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New line cook needs knife help ! (I know this topic has been covered before...)

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hey all,


Initially I posted this question in the wrong forum.  I feel like this section of the site is more appropriate.


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!



post #2 of 7

OK. Where do you work in 13-14 hour shifts? Do you know how to sharpen? Here's what I'd recommend, right out of the gate: 



NSF Commercial Chef's Knives   $9.95

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.


"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

post #3 of 7

The wipe-down thing you're talking about is only an issue with steels which stain easily.  You won't have any problem finding a good, stainless Japanese knife in your price range.


The big advantages you get with a good Japanese, European style chefs knife are:  (1) Their edge taking and holding properties -- both singly and in combination -- are so much better than just about anything else.  (2) They're light and, in combination with their sharpness, tend to be less fatiguing.  (3)  They're thin and can take a more acute angle, are generally easier to profile (set the angle), and don't wedge.  And (4)  Can be profitably steeled, just like a good European knife.


My feeling is that these differences are apparent against just about mainstream knives at a similar price made just about anywhere else.  But compared to an essentially disposable $10 knife, the differences are so vast in edge holding alone, that it's barely worth making a comparison.  It's my feeling that the law of diminishing returns doesn't begin to kick in until considerably north of the type of knife Ice recommended.  You could, I suppose, make a colorable argument that something like a Forschner Fibrox -- at around $35 -- might be the best knife for the environment. 


You should at least be able to get through a shift with a Japanese knife without feeling the need to hit the stones.  I don't think I could do that with many stainless knives made elsewhere. 


Of course that, as well as the question of whether or not a Forschner or other Euro is going to make the short list of your consideration, depends on what your standards for sharpness are, and your ability to sharpen. 


Staying off the stones is one thing; you'll still need to steel on an appropriate steel.  And if you're going Japanese, you'll need at least a couple of decent water stones, or a combi-stone.   That means budgeting.


At the end of the day I'll probably end up recommending a MAC Pro (because I usually do) and a couple of other knives.  It depends on your taste in knives, what sharpening equipment you have and know how to use, and your ability to stretch your budget. 


Do you know if you prefer a French or a German profile?





post #4 of 7

That MIU knife is not a bad option if your kitchen is one where people just run the house knives through the grinder thingie on the back of a can opener.  It is thin behind the edge so doesn't cut too badly off of the machine, and so cheap that you don't mind letting the machine chew a new one up every couple of months.


But it's not really a serious knife in the sense that people who understand and love knives would respect.


For a serious entry level knife that is not too expensive and not too demanding to care for, try the Fujiwara stainless series or the Tojiro DP or Pro series.  Those are serious workhorse knives and a great way to experience many of the good things about Japanese knives without taking out a second mortgage.  The Fujiwara in particular has a reputation for toughness, and may be just the thing for those 14 hour shifts.

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for the help!  So it sounds like I will be looking for a Japanese knife made out of stainless steel. 




I'm not sure which type of knife profile I prefer....I tend to have larger hands.  What might you recommend ?

post #6 of 7

Hand size has nothing to do with it.  A "French" profile will reward better skills and better edges with less belly and greater agility, a "German" profile brings in some power and won't penalize low skills and dull edges as much.


German knives dominate the US home and pro markets.  I learned on and much prefer French profiles.  Most Japanese knives favor French over German to some degree or another. 


Japanese made European style knives are built much lighter than German style knives made anywhere other than in Japan, and lighter than French made French style knives. 


"Balance" should not be much of an issue.  People who don't know much about knives, and/or aren't good practitioners talk a lot about it... but most medium length chefs knives are going to balance very close to the pinch point anyway. 


A "hefty" knife feels better in the store, a light knife feels better on the line. 


The better your grip, the less important the handle; but handles are important.  Big hands don't necessarily mean a big handle, but we certainly don't want anything which is uncomfortably short.


IceMan's underlying point was that if you can't use and maintain a knife a $9.95 model is as good as one which costs $995.  He's right.  Do me a favor and read the Guillotine and Glide, and Getting a Grip posts on my blog.  Not so much to change your technique over to mine, but to give us a starting point about talking about skill levels.  Unless you tell me otherwise, I'm going to assume you know zip about sharpening.  Speaking of sharpening...  Sharpening is everything.   A dull knife is a dull knife, no matter what it was like when it was sharp.


Also, before we start spending your money what's your budget for everything you're going to need up-front (or nearly so).  That's knife, steel, sharpening kit, and board.  Most people who come in with your questions don't have anything, and I'm guessing your situation isn't too different.


So?  Talk about yourself already.




post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hey all,


Thank you so much for the information.  I believe that I would prefer a knife with a french profile (my knife skills are pretty decent). 




You are correct, I do not know anything about sharpening and do not own any sharpening equipment.  That being said, I do have a desire to learn how to do it correctly.  I will take the time to learn how to sharpen when buying this new knife.  The top of my budget, for everything, would be around 250 dollars.

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