Up for Heavy Prep and Line Work

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I'm getting new knives, so I poured over the excellent advice given on the site, and would like to thank Boar_d_Laze and others for there significant and helpful advice. 

 

Right now, I do about four hours of various prep, ranging from brunoise cut's too slaughtering three to four cases of pineapple and various butchering jobs. Then I hop up on line and work the lunch or dinner rush which involves a lot of thin slicing of tataki tuna, seared duck breast, quartering sungolds and grape tomatoes and the like. And then prep again... haha.

 

So I guess  I want a good prep knife that can hold an edge fairly well. (I frequently thunder chop through melons and their ilk on to those harder Epicurian cutting boards) And a good line knife that will remain super sharp and but be able to take general line abuse. After some thought, I was leaning towards a Sab, and a Masamoto. But by no means am commited. Our kitchen right now has almost all Masohiro's for some reason. I like them, but they are like a cult. They're are already over 15 in the kitchen, but the stones we have are sub-par, just a common tri stone oil. So, I'll be investing in new water stones as well.

 

The crappy twenty dollar knife I use know, is frequently sharper then most of the Masamoto's since I actually sharpen it. I don't understand buying Japanese knives if you aren't going to sharpen them often. 

 

In a nut shell, advice for a solid prep knife, a great line knife, and stones and steel that fit the beasts.

 

Price is not so much a factor, I'm more interested in putting together the a damn good tool set then anything else. I 

post #2 of 18

Hi Sabbah,

 

You posted a week ago, and no one responded.  For my part, I just didn't see it.  If you're still looking for feedback and want me to weigh in with some of it, let me know.

 

Good question, by the way; a really cool way of looking at the problem.  A shame it got lost in the shuffle.

 

Preliminarily, you might be better off with a heavy duty knife of some sort for all the heavy duty cutting (chef de chef, lobster cracker, western deba, whatever), and a light, thin chef's/gyuto with enough edge retention to last all the way through a shift or two without going back to the stones.  

 

That could be more prejudiced than well thought out, because it's what I was taught and how most people using two knives still do it.

 

Your idea of one knife for prep and another for service also makes sense, in that you're not constantly going back and forth for the other knife, but would probably mean a lot of steeling during prep. 

 

You can push an ordinary, higher-end 10" German, like a Wusthof or Henckels through some very tough cutting, especially if you have it sharpened fairly obtusely.  If you don't already have one or two packed away, you can usually buy them used pretty cheaply.  When I cooked for money I used (and still) use a 12" Sabatier au carbone for that kind of stuff and it holds up very well.  We can talk about angles and symmetry if you care.  I also had/have a heavy meat cleaver and a saw -- just in case.   

 

Anyway, some things to think about if you haven't alread made up your mind.

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/23/10 at 10:40am
post #3 of 18

I have never cooked professionally in my life, and may it please the lord I never will. But I do know something about knives, here and there.

 

First of all, for a brutality knife, I suspect you've already got the right thing, or can grab one of the ones lying around. So the main thing is the knife for everything else. You want light, fast, screamingly sharp, ludicrous edge retention. Then there's the question of a knife for service, where it sounds like slicing is the name of the game, so retention is less of an issue, shape and terrifying edge are more crucial.

 

For the main knife, I wonder if you might consider an Aritsugu A-series wa-gyuto. They are semi-stainless (secret alloy recipe, blah blah). They will take a frightening edge, and whatever witchcraft and black magic they're up to with making the things, the edges stand up to an awful lot of work. They're not particularly expensive -- about $165-$185 for 240mm (9") -- although you may have to search around a bit to acquire one, unless you have contacts in Japan who can get one quite a bit cheaper ($135 across the counter at Tsukiji market). The only thing is that all the afficionadoes insist that the knife needs to be thinned to get maximal effect, which means reprofiling it very acute on a coarse stone for quite some time. If you're interested, ask at Fred's Cutlery Forum (at www.foodieforums.com) for advice on how to thin one of these babies.

