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I want to purchase a chef knife...but I'm clueless!!!!

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

So I'm currently a Line Cook and a culinary student who uses knives both in school, home and even on the line in plenty of cases. The knives I usually use to get the job done don't belong to me and they are relatively cheap, abused, and extremely dull.

 

So I'm looking to purchase a knife preferably under $200 dollars, there is only one problem...I have no clue on what to purchase due to the fact that I am clueless on knives.

 

Not saying that I don't know how to use one, just that I don't know how to purchase one. But what I'm looking for is very simple.

 

- Under $200 but can be efficient, durable, and be able to get what I need done.

- Heavy, I don't butcher on the line but when I'm at home or prepping I do cut up whole chickens and I prefer a heavy knife.

- It will last me for a while...I'm still looking at paying over $100 or $150 but I want it to be a good investment.

- I can sharpen it.

 

Now from my personal experience and uses of a knife, my chef instructors at school have a couple of J.A. Henckels knives that they have let me used on some occasions and a couple of students have let me used them as well. I do like the Knives and if I'm unable to pick and choose I'll probably purchase one of them since I like the weight of the knife and how they handle. But those are the only knives I've personally used and I've been reading the threads on this forum up and down to figure out if there are better alternatives, but a lot of them tend to go to the Japanese light-weight knives I'm not really looking towards. (But don't get me wrong I might get one later on because I choose my knives depending on the job I want to get done and being a home cook and line cook I'll most likely want a lightweight knife down the road.)

 

A few things I'd like to add: I'd like to hear everyone's opinions! Like I said I'm clueless! Any sort of tips, advice, fact-based knowledge or just general discussion I'd like to hear it :)

post #2 of 9

Check out the Tojiro DP series, have always worked well as an on-the-line knife for me.  Believe there are some reviews on this site.  Not the fanciest, but they give you great value steel that will take and hold a nice edge combined with a western style handle which will probably feel the most comfortable to you if you haven't ventured into japanese knifes yet.  They have a nice heft and feel to them but are light enough for long sessions.  I don't have any Henckels but I do have some Wusthofs (which I actually prefer to henckels) and I'd definitely recommend the Tojiro over them for multi-purpose use.
 

post #3 of 9
If you're going to split chickens with your line knife, you'd probably be happiest with a Wusthof, Zwillings (aka Henckels) or a Messermeister.

In exchange for the durability you get with a German style knife you end up with a lot of extra weight (which is fatiguing) and lose a lot of agility as compared to the modern style which is so well exemplified by any number of Japanese makers -- and a couple of Americans as well.

If you have the discipline to take care of carbon, you may want to consider one of the Sabatier carbons which have an extremely efficient profile, are somewhat easier to sharpen, get a great deal sharper, and have all the durability. But they aren't stainless.

If you're going to go German, I suggest either Wusthof Ikon or Messermeister Meridian Elite for their profiles and slightly cut-down finger-guards (which make them easier to sharpen and a bit lighter).

The most important thing to remember when you enter the world of high quality knives is that sharpening is key. No knife will keep its factory edge for long, and frankly factory edges aren't nearly as good as what you can learn to achieve on stones or with a good tool and jig (like an EP). A steel is not a substitute for real sharpening, and many so called "sharpening steels," especially diamond steels will not only leave you with a very coarse edge but quickly destroy your knife to boot.

One of the nice things about European knife alloys is that they're very easy to sharpen with a relatively inexpensive set of bench stones. So, if keeping costs down is important to you -- that's one thing in their favor.

On the other hand, good Japanese knives get MUCH sharper and stay sharper a lot longer. In addition, they're far easier to handle. When you think "Japanese," Global and Shun are probably the first two brands which will leap to your mind. Forget them, you can do better for much less money and a LOT better for the same. FWIW, the Tojiro DP is very much entry level. You can get similar performance for less money with a Fujiwara FKM, and for a lot less money with an American, Richmond Artifex. That's not a knock against the Tojiro... each knife offers and gives away somethings a little different.

That said, if I were looking for an entry level Japanese type knife, I'd go with the Artifex. And, FWIW, the knife I recommend most often in that price range for people looking for their first good Japanese and/or first really good stainless knife is the MAC Pro. No splitting chickens, though. You'll need a heavy duty knife for heavy duty work.

