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The end of the "What Knife?" question . . .

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

 

I have added three images. They are as close as I can approximate what a typical chef would have used in about twenty year intervals. So assume you graduate in 2010, your dad worked in 1990 and your GrandPa worked in 1970.

 

Tell me what you see. . .

 

KSet_Son.jpgKSet_Dad.jpgKSet_Grandpa.jpg

 

Now lets take a closer look. . .

 

GrandPa Chef probably turned heads with that brass bolster utility knife! He could use it on the line, French ribs, Supreme citrus, Turn buttons, Filet fish, Quarter chickens - whatever he needed to do, he did it well.

 

GrandMa Chef got him that cool diamond steel for his last birthday. She didn't like the yucky tri-stone that he maintained his knife on for thirty-five years in the industry... there was something better than his stone,,, there is ALWAYS something better than what you have now, always. GrandPa Chef was a big believer in silver spoons. He said the technology didn't interfere with delecate sauces and, well... GrandPa Chef knew how to disassemble an entire cow with that chef's knife - so who would argue the point?

 

Daddy Chef had a different way of doing things. He put two kids through college and paid off his house with an old 10" Sabitier in his hand. He was hard-core too - He made a honing steel out of a broken handle and an old Crock Stick. His plating spoon was just some random large tablespoon he found along the way and he didn't care much for wire wisks. 

 

The only thing Daddy Chef held dear to his heart was a little spoon that GrandMa Chef gave him as a little boy, when he helped GrandPa Chef in the kitchen back in the day...

 

Mommy Chef thought the black handle on his "old" knife was ugly, and gave him a trendy new white handle knife for Christmas one year. Daddy Chef couldn't break his loving wife's heart, and used the knife until the day he retired. We will probably bury Daddy Chef with his slotted turner and (secretly) his old 10" Chef's knife. I keep the tasting spoon - yay me!

 

Baby Chef was all about technology. He had the latest in Japanese Super Steel, he had a rockin' GK plating spoon as a gift from another chef, he had a super-rad smooth honing steel that didn't shred his blade like the crappy one in your knife block...

 

Baby Chef learned how to work a fish with a palette knife, just like GrandPa Chef - and it was a good thing too, because Daddy Chef banned tongs in his establishment. But Baby Chef, being the man of culinary technology that he was, opted for the most expensive steel spatula he could find. Because they are really THAT Awesome... In spite of the fact that GrandPa Chef used the same old fifty-cent spatula for 30 years, and it worked Just Fine.

 

 

The point of this little story:

 

When you start looking for better equipment, super-awesome knives and little things that drain your pockets of hard-earned cash... Remember how GrandPa Chef did it first. Better yet - Remember how they were doing it back in the era of the Guilds and Escoffier.

 

Every sauce we make, every fish we cook, every pastry we bake - in classical sense - was done perfectly 100 years ago.

And 100 years ago - they didn't have convection, silicone, super-steel or vita-preps.

 

If we can adapt, incorporate and effectively use new technology and methods to do a better job than we did 100 years ago, it is worth considering how to do that. You are the future of where this craft is headed.

 

But never forget: If you lose the arts and methods that were perfected 100 years ago - if you abandon those skills - if you do not teach those skills and methods to your future students.... Then this art will be lost forever. The world will be doomed to eating from frozen cartons and pizza boxes. Culinary Death.

 

If you want a shopping list, buy this stuff first:

1. A copper bowl and a high-quality whisk.

2. An olive or other hard-wood, long-handled spoon (or two). (No Bamboo!)

3. Super-high quality, comfy kitchen shoes/boots/clogs and nice Dr. Shoes liners and lots of good quality socks.

4. A heavy duty pepper grinder - Brass or heavy steel or super-quality wood. Spare no expense.

5. A heavy-duty Bain Marie to put all your goodies in.

6. If you buy any knife - let it be a pairing knife without a bolster.

    - The rest knives you were issued in culinary school are fine.

