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Looking to upgrade my cutlery arsenal....need some advice

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

I am looking to purchase a new set of knives as I gradutated culinary school about a year ago and I feel its time to upgrade from sub-par school knives. So far I have been interested in Eberhard Shaaf, F. Dick, and K-Sabatier, all of which I would be buying the top of the line forged series. I have also looked into the newish Forged series of Victorinox knives, but I do not know if they are worth the price tag. I am looking at European/german made cutlery as I need something I can transport and not feel bad about beating up in the kitchen, I work 2 kitchen jobs as a saucier and an assistant culinary instructor. Can someone with experience with any of these give me some insight? I already have a 10" shun chefs knife and that the only japanese knife I would really want to attempt to take on a line, although I am looking at buying a full set including an 8" and 10" chefs....Please help me with this if you are a professional.   Thank You So much!

post #2 of 20
Thread Starter 

Btw, I posted this here, instead of the cutlery section because I am looking for professional chefs opinions who use them heavily almost everday.

post #3 of 20

My humble advice is go with the Victorinox, and if you like the better looking ones, keep them at home.


My logic for this is as follows:


Victorinox is inexpensive--not cheap, but inexpensive. It holds an edge fairly decent and more importantly is easy to put an edge back on it.  Buy several of the 10"  knives and keep them in your toolbox/bag.  When the edge goes on one, grab the other, and sharpen the dull one at home.  When Joe Schmuck forgets his knife, or the new guy is told to chop chocolate, lend him one of yours.  If you do so, everyone will respect you for it, if you're one of those Knife Nazis who scream about going 3 feet within my knife, they'll figure a way to get even on you.



...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #4 of 20

May I inquire as to your reasoning for acquiring a "set" rather than specific knives you will use?


What is your budget for knives?


How do you rate your sharpening skills?


How did you arrive at the conclusion that a Shun is the only Japanese knife you would "take on the line"?


I'm fairly certain that BDL will "weigh in" with some more pointed questions.

Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #5 of 20

My suggestion, as a professional, is to avoid German knives. Yeah, they're big and heavy, so they feel great in your hand, but the steel is just too soft. They're easy to sharpen, but they don't hold an edge for anything- you'll be sharpening them almost constantly. I loved German knives for a good while and just recently switched to a Shun, because I simply just don't have the time to continually sharpen my knives. I've heard good things about MAC knives- and they have a basic line with a pretty moderate price tag. Might be worth looking at. 

post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the good advice, I will definately keep in mind leaving the fancy knives at home I plan on buying a couple Victorinox soon. I do believe you gain a lot of respect letting others use your knives


As far as a "set" , i meant only the knives I really use, sorry I should have clarified a bit. I plan on getting an 8" and 10" chefs, paring, fillet, slicing, and a 6" utility. I really only use my 10" chefs and paring on the line at all times but I do use the other knives quite frequently. My budget is somewhat open, I have been saving up for quite awhile to get some knives. My sharpening skills are OK but need a little work, I can sharpen a knife to a razor but I'm working on leaving the blade with less scratches and I believe I'm taking off a little too much metal. The reason I say I will only use my shun, is that I have had that knife since high school and its already used and abused, I love Japanese blades but I'm worried about them being too "fancy" of a knife on the line and I would really worry about it getting abused a little too much, since I let others use my knives periodically. I am not partial to European knives as I love Japanese but most seem to be quite expensive, I have looked at Tojiro as an option but I do not know if they are as durable as heavy German knives.


I truly thank you for the replies.

post #7 of 20
Originally Posted by ChefRyan1533 View Post

As far as a "set" , i meant only the knives I really use, sorry I should have clarified a bit. I plan on getting an 8" and 10" chefs, paring, fillet, slicing, and a 6" utility.

I'd skip out on the 8" chef if you also plan on getting a 6" utility. In my experience, I've never had need of either so I'd consider the 8" to be especially redundant.

