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New line cook in need of a knife reccomendation! (I know, this topic has been covered before)

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I have been lurking around these forums for a while.  There is a lot of great information here!  A couple months ago I began working at a restaurant as a line cook.  I am looking to spend some money on a decent chefs knife (around 150 dollars).  I have a couple in mind from reading other threads on this forum, but I do have one concern.  My chefs knife will be taking a beating, so to speak.....I will not have a chance to wipe it down after every use, and will probably end up just giving it one good cleaning at the end of a shift (13-14 hours).  So, would it be silly to spend my money on a somewhat decent Japanese knife if I will not be able to care for it properly over the course of a shift?  Would I be better of buying a cheaper knife that I can re-sharpen frequently?  Any and all help regarding this topic will be appreciated!   Thank you for taking the time to read this!

 

-Ian

post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 

Just realized I posted this in the wrong section of the forum....my apologies

post #3 of 9

I'm a prep cook for the following day's lunch and on the line helping for dinner at a Corporate Cafe that feeds up 3K a day so I do a lot of knife work most of the day.

 

I would suggest buying cheap and pay someone to sharpen and learn how to maintain and care for your knives or learn to sharpen yourself.

 

The book The Razor Edge Book of Sharpening by John Juranitch is a classic. I read it about  18 years ago when I got started sharpening.

 

In a knife choice I don't look at brands, I look for the characteristics that make a decent knife such as forged (vs stamped) steel and full tang, etc., study how to sharpen, and buy the cheapest that makes the most sense.

I either sharpen or touch up my Chef's knife once a week and steel a few times a day. I also sharpen for friends, family and co-workers. I started with stones and now use a belt sander (much faster) which is a $40 1 inch belt sander from Harbor Freight.

 

Youtube has some decent tutoritals on knife sharpening.

 

Update International makes a decent forged, full tang knife at about $12-$15 


http://restaurant-supplies.katom.com/nav/ncat/chef-knives/manufacturer/update/0

 

If the Update knives are sharpened properly they will perform as well as knives costing much more.


 

post #4 of 9

Dexter-Russell #31601.  $15.  Beat on this thing for 2 years (there's actually one at my restaurant that is going on 10 years), toss it in the garbage (or pass it on), and buy a new one.  Wasting money on knives is wasting money.  These cheapies will keep you more than satisfied, especially if you're cutting all day long (big fat plastic grips save a lot of fatigue campared to the skinny polished grips on more expensive knives).

Buy the cheap knife, work the hell out of it, and take the money you saved and take your girlfriend out to a movie and sushi (and leave a decent tip).

post #5 of 9
Maat,

Sorry, but must disagree.

In most cases, if you need a big-fat plastic grip as opposed to the standard style, you're squeezing the handle hard because the knife is dull. Don't feel singled out, it's incredibly common. Far more common than not. Most people, even most professional cooks, can never bring an edge which has begun to wear anywhere close to adequately sharp, let alone anywhere near where it was when it was fresh, out of the box, let alone "extremely sharp" -- which really should be the standard.

If a cheap knife lasts for years and years, it's not getting sharpened. If any knife lasts for years and years in a professional kitchen, it's either not getting sharpened or the cook doesn't mind working with a toothpick.

How do I know? What makes me think I'm so smart? Well beyond been there, done that, got the t-shirt, there are the fundamental laws of the universe. One of which is: Sharpening eats knives. Always. Bad sharpening eats them faster. Good or bad, sic transit gloria mundi, nothing lasts forever, pay the man.

Steeling is not sharpening. It's truing. Done well, with the right rod, it's effective maintenance, and will keep your knives working efficiently and away from the stones much longer than otherwise. But it's not sharpening.

Okay. Slight overstatement, there. But it was for your own good. Yes, using a "sharpening steel" such as a "diamond steel" IS sharpening, but it's bad sharpening of the most aggressive. knife-eating, ruin it in other ways sort.

J. U. S. T. D. O. N. O. T. D. O. I. T. Promise me.

The good thing about a good knife is how sharp it gets with appropriate sharpening and how much longer it can stay sharp than a crap knife; e.g., a couple of shifts vs a couple of minutes. A properly sharpened, high-quality knife makes prep sooooooooo much less unpleasant. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but if you think a shift with a $10 knife is the same thing as a shift with a sharp, $150 knife, I have a LOT of questions.

A truly sharp knife lets you do all sorts of things in terms of textures, sizes, while preserving colors, aromatic oils, and flavors, a dull knife won't.

How many times have you seen fish cut with a blister pack, white handle knife in a good sushi-ya?

Surely (Shirley?) skill makes the craftsman and not the tool. But Is there a greater false economy than cheap tools?

BDL
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

In most cases, if you need a big-fat plastic grip as opposed to the standard style, you're squeezing the handle hard because the knife is dull.
 
To an extent for sure, but I hardly hold my knives.  Let the blade do the work.  Again, this requires keeping them sharp.  I put them over the stones about once every 2 weeks, steel a couple times a day.

A truly sharp knife lets you do all sorts of things in terms of textures, sizes, while preserving colors, aromatic oils, and flavors, a dull knife won't.
 
I think value is being overstated here.

How many times have you seen fish cut with a blister pack, white handle knife in a good sushi-ya?

Ever been in an industrial slaughterhouse or a factory fishing boat?  They get more use out of our knives than we do, any they use big-fat plastic-gripped knives :)


 

post #7 of 9

 

Quote:

Ever been in an industrial slaughter house or a factory fishing boat?  They get more use out of [their] knives than we do [from ours] and they use big-fat plastic-grip knives.

 

I've been in both.  That said, the question is somewhat disingenuous because a great many cutters in those sorts of commercial operations "put their knives through the window" to have them professionally sharpened (mostly by machine now) on at least a daily basis.

Sharp knives or dull, the crap work so typical of poorly trained facotry workers, along with the similarly abysmal cutting at most super meat and fish counters is why I do so much of my own breaking, steaking, trimming, and fish fabrication.  I like my meats one thickness, my fish surfaces glassy, my cuts straight, and so on.  Sue me.

 

You think a cheap chef's knife sharpened every two weeks on the line in a professional kitchen is an acceptable edge.  I don't.  Whether it's a matter of different standards or something else we'll probably never know.  In any case, let's just agree to disagree. 

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 8/22/11 at 8:39am
post #8 of 9

my best advice is to go to a knife store and hold as many different chefs knives as you can, and even cut with them if they let you, the most important thing is to find a knife that is comfortable in your hand.. as for the debate over cheap disposable vs. expensive, I'm a true believer in the old adage "you get what you pay for".  one thing I wanted to touch on is that you said you won't have time to clean your knife much on shift, that is bs, you should have a wet rag or sani bucket near you at all times to wipe down the blade if you aren't doing this not only are you allowing crap to build up on your blade that could cause problems to your knife you are also cross contaminating the food you are preparing, my suggestion, buy a good knife that fits your hand well and take care of it, it won't last a life time but it will last many years.

post #9 of 9

OSU -- if you want to talk to the OP, he's moved his questions to the "Knives" sub-thread.

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