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chief knife for beginner

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hello all,
I am looking for a good chief knife for myself. I just started cooking and seem to need a better knife. My knifes are cheap and seem to loose an edge fast. They are also not very comfortable for my big hand. I have a couple of Faberware, block of Chicago cutlery, and one older classic brand wurtof... But I think it losses an edge easily. I would like to buy a knife that is easy to sharpen, maintains a blade, comfortable, and use. Cost is not a big deal if it is a good investment. I am tired of chopping meat with a dull blade!!! Someone help? Also I am really inerested in learning how to maintain blades/sharpenning ect. If anyone could recommend info for this? I am very avid now about cooking and Want to develop a good foundation.
Thanks in. Advance!

post #2 of 24

Hi Daniel,


Kleve knives come with Stainless molybdenum vanadium steel with tapered grinding and stone finished blades. These help them for longer durability and superior balance.


Happy Cooking !

post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Any one have any clue is Victorinox Forschner or mac knifes are also a good choice?
post #4 of 24

Both companies make several lines of excellent, high-value knives.  Did you have anything in particular in mind.  German or French profile, for instance?  Any price range?


Where are you located?  That can mean a great deal in terms of what's available at what price.


How you'll experience the quality of a knife, depends a great deal on your abilities to make and keep it sharp.  Do you sharpen now?  Or is that something you'll need to learn as well?  Will you settle for "good enough" the easy but fairly expensive way, or "good enough" the difficult but inexpensive way, or "very good" some difficult and/or expensive way?   These are questions I can't answer for you.  There's no best for everyone.  You have to make some choices.


How good are your knife skills?  Are you willing to spend time and effort improving them? 


The Forschner Rosewood and Fibrox lines are extremely high value as German style knives go.  They get sharper than most Euro stainless, stay sharp longer and are relatively easy to maintain.  They do not possess anywhere near the same level of edge qualities as MAC Pro, but they are about one quarter of the price. 


Forschner and MAC are both very good, but they are by no means the only companies making very good knives.


Which is better for you?  We need to know a lot more.


As a generic, I usually recommend Forschner Rosewood for people who are just learning about cooking and knives.  They're certainly good enough to do just about anything pretty darn well, and are also inexpensive enough to replace if you feel you've grown out of them.  Although not my main knives, I have four or five Rosewoods and a Fibrox --  but no chef's knives -- along with a great deal of respect for them.


Still generically, the chef's knives I most often recommend for people moving into their first high quality, or first high quality Japanese knife is MAC Pro.  I've had a few dozen people buy on my recommendation, and given at least four as gifts.  It's about as good as a stainless, Japanese-made, chef knife gets. 


Interesting that you've chosen to ask about those two brands...



post #5 of 24

I like Victorianox and Mundial.


Sounds like there is more of a problem with knife maintenance, then knife quality. If you can't make and care for a good edge, then an expensive knife is no help. Also, some of the higher quality knives use a softer steel so you can get a sharper edge, but it wears down faster.

post #6 of 24

Certainly "good enough" to start is a good way to go (Forschner/Victorinox).  But if the original question includes more irrational need for a very good knife, the Mac Professional seems a better idea.  It can be kept sharp "enough" (that is, as used in the first sentence) with a rollsharp, and if you want to get out of it what's there to be gotten, you can still learn to sharpen on stones or a jjig.

post #7 of 24

Originally Posted by thetincook View Post

Also, some of the higher quality knives use a softer steel so you can get a sharper edge, but it wears down faster.

Softer steel gets sharper?  I'm a little lost on that one.  What do you mean in terms of particular alloy and hardnesses?  Also, do you have any "higher quality" examples, where that's true? 




post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hi BDL et al.
I am sorry about the delay on the response but I am on vacation in AZ but work in SW Ohio. I would to give more info about the knife quandary. I don't have much skill with a knife I can cut up a whole chicken into 8-10 pieces but that's about it haha. I only have used a steel and a knife pull sharpener ( not sure how to explain this, but I'm sure this is a garbage way of sharpening knifes). I know I should buy stones to sharpen my knifes but I don't really know where to start. I was wondering if learning sharpening knifes will involve buying new ones haha? Also I may need a better steel? Mine is a no brand from the grocery store. I am willing to spend all the time needed to keep and make my knifes sharp I just need some literature and pictures to start. I read quite a bit about the knifes mentioned above but I'm not limiting my self. I am not sure about what is a German and French style knife.

Let me know of you need more info.
post #9 of 24

Hi Red,


Sorry to take so long getting back to you.  Somehow your post just got pushed down.


