first time knife purchase
Your chef is right.
To be more specific: Too many knives, all too heavy, most of them the wrong size, and too much duplication in profile. The words "German steel" without some explanation which allows you to tell exactly which German steel and how it's hardened is another way of saying CRAP. In this case, Saber uses an "exclusive blend of German steels" (blended in China, where the knives are also forged and finished). Sabers don't take a particularly good edge, and don't hold their edge long. In case it wasn't clear before -- THEY'RE CRAP.
Why would you want both 10" and 8" chef's knives in the same set? And a santoku too? For why? Do you really slice so much ham or lox that you need a dedicated ham slicer?
Probably the best way to go about putting together a good set is to figure out what kind of chef's knife will serve you best, devoting the bulk of your budget to it, and adding as few other knives as possible which will appropriately handle your specialty work. For instance, if you do a lot of meat work, you may want a 10" "Cimeter," an 8" breaker, and a 7" flexible wide-fillet; or if it's not something you do that much of, you can do all your meat work with your chef's, slicer and petty. It depends on what you do and what you like.
Also, just like good knife skills, a good knife kit depends on sharpening. If you sharpen on bench stones you have a lot more flexibility in terms of mixing and matching knives which should be sharpened at different edge bevels than if you use some sort of gag which only sharpens at a particular angle.
There's nothing wrong with the victorinox set. They're made out of reasonable steel, and they're pretty inexpensive. But I would really push back against the mindset of "it's your first set, so get this low cost one."
If you think that you will never want to upgrade past the victorinox, then get them. Use them until there's no knife left.
But if you ever have doubts about the victorinox, and want better knives later, then you'll probably want to upgrade to a new set. And maybe some time later, you'll have the same doubts about your second set, and want to upgrade again... and so on, until you get the set that you will always be happy with.
Don't do this. By the time you buy the set that you always wanted, you may have gone through two or three cheaper sets. And the combined cost of the cheaper sets may actually be more than the set that's perfect for you. Meanwhile, the value of the knives you have already bought is decreasing - you can't recoup much, if any, of that investment. You're wasting money, and wasting the resources that went into making every tool that you replace with a better one.
Additionally, your knife skills will partly be wedded to the set that you have been using. You have a relationship with your tools. You know the geometry with your eyes closed. Every time you upgrade to a new set, you lose some part of your skills because you have to adjust to a new set. You'll get them back, but it will take some time to build up your relationship with your new tools to the same level. And until you get the perfect knives, you'll be frustrated with the tools you're using because they are inadequate in comparison. Why would you waste your time using a tool that will only frustrate you? If it's not working, get rid of it.
My point is that this multiple upgrade process is expensive. It takes its toll on your finances, your happiness, and on your skills.
Buy the best set you can afford, and stick with them until one of you dies.
(I should also add that you really don't need an 8 or 10 piece set. There's a lot of stuff in there you don't need. Get a Chef's knife. Get a paring knife. Add whatever else you need - scissors/bread/boning - depending on your needs.)
Edited by simone - 9/28/12 at 10:35am
I agree with Wagstaff.
Ive been through 4 different chef knifes, 2 Henkels, 1 Wusthof and a Miyavi and wasnt happy with any of them after a year of use.
I spent the money and now have a knife that I wouldnt trade for the world.
What is the knife you wouldn't trade for the world? You mentioned the ones you weren't happy with, but didn't mention the one you liked!!!
My knife is from an artisan knife maker in Athens Georgia.
He uses only reclaimed materials and makes them by hand.
Thats a link to their blog/web site.
I hope its ok to post that.
Its a very hard blade and holds its edge for a very long time, the balance is insane, and with the ability to pick so many attributes of the knife, from the shape of the handle to having my initials stamped into the blade, and the ship wreck copper pins and bolster are just icing on the cake.
Also I have small hands for a guy and all of my other french knives are too big for my hand and working comfortable all day.
I have spent hours cutting onions and potatoes (100lbs each) and at the end of the day my wrist didnt hurt like normal and also I was able to still shave with it after all that.
The only thing is it is not stainless steel so you have to take extra good care of the knife.