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What do Chef's prefer: Carbon Knives vs. Stainless Steel Knives?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

What do Chef's prefer in the kitchen, carbon or stainless steel knives? I would love to hear from Chefs directly and see what their opinions are on this subject.

Bruce, the owner of Yoshihiro Cutlery, hopes to share the superior quality of Yoshihiro knife production, and its rich history and tradition with...

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Bruce, the owner of Yoshihiro Cutlery, hopes to share the superior quality of Yoshihiro knife production, and its rich history and tradition with...

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post #2 of 32

Speaking strictly from a home kitchen perspective... I use and enjoy both, but if put on an island with only one knife it would have to be a carbon steel knife.

post #3 of 32

Hi Bruce and welcome to Cheftalk. 

 

I've always been a fan of carbon blades, but that enthusiasm has been tempered after acquiring a few really good stainless, clad and semi stainless blades the past couple of years.  Hiromoto AS, Carter High Grade, Ealy AEB-L and one of your Molybdenum Gyutos.   All of these are a far cry from the 440 found in average trade knives.  All take a superb edge and hold it very well - better than my old Sabs which can get stupid sharp, but don't hold the edge long. 

 

Steel aside it's the profile that is most important to me.  I love the old Forgecraft's for that reason and look for similar profiles in contemporary knives.  And speaking stupid sharp that Squid knife I bought from you is . . . well I can't be distracted when using it.  :lol:

post #4 of 32

My first knives were some older (late 60s early 70s)  carbon Sabatiers, so naturally I have always had a certain nostalgic affection for carbon knives.

 

That being said, over the years, and in a wide variety of professional kitchens, I've noticed only minor performance differences between carbon and stainless blades, provided they were both of decent quality steel, of course.

Blade geometry is, to me, of far greater importance. Give me something fairly thin and wide with just enough curvature and I'm a happy chef.

post #5 of 32

in our kitchen we are free to use whatever we like.

I always bring my own knife set.

it does contain both stainless and carbon.

the knife I am using most, is my eden kanso aogami, which is carbon, and gets several treatments with a ceramic steel throughout prep when needed.

its thin, and very sharp and light.

I have learned to sharpen (on a waterstone) my knives myself and given the work that is once a week/ fortnight.

at home, I use my wusthof classic ikon which is stainless and not as sharp but still sharp.

I think in the end it does not matter much, other than using SHARP knives.

in the pro kitchen, thats an understatement.

 

I wonder why you are asking…..

post #6 of 32
Thread Starter 

I enjoy hearing about the many opinions that everyone has on this post. I find that some chefs and home cooks love the way stainless is easier to care for, while some chef's prefer the way a high carbon Japanese steel holds an extreme edge and the way it sharpens very nicely on a whetstone. I also thought it was interesting to read that the shape of a blade and its contours plays such a pivotal role. In regards to carbon steel, does anyone have a preference towards Japanese or European steel?

Bruce, the owner of Yoshihiro Cutlery, hopes to share the superior quality of Yoshihiro knife production, and its rich history and tradition with...

Reply

Bruce, the owner of Yoshihiro Cutlery, hopes to share the superior quality of Yoshihiro knife production, and its rich history and tradition with...

Reply
post #7 of 32
differences between japanese and european steel are getting smaller , in my opinion.
though japanese steel is still known as one of the best and hardest, keeping its edge best.
I use both french carbon and japanese aogami steel.
post #8 of 32

I much prefer Japanese carbon.  Particularly white #1, blue #2 and AS depending on the task.

post #9 of 32

My personal preference was always for carbon steel. My first set of knives was a sabatier carbon steel set of knives and I still have them. They still have a great edge and I would probably get the same knife today. Never seem to mind cleaning the stains from the blade. Out of curiosity @Yoshihiro Knife what do you sell the most stainless steel or carbon? My gut would tell me the average home cook prefers the ease of stainless but the professional will always take carbon.

Thanks,

Nicko 
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Thanks,

Nicko 
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post #10 of 32
Thread Starter 

Hi Nicko,

 

There are a lot of different preferences out there. A lot of time home cooks prefer stainless steel knives. However we do have many different knives that incorporate carbon and steel together to get the best of both worlds. Our Damascus lines are very for popular for that reason. We also sell some very unique stainless and stain resistant knives that are forged in the traditional Japanese way in single edge variations such as Yanagi Sushi knives that are made of VG-10 and Ginsan-Ko steel. We also sell high carbon steel knives that are not stain resistant, but there are ways to prevent and remove rust, if that happens. I always encourage people to make decisions that fit their purpose and ability. I am always happy to answer any questions people have about Japanese knives, so I would encourage anyone to feel fee to contact me if they want to ask me anything.

