or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Culinary Students › General Culinary School Discussions › should I buy a brand name chef knife
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

should I buy a brand name chef knife

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

i'm a first year culinary student enrolled in a culinary program at college.  i bought a chef's knife at walmart, no brand name, just that it was what I could afford.  my chef instructor saw me using it, and insisted that I get a brand name knife (victorinox, henckel, wusthof). 

 

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. 

 

what is your opinion?   should i, being an amateur cooking student, go and buy an expensive victorinox, henckel, wusthof knife, which is something i can not afford? 

post #2 of 17

DUDE! 

No brain-er, if you only have so much money, that’s that!

I would pose the question to the chef/instructor, are you going to pay for a “name brand” knife for me?  I don’t think so, IMHO.  I agree with you, you’re a student and you have to purchase your own equipment, right? 

Is it a course requirement that you have this XYZ knife?

Well then, there you go! 

I would have a private conversation with chef though…


Edited by kaneohegirlinaz - 2/9/13 at 7:47am
post #3 of 17

Victorinox are not expensive knives! They would be well worth the money spent over a walmart knife IMO. Being a culinary student, you can get a discount at a restaurant supply store or sur la table and the likes. 

post #4 of 17

I dunno, if the Chef/instructor still keeps giving you a hard time, look him straight in the eye, and ask him:

"Yes, but what about my cutting?  My speed and accuracy?"

 

If he can't say anything intelligent, tell him you are saving up for a brand name, but it won't be in near future.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #5 of 17
Okay everyone's missing the obvious. I once came back home from a trip and my knife roll got lost in luggage and on my way to work that day I purchased a knife at Walmart (probably the same thing you got) cause I wanted to do my prep without being a bother. My chef saw me breaking down a salmon with it and immediately lent me one of his knives for the simple fact that those knives are manufactured and designed without much thought about safety. They are cheap and there are a few really obvious unsafe features to those knives. I'm sure this is where your instructor is coming from. You should get a basic Henkel for safety reasons in my opinion. The Walmart knife you have wasn't built with the intent for rigorous use so I would just be careful
post #6 of 17
Why is a Henkel safer than a wm knife?
A 10" forschner can be had for about $40 and will last a long time. I have Forschner's that are 30+ yrs old
post #7 of 17

While I agree that a cheap Wal-Mart knife is a bad idea since it was not designed to be used and abused the way professional knives are, I also don't think you should run out and spend what little money you have on a big-name knife just to please a single instructor.  As has been stated, a Victorinox or Forschner can be purchased for $30-$40 so it won't break your bank, and they will endure the daily wear and tear while holding a good edge.  Another inexpensive but good brand to consider is Mercer.  One of the exec chefs I used to work for used Mercer knives exclusively at work.  They are inexpensive, hold a good edge, have a comfortable grip, and are easy to find at any of the local restaurant supply stores.  Around here they sell for around the $40 price-range.  Also, don't worry about buying a whole set of knives.  Just buy the one (or ones) you will actually use often.  My knife roll only has three knives in it (chef's knife, bread knife, paring knife) and none of them cost more than $40 each.

post #8 of 17
  • How much do you actually know about knives? 

 

  • Particularly, how much do you know about what makes one knife "good," and another knife "bad."

 

  • Why are you in school?  

 

  • Does it have anything to do with learning from people who know more than you know?

 

  • Who's the instructor? 

 

  • Who's the student?

 

  • Who can make whose life more difficult?  (The answer to that question alone makes the decision to buy a new knife a "no-brainer" in my opinion.) 

 

  • You can get a Victorinox Fibrox 10" chef's for $30.  What point are you really trying to make?

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 2/15/13 at 6:55am
post #9 of 17

Normally, I'd agree with you, BDL, and I probably will if I can get a little more information from the original poster.

 

Now, if the instructor gave a particular reason why the knife should be replaced, ie."it's a serrated edge on a Chef's made of .00004" recycled beer cans, and the blade will wiggle when you touch it", is a very good reason.

