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How to chose the best Student Knife Set

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello, I am in need of a good Knife set as I'm embarking on my culinary journey this January.  My college sells a set but I'd like something different than everyone else because it will be easier to keep track of what's mine.  So I'm venturing out into the world of cutlery and in need of some good guidance.  What knives did you pick and are you happy with them? I look forward to hearing from you all soon.

 

Sincerely,
Cristiana

post #2 of 7

The most important thing is sharpening.  Learn to sharpen.  Start now. 

 

For a good student kit, you need a 10" chef's; 10" slicer; 10.5" bread/cake; heavy duty knife, 6" boning or 7" breaking knife; possibly a "flexible fillet" for fish; and a 3" paring knife and/or 5-6" petty.  You'll also need a fine rod-hone (aka "steel" -- but not a diamond "sharpening steel"); a sharpening kit (depends on how you decide to sharpen); a "bayonet" or cook's fork; a decent fish spat; a knife roll; and perhaps a few other things you don't need to worry about now. 

 

Don't buy a santoku, don't buy an 8" chef's. 

 

You'll probably do about 80% of your cutting with the chef's and most of the rest with your paring and bread knives.  FYI you can do just about everything with four knives, but you'll fit in better with a nearly complete kit.  Later, when you've got some skills you can start making choices about more or fewer knives.  

 

Victorinox/R. H. Forschner makes two relatively inexpensive lines, Fibrox and Rosewood.  The only difference is the handles.  They represent amazing performance for very little money, and are good choices for everything but the chef's.  For most of the profiles Forschner rates as "very good" and high value.  For a few, they're not only high value but "gold standard as well.  Unfortunately, the Forschner chef's knives are okay, but just okay.

 

If you can afford to spend $80 - $100 for a better chef's instead of $35 for a Forschner, it's worth it.  If you can't afford it, don't worry about it.  

 

I don't want to make specific suggestions until you've decided on how you're going to sharpen.  Depending on what you choose for your chef's, you may also need some sort of heavy duty knife as well -- but don't worry we can keep the price well down. 

 

Please believe me when I say sharpening makes all the difference.

 

Hope this helps,

BDL

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post #3 of 7

Buy only what you can afford. You can scribe your initials on any of them if you like.

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 #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

I'd like to thank you for your very informative answer. I can see there is still much I need to learn, I honestly wasn't giving much thought to sharpening, when obviously I should have.  I do have a budget to purchasing my set (needs to be portable, roll up bag or small briefcase) I'd like to spend between 200-275, I believe at this current skill level that's reasonable and as my skills increase I'll be able to change my set to work better for me.  One concern I have is that I have very petite hands, the size of the Chef's Knife is intimidating LOL.  Thank you again for your strong reply.

post #5 of 7

Many women are concerned that large knives and petite hands don't go together, you're not the only one.   Knives aren't golf clubs.  Stature and hand size have very little to do with the appropriate knife size.  Grip does, but that's a learned skill. 

 

It's easier to control (i.e., "point") smaller knives with a naive grip than larger knives, but with an appropriate grip the longer knives point just as accurate and intuitively and end up more productive and efficient.

 

If you were buying knives for a home kitchen, I'd point you to the "basic" kit of four knives.  But, as I understand culinary schools, they like you to have more knives -- including a few specialty knives. We can certainly work within your budget and manage to get everything or darn near; or we can put the slicer and a few of the specialty items like the fish spat until later. 

 

As I say, the rub comes when you start thinking about sharpening. 

 

Like a lot of other people it's not something you think about.  You probably come from a home where knives are seldom if ever properly sharpened, where using a honing rod is considered sharpening, and where dull knives are the norm.   Unfortunately, that's often the case in professional kitchens and culinary schools as well.  But a very sharp knife makes a huge difference in speed, comfort, and the precision of your work. 

 

Good sharpening isn't cheap.  Adequate sharpening though -- we can manage.  It depends where you put your priorities and how much time and effort you're willing to put in learning.  If you go all Forschner, you can get away with a combi "oil stone" (all stones are whet stones, some are oil stones, some are water stones) for less than $30; or one of the "V" stick or a decent pull-through sharpeners for around $50.  The first is a good start, and one you can add to, but takes some maintenance and has a definite learning curve.  The second group of choices will never be better than barely adequate but are a lot easier to learn.

 

I can inform you, tell you about consequences, and so on; but these aren't choices I can (or want to) make for you. 

 

BDL

 

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post #6 of 7

I would purchase the set that your school provides, especially if you are a self-proclaimed newbie. They would also be selling it at a pretty great discount if I'm not mistaken.

 

In my experience in school and just starting out, while my school kit is not the best (Mercer) it suits my purpose and allows me to learn on them. From sharpening to figuring out what I like/dislike in them, it allowed me to make a more informed decision when I did spend my money, retail, on knives. Plus, if something crazy happened to them, while I wouldn't be happy about it, I wouldn't beat myself up over it either.

 

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

thank you for the suggestions, I made my decision and purchased the set my school offered.  I figure it will give me everything that the instructor would want and I can learn from it what I like and dislike to be informed when I do purchase a set for myself later.  Thank you again for all the suggestions, I am humbled and greatful.

 

Cristiana Bella

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