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Chef's knives length and paring knives

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

I have looked up higher end knives recently.  I originally purchased a Wusthof on impulse after looking at knife reviews online, but I came to regret it and got my refund.

 

I have decided on MAC professional chef's knife.  What I want to know if I should get the mth-80 8" with dimples, mkb-85 8 1/2", or mkb-95 9 1/2"?  Is the longer knife better?  What about the difference between the mth-80 and the mkb-85.  I just know mth-80 costs less.

 

I'm looking for a paring knife as well.  I'm not sure whether to just get the mac pkf-30 or look for another brand of paring knife.  I'm only willing to spend about $60 for the paring knife.  Any suggestions?  What about the length?

post #2 of 8

Hi Thus,

 

MAC Pro is a great choice for a lot of reasons.  We can go into them if you want, but since you're at CT asking about knives you probably already know my thoughts about them.

 

In case you care, the term of art for dimples is kullenschiffen.  By and large they're as silly as they sound.  Most just aren't very effective, and while some are better than others, Glestain and Granton make the only ones that really work.

 

MAC's kullens aren't horrible but they're not up near the top of the list either.  However, if you absolutely, positively must have dimples, the dimpled MACs have so many other virtues they're still excellent knives.  I wouldn't bother though. 

 

If you have the skills and the space to use them, longer knives are more productive.  Some people think height and hand size are important, but my sources tell me otherwise.  Fortunately it's mostly in the grip, and a good grip is easy to learn

 

Because Japanese knives are lighter than their European counterparts of similar length, an extra inch is usually pretty comfortable.  I've bought several MBK 95s for a couple of women who previously used 8" German knives and neither had problems with the transition.

 

Really though, it's more taste than anything else.  If you choose to go shorter you're not going to lose status -- at least not with me. 

 

It's hard to get your money's worth out of an expensive, small paring knife.  They take so much abuse and need such frequent sharpening.  There's nothing an inexpensive one won't do as well, and as long as you're in the 4" or shorter class, I suggest Forschner Rosewood unless you have something else special going on.

 

The most trenchant piece of advice I can give you is to figure out how you're going to sharpen before spending a lot of money on knives.  It doesn't matter how good a knife was to start if it doesn't get sharpened before it gets dull. 

 

Hope this helps,

BDL

 

Thus I die. Thus, thus, thus.
Now I am dead,
Now I am fled,
My soul is in the sky.
Tongue, lose thy light.
Moon take thy flight.
Now die, die, die, die.


Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/19/10 at 12:34am
post #3 of 8

Could we get to the "Bottom" of this? 

 

tmilsom

post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmilsom View Post

Could we get to the "Bottom" of this? 

 

tmilsom


*lol*

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Doesn't the metals on the japanese knives help the paring knives just as much as the chef's knives?  I tend to use my chef's knives more often than my paring knives.  I currently have a faberware forged 3 1/2" paring knife I got from BB&B.  It's adequate, but I want something that would perform better.

 

I don't really like dimples in chef's knives.  I don't think they belong there as oppose to a slicer.  But if the cheaper Mac mth-80 is just as good as the mkb-85, then there doesn't seem to be any reason to get the mkb-85. 

 

Essentially, the longer the chef's knives (up to 10") the better?  I have plenty of room to use my knives, but my hands are small compare to most people I know.  I usually wear size medium gloves.  I would say I'm average with knife skills, and I use the pinch grip.

 

I plan to have these knives sharpen by a professional.  I don't think I'll need to sharpen them that often since I will use these knives 2-3 times a week.  I have already found some that know what they are doing.  Eventually I will sharpen the knives myself after I have learned how to freehand.

post #6 of 8

Hi Thus,

 

Doesn't the metals on the japanese knives help the paring knives just as much as the chef's knives?  I tend to use my chef's knives more often than my paring knives.  I currently have a faberware forged 3 1/2" paring knife I got from BB&B.  It's adequate, but I want something that would perform better.

 

You've got a real "yes, no, maybe" there. 