 

For your service knife, have you considered a different profile, like a slicer of some kind? I don't mean shell out heaping sackfuls of cash for an ultra-fancy yanagiba, but there are all kinds of great slicers at perfectly respectable prices, and I wonder if they might not be better bets. A yanagiba is a possibility, or a kiritsuke, takobiki, fugubiki, or on the Western side French slicer, sujihiki.... You don't have to get into big bucks for knives like this if you look around. Again, in your situation, the Aritsugu A-series might be a good choice: excellent edges and retention, near-indestructibility, low price.

 

Just a thought.

post #4 of 18

Chris, I think you're overrating the edge holding capability of the Aritsugu A.  If you sharpen any other good Japanese knife after every shift or every other shift, you're going to sharpen an A after every shift or every other shift. 

 

It will maintain a little extra sharpness at the end of the period perhaps, but it won't buy you an extra day.  Plus, the knife is an ENORMOUS PITA to profile. 

 

Plus, Sabbah (who may have left for all we know) didn't say anything about wa-handled knives.  I know Aritsugu makes a yo A, but if I'm not mistaken all the buzz is about the wa.  Anyway, the current flavor of the month for this type of tough, tool steel knife is the Kikuichi TKC which is yo, doesn't need nearly as much work going in, is better finished, stays as sharp as long, and supported by both Kikuichi (who has some US presence) and Chef Knives To Go.  

 

Basically, if you want a knife to do crowbar work, your best range of choices is in crowbar type knives.  That's why people who use light knives for most of their work keep a heavy duty knife for pineapples, thick skinned gourds, cutting through chicken bones, and other things which are very hard, have a lot of tough fiber, or cause the edge to slam hard against the board.   At the risk of repetition the usual choices are to use something fairly heavy duty through both prep and service, or the two knife setup just mentioned. 

 

Since Japanese made knives aren't all that prevalent, the most common thing is to use something very durable and... well... crowbaresque, like a typical, stainless, German knife for everything.  But once you've started become addicted to smoking crack using Japanese edges, there's no going back.

 

The biggest problem with one knife for prep is that most of prep is mirepoix, potatoes, herbs, and other mise; the things for which a light sharp knife is ideal.  And for the heavy duty stuff, the strategy isn't nearly as much the hardness of the knife alloy, as using appropriate edge bevels and an appropriately heavy knife with enough spine.  Actually a softer steel with more obtuse bevels hold up better than a harder one -- because even though it needs regular steeling, you don't have to worry about chipping.

 

My current practice (as an ex-pro) is to use a 10" Sabatier au carbone for everything but the heavy duty stuff, and use another au carbone for that.  It's the same, except that it's 12" (thicker spine) and gets a completey different edge.  The extra weight and length are nice, but it's the edge that makes the difference.  My 10" knife is tough enough for me to force it through the tough stuff, but it needs too much steeling and re-sharpening, because the edges are sharpened to angles that won't hold up to that sort of abuse.

 

But that's just one way of looking at the problem -- and maybe not the best for Sabbah.  You don't necessarily need a heavy duty knife; I know a few guys who either used to or still go through a service using nothing but their "laser" (very thin and light) wa-gyutos.  It's a lot about what you cut, and how often you're willing to sharpen.  Those guys are all "every day" sharpeners.

 

Also, you may misunderstand how a knife gets used during prep as opposed to during service.  There's usually not much difference unless you're on some sort of special station on the line where all or nearly all you do is slice.   Even then,  you're more likely to use a slicer during prep for "boucher," "poisson," and other trimming and portioning then you are for carving BOH.  Unless you're making a lot of cuts, it's faster to just use your chef's. 

 

Rule of thumb:  If you don't like a slicer as your main knife during prep you won't like it on the line either.  

 

Anyway, nice to have someone to talk to who knows something while we wait for Sabbah's return. 

 

Come back, Shane. 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/24/10 at 6:47pm
post #5 of 18

Well, you know best about the Aritsugu. It may not be the flavor of the month, but the buzz was that it was pretty indestructible.

 

As to the slicer thing, look at what Sabbah says he does with a knife on the line: apart from quartering grapes, it's all slicing. Don't you think that would be more fun with a slicer? Easier, too.

post #6 of 18

The buzz about the TKC is well deserved- it's a fantastic knife.  You could do worse than a TKC for medium to fine work and a Western Deba for the tough stuff.