 

Or, "The scales are made of some kind of split, splintery wood and the rivets are already working themselves loose". Is another good reason.

 

But, "Get a brand name knife" doesn't cut it for me, if there's no reason for the request.  School is, after all, all about learning. What's the reason?

 

I don't get knives a Mall*wart, but I do get them occasionally at Ikea, and I get paring knives at my supermarket.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #10 of 17

I have been using mercer knives in school they work fine great even and if you want a good knife i personally think when your ready for a nice one you should have it custom made for you instead of going and buying a brand.
 

post #11 of 17

I agree with BDL.  You signed up to learn from a instructor, chef or otherwise, and one of your first acts is to disagree with him over what constitutes an acceptable knife.  Pissing off the instructor on the first day is not the best move toward an acceptable grade, and my guess is you will disagree with the lower grade for not following instructions.

 

Perhaps the first lesson is that you will never be better than your tools.  The list seems reasonable and not overly expensive.  A 30 dollar Forschner is not an excessive requirement. 

 

Return the Wallyworld knife  Use the money to purchase a supply of Ramen, and get the Forschner.

post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbo68 View Post

I agree with BDL.  You signed up to learn from a instructor, chef or otherwise, and one of your first acts is to disagree with him over what constitutes an acceptable knife.  Pissing off the instructor on the first day is not the best move toward an acceptable grade, and my guess is you will disagree with the lower grade for not following instructions.

 

Perhaps the first lesson is that you will never be better than your tools.  The list seems reasonable and not overly expensive.  A 30 dollar Forschner is not an excessive requirement. 

 

Return the Wallyworld knife  Use the money to purchase a supply of Ramen, and get the Forschner.

1) Who said the one of the O.P.'s "first acts" was to disagree with the instructor"

2) The O.P is asking US what an acceptable knife is. We have no information as to why the instructor does not find the knife unnaceptable

3)O.P. did not state that he P.O.'d the instructor, nor did he say it was his first day at school ( mid Feb?)

4) You can guess all you want, but the O.P. did say that he was concerned about keeping the knife sharp, and the quality of his knife work.  This, imho,  tells me that the O.P. is grasping the fundamentals of knife work quite well.

 

 

 

 

The professional has the tools he needs.

The hobbyist has the tools he wants. 

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #13 of 17

I'm basing my statements on the following:

 

Every class I have attended clearly stated the requirements of outside books, tools, and the like in the advertising literature.  That includes classes in high school, college, and even half day seminars I have attended.  I would assume that a that this college course is no different.

 

I see nothing in the original post asking about an acceptable knife.  To the contrary, the poster states that he considers the Wallyworld special to be acceptable and disagrees with the instructor. .  The title asks whether or not he should buy what the instructor says he needs or not.  I say yes.

 

Arguing with the instructor in a class is sure to not be the road to making the instructor happy.  You are right, he did not say that this was his first day at school, but surely the instructor did not notice the knife weeks down the road.

 

Sorry, it is not up to the student to decide that the knife in question is suitable for the task or not.  That is why he is the student, not the instructor. 

 

Once again, I think there is an attitude problem, and it is not with the instructor.
 

post #14 of 17

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.

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 2/17/13 at 3:43pm
post #15 of 17
I very much admire BDL's knowledge and expertise and concur with major portions of his posts in this thread.

If you're a culinary student, you need to realize that you are there to LEARN. There ARE MAJOR differences in the quality of knives. That's why you see many of us willing to spend upwards of 2-3 hundred dollars for one knife. If you can't tell the difference between a wallyworld knife and a good knife, you probably will by the end of the first semester. And THAT is why the chef-instructor wants you to have certain types that have PROVEN THEMSELVES in thousands of kitchens over long periods of time.