7. A personal first aid kit with all the high-quality stuff you need:

    - NewSkin, MoleSkin and non-absorbent white vynal tape.

    - Finger Condoms, burn cream and neosporin.

    - Everclear, Yukon Jack or other high-proof, grain alchohol.

 

 

You should be able to fit everything you absolutely need inside of a bain and a coffee cup. Maybe two bains max.

    - Keep the aid kit and knife roll in your car unless you need stuff.

 

Save your money until you really honestly know what it is you really honestly need  - and why you need it.

 

 

 

 

Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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post #2 of 15

Trooper,

Nice post. I still have my great grandfathers scimitar from the early 1900's in my drawer and it works just fine. I have no idea how many cows were butchered with it, but I can still get a good edge on it.

kathee

post #3 of 15

So, what kind of magical alloy is the white knife?  What R c hardness?  Who made it?  What magical properties did he-who-forges-knives- bestow upon it? But most importantly, what did it cost?

 

Finally someone can post some real honest advice about working cook's knives.  The magic is in the cook's hands, not in the knife.

 

But you forgot one sage piece of advice for all culinary school students:

 

Nice knives get stolen--fast.

Even regular knives get stolen, or get mixed in with vegetable peels and thrown in the trash by yourself.

 

and....

 

If you blow $300 on a knife and then some more on shaprening equipment, and don't know much about knives, you have made a commitment to use said knife until you get your money's worth out of it, or until it's weak points (all knives have thier weak points) finally drive you up the wall and either get rid of it or stuff it in a closet (almost as bad) and use another.

 

Use and abuse inexpensive (not cheap) knives untill you know what you're comfortable with.  School knives fall under this category.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post

Finally someone can post some real honest advice about working cook's knives.  The magic is in the cook's hands, not in the knife.

 

But you forgot one sage piece of advice for all culinary school students:

 

Nice knives get stolen--fast.

Even regular knives get stolen, or get mixed in with vegetable peels and thrown in the trash by yourself.

 

and....

 

If you blow $300 on a knife and then some more on shaprening equipment, and don't know much about knives, you have made a commitment to use said knife until you get your money's worth out of it, or until it's weak points (all knives have thier weak points) finally drive you up the wall and either get rid of it or stuff it in a closet (almost as bad) and use another.

 

Use and abuse inexpensive (not cheap) knives untill you know what you're comfortable with.  School knives fall under this category.


That about covers it! Thanks for putting the whole "What Knife?" question into two rational statements, foodpump!
 

Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by trooper View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post

Finally someone can post some real honest advice about working cook's knives.  The magic is in the cook's hands, not in the knife.

 

But you forgot one sage piece of advice for all culinary school students:

 

Nice knives get stolen--fast.

Even regular knives get stolen, or get mixed in with vegetable peels and thrown in the trash by yourself.

 

and....

 

If you blow $300 on a knife and then some more on shaprening equipment, and don't know much about knives, you have made a commitment to use said knife until you get your money's worth out of it, or until it's weak points (all knives have thier weak points) finally drive you up the wall and either get rid of it or stuff it in a closet (almost as bad) and use another.

 

Use and abuse inexpensive (not cheap) knives untill you know what you're comfortable with.  School knives fall under this category.


That about covers it! Thanks for putting the whole "What Knife?" question into two rational statements, foodpump!
 



Yep. Brilliant, just brilliant. And not so technical there is room for confusion.

"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #6 of 15

Knives get lost - I left my best knife by accident in the old house when we moved and miss it every day.  But, life goes on.  I get by on my supermarket swords for now until fiinances allow something better.  Just have to sharpen them pretty often.

 

This is probably going to embarass me, but if you are lucky, you can find some great tools in second hand shops.  People sometimes don't know what they are getting rid of.  It's a bit of a treasure hunt thing for me - give it a go, it's great fun :)

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #7 of 15

Why do I need a copper bowl?  Egg whites?  Doesn't cream of tartar resolve that?

