I've just started my apprenticeship so I'm looking for something quite cheap to start me off I need a 7" or 8" because 10" is to big for my hand. I also need a good paring knife and a utility knife. Any suggestions or reccomendations?
looking for some advice?
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It's a common woman's myth, but only a myth. There are reasons to want a short as opposed to a medium length knife, but small hands and/or petite stature aren't among them. The problems most people have with medium length chef's knife are almost always a function of a poor grip.
The best sub-fifty dollar knives are Rosewood or Fibrox series "Forschner by Victorinox." You often hear them referred to as Forschners; and sometimes as Victorinox. Confusing, no? Just remember that they're the minimum of what's acceptable, but still acceptable. The only difference between the Rosewood and Fibrox lines is their handles.
The best sub-hundred dollar knives are Fujiwara FKM; Richmond Artifex; or Tojiro DP. They're different to the extent that one will probably fit a given person's use and tastes slightly better than the others, but similar enough that most people would probably be thrilled with any of them; but in your case, the Tojiro's handles might be too wide.
The $130 - $230 range is filled with a bunch of wonderful choices; but probably more than you want to spend. Nevertheless, if you have any interest in wa-gyuto (chef's knife with a Japanese style handle), take a look at the Gesshin Uraku.
The key to knife skills and knife satisfaction is sharpness. In the case of a culinary student, the key to sharpness is sharpening. If you don't want your knives to be a constant source of misery, you MUST develop some way to sharpen that fits you.
Mercer and Mundial are two brands which are frequently recommended for students, and often sold by culinary schools. Compared to anything decent, they're crap. Don't buy them.
Also, if some well meaning relative offers to start you with really good knives and buys you a set of Globals or Shuns -- return them (the knives not the relatives).
Edited by boar_d_laze - 5/15/13 at 8:07pm
I certainly don't dispute the lighter part, but won't concede you the balance part. For years I worked with an 11 1/2" Henckels that had beautiful balance and was easy to work with due to the balance. However without a doubt, when I pick it up today, I feel like I need to look for the pull cord because it feels like a chainsaw.
I also think a lot of it comes down to trepidation and lack of experience in handling what appears to be a big knife in our mind's eye.