*sighs and rubs temples* First post off to a rough start when my browser ate the last hour's worth of composition and work. :/ So, here is the condensed version.
Started my first professional cooking gig as a pantry and prep cook. I am working at a resort where I am expecting to move around throughout the other restaurants through the advancement of this career. So, I would like to start with some solid knives that will grow with me for a while instead of getting something that will be tossed into my kitchen at home as soon as I move out of prep.
My budget has a small amount of wiggle room, but I REALLY don't want to spend more than $200. I would be thrilled to get these for $150 or less. What I need, for sure, is a chef/ french, santuku everyday knife and a very solid bread knife. I already have some little utility knives. We do a TON of club sandwiches (over a dozen on a slow shift) and lots of fresh veggies, lettuce, and fruit that needs to be prepped quickly. I am not sure what kind of prep I will be getting into, as I just started, but I am expecting quite the load.
I have been researching knives for WEEKS and just cannot some to a decision. Whenever I ask Mr. Google a question, I always end up back on this forum, so I finally broke down and signed up to open a discussion about it instead of running around in circles :) This forum seems to not only be the most active, it is also seems to have the most unbiased and informed advice!
I grew up with my dad's Wustof Classics, which he swears by. He has had them close to 30 years now. I don't remember being particularly impressed with them growing up, but then again, I also knew very little about cooking and prep, let alone the proper care and respect of good tools. I remember those things were tough and solid, and went through some serious abuse. All of his knives, even the small ones, have a few scars but are still intact and very usable. I don't remember them being particularly sharp, despite the fact I know he used the steel often. He may not have made a very sharp edge because there were kids in the house, I really don't know. I don't remember them feeling particularly fantastic in my hand, nor particularly bad either. They felt like they were solid. But, once again, I was young and stupid, I didn't know what I was doing with them.
When I went knife shopping, I originally was sold a couple Messermeister Park Places. While they felt very good in my hand, the stamped metal would not do. I could save myself a lot of grief with a little extra money. And, I paid too much for them. I tried out the 7" Santuku, which felt like exactly the right size for me, and felt pretty good in my hand. It was light, and I grew up with heavy knives, so my instinct told me I would need a bigger, heavier knife in addition to a Santuku if I chose one. I returned them, and the owner assured me the Messermeisters forged 'Meridian Elite' were the ones I really wanted. She said that she was a lifelong Wustof fan as well, and only sold Wustof in her store, until another lifelong Wustof fan turned her onto Messermeister. She swore up and down about them, and said that Wustofs are great knives, and lifelong fans will never know better until they try a Messermeister too. I returned the stamped knives and thanked her, telling her I would think about it.
So, through all my research, here is where I am. I was almost settled on a great deal on a Messermeister Meridian Elite 7" Santuku ($80), a Wustof Classic 9" Bread Knife ($50), and possibly one of the awesome leftover Cyber Monday deals on a Wustof 8" Grand Prix (knife, hand sharpener, and shears for $80) or a Wustof 8" Classic (also with the knife, hand sharpener, and shears, for $100). However, I started to question whether the Santuku from Messermeister was, in fact, the best choice, and if the other less expensive offerings from Wustof, Victorinox, or even a cheap ass Henckels were really that much different. I also questioned the Chef knife choice as well, since Victorinox and Henckles both have some much less expensive forged options.
Of course, then I stumbled onto you lot, and my well-known name brand world of knives was turned upside-down as I began to see some Fujiwara (a little more than 7" that I felt was the perfect length), Kobayashi and Tojiro, as well as Sabatier and Mac. I am not even sure which bread knife to look at any more!
So, plain and simple, I need help deciphering my options into pieces that fit my needs (and am open to suggestions of other knives too). Price range is as close to $200 as possible. Need, at least, a bread knife and a chef's knife (santuku or classic style), and would like to have enough left over to have both a 7" Santuku AND an 8" chef, but I don't need both as much as I need one solid one. If I go with a Santuku, I want to keep it fairly light, but with a bit of weight to it. It needs to have enough heft and weight to be durable and not ding up easily. If I go with a classic chef, I want it to be a heavier knife, but nothing obscene. I obviously still need to be able to work with it all day, but I want some heft to it compared to a lighter Japanese Santuku. All need to be stainless steel, or, if I am missing some other alloy, just something that won't turn into a giant ball of orange warts if water sits on it for an hour or if it doesn't get washed immediately after touching something corrosive. None of these will go in a dishwasher, I will love them kindly and hand wash them as often as I can with mild soap and a cloth. I will steel them daily or as needed, HOWEVER, I won't have the time to steel a soft blade while in the middle of slicing 20 lbs of onions. It needs to be able to hold an edge pretty well through a large task and throughout the day in general. I would prefer NOT to have to steel the bread knife, above all others, obviously. That is just a lot more maintenance. It needs to hold it's edge very well, weight doesn't matter.
Thanks for reading! :)