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Finding professional knife sets

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi all, brand new around here.

 

My wife is a cooking enthusiast and I thought I'd get her a professional knife set for Christmas, with a carrying case so she can take it when she's cooking at locations other than our home, which she does on occasion.

 

We do have nice set of Wusthof Grand Prix we got for a wedding gift 18 years ago.  They're in decent shape, but the years are showing and I'd like them to remain our "everyday" knives and have this new set for when she's really working on serious stuff.

 

I figured a google search would turn up all sorts of professional chef stores with tons of professional knife sets.  While lots of knife sets are available, most are block sets, include steak knives, etc. I was surprised how hard it was to find complete sets with a carrying case.  I'm guessing that's because many chefs assemble their sets over the years, one by one?

 

I did find the following sets:

 

If anyone has any feedback on any of those sets, or other favorite sites where sets can be purchased, I'd appreciate any pointers.

 

I'd like to keep the price in the $300-$700 range.  Obviously cheaper is great, but I'm certainly understand the balance between price and quality.

post #2 of 17
For bagged sets, I have seen a few sites offer them for culinary schools. But it seems that you might not want the full set....

From what I have (selectively) learned in the forums is that the recommendation is that you build you own set for the best value. Generally all you need is a gyuto/chef, a paring, a bread and a slicer. May add a butcher/breaker/cimeter if you do more meat work.

And as the standard disclaimer, knives are only good when sharp. Do you have a sharpening solution? Plan on freehand on water stones? Use an edgepro setup? Machine grind in a chef choice? Or stroke through a minosharp hand sharpener?

For knife bags, I like the basic messermeister, but I'm just a newbie enthusiast who only uses the bag to travel between home and a siblings place and to hide my precious knives from my housemates who treat my knives like toys....oops ranting again...

As for specific knives....
Try looking at http://www.cookfoodgood.com/?p=190
I'm a bit bias (actually very) but I recommend you check out chefknivestogo. They do have http://www.chefknivestogo.com/cuscknset.html to start with, add the rest to your order. You can also give the owner Mark a call to discuss.
post #3 of 17

Why not call Mark at CKTG or someone in a similar position at another store and ask for their help?  I am one of those who believe that a far more useful set can be had by purchasing individually.  In your price range you could get several very good knives and a case or roll for carrying. 

post #4 of 17

You're entering a brave new world with a tremendous amounts of contingencies, what-ifs and what-abouts.  There's no single best set for everyone and not even any best set for anyone.  Rather there's a range of things, some of which will work very well and some less well, some which will fit in your budget comfortably and some which will require a stretch.

 

It's pretty hard to know what would work well for your wife without talking to her about what she likes.  

 

For awhile the trend with skilled cutters has been away from German (and German type) knives towards western style, Japanese made (or Japanese made "type") knives. 

 

The Japanese knives are lighter, get sharper, stay sharper longer, and the chef's knives have more agile profiles.  On the other hand, they're not as robust and if you do go Japanese type (you should), you'll probably want to put some sort of heavy duty knife into your wife's roll to split chickens and cut through thick skinned squash. 

 

Thinking about whether this knife is better than that knife is interesting and a lot of fun.  But the most important of knives -- no matter what your price range and their quality -- is sharpening and maintenance.  All knives get dull, and any dull knife is a dull knife.  So, when you think about your budget and what kinds of knives, you should also include plans for a sharpening kit (or device) which is effective and which your wife can use -- or you can use on her behalf.

 

As a sort of generic, I'm going to suggest spending around $200 on a good, 10" western-handled chef's knife; $100 on a petty (a knife which works for boning, paring and "utility"); $50 on a bread knife; $50 on a heavy duty knife (the "cimeter" was a good idea; $40 on a rod hone (aka a steel); and around $150 on sharpening gear to rejuvenate your old knives as well as keep the new ones in top shape.  A good slicer is also a very good thing to have, but we're getting near the top of your budget.

 

What do you think so far?

 

BDL

post #5 of 17
....and toss in $200 on a boardsmith board :P
post #6 of 17

Hey guys, seems like this might be an old thread. I found it while I was doing some research into what knife set I should buy for my new kitchen. I gave my last knife set to my little bro because he is really getting into the kitchen scene and I thought it would be a cool thing to do. I checked out that cookfoodgood.com to see what was there. Seems like a pretty solid selection. I was also checking this other site's list of culinary knives out and got a pretty good idea of the direction I want to go. There is a Shun knife set that runs at about $400. That's not out of the question in my opinion. Seems like they strike the right balance between price and quality as well. I don't know if anyone else has tried them out here, but I'll let you all know what I think after trying them out for a few meals. Adios!

post #7 of 17

Congratulations and good luck.

