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Dec 4, 2000 11:38 AM

Chef's Knives

  • c

I'm not sure this is the right board for this but I really appreciate some guidance from some industry pros or savy chowhounds.... I'm looking to purchase Chef Quality (maybe Sushi Chef Quality) food prep Knives....I'm looking for something of higher quality than I would find at Crate and Barrel or the like....Also I would prefer that these knives to be made of carbon steel (Not Stainless)....if anyone one has a store in Manhattan, maybe a namebrand, or a website that would be greatly appreciated....

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  1. For stores, try Broadway Panhandler. On the web, www.cutlery.com has an excellent selection of brands & prices.

    Link: http://www.cutlery.com

    10 Replies
    1. re: MU
      Chris Palmieri

      Thanks for the replys....Let me pose this question .....which type of blade is actually preferable....Carbon or Stainless? ...I was under the impression that Carbon was preferable when you liked to keep a blade very sharp because they required constant Sharpening (which I actually enjoy)....I had heard that Sushi chefs will only use carbon blades and have always benn jealous of their knives......thanks again, chris

      1. re: Chris Palmieri

        I think most chefs who carry their own knives, that is, most chefs, are jealous of their own, and envious of others. As for the carbon v. stainless question, you will get a sharper cut with freshly sharpened carbon than you will stainless. After a few uses without sharpening, however, the advantage goes the other way. You're talking about minor differences, though. A well maintained, high carbon content stainless blade, such as a Wustoff (though not Henckels), will do an excellent job in the overwhelming number of circumstances. And, it doesn't rust or go dull so easily. Of course, if you're planning on filling in at Nobu, you might want to think about something else. I enjoy sharpening knives too, but I also like doing a lot of other things - especially when I need a knife and don't have time to deal with making it perfect.

        1. re: Jamal
          Dan Silverman

          Jamal-- I find most European chef's knives pretty similar. Once the factory edge wears off, it's not all that easy to put a nice edge on the hard stainless blades. To my mind F. Dick knives have the hardest steel and are therefore the most difficult to put a good edge on. Did you know that all of the European knife makers used to make carbon knives? Makes sense, right? I have quite a few and they are cherished. As far as the maintainence of carbon steel knives is concerned, I don't think they need to be sharpened every day, even if you're in a professional kitchen. Then again, don't sharpen them every other February either. As a professional I probably sharpen my knives once a week, and I'm fanatical (with a capital F) about sharp knives. Once you notice that your knife isn't doing the things you like it to it's probably time to hit the stone.

          1. re: Dan Silverman

            When you guys are talking of "sharpening" carbon steel do you actually mean honing(which I try to do after every use)?


            1. re: Frank

              No, I don't mean honing. I hone my knives (Wusthoff classics) before nearly every "serious" use. I sharpend them every few months. To the previous point about carbon steel, yes, I am aware of the fact that most, if not all, European cutlery-makers used make knives of carbon steel. And, I cherish the couple that I own. However, I disagree that most European knives are the same. Two of the biggest, Wusthoff and Henckels are manufactured completely differently. Wusthoff knives are hand forged (but, don't get too romantic about them - they aren't artisinally formed), whereas Henckels are stamped. I'm not a metallurgist, but I'm under the impression that hand-forged steel is stronger and is more flexible. Moreover, "stainless" steel is a generic name for many different combinations of alloys. For a sharp edge, you don't want the "hardest" steel. That's why many knives are advertised as "high-carbon" stainless. They come close to providing the edge provided by carbon steel knives, but offer the convenience of stainless. It's a compromise. Since I'm not a professional - that is, I'm not a employed in any kitchen - I do write about culinary matters and have occassion to try things out - the compromise is fine by me.

              1. re: Jamal
                Michael Messier

                I think what's being referred to as honing is using a steel to align the edge. I have stainless knives, Forschner and Sabatier, and they become quite sharp after steeling. Though I use them quite a bit-at least for a home cook-they only need to be sharpened every couple of years, which I have done profesionally. As far as stainless vs. carbon, keep in mind that carbon can stain certain foods, such as onions. I've used carbon knives, but I would opt for stainless, except perhaps for a boning knive, or any other knive, that you would use for trimming meat or filleting fish, where you want the sharpess blade possible.

                IMHO the german-made knives, or those similarly styled, are awkward and uncomfortable to use. For me, french knives are easier to hold and seem more maneuverable. Unfortunately, it's not easy to find french style knives as the german style are more popular.

