HI all :)
Newbie/lurker here, with the usual request for help choosing some new knives. I have tried to do a fair bit of reading here and on other sites, so I am now that most dangerous of individuals - I have some understanding and knowledge but probably not enough. I will try to provide details on what I want, how I am and what I am thinking so far. Please help guide me as I expand my culinary skills.
So I am a home/hobby cook, not a professional and not likely to become a professional. I'm fairly certain I shouldn't use the word chef to describe myself. I have taken some cooking classes and will likely take more for my own enjoyment. In particular, I plan to take a knife skills course to better use these new knives we're discussing. I cook a wide variety of items - vegetables, meats, no limits on what I will try really. My wife and I like to eat multiple ethnic foods (I do the vast majority of the cooking). I also bake (mostly cookies, squares, cakes etc, accounting for my physique). I rarely would do anything involving cutting through joints or bone. The only times I can think of, off hand, would be Christmas/Thanksgiving with turkey.
I currently have a set of relatively inexpensive Sabatier knives (a set that came with a pairing knife, 6 steak knives, a 8 inch Chef, a 6 inch utility knife, a bread knife, and a 10 inch slicer). They are supposed to be about the quality level of 1 or 2 man Henckels - I can't remember exactly, we've had them for almost 20 years. I recently bought a 8 inch santoku and 6 inch santoku by Kuhn Rikon to see how I felt about the shape (I like the shape fine). I mostly use the utility knife, chef's knife and the steak knives (don't hate me - I use them like a pairing or utility knife when my utility is dirty and I don't like my pairing knife).
Maintenance and sharpening - um, ooops? Ok, we didn't know about no dishwasher, so they have all been constantly in there. Probably explains the lack of sharpness, particularly since I have never sharpened them. I promise to hand wash and dry my new knives. I do use the steel to hone the blades, more and more recently. I honestly thought that was sharpening before embarking on the research to find new knives. And while we're being honest, I will say I don't mind honing, and -might- use a machine to sharpen but I am not likely to get into hand sharpening. So blades that stay sharp longer are probably important. As well, I would probably be unhappy with rust, so I think I'm looking for stainless.
Alright. So what am I thinking? I would like to try Japanese knives. After my reading, I was leaning towards getting a Tojiro DP 2- or 3-peice set from Chef Knives To Go. It is a 6" utility knife and 8" gyuto plus or minus a 3" pairing knife. However, I will admit to an aesthetic bias. I was hoping to get "cool" looking knives, maybe with funky handles and a hammered damascus blade. My reading so far suggested the Tojiro's would be amongst the best function for money. I have an engineer's function before form core so hence the above. I was also thinking I might get a German Chef's knife as well to deal with gourds, other hard vegetables and the rare times I might need to cut joints/around bone.
Money is not really a limiting factor, but I want to pay for good knives and not simply to have a name brand (for instance, a friend who went to WS and bought Shuns because they looked cool and had a recognizable name), I guess in the money area, the best phrasing is that I would like a good value.
Thanks in advance for any and all advice. Oh, and thanks to boar_d_laze and others for all the information here. I particularly liked the post sequence "Best knives???".