 

BDL  


Edited by boar_d_laze - 5/7/13 at 6:03pm
post #8 of 17

BDL - you had a comment in an old thread that made total sense:  Most of my knife recommendations aren't for the knives I own, because they aren't the best choice for most people who do ask.  I think the ideal knife is one which takes the drudgery out of prep, is comfortable, doesn't overtax the budget, and doesn't demand too much maintenance or a too high level of knife skills, sharpening skills or sharpening kit.  Fun is the beau ideal.

 

I am replacing a set of 20 yr old Wustoffs.  Am a home cook with no formal training.  Looking for your thoughts on a good brand that is a combination of your comment above!  Thx for any help.

post #9 of 17

Warz --

 

There are a lot of good knives which are more or less equal performers in their price ragnes.  One brand isn't going to be right for everyone, neither will one particular set of brands.  The more I know about you, the more I can help you make your own good choices. 

 

  • Do you have good knife skills?
  • Do you pinch grip?

 

  • Do you have good sharpening skills?
  • How are you planning to sharpen?
  • Do you have any sharpening equipment you want to use with your new knive

 

  • What knives do you consider absolutely essential?
  • Would you be comfortable with a 10" chef's knife?

 

  • How important is appearance?
  • Is there a particular aesthetic you really want or don't want (for instance, a "damascus" appearance)?
  • Will you be buying them all at once?

 

  • Stainless or Carbon?

 

  • Japanese handles (wa) or western (yo)?

 

  • Do you have a good board, yet?
  • How big?

 

  • How would you rate "value" as compared to "performance?"
  • What's your budget for knives?
  • What's your budget for everything?
  • Are you comfortable breaking up the purchases over time; or do you want everything now?

 

BDL

post #10 of 17

Unlike so many of the other posters here, I'm just gonna answer the question.  Not that any of the other answers/suggestions were at all wrong in any way, just not direct to the original question. 

 

Here, I recommend these:

 

Victorinox Forschner Fibrox Deluxe Knife Roll Set

or

Victorinox Forschner Rosewood Deluxe Knife Roll Set

 

Either set has what most everyone at home would use, they don't break the bank and they don't suck.  The second one is a little nicer. 

post #11 of 17

What is it that makes you want to replace the Wusthofs anyhow? If they have damage, like cracking handles on the Classics, that may be covered under their lifetime warranty.

 

A well maintained Wusthof is hard to beat without going Japanese where you may need a new sharpening scheme than what you have now.

 

The Victorinox are OK but are a step down from a Wusthof that is in good shape.

 

BDL's questions are all very valid if you want in depth guidance.

 

Jim

post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Warz --

There are a lot of good knives which are more or less equal performers in their price ragnes.  One brand isn't going to be right for everyone, neither will one particular set of brands.  The more I know about you, the more I can help you make your own good choices. 
  • Do you have good knife skills? Reasonably
  • Do you pinch grip? No
  • Do you have good sharpening skills? Average
  • How are you planning to sharpen? No definite plan. Open to new techniques
  • Do you have any sharpening equipment you want to use with your new knive. No
  • What knives do you consider absolutely essential? General set - smal paring, larger paring, chef, bread, carving
  • Would you be comfortable with a 10" chef's knife? Yes
  • How important is appearance? Not that important
  • Is there a particular aesthetic you really want or don't want (for instance, a "damascus" appearance)? No
  • Will you be buying them all at once? Preferred
  • Stainless or Carbon? Stainless
  • Japanese handles (wa) or western (yo)? Open to either. Western possibly preferred.
  • Do you have a good board, yet? Yes
  • How big? Good question. Approx 36x24
  • How would you rate "value" as compared to "performance?" Ideallyerformance that is reasonably priced
  • What's your budget for knives? No set figure. Under 2000
  • What's your budget for everything?
  • Are you comfortable breaking up the purchases over time; or do you want everything now? Prefer together

BDL

Answers above. Thx for the help!
post #13 of 17

Your budget allows you a great deal of latitude.  Which is a very good thing. 

 

I'm not sure if youd be happier with regular western yo-handles (yo) or might like Japanese style wa-handles.  But because you don't pinch grip, you're going to want a fairly tall gyuto to help keep your knuckles off the board.  

 

Paranthetically, you can do a lot to improve your knife skills and efficiency by changing to a pinch grip.  In essence, you'll be giving up power for accuracy and agility, but good knives depend more on sharpness than power. 

