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Chef's knife (or Gyuto) vs Cleaver

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Curious to know which of the two knives (I suppose some wouldn't call a cleaver a "knife" but for the sake of argument...) which do you prefer to use 95% of the time? At home and/or at work. Love to hear from chefs and ex-chefs. 

post #2 of 10

probably not helping much but I have no real preference just yet...I probably need to play with the cleaver a bit more to say for sure though....see what advantages it has as I've yet to really make use of any (aside from moving food on the blade and crushing copious amounts of garlic.) I noticed a few of your previous threads mentioning the cleavers...have you actually bought one yet? If not I know of a dirt cheap one you can try.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hi Brass, 

 

No. As I mentioned (in a few of my other threads) I'm temporarily staying in LA right now. Won't be buying till I'm home at the end of the year. So I haven't decided. But I think I'll start with a cleaver in the sub-$100 range. I'm sure I could find a sub-$50 CCK or Dexter. 

 

I asked about preference just out of curiosity. And to try to find out if there was any real reason why an experienced chef (or ex-chef) would choose a "chef's knife" over a "decent" cleaver. Or feel the need to have a chef's knife in addition to a cleaver.

 

I'll leave the $500+ Tadeda cleavers for the fanatics. :) Might order this $30 Dexter-Russell I saw on www.amazon.com though. Just for the Hell of it. Maybe I'll prefer using a cleaver (slicer...not a chopper) over a chef's knife (or Gyuto). 


Edited by BDD8 - 6/11/12 at 12:47am
post #4 of 10

This is like asking if I'd rather have a car or a truck. I don't want to take a F-250 to the theater and I don't want to drive a Beamer to deer camp.

Two very different tools. Cleavers seem far less popular than Gyutos but I can't ever recall not having a cleaver in my kit.

Either way Gyuto 95+% of the time for me.

 

Dave

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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
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post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DuckFat View Post

This is like asking if I'd rather have a car or a truck. I don't want to take a F-250 to the theater and I don't want to drive a Beamer to deer camp.

Two very different tools. Cleavers seem far less popular than Gyutos but I can't ever recall not having a cleaver in my kit.

Either way Gyuto 95+% of the time for me.

 

Dave

Hi Dave,

 

Why for you a Gyuto 95% of the time? Do they not do the same work? Assuming the cleaver is for slicing (thinner profile..as opposed to a cleaver designed for chopping through bone. What is it about the design of a typical gyuto more suited to your style of cooking? Are there tasks a cleaver wouldn't be able to do for you that a gyuto can?

 

In some kitchens the cleaver is the main knife used (e.g. Chinese restaurants/homes). Utility knife...Indian homes.

post #6 of 10

It took awhile to develop sufficient knife skills with a chef's knife so that I could do what I wanted to do as quickly and efficiently as I desired. 

 

I tried a Chinese knife for a few weeks, didn't reach that degree of proficiency, speed, and/or comfort, and have no real interest in using one again.   My feeling was that the wider blade of the Chinese knife was heavy and clumsy, didn't do western style portioning very well, and didn't help me do anything else better either.  To some extent my negative reaction was a product of not spending enough time with it; but on the other hand, why bother?

 

Neither style is inherently better than the other.  I doubt you'll find which kind of knife suits you better by analyzing them without giving each a fair trial. 

 

BDL 

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post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

It took awhile to develop sufficient knife skills with a chef's knife so that I could do what I wanted to do as quickly and efficiently as I desired. 

 

I tried a Chinese knife for a few weeks, didn't reach that degree of proficiency, speed, and/or comfort, and have no real interest in using one again.   My feeling was that the wider blade of the Chinese knife was heavy and clumsy, didn't do western style portioning very well, and didn't help me do anything else better either.  To some extent my negative reaction was a product of not spending enough time with it; but on the other hand, why bother?

 

Neither style is inherently better than the other.  I doubt you'll find which kind of knife suits you better by analyzing them without giving each a fair trial. 

 

BDL 

I agree totally. I'll find out only by spending time using a cleaver (of which there are many varieties as you know...size, eight, some designed for chopping and others slicing). I've done all my cooking to date with a western style chef's knife. 

 

I posted this question because I was curious to know what experienced chef's and ex-chef's preferred at home or at work. And why. 

post #8 of 10

If you are referring to the lighter Chinese Cleaver type vs. a bone splitter, I have both.. and prefer a Chef's knife. I feel it's easier to use but that may be because that's also what I have learned on ... These days I use an 8 in at home and a 10 a work. The 8 in. is small and nimble enough to use it instead of a paring or utility(Petty) and big enough for most of my larger prepping jobs.

post #9 of 10
I have very cheap knives that I love. My main 2 daily use knives are a very old "Kee Lee" brand chinese cleaver and a Thai Kiwi chef knife. I use both equally. All the other cooks have very expensive kit and I consider mine superior. The cleaver is super ugly and razor sharp. I tend to use it for heavier tasks and the kiwi for lighter duties like tomatoes and herbs and such. If I had to choose I would take the cleaver as with practice it is an awkardly agile knife and its more versatile for heavier tasks. I like ugly mean looking knives. I have used these asian flat blades long enough that I never naturally roll chop anymore, only push pull cuts. The weight of the cleaver I like it does the work. Its useless for mincing herbs though with the flat blade is the only thing I cant get it to do well...
post #10 of 10

Hi...

 

I was trained on traditional French cooking and in Mexico we use "Chef knives" all the time, but when I started working in a fine dining Chinese restaurant I was forced to work by the executive chef with a cleaver (thin blade, not the ones used for splitting chicken or cutting ribs) and let me tell you that it was love at first use, it was tricky at first but in a matter of days I felt that the knife was an extension of my arm and of my toughts. The chef that I was working with was the official culinary ambassador of China for a couple of years,so,  the guy was top notch and had a finesse on his knife skills that are beyond belief, he was impressive at slicing, micro juliennes and all kind of fine cuts with a cleaver, and he was always pounding on my for learning the "perfect" technique with the cleaver, I became very proficient with it and I used one for almost a decade, cheap ones from the market in China, ugly metal that took a wicked edge easily, not fancy and expensive ones.

 

Basically is a knife that may suit or may not suit you, give it a try. The Dexter that you mention is kind of beautiful  but nor the best on the edge retention, but since you're not breaking the bank with it, you can try it. You can master the cleaver if you pay the effort on doing so, but at the end of the road, it just does a few tricks than a gyuto doesn't… And vice versa.

 

I went back to gyutos, but maybe in a near future I'll get a cleaver-fanatic piece just for the pleasure of having it, the cleaver  has some "je ne sais quoi" that just feels cool. It changes the game a bit before you get used to it, but once you got the feel of it, you're going to love it…Or hate it. 

 

My advice?... Give it a try, not too much to loose, just do it for the sake of having a new skill, it may change your cooking forever…Or it may not, but at the end of the day you'll get more experienced.

 

Best regards.

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