                If you want a lot of knive for the money, I highly recommend the knives from Forschner-preferably with wood handles. They are stamped, not forged, but they keep a good edge and last. Many professional kitchens use to use Forschner until the Brazilians came out with a cheaper copy. If your skeptical about such a knive, keep in mind that the expensive, forged knives are a rear commodity in restaurants, including the fancy places.

                1. re: Michael Messier

                  Okay, my recommendation would be Cutco knives. . . They're professional quality but are found in consumer households as well. What I like about them: 440 gauge high carbon stainless steel blades, full shank provides optimal hand balance, poly-resin handles are heat resistant to 220 degrees, melt resistant to 360 degrees, patented double-d edge provides clean cuts instead of tears like serrated, and extremely liberal replacement policy. Oh, free lifetime sharpening as well. I own several sets. And no, I don't work there. . . I just love the knives. Good luck!

                  1. re: Michael Messier

                    I love Sabatier. Perfect grip and balance. I suggest both stainless and carbon. If I'm in a hurry, I use stainless and put it in the dishwaher. If I have time to slice and dice, which I enjoy, I'll use the carbon which is much better but needs to be wiped. I find that the 9inch and 7 inch blades are the most useful.

          2. re: Chris Palmieri
            Dan Silverman

            The store you're talking about is called Korin Trading Co. It is located on Warren Street in Tribeca. While it is primarily a Japanese restaurant supply store, they have a mouth watering knife display that takes up one corner of the store. I've bought numerous knives there and always been satisfied. Be prepared to spend $$$$ for the knives though--good Japanese knives can be quite pricey. Do yourself a favor for the long term, buy the best knife you can afford. If taken care of properly they last for a very long time. I had the misfortune of nicking the tip off of one of my knives, the helpful people at Korin sent it out and had it repointed and put a dandy like new edge on it. One caveat about the Japanese style western knives--be careful--they're probably sharper than what you're used to. But that's a good thing...

            1. re: Chris Palmieri

              Just a note here: most "stainless" knives these days are not, strictly speaking, stainless steel. They're a blend of stainless and other metals (molybedenum is one) and are usually called "no stain" steel to differentiate them from true stainless.

              In general, though, you're right about the difference: carbon steel, since it's softer, takes a sharper edge and loses it faster. Do remember that there's a difference between sharpening, in which you actually take off some of the metal (and re-create the edge), and honing, in which you're merely realigning the edge. Most knife experts will tell you to hone your knives after (or before) every use to keep them sharp. On the other hand, if you actually sharpen your knives that often, you'll end up with no knife left.

          3. There are several places you can go. On the Eastside there's Bridge Kitcheware (E. 52nd). They have a website (see below), but they don't come close to mentioning the selection of knives carried in their shop. In the Upper West Side, Zabar's has a really good selection of knives, standards like Wusthoff, Sabatier, etc., but also Globe, beautiful Japanese, knives. In SoHo, try the Broadway Panhandler (Broome and Wooster - website also below). Dean and Deluca on Prince and B'way has all kinds of knives, including specific sushi knives. Though not cheap, their kitchenware doesn't seem to be as overpriced as most of the food they sell (cranberries $6/lb.!). And, if you're down that way, you might want to head over to some of the restaurant supplies stores on the Bowery. Can't give many specific names, but Chef's something-or-other, on the west side of Bowery, just above Houston, has a solid selection of knives. Several others below Houston also will have them. Just poke your head in and ask if they have any carbon steel knives. You have to be a bit pushy, since they might ignore you if you just stand around waiting for help.



            1. l
              Leslie Brenner

              Below is a link to a Japanese knife outlet that many NYC chefs use. I was under the impression that it's wholesale only, but I'm not sure--you'll have to check. I don't think their ecommerce function is working yet; their showroom is in Tribeca. They have a broad selection of Japanese knives ranging from lower end, but still very serviceable Mac to stainless steel or carbon steel Suisen (I just bought a swell stainless steel Suisen, 8" or 9" chef's knife for around $70), to an array of super high-end sushi knives (all carbon) that go for up to $2000. From what I understand, you're correct that the carbon knives need to be sharpened more frequently--in fact, every day. They are indeed sharper though. The stainless hold their edge longer, and also washing and drying them completely every ten seconds isn't as crucial...I'd also seek advice on specifically the kind of sharpening stone or stones you'll need--they have a great selection of these as well, and they're much finer in grade than what I was used to.

              Link: http://www.korin.com/content.htm

              1. For japanese knives. the best place is Korin on Warren St. For GErman knives and certain Japanese knives a good place is J.B. Prince on 31 st. For sushi knives, go to KOrin.

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