 

The best part of your budget is that you can afford to get into some serious, but easy to learn sharpening equipment.  Sharpness is everything.  And there's really not any getting around the need to sharpen.  We'll get more deeply into the subject no doubt, but at first blush you sound like an ideal candidate for an Edge Pro Apex kit -- particularly the "Essentials Kit" packaged and sold by Chef Knives to Go (aka CKtG). 

 

You've got enough budget and your answers regarding price/performance and aesthetics suggest that you'll be happier with Japanese made, western styled knifes (or American made knives made with the same materials, geomtries, etc.) than with the German knives you've had before.  In exchange for fit and finish, cosmetics and robustness, you'll gain lightness, agility, edge taking, edge keeping, and so on.  

 

Most Japanese chef's knives (aka gyuto) aren't up to really heavy duty work.  If you do go Japanese, you'll want to add a knife for cutting around bones, "fabricating" pineapple and heavy squash, etc.  A couple of shapes used by butchers are very good for all that sort of stuff.  One is called a "butcher," the other a "scimitar."  You can get away without a "boning" knife by using a 6" or 7" petty for the purpose.  But if you do a lot of meat work, you'll want a boner or breaker. 

 

Make sense?  Got more questions?

 

BDL

post #14 of 17

Makes total sense and I had come to some of those same conclusions.  In your opinion are there particular Japanese makers that I should be focusing on?  For example I have learned that many people think Shun knives are not a particularly good value, etc.  Thx again.

post #15 of 17

Shun aren't particularly good values.  The chef's knives are designed with "German" profiles and unless that's something you particularly want it's a big negative.  Talking about why is a good intro into the subject of how knives relate to knife skills.  

 

I'm trying to figure out if I should steer you towards big name western handled, knives like Kikuichi TKC, MAC Pro and Masamoto VG; something wa and fairly mainstream; or wa and a little more esoteric, high performance but mid level cosmetics -- like a Richmond Addict2 in CPM 154 or even a Richmond AEB-L Laser. 

 

Then we have to look at the issue of weight.  Middle weight?  Light-middle?  Or, ultra light weight?

 

I used to reflexively steer people towards MAC Pro for their first, good, mass-produced, western-handled knives.  It's still a great line, a big step up in performance from Wusthof, Henckles, etc., but not a wrenching difference in F&F, or knife ergonomics.  But there are a lot more possibilities nowadays -- or maybe it's just that my own horizons have broadened. 

 

A set with a MAC Pro gyuto, slicer, petty, and parer as well as a MAC Superior Bread knife; a (Forschner by) Victorinox 10" butcher knife, and 7" wide fillet or 7" curved breaker; and for sharpening an Edge Pro Apex Essential Kit, and Idahone "fine" ceramic rod -- is almost certainly along the lines of what you were thinking before we started talking.   It would be a great choice... But maybe your horizons are starting to broaden as well. 

 

My working knives are mostly wa, and of those about half are ultra-thin, ultra light "lasers."  But I also use some yo meat knives.  However, that's an example not a recommendation.  Different people like different things. 

 

By way of another example, I'm currently using two different "go to" gyuto.  I usually choose on the basis of what I'm going to cook.  One is the "laser," but the other is robust enough to border on what's called a "mighty gyuto."  Each suits me, both suit me better.  And where in the heck on the spectrum do we put you? 

 

In any case I think you (and most people) should spend the most money on a gyuto; and possibly as much or almost as much suji.  You won't use your suji as much as your gyuto but quality makes a big difference; so there's some prioritizing to be done there -- or maybe not because your budget is so friendly. 

 

The cost of a really good bread knife isn't going to be much. 

 

It's nice to have a good petty (6" paring knife), but because they take so much abuse and get sharpened so often it's not worthwhile to spend a lot on a petty -- unless you have other knives for the rough stuff.  I don't use either of my good petty knives for packages or string.  But both are tough enough to use for boning -- so... 

 

Unless you do a lot of fancy tourne and other garde manger crap (and even then) spending more than a few bucks on a small paring knife is just throwing money away. 

 

The two most important takeaways at this stage of the game are the importance of knife and sharpening skills.  You seem to be sold on sharpening.  More than convincing you to buy any particular knife, I'd like to get you using a proper pinch grip. 

 

BDL

post #16 of 17

LOL.  I love it when BDL says stuff like this: 

"If you do go Japanese, you'll want to add a knife for cutting around bones, "fabricating" pineapple and heavy squash, etc."

 

That let's me use my example of the perfect knife for those jobs (pineapples, heavy squash, etc.).

... takes NO snot from any pineapples or squashes

post #17 of 17

BDL - yes im sensing the broadening!!  lol  Agreed re sharpening and pinch grip.  And the more research I do the more it seems that a better approach is to buy individually as opposed to as a set - mix and match so to speak.

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