- jillp Sep 3, 2007 07:52 PM
Jackp and I began our marriage with a swell set of Henkels knives and we are still using them. But occasionally over the last few years I have felt the need for a different shape or size of knife. I have added a few really, seriously, shamefully inexpensive knives to our collection, in addition to more of the good ones. Today I bought a 5" Cuisinart Santuko with a granton blade. It set me back all of $7. What a handy little thing this is. Even Jackp - a known knife-snob - used it happily while preparing dinner.
It occurs to me that what matters most in knives is the sharpness of the blade and how it feels in your hand. As long as you can easily prepare food with them, does it really matter if they're the finest things on the market?
But having said that, I do have to mention that when our nephew was here a couple of months ago with a gorgeous Shun knife, I was delighted with the feel in my hand....
I've got what I think is a pretty spectacular collection of Henckels and Wustof knives, some of them actually modified for me by a knife maker. A couple of chef's knives, several boning, paring and utility knives...all excellent and expensive and wonderful knives.
Almost as often as I use them, I use the set of four plastic handled, multi-colored paring knives from Henckels that I got on Amazon for $15 a couple of years ago. Any my new favorite knives in the kitchen are a paring knife and utility knife from Williams-Sonoma that were $3 and $9 respectively on sale...they're wood handled, stamped, super light and wicked sharp. I love them. My wife loves her Calphalon Contemporary Santuko knife, too.
Bottom line, cost doesn't matter if you don't like how it feels and how it cuts, you won't use it.
We are on our second set of Henckels paring knives... we put them in the dishwasher, cut on plates and other awful things we would never do with the "good" knives. Occassionally they get passed through the knife sharpener, and when they get too too bad (takes years), we get new ones!
I actually prefer cheap knives...you don't worry about them and if something happens to one you don't feel bad. As you guys mentioned, if the blade is sharp they work fine. The only thing I miss about Wustof or Henckel knives is the weight for some uses. OTOH, a light knife is easier to use and can be less fatiguing.
One problem is that the cheap metal will not hold up as well and although you may sharpen it, it will lose the edge much faster than a harder metal. Agreed that as long as it's sharp you can cut very well but it's a pain to have to keep sharpening. I gave my kids a lot of my old inexpensive knives. I tried to put a 15 degree edge on a thin paring knife but it would just chip. Subsequently a 25 degree edge was better suited to the metal.
check out the knives your butcher uses and I doubt you will find nary a wushof, shun or global among them. most likely you will see relatively inexpensive forschners and dexter russells. why? because they cut better than the more expensive knives most of the time. you might pay around $80-$100 for a shun chef's knife, when for that kind of money you could get a slicer and a chef's knife and maybe a santoku from forschner and have knives that will last a very long time and will stay very sharp
Butcher shops don't use Shuns or Globals, but it's got nothing to do with quality and everything to do with price. And to be honest, a really great knife is overkill for meat cutting. You need a good edge, but affordability has the edge (no pun intended) over ultimate sharpness and edge retention. And most butchershops, unless they're a one or two person shop, will probably have employees- there's a "company car syndrome" associated with good knives. No one treats the company car like their own car and the help can't be expected to take care of a Japanese knife with a hardness of 65 Rockwell. Plus, really spendy knives have a habit of following the help home...
I've usually been the primary meat cutter in the kitchens I've run. I will use some cheapos but it's great to have quality knives.
That said, you don't need to spend a ton to get decent knives. I highly recomment the Fibrox line to anyone needing good steel at a bargain price.
While expensive knives are generally good, good knives need not be expensive.
My good expensive knives include Dicks, Sabatiers, and Japanese.
My equally good but inexpensive knives include Brazilian Tramontinas,.no-name Japanese, KitchenAid santoku, a huge LamsonSharp, a cleaver from China...
re: Sam Fujisaka
I just discovered a cheapo knife I've had for years is a Tramontina. Now I think I would seek it out specifically. I bought it well over 10 years ago as an all-purpose knife. For a while it may have been the only one I had. Still use it regularly even though I now have a few Wusthofs. It's one of those silly serrated eversharp type of things, but it does some things well.