Assuming you want to really up your knives -- or even just your chefs knife -- the answer to all your questions is, "Yes."


There's more to knife prep than just the knife, it's a system which includes sharpening skills, sharpening kit, rod-hone (aka "steel") if necessary, cutting board, and knife skills -- as well as the knives.


You can't really take one aspect very far past all the others without wasting money, time, effort or an unholy combination of all three.  The question is how far you want to go with it.  And then there's budget.


You've done a good job of describing where you are in terms of most of this stuff, why don't you talk about where you'd like to end up.


At the end of the day, you're probably looking at one of the entry-level Japanese chefs knives, Fujiwara for instance; a ceramic rod-hone; a combination stone, or two higher quality waterstones, or a rod guide tool and jig (such as the Edge Pro); and a decent quality wooden board.


We'll probably end up talking about all the different skill sets as well.  If you tackle everything at once -- as you seem poised to do -- it can seem very complicated and overwhelming.  While there's a lot to learn at first, the good news is that a monkey can do this stuff.  Even me.



post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks again BDL,
I just went to knife store and they recommend not buying the rose handel vitronox because it was about 50$. They recommended some hinkels and wurstoff stuff for 80-100$. I promptly said I was just looking and the left me alone. It seems that those two brands are the most available. I am not sold on them as I have used both brands at my parents home ages ago and was not impressed. I will be looking online for a nice price for a vitronox rosewood Handle this week. If you have any recommendations about where to buy the Steel and stone(s) let me know. I am also looking around for literature about howto use these. I saw my pop use stones before so I hope it shouldn't be too hard to start.
Cheers, and thanks again!!
post #11 of 24

OK. If you haven't bought anything yet, look at this deal. 


NO, I don't work for these guys. I do not sell knives or any other kitchen/food/cooking type products.


Victorinox Forschner 125th Anniversary Limited Edition Knife Set       Sale 5-piece Exclusive: $59.91


Set Contains:

3.25-inch Paring Knife

4.5-inch Serrated Utility Knife

5-inch Flexible Boning Knife

7-inch Hollow Edge Santoku Knife

8-inch Chef's Knife


I think it's a pretty good deal. Five(5) usable pieces for $12 each. The chef's knife and santuko together cost $60, and they've got a 3-piece starter set that's even $9 more. I think I'm going with this myself. 





post #12 of 24

Whatever, I'll stick with my MACs, thank you. wink.gif



Originally Posted by IceMan View Post

OK. If you haven't bought anything yet, look at this deal...

Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #13 of 24

LOL. Stick with anything at all in the world that you could want Pete. I just thought that since I read everything involved, and gave it all serious consideration, my suggestion was pretty good. Now also considering that my suggestion was to a "Cook At Home", who has "just started cooking", and not to YOU, I think it's an even better suggestion. 







post #14 of 24

To chime in on literature as to "how to use these"...  I know the advice was asked of BDL and not me, but I'll hope I'm not interrupting.  Get Chad Ward's book, "An Edge in the Kitchen".  It has the best written instruction on sharpening I've seen (which is actually available on egullet.com for free, still), and good instruction on using a rod hone if you go that way.  Then you can distinguish between good and evil in the realm of how-to videos on youtube, if you need more than the written instruction.  (There's plenty of both).  And it will tell you lots more about knives in general to get you better at questions.  It might be a bit limited as to which knives to "steer" the reader toward, but you've found internet forums first, so you broaden things considerably.  Besides, the Mac is a good piece of advice, which is one thing he pushes pretty hard.  It's just that there are PLENTY of options to consider besides those he names specifically.  He also leans against carbon a bit too hard, but that may or may not suit you -- other than that, it's a great book for what sorts of "issues" you want to look at when considering a knife and considering sharpening.  It also has very good knife-skills instruction.  Better than some books are that solely dedicated to that topic.


My own choices in knives -- I'd used Macs and learned something about Japan blades from that -- not my knives, but I got to cook with a friend who was pimping them pretty hard.  I had some very good (great) Sabatier carbons, which is how I found this place -- searched for them, found BDL, and ... here.  My next purchases were a Carbonext 240mm gyuto, which I like a lot but... really wish I just went straight for my next knife instead, which is a Yoshihiro stainless.  I got talked out of the sexy lazers talked about here by Jon and Japanese Knife Imports when I went to the newly-opened store in Venice.  He's a terrible salesman, as far as his own bank account, because he talked me into something less pricey and less lazer-like.  And he talked me into learning to sharpen.  Which I'm still a beginner at, but... after a long lesson  I went from completely incompetent to what he assures me is a "functional edge, better than most cooks ever see" on both the CarboNext and the Yoshihiro. 