"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 18

Chris, are you saying that quartering grape- and cherry tomatoes is not slicing? How else would you do it?

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 #8 of 18


Posted by Chris View Post

Well, you know best about the Aritsugu. It may not be the flavor of the month, but the buzz was that it was pretty indestructible.

 

It may not be the flavor of the month now,  but it certainly was awhile ago -- with KC leading the charge.  However, KC was so frustrated with profiling his that he went so far as to ask me for advice about oilstones.   And after he got his knife (as well as the others he was sharing around) just right... 

 

He sharpened his before every shift.  Indestructible?  I don't know.  Maybe.  But they do dull.

 

As to the slicer thing, look at what Sabbah says he does with a knife on the line: apart from quartering grapes, it's all slicing. Don't you think that would be more fun with a slicer? Easier, too.


If all you do is carve and portion, a slicer rocks.  But cutting garnish for four hours?  More than anything, it's a matter of keeping your knuckles off the board -- smash your widdle piddies a few times doing micro julienne of ginger and the splendor of the slicer recedes into the mist.

 

BDL

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 

Wow, thanks guys I looked back a couple of times earlier and didn't see any responses, so I took a while to get back to this.  And actually, I haven't decided yet, and don't have time now, (swamped I'm sure you understand) but I'll respond tomorrow some time. 

post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 

The more I think about it... the less decisive I get. 

 

a) If I have those super hard epicurean cutting boards at work, and I'm slamming into them all day, doesn't it make the most sense to get something with super strong edge retention? 

 

b) I'm left handed. As a side fact.

 

c) That aside, I really want a crazy sharp Japanese knife. And I want to do fine knife work fast and very fine. 

 

On the other hand I'd rather not show up with my own, sharpening stone, special rod, and cutting board. 

 

Maybe I should just get a Sab for work and sharpen it before every shift...  

 

haha.... my god now I'm laughing at myself.

post #11 of 18

If you've got the scratch, you might think about a Kikuichi TKC.  They used to be named "Ichimonji TKC" but Kikuichi took over the marketing, the warranty and so forth.  Their edges are supposedly as rugged as the Aritsugu As', without the Aritsugus' drawbacks.  I've never tried one, and am flying on rep and buzz with this recommendation.  But a few people I trust are very high on it.

 

I'm not even going to talk about an Artisugu A, they're too hard to make lefty friendly.

 

My choice -- not to mention the way I did and do -- would be to use a really good working gyuto for nearly everything along with something heavy, not too expensive, and rod hone friendly for the crowbar work.  A used, unloved Henckels would be nice.  A lot of pros find that when they move up to Japanese knives, whatever they were using as the go-to rapier could profitably be reassigned to battle-axe. 

 

This gives you some room to invest in your first knife.  But I don't want to spend your money until you've at least begun to talk about your budget.  Another area of choice is to figure out if you're looking for a great all-arounder or want to prioritize certain qualities like edge holding, edge taking or thinness.   I love carbon Sabs quite a bit for their edge taking and overall feel, but they take a lot of steeling to make it through a shift. 

 

Sorry, can't help myself.  I'll hold off on the recommendations until you choose your path.

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/29/10 at 10:12pm
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 

I made so low range bids on e-bay for a couple of old sab's and a couple of gyuto's and will see what happens. Othewise, I'm curious Boar-d-Laze, are you recommending the TKC because it has better edge retention then say, a Masamoto? Or what's your reasoning for the TKC over the other quality Jap. knives?

 

Also, I bid on a couple of Damascus VG-10, Yoshihiro Gyuto's for under a hundred. I'm already too excited about knives and I haven't even gotten one yet. 

 

On that note,

Is there an advantage to getting natural whetstones? 

post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabbah View Post

I made so low range bids on e-bay for a couple of old sab's and a couple of gyuto's and will see what happens. Othewise, I'm curious Boar-d-Laze, are you recommending the TKC because it has better edge retention then say, a Masamoto? Or what's your reasoning for the TKC over the other quality Jap. knives?