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
post #8 of 20

My favorite knife is Sabatier. There is soposto be 3 different manufactures under this name - the one with the elephant and the stars is the one I have.  I like it because its light with an alunium grommet, the angle of the blade at the handel end goes back towards your hand just a bit, and right there where your middle finger hits the "hilt" it has aluminum that is part of the grommet so your finger dosent hurt. I can work with this knife all day on the veg table and not hurt my hands or wrist.  Also it holds an edge and is easy to sharpen. I can work with if for maybe 3 months needing only a pass on the dimond steel from time to time before I take it to the stone.  I've recently retired it though, after 11 years of use it got so small that my knuckles hit the board, I just use it at home now.


another good inexpencive knife is Eurolame. They have the same aluminum grommet design and angles, hold an edge fine and only cost around 20 or 30 bucks.


I like alot of the Japanesse knives, but I've never seen one with a grommet that goes down the hilt to protect your middle finger. after a days work the edge starts digging in and it hurts. Global has no grommet and really hurts my index finger palm knuckel at the end of the day.

post #9 of 20

Before breaking this down in a way that will help you makes sense of the available choices, what is it about the three manufacturers you named which make you think they'd be particularly good? 


Do we need to know anything special about:

  • Handles? (Size, shape)
  • About balance?  Most good cutters discount balance quite a bit -- if it doesn't matter much to you don't bother going into a lot of detail about what you think is ideal because it will confuse the issue and limit the knives we'll end up talking about.  On the other hand, if it is a big deal say it.   
  • Shape of the chef's blade?
  • Any other special need?


  • Would you be willing to buy a knife online, without having had the chance to even test-hold it?


It's been a long time since I was on the line, but if I went back it would be with a much abbreviated kit compared to what you listed. 


First things first.  Invest in a good, appropriate sharpening kit, and learn to use it.  If you're going with all western knives, you can get away with oilstones which are less expensive and less PITA than waterstones.  If you change your mind and go Japanese -- even if only for one knife, you'll need waterstones.  Either way, you should also invest in a top quality "steel."  Fortunately, they are inexpensive. 


Despite Coup de Feu's remark, there are a lot more than three Sabatier companies.  There are three good Sabatiers whose knives are more or less relatively available in the US.  Their common names are K-Sabatier, Thiers-Issard (aka **** Elephant ) and Mexceur et Cie.  While their carbon steel knives are made with decent alloys, the stainless are lower performing and comparable to X50CrMoV15 German steel.  Also, while these Sabatier's French styled knives are lighter and more agile than German knives, their German styled knives are just run of the mill German style knives.  This may help sort out "profiles."


Speaking of German knives, there are some outliers in companies and lines.  But by and large, good German knives are good German knives; and there isn't a lot of real difference between them.  I don't know if that soothes the need of your particular shopping lust to differentiate and make the "best choice," or not.  Probably not, or you wouldn't be here.  But, once you've dealt with the likes of Viking (balanced back-heavy), Wusthof Ikon (lighter, streamlined profile, ergo-handle), and Messermeister (streamlined profile, classic handle, marginally better alloy), you're left with a dozen or so (more or less) fungible choices. 


They're all well made, share similar chef's knife profiles, similar handles, and so on.  The great levellers are  alloy, hardening and thickness.  All top line German knives (and I include Lamson which is made in America and a few others made outside of Germany as well) are either made with X50CrMoV15, all are hardened to about the same hardness, and all are so thick that no matter how sharp you get them (which is limited) they'll tend to wedge.  Pardon the pun or don't, but it's a double edged sword as all of those qualities also contribute to durability.  


If you stick with German stainless as seems likely now, it's just as likely you'll end up with half dozen or more "best" choices.  Moral of that story, is don't bother agonizing too much.  Whether most Henckels Zwillings, LamsonSharp, most of Wusthof Dreizack, etc., it won't make much difference. 


As a preliminary, I suggest investing in a good chef's  Then going down a few price steps for the other knives, depending on how frequently you used them; including among them another chef type for "heavy duty" purposes if you don't have an old chef's knife which will serve. 


Forschner Rosewood and Fibrox are perfect for those "also" knives.  They're excellent for the money, darn near the best you can buy for butchering, but I wouldn't want one for my chef's.  Forschner's other lines, Forged and Pro Forged are typical German knives belonging in the set of fungibles.


FWIW, Shun and Global -- each for its own reasons -- aren't well regarded by people who know knives. 


Setting those two brands aside, Japanese made knives do things European knives can't.  They get significantly sharper, they're signficantly thinner (so act sharper as well), they're harder and hold their edges somewhat better, they're lighter and the chef's knives are more or less "French profile" and agile.  Even allowing for your objections, I think you're making a mistake by excluding them from your consideration -- especially for your go-to chef's.  But they're your knives. 




