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Robert Irvine knives??

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

 So Christmas is coming up and I'm looking to stock my knife kit this year. I was originally looking into Globals until I remembered how slippery they can get, and then I came upon a line of Robert Irvine series from Chroma and designed by Sebastian Conran. Looking for any info on whether or not these are just an overpriced celebrity series knife or if its worth the cash as a professional knife

post #2 of 18
Never met the knife in the flesh, but all the signs point to just an overpriced celebrity series knife.

BDL
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post #3 of 18

+1.  As a rule Chroma knives are designed to look dazzling on your Mag-Blok, not feel good in the hand.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #4 of 18

1/3 of the price is for the use of the name not the quality of the knife. Shop around !!

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 

 I'm open to any suggestions for a quality mid priced knife, 6-9 inch chef knife under $200. Preferably with a wooden handle and a good hardness.

post #6 of 18

Let BDL answer this, he knows knives . As far as me I use any kind as long as its sharp.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #7 of 18
At the end of the day, knife quality depends on sharpness. For the knife iftself, it's the ability to take and hold an edge. For the user's part it's sharpening skills. There's no getting around this. All knives get dull eventually, and any dull knife -- no matter how good it is when sharp -- is a dull knife.

So let's start with how well you sharpen. If you're already a good sharpener, there's one knife in particular which may belong near the top of a short list; but if not, definitely not.

$200 is a lot of money for a knife. There are a lot of excellent choices near but still below your price limit for a short chef's knife.

If you're not a good sharpener you have to figure out how much time and money you're willing to devote into learning to sharpen and your sharpening kit. There are choices; and for a working pro, sharpening is the right place to start

Tell me something about your knife skills; type of grip. Any things you particularly do or don't want, whatever you can think of; whether you're intending this for professional use, and if so, whether you can keep it away from the other cooks.

Do you want a "yo" or "wa" handle? Do you care?

Is it fair to assume you want stainless or semi-stainless, and no "carbon?"

If you choose a knife that has some limitations regarding heavy-duty work like splitting chickens, portioning ribs, peeling pineapples, etc., will you have another knife already on hand which can handle those sorts of tasks? An old Henckels, for instance?

When you say "decent hardness," I'm not so much curious as what range to recommend, but what you think "decent hardness" means, and what it will mean for your knife. Don't worry,it's not a test you get graded on. It's just one of several ways of me figuring out the actual state of your knife knowledge, and how much more (if any) you need to know to make a really good choice for yourself.

Why 6" - 9"? Why not 10"? Japanese knives come in roughly 30mm multiples. The most common pro lengths for Japanese knives are 240mm and 270mm (9-1/2", and 10-5/8" respectively), and 10" for European and US made knives. What about one of those lengths?

BDL
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post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 

 I'll be honest, I've been in the industry for awhile and really never got into the specs of knives. Pretty much used whatever was around to get the job done, post cooking school when I had a nice Mundial kit that got stolen. But in answer to your questions, I'm used to a yo handle(although I'm sure I could learn a wa and be more delicate) cause I need it to be versatile. I plan on this being a knife for home or if I needed to look for a new job, to take to the interview. As far as the length of the knife is considered, I wouldn't be opposed to a 10" inch knife by any stretch. My grip is a typical right handed, index finger over the spine. Stainless steel is a preferred material with a wooden handle. Hardness is negotiable I guess, I don't plan on chopping open any cans with it and if I needed to do some work going through bone then I'd use my trusty $5 Greban I got off the guys that sharpen our knives. I hope this helps narrow the field, thanks

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 

 But if I could find a quality knife that can handle going through bone, that'd be nice too. My sharpening skills are not that of Hattori but I can put on edge on a blade with a stone or steel

post #10 of 18
Any of the carbon Sabatiers except maybe the Nogents and almost any of the high-end German made knives can split the occasional chicken without ill effect or needing more than a quick steeling afterwards. Anything with a thin blade made from a fairly strong alloy, and hardened to more than 58 is going to be problematic. In other words, not with a Japanese knife you don't.

Splitting a chicken or portioning spare ribs with almost any of the better Japanese cook's knives would constitute knife abuse. The alloys are strong and hard -- which makes them tend towards brittleness. You want to keep them away from bones.