Well, I can't speak for BDL but I love the TKC.  It's thinner than average, has superb geometry and is made of fantastic steel.  The only knife I've used with edge retention that is even close to the Ichimonji is the Akifusa/Ikeda, and the TKC has better geometry.  The fit and finish of the TKC (at least of my particular specimen) is amazing for the price.  I have a 240 and I'd like to get a 270, but it's hard to justify the money since I have a pretty decent stable of knives already and I'm trying to get out of the kitchen.

 

The natural stone business...now there's a whopper!  I'm assuming you mean natural waterstones as opposed Arkansas' and the like.  I don't have much experience with them.  But I think I'm probably going to take the plunge soon.  I say that with great trepidation- after buying 30 synthetic waterstones the last thing my wallet needs to is to catch the fever over naturals.

"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 #14 of 18
Thread Starter 

Yeah, this is why I want to do it right the first time. I'd rather start off  with the best and be satisfied, then devolve (evolve? what do I know) into some sort of nut with a room full of stones and knives. 

 

If I win these other knives I will most likely use them at home, and put the TKC and Sab at work. Since I'm strongly leaning that way now.

post #15 of 18

Phaedrus knows the TKC in reality, I'm only passing along its reputation. 

 

A Masamoto VG is the best possible choice for many people.  It's a good combination of edge taking, wear resistance, and is easy to true.  It's also under $200.  Spend more, get more (at least, so one hopes).   Everything else being equal, a Tadatsuna western is better in some ways, a TKC is better than others.   The best overall combo may be a Masmaoto VG and a Forschner Heavy.  For the light knife you may even decide you want a Japanese style handle.  The Konosuke HD I just bought might be your beau ideal.  Obviously, I think it's mine.

 

We're still trying to nail down whether it's practical to choose an everything knife for prep and a light knife for service; or a heavy knife for heavy jobs and a light knife for everything else.   I'm more for B than for A because there are more really good specialty knives than there are everything knives. 

 

BDL

post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 

Is the Konosuke HD available anywhere? I keep finding out of stock stores. I did do some internet searching on the beast and was impressed. 

post #17 of 18



Sabbah,

 

You asked,

Is the Konosuke HD available anywhere? I keep finding out of stock stores. I did do some internet searching on the beast and was impressed. 

 

Good question; welcome to the club.


Chef Knife To Go (Mark Richmond) and Japanese Knife Imports (Jon Broida) are, as far as I know, the only outlets for buyers outside of Japan. 

 

Konosuke, as far as I know, has only been in existence a very short time, and a surprisingly robust demand exceeds not only supply but current production -- especially for the HD gyutos.  Since their first orders, both Jon and Mark have them on perpetual back order.  They come in when they come in. 

 

It's not uncommon for a knife to become "flavor of the month," aka "the knife that will save the world."  Whether the Konosuke HD is one of those or a classic coming into being is up in the air.  The kitchen knife nut universe is not large but it is very trendy and subject to strong but temporary passions. 

 

With my own money in it, I'm hoping for "classic."

 

As good as it may be, it will not be significantly better than the Tadatsuna Inox or Shiro #2, Suisun Honyaki Inox, Masamoto KS, and several other wonderful and similarly expensive knives.  It may not even be that much better than the stainless and carbon Sakai Yusukes which are about 25% less expensive.  There are perfectly rational reasons for searching for the "best to the nth degree" knife, but they don't apply to me.  Nevertheless, I'm having a good time and irrational will have to do. 

 

Fed-Ex says Tuesday, but I'm hoping mine will arrive here tomorrow.  Whenever it comes, give me a chance to sharpen it, prep a couple of meals, and I'll post a first impression here, on Fred's, and on Cook Food Good within 24 hours.  I've had enough experience with the Tads and Masamoto KS to make a decent comparison, then you can extrapolate the rest based on what you've read from other people. I'll also call Mark and try to get some more background on Konosuke, the company, and Kosuke. 

 

One never know.  Do one?

 

On the other front, I see the 13" Forschner "Heavy Chef's," aka "Lobster Cracker" aka "Bone Splitter" for around $130 all over the place.  That's not a bad knife to keep for abuse.  I've heard some not bad things about Kanemasa western debas too, but they're carbon and I don't know how you feel about that. Other western debas start running into money.

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/3/10 at 4:48pm
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 

Rad, I will control my baser consumer urges till I read your report.

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