The problem with ultra-cheap knives, such as those from WalMart, is not that they're cheap or "no-name," but that most of them cannot be sharpened to a fine edge, nor can they be made or kept nearly as sharp as better, but still inexpensive knives like Dexter, and Forschner by Victorinox to name two. Not to beat a dead horse, but there is no "Forschner or Victorinox." Victorinox is the manufacturer, Forschner is the North American importer. The knives we call "Forschner" are and have always been made by Victorinox and are now labeled Forschner by Victorinox.
Finishing up on the subject of Forschners, they're a lot of bang for the buck; as good as you can get for $50; and are so much better than anything cheaper and cost so little, there's really no point in buying less. BUT, and it's a big gol' darn BUT, the chef's knives aren't what you'd actually call "good," you can do soooooooo much better for just under $100. Whether or not the extra expense is worth it depends on how much you value a chef's knife.
What thecrest actually said was:
i disagree with his opinion, because i'm just starting out. i believe that it doesn't matter what brand name chef knife you get, it's how
you use it. as long as you keep it sharp, know how to cut veggies, that's all that matters.
In the context of a WalMart knife, the phrase, "as long as you keep it sharp," is strong evidence that thecrest (the OP) neither understands sharpness nor sharpening... at least not yet (which is not surprising, as few people do). The point is that there are limits on what you can get a bunk knife to do. A better knife will get sharper, stay sharper longer without maintenance, maintain and sharpen more easily, and consequently cut veggies better. True whether or not you're starting out or and no matter what you believe.
Perhaps the instructor could have been more clear about why he wanted thecrest to get a better knife. But in any case a WalMart knife is not up to the standards a good cook should hold for his most important tools.
There are quite a few "name" knives which are garbage. I'd stay away from anything made from an alloy which isn't at least 0.50 carbon by weight, and the list of knives to stay away from includes both Mercer and Mundial (sorry Paul), which, ironically, are each pushed by various cooking schools. The biggest problems with alloys which are made with too little carbon is a too high a toughness/strength ratio, and limitations in hardening. Those mean the knives are both too difficult to abrade to a fine edge, and once sharpened get dinged out of true fairly easily and require constant steeling. The only solution is to use extremely aggressive sharpeners, which create edges so toothy they're more like saws than knives, and which blunt very easily with impact. A vicious circle if ever there were one.
If the case for a decent knife needs further clarification or rationale, I'm willing to provide it in whatever level of detail you want.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 2/17/13 at 3:43pm