Over the years, I've had quite a few of all three types, done a lot of fooling around with other people's knives, and advised quite a few more on knife purchases. I think most people with decent knife and sharpening skills would be happier with a stainless Japanese made knife as their go-to gyuto combined with something stouter for the heavy duty work, rather than one do it all.

Your responses did help narrow the field quite a bit. Thanks. We can tune up your skills to take advantage of the many benefits a new knife will bring. That the knife will live at home or in your roll gives us a little freedom on the quality/price ladder. You don't know that much about knife construction or alloys beyond "conventional wisdom," but (a) you don't really need to know that much to make an educated choice; and (b) any misconceptions which get in the way, we'll clear up.

But let's start with sharpening. It may not be the be-all-end-all of knives, but it's freakishly close. It doesn't matter how good a dull knife was when it was sharp, any dull knife is a dull knife. If you've used oil stones in the past, they probably won't work well for you new knife. Similarly, most commercial sharpening services aren't trained or equipped to get the best out of a high-end Japanese made knife.

How are you planning to keep your new knife sharp?

BDL
Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/3/11 at 3:44pm
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post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 

 I was planning on keeping it keen with either my diamond steel or my wet stone. Whichever, as I'm finding out, will be more beneficial to the longevity of the blade

post #12 of 18

Diamond steels eat knives.  You want to keep good knives away from any very coarse steel which claims to sharpen.  They're way too aggressive, and leave a very coarse edge with, inevitably, a lot of high and low spots.  The more often you use it, the more it hurts you knife.  If you want to know more about steels and steeling, read Steeling Away; it covers the basics

 

I'm not screwing with you dude, there's really a lot of stuff.  None of it's difficult or complicated, but there is a lot, and people have filled your noggin with all kinds of bad information.  You don't want to spend $150ish on a knife and have it get dull to the point where it's another dull knife, nor do you want to beat it up to the point where it's a coarse, uneven edge.  A good edge makes prep a lot less annoying and allows you to do things you might not otherwise do -- like enjoy yourself. 

 

The very good news is that you recognize regular sharpening and steeling as a fact of life, and aren't intimidated by it.   

 

If you do read Steeling Away and like my writing, you might also want to read Getting a Grip on a Good Pinch, and Guillotine and Glide

 

If you're a good technician -- and  can afford the freight -- you'll probably like the Masamoto VG and Kikuichi TKC a lot.  I want to talk about the MAC Pro and the Kagayaki CarboNext as well, especially if the Masamoto and TKC are too expensive, or you want a very stiff blade.  If your budget won't let you go above $100, we should talk about the Fujiwara FKM and the Tojiro DP.  Both are excellent knives but not in the same league as their more expensive brethren.  All six knives have western "yo" handles.  And all six are conservative, hard-working knives without ergonomic handles or adornment of any type.

 

Wa handled knives are another possibility.  In my experience as well as nearly everyone else who's tried "wa" the switch to wa isn't a problem as long as you have a soft grip.  If you like to squeeze the knife, you probably won't find a true wa handle comfortable as they run narrow.

 

FWIW, I have two "go-to gyutos," a 10" K-Sabatier au carbone, and a 270mm Konosuke HD.  I like each of them a lot, but doubt either is a good choice for you. 

 

What kind of "whet stone" are you using now?  At the end of the day, you're probably going to want to start with a couple of good quality water stones like the Beston 1200 and Suehiro Rika 5000; but there are other alternatives.      

 

We need to nail down your budget before going much further.  But do so with the understanding that all the knives we're going to talk about will get very sharp with appropriate sharpening, and  the distinctions aren't exactly marginal but aren't nearly as important as "very sharp" either. 

 

Hope this isn't too much of a pain,

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/3/11 at 9:38pm
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post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

My budget is hoping to stay under $200, for the chef knife. As far as a good whet stone is concerned, that is an item I can pick up later down inside a month or two. I was planning on piecing a nice set together over the next bunch of months, I'm not in a rush. I like the look on the Kagayaki too

post #14 of 18

If you don't have some way of immediate sharpening, don't get the CarboNext.  It comes dull.  And when I say dull, I don't mean "a little less sharp than some new knives," I mean very frikkin' dull

 

Phaedrus might be able to talk a professional sharpener who knows the CarboNext well into putting an appropriate edge on it for around $20.  I understand, for instance, he's friendly with Rob Babcock. 

