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Sep 15, 2006 02:48 AM

Necessary Knives [ Split from Ontario ]

[[ Note: This discussion split from Ontario at: -- The Chowhound Team]


PS, don't get suckered into buying a set of 18 or something ridiculous. Nobody needs a "tomato knife." Or a "sandwich knife." You'll rarely use a filleting knife (though if you're someone who would use one to fillet fish, you'll already know that). And you don't need three chefs' knives in different lengths. Buy a good, big chef's knife that fits your hand and feels comfortable. Get a paring knife for the close work, and maybe a 6" kitchen knife for carving &c. And a serrated knife for bread, cakes and (if you must) for tomatoes. And get a steel to keep them all sharp. If you really think you need one, get a cleaver for chopping through bones. Those should do pretty much everything you need.

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  1. Thanks for the tip. I actually have a lot of knives already. I just want more, and I'm doing a bit of research on them, so I want to find a real aithority to talk to.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ognir

      out of curiousity, what do you currently have in terms of brands and types?

      i've currently got a few wustofs but i can't direct you to a store since i got them wholesale via a friend, but am on the look out to expand my collection a little.

      1. re: pinstripeprincess

        Frosts Mora French (10") -- My main knife. Have had it for years and I love it. Frosts is a Swedish company. Their French is lighter that Wusthof's and the steel slightly softer so it is easier to sharpen. Nicely balanced with a deeper blade that the Wusthof. (Would love to find more Fotsts in Toronto.)

        Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu French (10"
        )Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu slicer (8")
        Wusthof Classic bread knife

        Japanese cleaver (7")
        Victorinox paring
        Henkels paring & tourne

        I have my eye on a Mario Batali tomato knife.

      2. re: ognir

        OK, keeping with the spirit of this:

        - A long, skinny, flexible knife for slicing things like smoked salmon
        - A tomato knife (see my other post)
        - A filleting knife (see my other post)
        - A Black & Decker Ergo (it may now be called something else, but it's still around) electric knife (boo, hiss) for carving a turkey or duck and for slicing a lot of bread at one time
        - A long, straight serrated bread knife (for slicing less than a lot of bread)
        - An oyster knife (if you eat the things)
        - A Chef's Choice diamond hone electric sharpener - the three slot model. This is the only electric I know about that won't ruin your knives. Sure it'll theoretically wear them out faster, but I've had mine since 1986 and I haven't killed a knife yet. The question is can you use a stone and steel and are you willing to steel your knives at every use? (I'll admit that I can't be bothered.)

        1. re: embee

          I'm with you on the tomato knife. I would not be without it and I use it on other soft fruit.

          I have 5 french knives of varying lengths even a 4" which is great for mincing herbs. I lost my first one and was frantic to get it replaced. My others are by different mfgs. even one rarely used carbon steel one. I most often reach for my 10" chef's though. And a number of assorted other knives, 2 Santukos in different sizes different sizes of paring knives, slicers and carvers, a steel, also a Chef's Choice sharpener, I have an electric kicking around somewhere. I don't think we have ever used it.

          Something that comes out of hibernation several times a year is my Krups slicer. Nothing like it when you want very uniform even slices. I just forget between uses how to assemble it again and it is a bit of a pain to take apart and clean but I'd not give it up

      3. I agree with you in principle, with a few glaring exceptions:

        - I never thought a "tomato knife" made sense, but it does. Mine is Swiss and cost about $6.00. Much smaller than a bread knife, teeth smaller, sharper, and closer together than bread knife serrations. I use it constantly and recommend it highly. Good for the obvious (tomatoes, bell peppers) and I often find it handy for other odds and sods. Makes nice decorative striations on things as well.

        - As you note, a filleting knife is important if you actually filet fish. It's flexability makes it useful for other things. It is ideal for carving odd chunks out of, say, a lamb leg. Hardly essential, but potentially useful depending on your cooking style.

        - If, by sandwich knife, you mean a knife to cut sandwiches in half, then I agree. What I think of as a "sandwich knife" is more of a spreader, much wider and stubbier than a knife, not necessarily sharp, and better than a knife for its intended use.

        1. For $6 a tomato knife probably isn't a bad purchase. It's when they're $70 that I think it's a mistake. Although I use my chef's knife for tomatoes, even very ripe ones, and have never had a problem. I just keep it good and sharp. I get the sense that a tomato knife would be good for slicing them, but not so much for chopping. True?

          2 Replies
          1. re: pimentdespelette

            True. It also helps with dicing where you want to neatly cut through the skin, but it's not really geared for overall chopping. I think I got mine at Embros (now closed), but I remember seeing them at A Cook's Place.

            Honestly, there's no price/quality relationship with knives. Some of the most beautifully crafted knives may not fit your hand, are poorly balanced, or can slip. Some of the stamped knives (Forchner et al) work brilliantly (at least, for me). I have several name brand German knives from 20-30 years ago. They are great, but I'd never spend that much money for a knife again. I also won't buy any but the cheapest knives without return privileges.

            A couple of other things come to mind. I'd never give up my Dexter Chinese cleaver. I also have a Wusthof cleaver (the bone smashing kind - the Dexter is sharp) that cost over $100 and I've probably used it three times in 25 years.

            1. re: embee

              Yes, I have a Dexter too. I forget to use it but when I remmeber I do use it.

          2. I have about 8 knives that i use on a regular basis.
            8" chefs knife, made by Hoffritz and German shape.
            6" Chefs knife German shape,unknown brand, (This is the knife that I use most often at home)
            I originally purchased a 6" French knife, but I broke the tip in a stupid stunt.I much prefer the French shape, but they are difficult to find.
            I have 5x 4" utility paring knives from PCD. inexpensive and razor sharp.
            12" bread knife
            Chinese cleaver
            10" slicer
            A medium and fine cut diamond steel that I use before I any knife touches the cutting board.
            I have a full set of garnish knives that I rarely use.

            My next purchase will be a 7" Wusthof santuko

  , Great people, great service and wide selection of professional culinary tools.

            1. My latest knife purchase has been a real surprise hit. I recently bought a 12" Sabatier au Carbonne Chef's Knife. For some reason, I convinced myself that the length reflected the entire knife and not just the blade...boy was I wrong. With the handle included, this knife is almost eighteen inches!

              I'm a fairly big guy but I never thought that this monstrosity would turn out to be the most practical knife I owned. It makes knifework a breeze. Since it is so large, it is easier to "rock" the blade higher to accomodate ingredients. Plus, the carbon steel can be sharpened to a razor's edge. It can dice an onion like nothing else. It's large enough to halve chickens, slice cabbage, it is beautiful.

              I urge anyone reading this to go to a good knife retailer and check out larger chef's knives. Find one that is affordable (mine was a STEAL at $70) and take a chance. If my girlfriend would let me, I would sleep with it at night.

              I LOVE MY MONSTER KNIFE!

              PS- I found mine at

              PPS- Here's the exact one I bought.