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Sabatier chef de chef help

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Hello folks,


In the process of replacing some old (70's) Henckels stainless with some new toys. 


Brief background; home cook, decent knife and sharpening skills (1k and 6k japanese water stones...also cheap 14" Chinese made steel).    I cook most every day and do so with great pleasure.  I had always envied Jaques Pepin's and Julia Child's knives--just the shape as I wasn't too sure what they use of these knives was all about--they look a little intimidating.  I did some research and wound up buying a TI 10" Nogent style chef's knife as well as the 6" slicer (also nogent TI).  In addition I also purchased a small petty for s#$%s and grins--a little longer than the paring knives and tend to go for the longer knife when available--within reason.  The 6" nogent reminds me of a hot Euro sportscar, light, quick and accurate.  The 10" has incredible feel, well balanced and quick off the board.  In addition, I will likely purchase a MAC bread knife and nogent 10" slicer.


I'm looking for something a little less delicate for fabricating chicken, hard root veggies, and chunks of red meat, etc...  I had considered a Deba, but figured the learning curve on sharpening and use may not be worth the time--that being said, I could still be talked into this.


Question becomes, if I go with the chef de chef, what would be the correct length?  I know that this knife is much heavier than my current knives and am thinking that a little smaller may be better?  I have plenty of board space, and large hands so that isn't an issue, only the handling of the knife.  They (TI) make an 7-3/4", 8-3/4" and 10" in the Canadian series.  Are there manufacturer options for a chef de chef?  K-Sab didn't seem to have any of these, but I only checked the outlet in the US for this?  Again, I could still be talked into a Jap knife if the right thing to do, but really like cooking with the Sab's.




Edited by chinacats - 3/25/12 at 7:47am
post #2 of 3

I use a regular 12" K-Sab au carbone as a sort of chef de chef.  It's big, heavy, and sufficiently robust to handle just about anything.  I also use a Forschner 10" Cimeter; and have an old Chicago Cutlery carbon cleaver (from the late sixties) as well.  There's very little which can't be presuaded into abject cooperation with any of those those three.  At present I'm using the Cimeter more than the Sab, more because it's still new than anything else.  The Sab is just as useful and just as fun.


The "Massif" chef de chef is a very stout and very useful knife; and even though expensive, still a reasonably good deal.  Personally I wouldn't go less than 10" because I prefer a blade long enough to rock through the entire width of a rack of spares, or the length of a chicken -- so as to avoid all the back and forth which makes for ragged cuts.   


If you're a good sharpener, you might want to try one of the larger Old Hickory "Butcher's."  The (carbon) alloy they use, 1095, is pretty much indestructible.  IIRC they cost around $15 for a 10" blade and around $25 for a 14" (you could use it to invade a small country some time when you're not cooking).  The older ones were very hit or miss as to whether or not any given knife could actually be sharpened, but I understand the new ones are both relatively easy and consistent.  Still, since the OOTB edge is lousy, you'll want to be good enough to at least be able to lay in an edge from scratch.  Cheap and fun; everyone should have one once.


The lousy edge out of the box is also fairly true of the "antique" TIs.  Your Nogents have already taught you not to expect too much. 


Also, don't carry the whole "chef de chef" thing too far.  Maybe I should apologize for using the term so often in my writing, but it can be a bit misleading.  Nothing I've ever tried is good enough at the vast majority of prep to be worth its extra weight or length.  These aren't so much go-to gyutos as heavy-duty backups. 


You already have some really nice knives and it sounds likes you're enjoying them; it doesn't come as a surprise that your ideas make a lot of sense. 


Hope this helps,


post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

Thank you Boar_D_Laze (love the moniker), this is very helpful.
I don't have a ton of money but think I may try the large Old Hickory as well as a cimeter at some point.  As to money, I did feel 200 to be expensive for a knife but after looking at some of the Japanese knives it almost seems trivial.

I really like the idea even more for the 12" K-Sab, I've been wanting to try one of their knives, but had decided on the TI because of the 'older' steel.  I bought the TI's in person and hadn't measured my boards before I went--I almost bought the 12" but wasn't positive it wouldn't be too large to be useful--it would have been fine.  As to the edges on the nogents, I believe you are understating the fact:>)  The chef's was almost dull, on the other hand the slicer actually wasn't that bad.  Sharpening skills are definitely getting better.

I would guess (hope) that the fit and finish is much better on the K-Sab's?    

Again, your answer has been extremely helpful considering the limited information you had to go on...I believe I will try the 12" K-Sab and let you know the results.  I feel like this is a knife I could (would) reach for way before the chef de chef.  That being said, I still have some curiosity in seeing what that knife is all about.


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