Bruce, the owner of Yoshihiro Cutlery, hopes to share the superior quality of Yoshihiro knife production, and its rich history and tradition with...

Reply

Bruce, the owner of Yoshihiro Cutlery, hopes to share the superior quality of Yoshihiro knife production, and its rich history and tradition with...

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post #11 of 32

I'm from the 70s when Chez Panisse and Pig by the Tail were THE ONES.  Henckels SS was considered the best SS along with Sabatier CS.  And to this day I'll take my Sabatiers over all although I give both them and the Henckels a rough up with my old steel from Fredrick Friodur.

 

In the early 80's I got from a Japanese place two bochos, sashimi and sushi (Or Deba) along with a waterstone.  Great tools.  Really great.  For Japanese style cuisine only.  European requires a Sabatier type blade, thicker.


Edited by kokopuffs - 1/3/14 at 6:11pm

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #12 of 32

Hi kokopuffs,

 

I'm curious with your statement that Japanese knives for Japanese style cuisine only and a thicker Sabatier type blade for European cuisine.  Can you please share your thoughts on how you derive to that?

 

Thanks.

post #13 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghee Lip Ong View Post
 

Hi kokopuffs,

 

I'm curious with your statement that Japanese knives for Japanese style cuisine only and a thicker Sabatier type blade for European cuisine.  Can you please share your thoughts on how you derive to that?

 

Thanks.


Ghee:

The bochos seemed well made but much lighter, meant imho for fish and veggies.  They just seemed like very delicate instruments that perhaps shouldn't contact bone or be dropped and I forget what metals those knives were made of.  The blades were layered is all I recall.  For me the knives were dedicated to those two items alone, fish and veggies.  And way back then I wasn't as knowledgeable about cuisine and knives as I am now.  8)

 

Best,

-T

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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post #14 of 32
Thread Starter 

In my opinion I think the line is blurring in some ways between Western and Eastern cuisine. Where cuisines and techniques developed in a sort of geographical isolation in the past, today we see not only fusions of cuisines, but fusions of techniques and information. In Tokyo you can eat the finest traditional French cuisine and in L.A. you can Kaiseki cuisine. There is a lot of change, but one constant I see is the desire for Chefs to find precision cutting tools. Some find them in traditional single-edged Japanese Yanagis and some find them in the western style of a hollow ground Gyuto Chef's knife.

Bruce, the owner of Yoshihiro Cutlery, hopes to share the superior quality of Yoshihiro knife production, and its rich history and tradition with...

Reply

Bruce, the owner of Yoshihiro Cutlery, hopes to share the superior quality of Yoshihiro knife production, and its rich history and tradition with...

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post #15 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoshihiro Knife View Post
 

In my opinion I think the line is blurring in some ways between Western and Eastern cuisine. Where cuisines and techniques developed in a sort of geographical isolation in the past, today we see not only fusions of cuisines, but fusions of techniques and information. In Tokyo you can eat the finest traditional French cuisine and in L.A. you can Kaiseki cuisine. There is a lot of change, but one constant I see is the desire for Chefs to find precision cutting tools. Some find them in traditional single-edged Japanese Yanagis and some find them in the western style of a hollow ground Gyuto Chef's knife.


I agree and admittedly never used the bochos for other than japanese style cuisine.


Edited by kokopuffs - 1/7/14 at 6:51pm

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #16 of 32

started out using stainless now all my knives are strictly carbon.  think that says it all.

 

off topic - have you considered using aogami super steel?  do you take custom orders?

post #17 of 32

panda, I'd love to know WHY you switched from stainless to exclusively carbon (and which ones???).

don't have problems with your knives developing spots during service?

post #18 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Soesje View Post
 

panda, I'd love to know WHY you switched from stainless to exclusively carbon (and which ones???).

don't have problems with your knives developing spots during service?


Same here.  Carbons are quicker and easier to sharpen and take a sharper edge than western stainless blades.  Back when I first started in the '70s Japanese stainless wasn't around nor available.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #19 of 32

yep, easier to sharpen….. I have noticed that there are also differences in quality of carbon knives comparing my japanese aogami to the K-Sabatier … as in sensitivity in the pro kitchen, the latter is much easier to care for.

of course this is comparing apples to pears ;) as we say here…..two totally different knives in material and hardness.

post #20 of 32

ease of sharpening is the primary reason for the switch (turned out to be a much more important factor than i had originally anticipated), but they also take better edges and there aren't too many stainless knives that i find suit my preferences.

i currently use kochi and takeda gyutos.  masamoto hc at home (which i am not critical of at all for this purpose).