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpumpView Post

 

  The magic is in the cook's hands, not in the knife.

 

 


Can a great musician play a lousy instrument and make it sound great?  Sure. Can a lousy musician play a great instrument and make it sound terrible?  Sure.  Can a great musician do more with a great instrument than he can with a lousy one?  Yes. 

 

With any hobby, craft, or trade, there are higher grade "tools" available.  Professional carpenters don't buy their tools from Harbor Freight, but hobbyists do.  By the way, Harbor Freight sells ceramic chefs knives too :).  No matter what your skill level, there will always be a tool that will be "above" your skill level and some below your skill level.  At some point, if you become good enough and do it long enough, you will benefit from better quality tools.  Whether you start off with the best, or later replace your basic stuff with better stuff, you will get better than "basic" tools. 

 

What I really like about this site is that while there are those involved in knife porn, most everyone will suggest good knives at various price points.  In the end though, no one is going to suggest the $20 set at Wal-Mart. 

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DC Sunshine View Post

Knives get lost - I left my best knife by accident in the old house when we moved and miss it every day.  But, life goes on.  I get by on my supermarket swords for now until fiinances allow something better.  Just have to sharpen them pretty often.

 

This is probably going to embarass me, but if you are lucky, you can find some great tools in second hand shops.  People sometimes don't know what they are getting rid of.  It's a bit of a treasure hunt thing for me - give it a go, it's great fun :)


Embarassed or Smart? I make a monthly run of the thrift stores - Where else can you get quality stainless mixing bowls, 3/6/9 pans and other stuff that is as good used as it is new?

 

Awesome finds I have got from the thrift store (to name a few) -

  - An AllClad 12" Copper Saute - $10

  - A Mauvel 14" Heavy Copper Mixing Bowl - $60

  - A Mauvel 1.5qt tin-lined copper sauce pan - brand new and still enclosed in the factory wrapper - $25

  - Three 16x16x3" heavy birtch butcher blocks (Not cutting board, but vertical 2x3 lamanated birch) - $16 ea.

  - Many of my spoons and mixing bowls at 25 cents or so each...

 

If it can be cleaned and made serviceable again, and I need or can use it - why not get it at a 95% discount? Smart Money.

 

I am sorry to hear about your knife. I hope you find a suitable replacement soon. What did you lose?

Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gobblygook View Post

 

What I really like about this site is that while there are those involved in knife porn, most everyone will suggest good knives at various price points.  In the end though, no one is going to suggest the $20 set at Wal-Mart. 


Man, I keep trying to find that post where someone will validate the Food network concept that a Gusto grip and Paula Deen skillet will make me a master chef.

Oh Well... Better go and try to master those English Peas again. :D 
 

Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gobblygook View Post

Why do I need a copper bowl?  Egg whites?  Doesn't cream of tartar resolve that?



Eggs and Sugar - and to wear as a helmet when the black helecopters fly over at night.

Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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post #12 of 15

All well-made points. I often can't wrap my brain, small as it is, around spending several thousand dollars on a knife when there are certainly respectable versions that ultimately do the same thing as their more expensive counterparts; they, when handled by somebody with some skill, reduce the surface area of a food item to more manageable parts suitable for cooking. Is that not the purpose of knives?

 

Very nice pictures to show the comparison and contrast. This is definitely a 'keeper' thread!

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

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post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 

JUST FOR YOU, GOBBLYGOOK . . .

Originally Posted by trooper View Post
Originally Posted by gobblygook View Post

Why do I need a copper bowl?  Egg whites?  Doesn't cream of tartar resolve that?


Eggs and Sugar - and to wear as a helmet when the black helecopters fly over at night.

Black_Helecopters.jpg

 

Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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post #14 of 15

 

Buttercup: You mock my pain!
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something. -- The Princess Bride
Miracle Max: Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean...
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Buttercup: You mock my pain!
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something. -- The Princess Bride
Miracle Max: Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean...
Reply
post #15 of 15

Heavens to Murgatroyd!!!!!

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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