Speaking of which... I'm not a fan of any of the stainless German types, but if that's what you want an R. H. Forschner Rosewood or Fibrox is a lot of knife for the money. They don't give up much -- if anything -- other than a bolster and some prestige to Wusthof, Messermeister or Henckels.

Lots to think about, and keep asking questions.

BDL
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post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

I appreciate everyone's reply and although there is a lot more to learn I feel that I'm gaining some knowledge. I've been researching the Japanese Knives, and I do know what you mean about a heavy knife being fatiguing. I wouldn't mind a lighter knife for some simple prep such as cutting a tomato! Where you want the sharpest possible blade so it can keep it's structure! I might look into the German style knives due to the fact that I'd rather feel the effects of fatigue in it's use than try to find a heavy knife that isn't sharp in the first place (which is why I want a knife so bad), but once I can afford it, I'll definitely look into a lighter knife such as the Japanese brands both of you guys mentioned. I thank both of you guys, and although I'm exciting about getting my first knife, you guys are to blame because now I'm excited on getting a second one later down the road!

post #5 of 9

Do not purchase a very expensive one as someone will steal it. For tomatoes try an inexpensive serrated knife.  I agree with BDL Henkels is good fo the money 8 inch or 10 inch try them both first. 

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 #6 of 9

I'm not nearly as experienced with knives generally, Japanese especially, as BDL and many others, but I have owned Henckels, Forschner, and Wusthof and I'd recommend the Wusthof out of these. Their 8" Classic Chef's knife is nicely balanced and just feels great in my hand. It's a nice general purpose workhorse that is a pleasure to use. I also believe it holds an edge better. I gave one to my gf for Christmas and after using it I had to have one for myself. Forschner, which I had been using for several years, is good too but I now only use it for the rougher jobs such as cutting up chickens. Even if you end up with fancier, higher-priced knives down the road, I don't think you'd ever regret starting with the Wusthof. 

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Well I was lucky enough to get a 10" Henckels Four Star knife for $40! One of the chef's at school sold it to me and it holds a great edge I just have to get use to the size of it. I felt bad knowing it's worth more than $40 but then he told me he purchased it with two Henckels steak knives, and 8" Henckels Four Star Chef Knife, a Henckels steel, and vegetable peeler for $25. I guess he profited off the one knife and got his other stuff free. So I guess it's good to be educated on knives incase you're in the right place at the right time!

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by jc2012 View Post

Well I was lucky enough to get a 10" Henckels Four Star knife for $40! One of the chef's at school sold it to me and it holds a great edge I just have to get use to the size of it. I felt bad knowing it's worth more than $40 but then he told me he purchased it with two Henckels steak knives, and 8" Henckels Four Star Chef Knife, a Henckels steel, and vegetable peeler for $25. I guess he profited off the one knife and got his other stuff free. So I guess it's good to be educated on knives incase you're in the right place at the right time!


Now that was a great buy there JC thumb.gif

 

I think you may even have my deal of thirty something for a new Pro S 8" chefs beat lol

 

Best part of that buy is it will allow you plenty for your other non bone cracker chefs knife, and that's where things will get interesting as there are many choices with all kinds of different benefits, needs, and costs etc.

 

Personally I ended up selling my Henckels a while ago (to help offset the cost of the J knives that replaced them) but have been looking for a great deal on a 10": chefs as in hind sight I sometimes have a need for bone cracker as well. Other than that and maybe something to have around for guests to use etc I really have no need or desire for owning another western or German soft steel knife.

 

I hear what you are saying in you first post above, and since I also had similar thoughts in the past I can fully understand the idea of wanting a Henckels etc but after using some J knives that will never happen again. It is actually even a bit difficult to put into words properly but when compared to even sub $100 Fujiwara or Tojiro knives a typical Henckels or Wustoff feels like comparing the handling of a 1958 Chevy to a new Corvette. Sure both get you there, turn and brake etc, but the feel, precision, performance, and ability is so very different.

 

I do not get around to the site as often lately so I am not sure if there have been any good threads discussing the lower cost J knife options, but if not there are plenty of good discussions from the past that make for great reading, and will help to make the various options and differences a little easier to comprehend.

 

Glad you were able to find what you were looking for at a whole lot less than you were expecting, and hope you enjoy it too.

 

"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

Reply

 

"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

Reply
post #9 of 9

Hi. I have some Tupperware knives and arcos knives, different styles and all are new. I can send pictures if interested.

 

Ivan 

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