The upshot of all that is 1) I prefer the Yoshihiro for its length and for how light the wa-handle is.  I've gone over to wa- handles I think "officially" now, though I'm not the pickiest about that. A developing and lightening pinch-grip makes me care less about handles than I used to. 2) I learned what an "overgrind" is.  Which is having a little "dishing" on one side of the knife.  I learned that after getting a section of the CarboNext a bit "wrong" for a long-ish time, sharpening, and then having Jon point out to me the flaw in the knife.  Cool, not my fault.  NOT cool, because I didn't know how to look for it when the knife was new.  So there's one "bad" story about the CarboNext.  It's actually not a big problem, at least not at this point; the knife is super light, easier to sharpen than the Yoshihiro, and so much better than anything I've seen at the price except... the Yoshihiro was only slightly more expensive.  It's bigger, the steel is probably heavier, but the handle is lighter.  It's now my first- chef's knife.


All that is not to say my brand- choices should be anyone else's, but just that there's a learning curve to what makes a really good knife, what sorts of flaws might be seen or overlooked, and spending the money learning to sharpen before spending the money on a really ideal knife seems the way to go. 


That was a long story and sorry if typing too much that might not be relevant... but the short version of the story is, I think Chad Ward's book is the best in English for someone who is asking for literature on how to use a honing rod or sharpening stone or even a chef's knife/gyuto.  And I think, if possible, getting some professional sharpening instruction is also a good place to spend some money before getting into the more expensive knives.


There's some really good knife-skills instruction on youtube as well; but again, distinguishing between what's good and what isn't is made much easier by having read Chad Ward's book.  (I have three other books on knife skills, by the way, which have their strong points.... but that was a bit OCD of me, to get all these, and settle on the first, the Ward, as the best of them anyway).

post #15 of 24

My apologies, I should have explained a trifle.


Similar to Matthew Quigly, "Quigly Down Under", I never had much use for a serrated utility knife nor a Santoku lol.gif. Not that I don't know how to use them, just never had much use for them crazy.gif


My kitchen, home not commercial, has seen Chicago (lloonngg time ago) Victorinox Forschner, Henkles,   a hodge podge of others, and finally MAC. IMHO, for the price, a three piece set of MACs will keep a home cook happy for a very long time. Oh, the price? Maybe 10-20% above the sale price quoted.


IceMan, absolutely nothing wrong with your suggestion, just expressing my preference.


Oh, like you, I tend to read as well. As the OP mentioned Forschner and MAC, I listed my preference of the two.

Originally Posted by IceMan View Post

LOL. Stick with anything at all in the world that you could want Pete. I just thought that since I read everything involved, and gave it all serious consideration, my suggestion was pretty good. Now also considering that my suggestion was to a "Cook At Home", who has "just started cooking", and not to YOU, I think it's an even better suggestion. 








Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #16 of 24

It's AG Pete. Everyone gets their choices. That's why restaurants have menus. Now you said "... [you] never had much use for a serrated utility knife nor a Santoku ...". OK. I can understand that. Here's how I roll. Have you ever used a nakiri for cutting vegetables and/or salad items, such as trinity, mirepoix, sofrito et al? I have one, I just bought it recently, a Kyocera ceramic job. A santoku is a great replacement, and it fills in perfectly as a chef's knife if you are in a hurry. It's a nice multi-tasking knife. As for the serrated utility knife, I love them when I'm doing lunches or cold apps. They are great for slicing sandwich/dinner rolls. I like them for other prep-type needs too, like trimming up condiments and such. Anyway, I don't know, I just think for a homey chef it's a very nice kit at a very good price. I've never said this before but, ymmv



post #17 of 24

I don't know about "ymmv."  How can you say it?  What does it sound like?  Now, "de gustibus non disputandum."  There's a cliche that rolls off the tongue.


We're really getting into taste, knife skills, and the part of usage which isn't sills but still falls into the "how you use what you use."  None of the knives in that Forschner kit are right for me or even close.  They're all way too short for what they are; I've stopped using paring knives for food; and like Pete, don't get the purpose of a non-disposable, serrated knife that size.  What are you going to do with it that couldn't be done better with a fine edge?


No maker can really compete with Forschner's Fibrox and Rosewood lines' quality and practicality at this price level -- which is considerably less than MAC.  Excellent F&F; very good handles; thin for Euros; light for Euros; made from one of the better Euro alloys; take a good edge... what more do you want?   Well, better edge holding would be nice.


Anyway, I've got a lot of Forschners, use a couple of them a lot, and have nothing but affection and respect for the brand.


