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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.

      http://www.korin.com/product.php?pid=...

      http://www.epicureanedge.com/shopdisp...

      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:
          http://www.korin.com/models.php?cat=5...

          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: http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/sho...

          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: http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/

          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 www.fantes.com, 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.

              1. Third vote for Forschner Victorinox at work. Get a nicer blade (or use the Wusthof) at home

                1. you can get at least 2 forshner knives for what you'd typically spend on a single wusthoff or shun. they're very good and hold a remarkable edge, and you won't commit hari kari if someone snatches it the way you might with a shun. Look around you in the kitchen, i bet most use forschners or dexter russell or some such stamped blade. Having said that, I can honestly say that my shun holds a better edge through cutting through artichokes to slicing tomatoes than any knife i've ever had. Also, consider the mighty mac chef's knife, i've seen professionals use them too, but it might set you back about $90

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: chuckl

                    I sharpen my 35 year old Sabatier carbon steel 10" chef's knife twice a year, whether it needs it or not. I hone it on a regular cut steel before each use, and I can cut a tomato, with no pressure, thin enough to read a newspaper through it. I use it a half dozen times a day, often even for paring because it is so nimble. I am not familiar up close and personal with the the ones at Fantes (but love their website and have been thrilled with everything I have bought there). Based on my "go to" paring knife, a Sabatier (Thiers Issard) carbon steel, I'd look for one of their chef's knives. I think there's a website called "the best things" that has them (since whatever kind of Sabatier chef's knife I bought does not seem to be available these days). You can also get them at Dehillerin. They are a good deal cheaper than Wusthof's top line but not as cheap as Forschner If your cutting style is amenable to lighter weight knives, Sabatier carbon steel knives, including Nogent knives, are very light and easy to work with. Some day I am tempted to get one of those F. Dick oval steels. I have never used Forschner ior Wustof but have used a lot Henckels and like the edge on carbon steel knives way better.

                    1. re: tim irvine

                      I have many kitchen knives; some cheap and some very expensive, but my favorite is a very old Old Hickory slicing knive. I sharpen it often, and it will shave the hair on my arm.

                      1. re: jimpeterson

                        You know this is a really old post, right?

                  2. I know my reply is WAAAY late, but here goes.

                    If you're working in a professional kitchen, don't use a nice and expensive Japanese blade like the Misono UX10. I don't. Save that for when you're cooking at home or for friends. If you're in a professional kitchen, just use those cheapo Forschner knives sold at restaurant supply shops. Those are strong enough to endure all the drops, knicks, and banging around you'll experience at work. Plus if you lose it to some kitchen ninjas you won't feel as bad. However if you happen to work in a kitchen filled with a lot of tattooed testosterone gorillas who measure how BIG each other's expensive knives are, then you're better off working for a more humble professional kitchen. Don't let those egos push you around with how 'cheap' they think your knive is. It's all about your work ethic. If your's is better than theirs, it won't matter how 'nice' your knife is.

                    Just like with trucks, those who drive big trucks are usually overcompensating for something small (if you know what I mean).

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: MaxChartreuse

                      Not true. It is all about knife sharpening skill. That is what kitchen ninjas told me.

                      1. re: MaxChartreuse

                        Well there is some truth in what you say. Depending on the kitchen your knives may take a beating and there is the possibility of abuse and theft. In a work environment you have to think of your knives as tools. Three is no room for show pieces. Really this applys to the home as well.

                        J-knifes are becoming more common in the restaurant kitchen where there is more emphasis on plating and precision knife work. You do need to be able to sharpen at work and be careful who you let use it if anyone.

                      2. misuno knives are supposed to be superior quality japanese knives, and they make lefties. I am orderinga couple from paul finest, its canadian. I landed on the sight by googling kitchen knives. Hope that was of some help