 

I'm personally not very familiar with the CarboNext but based on my short acquaintance and the internet buzz (lots of buzz), it's main attractions are that it can be made very sharp;  it's similarity to the Ichimonji TKC (which is no more), and Kikuichi TKC; and it's comparatively lower price.  My own feeling is that it's not nearly as well made, handled, or finished as the Kikuichi TKC.  But that's secondary. The main point is that it will probably take you years before you sharpen well enough to appreciate the extra potential of the TKC compared to other, more "normal" knives.  

 

These sorts of discussions very frequently end up with me recommending the MAC Pro.  While the MAC Pro might not have the ultimate edge taking capabilities of the Kagayaki, it's an all around better knife.  In contrast with the CarboNext, the MAC comes very sharp out of the box, has a great handle, has a great warranty, is extremely well supported by MAC USA and almost all its retailers (the Kagayaki has no warranty, and little to less than zero retailer support); and -- as Japanese knives go -- the MAC is very stiff.   Because of its stiffness and good profile (CarboNext has a good profile, too) the MAC feels very normal and comfortable to someone used to western knives.

 

You still haven't given me enough of a sense of yourself as to what would suit you best.  What I do know is you don't think sharpening is much of a priority.  Until you get sharpening sorted out, an entry level like the Fujiwara FKM or Tojiro DP, plus a couple of good stones might be most appropriate. 

 

Any dull knife is a dull knife.  Knives are all about sharpness, and sharpening is the only way to get there.  Spending a lot of money on a knife which will spend six months without a good edge makes no sense to me.

 

BDL 


Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/9/11 at 11:07am
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post #15 of 18

Surprisingly I've found the F'n'F on the CN to actually be superior to the Ichimonji and Kikuichi versions.  That's not at all what I was expecting given the lower price point, but there you have it.

 

But no, the CN isn't a good option if you aren't prepared to sharpen it when you get it.  Of the half dozen or so I've had in hand only one was even remotely sharp OOtB.  Fortunately it's very easy to work with...not Shirogami-easy but certainly a lot more fun to sharpen than, say, VG-10.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 

 @BDL-Its not that sharpening isn't important to me, I just think I'm a bit under educated on the matter. Hence why I'm looking for advice and help

post #17 of 18

Jay,

 

It sounds stern-fatherish but is just blunt.  Don't waste your money on a good knife until you've made a commitment to really good sharpening. 

 

When you look at knives you absorb a lot of information about edge holding -- particularly how a given knife will hold a great edge practically forever.  Unfortunately, it's by and large propaganda.  To the extent there are actual differences, they tend to be vastly overblown by manufacturers and retailers; and double-vastly overblown when they're trying to sell you the edge holding benefits of super hard alloys ( > 63RCH).

 

If your normal sharpening schedule is every two months with an "average" knife, it's unlikely to change much with a knife with much better edge holding properties.  What will change are your standards of acceptable sharpness.  A good thing!

 

Even if you an accept similar performance from a twice-as-costly knife, you'll find the difference in sharpening intervals to be not very long -- a home cook should expect a couple of weeks of extra time, not months. 

 

When you start thinking about making a big jump to high-end, high quality, high-cost knives, it's important to figure out a good sharpening strategy you can implement at the appropriate time.  With a great many Japanese made knives, that time is right away.  For various reasons, a good factory edge is not necessarily a part of Japanese F&F.  Whether you agree with that or not, it's something to consider when purchasing. 

 

There are a lot of good ways to sharpen.  What's best for you is going to depend on how much time, effort, and money you're willing to put into it.  Bottom line though, you don't want to let the knife get too far ahead of the sharpening -- even if that means taking a little extra time to save more yen.

 

BDL

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post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 

Awesome, thank you for all your expertise and your help BDL with my predicament. I'll be sure to post a pic of the knife and stone I end up buying in the future, I like the idea of sitting at home with my knife and stone for awhile and just making careful and deliberate stroke to maintain it. It feels very zen. And I'm already going through you links that you posted here, thank you for opening my eyes to the knife and sharpening world

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