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Apr 28, 2007 02:13 PM

Chef's Knife Recommendation

Hi everyone,

I'm a recent culinary school grad, and have just started working in the industry at an NYC catering company. I was given a set of Wusthof-Trident Classic knives by the school, and while the 10" chef's knife did the job just fine during school, a part-time cooking gig while in school, and my subsequent externship, it's just not holding it's edge long enough to be of professional practical use. My current job is a lot of production work and I cut everything from hard veg to soft proteins everyday so the chef's knife is my main knife. I'm constantly reaching for a steel (both a diamond and the steel Wusthof one that school gave me) and have to sharpen it pretty much every other day on whetstone I have at home. Granted the knife is a year old now and I'm having it sharpened by a professional now, so I'm hoping this will help.

However, I've heard that typically "school" knives aren't the greatest knives to use in the professional world. Also I've heard that Wusthofs in general are very hard knives that make them more difficult to sharpen and they typically don't hold their edge very long anyways. I've considered going japanese, but I'm left handed, and even Korin doesn't carry left-handed japanese knives. While I know they can reverse a right handed blade or special order a lefty blade I just don't want to spend the cash on something that's going to get destroyed - there's not a lot of respect for other people's knives and it's just a very busy place with knives constantly getting dropped off tables, tossed in hotel pans etc.

So with all of the above factors, can anyone recommend a quality chef's knife that holds an edge/stays sharper longer than the Wusthof? Thanks in advance for any advice.

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  1. I have a Wurstof chef's knife that does the job, but I guess I do sharpen it every once in a while, and I don't think it has every been as sharp as the factory. One thing that surprised me - I bought this really inexpensive chef's knife in TJ Maxx == Sabatier (I know that is not the correct spelling) and it's wicked sharp and **very** comfortable. Most pros I know like Japanses knives, and I know you have a good selection in restaurant supply stores.

    1. Not all Japanese chefs knives have asymmetrical edges.

      For example, take a look at the Tojiro at Korin. See link, specifies 50/50 edge.

      Also, there's no law that says you have to sharpen your knife at the factory edge. If you don't like a so-called right-handed edge, sharpen it symmetrically.

      If I were working in a pro kitchen, I would use something like a Blazen. See link.

      2 Replies
      1. re: a priori

        Here's a diagram of a typical Japanese right-handed chef's knife edge. Some are more asymmetrical than others. (Click image.)

        1. re: a priori

          I think you definitely want Japanese steel.

          Have you been into Korin? I hear they are extremely helpful, and I imagine they would be happy to suggest something. A lot of people seem to like the Misonos, like this one:

          I'm pretty sure that would be fine for someone left-handed. I don't know why Korin has a conversion deal on it - the blade is double-edged, and I thought the handle was symetrical. In either event, maybe too much cash to drop on a knife for use in the kind of situation you're describing. The Tojiro mentioned above seems fine for both righties and lefties.

          There are some cheap online sources, but I'd say support the local shop where you can go try them out.

          Remember that the edge on most Japanese knives is a little sharper (usually 15 degrees or so on each side for knives that are sharpened on both sides), so keep that in mind when you're maintaining the edge.

        2. Congratulations on the new career. I know just a bit about knives, but nothing so much as the folks over at:

          Check it out if you want more opinions.

          Wusthof knives are made of what is actually considered a relatively soft steel. Nothing wrong with it, just needs to be steeled and eventually sharpened more frequently--as you know. Most Japanese steel is harder, with the blades often thinner and lighter. I really like those I have (my favorite is a Misono), and would recommend them over German knives, generally speaking. You can try the Tojiro mentioned above. It's pretty cheap, gets good reviews via money-to-value, and would give you a good place to start exploring Japanese knives. It's still going to need sharpening; a lot of sushi chefs sharpen every day at the end of their shift. And one downside to harder steel is that it can chip more easily, so take that into consideration.

          And, yes, to confirm the other advice, many Japanese knives are sharpened with a 50/50 edge--so you don't have to worry about the right/left thing. Another great place to shop is:

          They have great prices and are really nice to deal with--though Korin is awesome too. One last thing, if you're used to an 8-inch knife, you might want a 9-inch (240mm) if you switch. The lighter weight may make a Japanese 8-inch (210mm) seem small. That's what I discovered anyway. Good luck.

          1. Buy a Forester and don't waste time spending money on German knives; or buy a Shun and get one of the sharpest knives around. My Shun, not a special one but a regular Shun, keeps an edge for a good time, so does my $26 Forester 10".

            1. I have 2 suggestions.
              First, the knife you mention is forged with a bolster and a thick blade. Try a stamped budget knife like Forschner or Victorinox. It won't stay sharp any longer, but the thin metal blade may not be so obvious when it starts to get dull.
              Second, well now, you are a professional who knows how to care for your knives. Try a basic, old fashion carbon steel knife. I am not familiar with the store you mention, but any good cutlery store should have them. I also note that at, you can get carbon steel knives from Sabatier, a mediore brand, but worthwhile considering the price. When you sharpen them, the edge is much sharper than the standard high-carbon stainless steel of your knife, and it retains its sharp edge much longer than any high-carbon stainless blade, whether German or Japanese. Course, you must care for them properly: wash and dry immediately after use, positively do not just leave it on the counter or toss it into the sink for cleaning later.
              I have a 12 inch Dexter and a 14 inch Lamson, both of which are ordinary carbon steel, for several years and I cannot remember either one ever needing sharpening despite regular use; I really enjoy using them, since they are much sharper than the Japanese and German knives scattered among 3 or 4 knife rolls.