 

Paring knives and chef's knives lead very different lives.  Paring knives get used for opening plastic and cardboard packages, cutting string, cutting tape, and all sorts of things that chef's knives never see.  On the other hand, they're not bounced off the board as much.  They're typically not used to make the same sort of fine cuts, chef's knives are.  Because the paring blades are so narrow, they get sharpened down to toothpicks rarther more quickly than chef's knives do.   So, for all of those reasons it makes sense to go with something cheap but still sharpenable and usable.  

 

Farberware are made from a really lousy alloy.  Forschners for all their low price are made from the same very durable alloy used by most German makers for their high-end lines, X50CrMoV15. 

 

Most people like Forschner a lot more than Farberware.  But if you don't a Forschner Rosewood paring knife runs around $10 and it's no big deal to replace it with something better.  I have a couple of chef friends who buy Forschner Fibrox serrated parers by the case for their kitchens and just throw them away when they get dull.  (Fibrox -- serrated or fine -- are only $5, but the handles aren't nearly as nice in the hand.)

 

If the cheaper Mac mth-80 is just as good as the mkb-85, then there doesn't seem to be any reason to get the mkb-85.

 

Keeping my own prejudices out of it... If that's the choice, you might as well save the money.

 

Essentially, the longer the chef's knives (up to 10") the better?  I have plenty of room to use my knives, but my hands are small compare to most people I know.  I usually wear size medium gloves.  I would say I'm average with knife skills, and I use the pinch grip.

 

For most good cooks, the 9-1/2" - 10-1/2" range is best.  Longer knives don't require you to lift the handle as high when you "rock chop," and they seem to hold on to sharpness longer.  If you're the sort of cook who chops big handfuls of things at a time (few home cooks do), extra length is significantly more productive.

 

If your choice is between the 8" and the 9-1/2" knives, go with the longer.

 

The limiting size issue is the cutting board.  Longer knives like bigger boards.  A good board is important in any case.  If you don't have one already, might as well get an appropriate one now.

 

Hand size doesn't matter much, and neither does height.

 

A pinch grip is a beginning.  The most important part to making long knives handle intuitively (besides some practice) is learning to keep your knife in line with your forearm.  That way the tip of even a very long knife will always point where your eyes tell it to go without a bunch of swinging your elbow around. 

 

Improving your grip will make a big difference in all of your knife-hand, knife handling skills.  Offhand skills are another thing.   


I plan to have these knives sharpened by a professional.  I don't think I'll need to sharpen them that often since I will [only use them] 2-3 times a week.  I have already found some that know what they are doing.  Eventually I will sharpen the knives myself after I have learned how to freehand.

 

Using your knives that infrequently, you can get away with sharpening (or having them sharpened) two or three times a year.  You'll need to use a "steel" in between sharpenings.   If your longest frequently used knife is 8" you can get away with a 10" steel, if it's 9-1/2" or longer, you'll want a 12" steel.  The Idahone fine ceramic is particularly good and also reasonably priced.  The DMT CS2 (ceramic, NOT diamond), is very good and practically unbreakable -- but it often comes rough from the factory and might need some sanding.

 

Keep track of how much you spend on a professional sharpener and compare it to the cost of an Edge Pro Apex.  The EP doesn't take much time or effort to learn to do a great job.  While I'm not sure that I'd call freehanding enjoyable, it is satisfying; and a basic kit is relatively inexpensive. 

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/19/10 at 1:28pm
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks a lot.  I have decided to go with the Mac MKB-95.

 

I am in Oakland/Berkeley, CA area.  Does anybody know where I can go to try out the Forschner Rosewood knives?

 

I would like the DMT CS2 ceramic.  Why is it unbreakable compared to other fragile ceramic products?  How would I go about turning its rough surface into a fine surface that won't damage the Mac knife?

post #8 of 8

C check out http://www.macknife.com/ and then take a trip to Sacramento , ask for Harold and follow his advice for sharpening your MAC, Trust me, you will NOT regret it!

 

If you think it will do you any good, mention my name

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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