 

as for maintenance during service, i'm very OCD about keeping my knives clean so that's not much of an issue, but if i do get an occasional stain i just clean it up after service, not a big deal.

post #21 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by panda View Post
 

ease of sharpening is the primary reason for the switch (turned out to be a much more important factor than i had originally anticipated), but they also take better edges and there aren't too many stainless knives that i find suit my preferences.

i currently use kochi and takeda gyutos.  masamoto hc at home (which i am not critical of at all for this purpose).

 

as for maintenance during service, i'm very OCD about keeping my knives clean so that's not much of an issue, but if i do get an occasional stain i just clean it up after service, not a big deal.


I'm just barely learning my newly acquired soft arkansas bonded to a black surgical stone from Hall's.  Great stuff for finishing after using my Norton Tri Hone with coarse and medium carborundum and also a Fine India.


Edited by kokopuffs - 1/9/14 at 2:59am

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Reply
post #22 of 32

Carbon! 

For some reason I really like the White 1.

post #23 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by dhmcardoso View Post
 

Carbon! 

For some reason I really like the White 1.


White 1???????????????

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Reply
post #24 of 32

I have 3 small Hiromoto AS knives; 125 mm, 150 mm, 165 mm santoku. I frequently use the 125 for freehand peeling jobs, the 150 as a small slicer (pork tenderloin, duck breast, dried sausage...) and the santoku is ideal for cutting fresh herbs or to quickly chop an onion, shallot or garlic when quicky needed. I keep all of these knives as sharp as I can get because all of those jobs need extra sharp knives.

 

On the other hand, I will allow all other longer knives, which are nearly all in stainless steel, to be... less sharp; it's simply a matter of not having to resharpen my SS knives over and over again. The sharper you make them, the sooner they lose their edge... sounds weird? I bet it does but it makes a lot of sense to me and I didn't say I keep my SS knives blunt, just not as sharp as carbon knives!

 

Last weekend I thinned and sharpened both my Hiromoto 125 and 150 mm. Started off with a few strokes on a 220 grit but soon went to the 800 grit King to thin a little, then to the 1000/6000 King combo and finished on a coticule, estimated 8000 grit. Both of these knives now plunge into my wooden cutting board easily, no joke!

 

On the other hand, my SS knives are also sharpened on the 1000/6000 King combo but not on the coticule anymore. Even better, between sharpening sessions, I use a Belgian Blue whetstone estimated a 4000 grit to do a quick tweaking. May sound weird too, using a 4k stone after a 6k sharpening, but it simply works. That Belgian BW and the coticule are both true splash-and-go stones. They don't absorb any water at all. Rinse and dry and you're done. If I were a chef, I would keep a 4k BBW permanently in my knife kit.

 

All of this to say that I don't have a general preference between carbon or SS. It depends on which knife I need for a given job.

post #25 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by kokopuffs View Post
 


White 1???????????????

yeah!!! Have 2 honyakis. A Kono Fuji Nakiri and a Honesuki which I bought at an open market in Sakai. 

post #26 of 32

Some folks think the tool makes the tradesman----

 

I have a rather eclectic collection----for carving I have two old English blades from the 1890s carbon steel---

And a stainless Sabatier from the 1950s

And a fine Henkel stainless set from the 1970s

All are great knives and take and hold an edge well---

 

My kitchen knives are mostly stainless --German and Swedish--

 

I've also got some Japanese knives that have exceptional steel---

 

But like a tennis racket---a knife needs to fit your hand and style of working---what I think is a gift from heaven might be clumsy

and awkward in your hands---Try a few and see what works for you----there are great blades in stainless and carbon

 

You are not going to find your ideal tool without trying it out-----

post #27 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikeswoods View Post
You are not going to find your ideal tool without trying it out-----

 

Couldn't agree more - sadly for the wallet K-knives are a lot like guitars . . . :lol:

post #28 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike9 View Post
 

 

Couldn't agree more - sadly for the wallet K-knives are a lot like guitars . . . :lol:

 Ehm? K-knives? explain?

post #29 of 32

Kitchen knives . . . "K-knives" for short.

post #30 of 32

I just reconditioned a set of old Forgecraft and wow! They are really nice, feel great in the hand! Sharpened them a little experimentally and so far so good - 15 on the right bevel and 20 on the left, edge holding very well.

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