If Victorinox didn't focus group, analyze their own sales, or in some other way poll this particular selection of profiles and sizes, I'd be surprised.  Looks like they're the ones most people really want and use.  The tragedy is that after a year in their homes all but the serrated knife will be too dull to use.  How many homes have you visited where the closest thing to sharp is a steak knife?


Speaking of profiles and sizes, when people ask for my recommendations I usually point them away from this particular group and towards a slightly different and longer core set.  But most people asking "BDL" for a recommendation want better than the usual suspects.  That's why they're asking.



post #18 of 24

"YMMV" = "Your Milage May Vary"  I threw that in as a humorous point.



Again, I'll say that I was making the recommendation to a "Cook At Home", who has "just started cooking", and not to you, BDL. Didn't you somewhere kinda recently state that your go-to knife lately has a 30-cm blade? I think that most of the people in the OP's position would cut their fingers off or numerously stab themselves with that size knife. I kinda think an 8-inch chef's knife is a good size for this recommendation. But then again, however, I'm just a plain old ordinary common cook (I would have said chef, but that word is only for the big-boss people of big pro kitchens, not peons like me), not a knife geek (said completely in jest, not as any wisecrack).  LOL. 

post #19 of 24



I totally got all of that, and the point of my post was agreeing with the "variance of mileage" qua idiosyncracy of taste. Clearly, I was unclear.


Not only do I not expect people to use the same techniques or knives as I do, I'd be disappointed and shocked if lots did.  My own knife kit is... uhm... unusual.  Furthermore, while I have pretty good knife skills in an old fashioned sort of way, there are lots of people who have much better.  Ditto sharpening skills.  I try to teach a common sense approach to the whole subject -- including purchasing.  The thrust is to help people find ways and things which will make the knife part of their own cooking more comfortable and efficient for the pros; while adding more fun into the mix for home cooks; along with some understanding of how everything works and relates to everything else.  Validation by imitation is not a goal.


Getting back to the subject, I think the Forschner set would be great for almost -- but not quite -- everyone.  


Once we start talking about tweaking skills a little, and add some decent sharpening -- a better set would lose the serrated utility, and exchange the 8" chef for a 10". 


Exchanging the "boning" knife for a long (couteau office) parer wouldn't hurt anything either.  I don't know how what's really a very technical, butcher's knife became a staple in sets, but most people have only the dimmest idea of what a boning knife should do, are clueless as to how to go about it, and could do ALL of their meat work better with something a little wider and more simply shaped.  Worse, they (the knives not the people) are a huge PITA to sharpen.  Okay.  The people are a PITA to sharpen too.



post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 
Guys I am really happy about all the opinions I am looking around for the best prices. ThAnk you so much!
post #21 of 24

Cutlery and More, Ice Man's recommendation, is an excellent source of Forschner.  So is Two Cows.



post #22 of 24
Thread Starter 
I went to a fiends house and used the vitronox knifes with a plastic handle. I cuts very nice... I will say the Mac edge is much sharper and when I cut carrots/shallots/tomatoes it is effortless. I know it costs about 2 times as much but I think it is worth it. I am going to buy a steel and a combination stone and buy ithe Mac in about a month. I think I should have enough sharpening experience by then... After all my knifes are quite dill right now. As I am only buying a good chiefs knife it will be all good. I might pick up a couple vitronox for other knifes, such as the paring and boning knifes. BDL what is the website for 2 cows
I can't find it.

Thanks again. I will endeavor to learn more haha.
post #23 of 24

Go find a good butcher or a good larger restaurant by your house. Ask them if they use a knife service. Find out when the guy goes to that location, meet him with your 2 or 3 most used knives and ask him to do them. You'll get them back in a week or less @ probably around $3 each. 


OK. NOW BEFORE ANYONE GETS ON MY NERVES ABOUT THIS ..... I made the suggestion because it will give the guy sharp knives quickly so that he doesn't have to wait that long, and he can have a couple of sharp knives while he's practicing and learning to do it himself. 

post #24 of 24

My bad.  Mad Cow, not Two Cows.  http://www.madcowcutlery.com/  Two Cows was something else.


The MAC Pro is an excellent chefs knife, one I recommend all the time.  Plus, it's quite sharp OOTB, which will give you some time to practice with your beaters.  Not particularly inexpensive, but worth it.  If you're looking for a less expensive Japanese knife there are several good choices including Tojiro DP, Fujiwara, Kagayaki, etc., but none of them near as nice as the MAC. 


That you found the MAC is a very good thing.  Not only is it an excellent all-round chefs; it comes with an excellent warranty and fantastic US support.


Buying Forschner specialty knives later, is another great choice. 



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