PS. Coup de Feu's "grommets" are actually called "bolsters."  He seems to prefer the full finger guard style to those which are "cut down," lack finger guards entirely, or presumably like Forschner Fibrox and Rosewood.lack bolsters, in order not to jam his fingers against the back of the knife.  Finger guards have their own set of plusses and minusses, but the best way to deal with the mashed piddie problem is to (a) adjust the grip so your fingers aren't hard against the blade, and (b) round or at least ease the corners of the back and spine of the knife, so neither cause discomfort.  

Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/28/10 at 10:33am
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks all,


I love Thiers Issard Original carbon Sabatiers, and I plan on buying one, just to collect, not so much use, as they seem to be collector items (pre-war carbons)...I am a huge fan of french chefs and cuisine.


I am probably going to look for a great Japanese Chefs or guyoto, I believe having a sharp edge that holds is key, I will also pack a cheap Forschner 10" to have for those who forget their knives and what not. I went and bought a Forschner rosewood boning knife, and 3 fibrox paring knives because It was cheap (I got all for $20 including the boning knife, the store had a sale on cutlery). I also picked up and F. dick steel for $20 because I have heard time and time again, those are great steels and it was also on sale. I am going to my local Japanese Cutlery Supplier this weekend to look at a chefs knife and possibly a Honesuki (The Sous Chef let me use his at work last night and I was amazed at how well it performed in my hand).


As far as the others, I am still unsure until I got to my Local Cutlery Store and try all of them out, does anybody have experience with F. Dick's 1905 series? (they claim to be 60 on the rockwell scale which is quite hard for a german knife)..


I enjoy the more rounded/curved shape of german chef's knives compared to most japanese style knives which seem to have a little less curve. I also prefer a larger more rounded handle on my knives, balance tends to not be a big deal with me, as I am a larger guy and it doesn't seem to effect me. Also I have very large hands, so I don't want my knuckles dragging as I cut.


Once again, Great Responses, Thank you.

post #11 of 20

As usual, very good advie from BDL.


About German knives, though.....  As BDL writes they have thicker spines and thicker blades, and as a result don't seem as "sharp" becasue they are "fat" or, like an axe, they tend to act as a wedge.


An axe is ideal to chop down a tree, but not so good for making furniture.  The thicker heavier knives are ideal for some tasks, like manufacturing chicken parts, chopping heavy squashes, slab chocolate, etc.  For cutting meat--steaks, filets, not very good, for cutting fish, downright lousy.  It's nice to have one in your toolkit for the above mentioned purposes though. 

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #12 of 20

Sorry to wait so long before responding.


First, not only thanks to food pump, but agreement about having a separate heavy duty knife for heavy duty tasks. The knives are often called "lobster crackers," "bone splitters," and "chef de chefs."


Getting back to the OP:


Dick's 1905 series is not their top of the line, but is a cost-conscious "very nice for the price." You get more bang for the buck from Forschner, but the 1905s certainly have a lot more style, all the heft, full-finger bolster, forging, and F&F hallmarks and styling of a top German knive -- which they are not.  The trade-off is the second tier alloy.  Whoever told you the knives are hardened to 60RCH was mistaken, 55-56 is more like it.  IIRC, Messermeisters, nominally at 58ish, are probably the hardest of the mass produced Germans.  They also use a slightly "better" alloy than any of the other top line, stainless western knives.


That said, any number of Japanese knives at 58-59RCH act significantly harder than Messers, and so do French carbons weighing in at 55 if they're lucky.  That is, they are more resistant to deforming and need less frequent steeling.  That's not really a big deal in my book.  More important, and even discounting for geometry, none of the German alloys get anywhere near as sharp as the stainless steels used by Japanese makers -- which are quite often Swedish (the alloys not the makers), by the way. 


I'm only aware of one Japanese maker using a highly arced German type profile for their chef's knives, and that's Shun.  Even within the context of a German profile, I don't like Shun's profile because the point is so high; and there are a few other things I dislike about Shuns as well.  None of that may bother you.  Henckles makes some knives in Japan under its Miyabi name which maybe aren't as French profiled as many others and might interest you. 


