I've been a pastry line/prep cook for one year, using the Mercer knives I received from school. I'm moving into my own apartment in Boston & would like to take these knives home from work, so I'll need new knives for work. I need a chef's knife, paring knife, and serrated. I would also like to purchase a straight edge knife in the future. I need knives that'll do the job, and I know they're an investment. I don't know much about the different manufacturers or styles. Any advice to get me started?
Good knives for a pastry cook?
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Victorinox makes a very nice bakers bread knife or for about twenty dollars more you can have Tojiro's ITK bread knife which seems to be a clone of Mac's wonderful bread knife. None of these will do a particularly good job on a crusty loaf (waterbread!) so if you're going to be working with that kind of stuff you'll want to grab something a little sturdier from your local restaurant supply place. Two things to note with a bread (serrated) knife- don't spend a lot of money on them, sharpening them is a pain, and you'll probably find ones sold as "bakers bread knives" to be more comfortable as they have a curved blade which helps in avoiding knuckle contact with your cutting board. They also tend to be longer (9"+).
Make sure you have a means of sharpening your knives which will be appropriate - ie. you're not allowed to use a pull-through on japanese knives. Period. If you want something which is relatively maintenance free get yourself a Wusthof Classic chefs knife and a Chefs Choice pullthrough and be done with it! If you're interested in learning to sharpen or can find a good local hand sharpener and enjoy the finer things you'll get a boatload of suggestions from people here for nice japanese knives to look at... but again you would be very foolish to go portioning a tray of brownies with that fine japanese knife!
That's simply an offer you cannot refuse!
As for the breadnknife, I'd say get the Tojiro mentioned, and for crusty bread perhaps just a decent NSF that has the scallops terminating to points as I don't know the benefit of spending $150+/- on a Messermeister or Gude where the steel is likely no better and perhaps even less than a wusthof pro. This review is interesting though: http://zknives.com/knives/kitchen/ktknv/misc/gudebk320.shtml
This was fun, my SO buys a lot of collectables from this site.
And BDL chimes in:
Over the years I really did not have that many occassions to use a bread knife. If you're doing pastries or cakes, I would think a longer serrated slicer would be used more. 12-14". Hollow ground or regular. As others have said, a good french knife, a good paring knife.
For me, I embrace the bench knife as the most important tool that I have. I covet a few. 1 stainless 4x6 18-8 with a homemade hard cover for the blade to keep it from getting dinged a remain perfectly straight for smoothing sides, tops of things. Then another one that I sharpen to be used for cutting or scaling. We work on wood benches so I have one that I burr, to scrape down the bench to clean, The burr will actually take a minute amount of wood.