The chef-instructor isn't asking you to buy name brands to support commerce. And when he does ask for a wustof or a henkels, He is not asking for just the brand name, he is asking for the model as well. For example he means a Wusthof Ikon, Wusthof, Classic, Wusthof LCB, Wusthof Grand Prix. He does NOT expect a wusthof emeril or a wusthof silverpoint. He doesn't care that some german company is getting paid. He's not endorsing anything (unless you're at LCB).

The major name brands are going to use good steel, not 420 or 440A like you will find in a consumer brand. This steel will take a better edge, and will retain it longer.

He needs to know your equipment meets a certain standard. A chef-instructor can predict the quality and safety of some knives that he is familiar with (most major name brands). He doesn't know that a rivet of a no-name brand is real or if it is only decorative and will become a physical containment in your project. He doesn't know if that no-name knife will loose a handle under pressure or break in class posing a danger to you or another student. He is responsible for your safety. He does not have the time or energy to meet with 40 new students every few moths and personally inspect each knife that they bring in from god knows where. If he gives a spec, he knows he doesn't have to waste his time inspecting knives.

THAT is the reason he expects the victorinox , henkels, wusthof, etc. As said before they are PROVEN in the industry. Additionally they are NSF rated which your wally world special almost certainly isn't.

And where I come from you can ask the chef-instructor any question that is sincere, but if a chef makes a decision that is final. That too is part of learning. When you go out in industry, you'd better not second-guess the chef!

As others in the thread have pointed out the foreschner/victorinox are only about 20-30 bucks which is about the same price as that cheapazz wallworld special. Get rid of it.
____________________________________________________________________

I would disagree with the venerable BDL that mercers are poor. I think they are great VALUES for the dollar. There are certainly MANY knives better knives than them, but the genesis/renaissance line are good performers for very little expense. They are reliable, NSF rated, their uniformly made so an inspector can predict results, and they're proven in industry over time.

BTW, Mercers are now made with X50 (DIN 4116), the same steel as in the premier lines of wusthof and henkels.
They DO tend to be wide and they do tend to be heavy and the balance takes a bit to get used to, but value for the dollar, they are great for a cheap forged knife.
The millenia line is stamped, and I would go with victorninox, over the millenia line. But for students looking for a cheap, NSF rated, well recognized, forged knife, mercer genesis/renaissance and the dexter icut pro are very good.
Edited by harrisonh - 9/5/13 at 5:31pm
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by harrisonh View Post



.....If you're a culinary student, you need to realize that you are there to LEARN. There ARE MAJOR differences in the quality of knives.....

 

 

Absolutely, agree 100%.  However the O.P is confused about why the instructor demanded brand name knives.  Either the instructor told the student the reasons for doing so, and the student didn't tell us, or the instructor didn't tell the student why.

 

And yes, you make very good points about p.o.s.  knives and why they shouldn't be used.

 

One of the common traits I 've found in good instructors, teachers and Chefs is that they explain the WHY's of doing the thing they ask  .

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #17 of 17

thanks for the feedback foodpump. I'm kind of new to forums and I'll learn from that.
I was under the impression that the post WAS an explanation why the instructor demanded a brand name knife.

It's been a couple of months since the OP and I'd be interested how thecrest (author of original post) is doing in school, if now he understands why name brand knives are requested. my explanation as to why is NOT he is against wallyworld, but because the instructor can predict it's reliability and safety in a classroom/production environment without having to spend time inspecting each and every students knives


BTW,
did anyone notice that about 2 months after he asked why he had to use a name brand knife, the same author posted about a chip in his blade?
Now this can happen to the best of knives (for example, Japanese knives tend to chip relatively easily because of high rockwell numbers, very thin edge angles, edges profile asymmetry) but it might also be because he's just using a bad knife.
And again, that chip is a physical hazard in the product served.


Edited by harrisonh - 9/5/13 at 5:32pm
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Culinary Students › General Culinary School Discussions › should I buy a brand name chef knife