As for so many people moving from German type to Japanese made knives with enough budget to play with, one of your best choices will likely be MAC Pro.  To make a long story short, great blade, very good French profile -- without being too narrow, excellent handle, excellent stiffness (for a Japanese knife), very good F&F, great support, and great warranty.  We can delve into the specifics of MAC if you're interested, or whatever else you want to talk about. 



Edited by boar_d_laze - 11/1/10 at 9:26am
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the info.


After trying some Knives out at the store, I went with the Mac Pro 9.5in chefs knife. So far it cuts like a dream and is significantly sharper than any other knife I have used. I believe this knife suits me perfectly.


as for the other Significant Knives, I have bought a Mac Pro Honesuki boning and a ceramic honing rod. I was told by my Knife guy that Ceramic Rods are a lot easier on your cutlery. And I also Bought a Takayuki Sashimi Knife for all of my slicing needs (I do a lot of live action carving), I went with Takayuki because it was on sale and it came highly recommended from my cutlery supplier. 

Thanks Everyone, especially B.D.L. and Foodpump

post #14 of 20

i know im way late..but im managing the bar tonight...so i got LOTS of time.  and im new, so there :-P


I found a set online by a fairly new company called Saber. 


holy momma i love these knives.  full 11 piece set, with a sturdy case, for around $250.


super duper sharp, easy to sharpen too.


good weight, balance, yadda yadda.


very good knives.



although i love my chroma porsche more....

post #15 of 20

misono ux10

post #16 of 20



I must be a major league hack. My knives are Chicago Cutlery (and I like them). I guess I suck. LOL @ Me. I've been real happy getting stuff from these guys: [url=http://www.cutleryandmore.com/][i][b]Cutlery and More[/b][/i][/url]. I also however agree w/ the Victorinox Forschner suggestion. They're affordable journeyman knives.


I have one of these [url=https://secure.edgemaker.com/sections/products/ProductDetail.aspx?prod_id=14][i][b]sharpeners[/b][/i][/url] in my bag. I use it a couple times a night (10 seconds), and I do just fine. 


post #17 of 20

OK. I can't seem to post up links correctly so I'll do it the simple way. 


I buy my knives from these guys, They've treated me very well. "Cutlery and More".



My sharpener is one of these, an "EdgeMaker Delux"



I don't work for either company. I don't sell anything and can't get any deals. LOL.

post #18 of 20

IceMan, whatever works for you. I used Chicago knives until I stumbled onto Henckles, used them until I was shown MACs.


I also used sharpeners like the one you linked to, then I came across Fisker Roll-Sharp. Then BDL opened my eyes.


My Chicagos now are utility knives, cutting string, breaking boxes, etc.


My Henckles are what I let anyone else use in the kitchen.


The MACs are MINE, kindly do not touch! smiles.gif


Oh, BTW, I've never seen a steel that sharpens...

Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #19 of 20

I've used the same G2 Global chef's knife daily for a decade and more, other than that I've got a 12" rosewood handled Victorinox that I use for the jobs that require a more 'heavy duty' knife, and a 4" rosewood handled Victorinox cooks knife for smaller jobs.



I could get through most days in the kitchen with just a chefs knife, paring knife, and long serrated bread knife. I've still got and use the full set of Victorinox knives I started college with.



I too have been increasing and adding to the tools of my trade, and I have come to realise that there are a lot more tools available out there with jobs that a knife alone cannot do.


I used to take a knife roll to work ... Now I take a 'toolbox'. 

we're as good as our last meal.
we're as good as our last meal.
post #20 of 20

Hi Folks,

Thanks for all your suggests and opinions, there is no one size fits all advice. Cookware is a highly personal thing and what is optimal for you depends on your particular preferences. I will be giving advice that works for me but I'll point out the various assumptions and choices so you can decide for yourself. Cookware, more than most things, suffers from a quality-time-price trade off (you're allowed to pick two). Most people here are giving advice from the high quality-low time-high price perspective but I'm innately drawn to high-quality-long time-low price. It's not unreasonable to reduce your overall cookware acquisition budget by 50 - 75% if you're willing to be patient. The first thing you need to determine is are you a knife cook or a pan cook. I am very much a knife person. I've cooked with some pretty crappy pans in my life but having a sharp knife in my kitchen is non-negotiable. When I travel, I bring my knife.

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