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Dec 17, 2008 01:25 PM

Scallops on Chef's Knives...Really that much Better?

I am wondering whether or not to get a chef's knife with the scallops along the face. Alton Brown suggests that they really only make a difference on carving knifes. Anyone ever converted between the two and noticed a significant difference?

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  1. Sasserwazr,

    I'm a former professional who still does private events. Chef's knives should be smooth so as not to break up things your slicing. Scallops are handy for peeling off slices of watery or sticky things that adhere to the blade but generally a smaller, thinner knife will do that job without the scallops.


    1. I like having scallops on a Santoku, but I only ever reach for it when cutting large quantities of russets. If you're investing in an expensive knife, I would get without scallops. Over the years, if you sharpen it to the point where the edge reaches the scallop, the knife is dead.

      3 Replies
      1. re: sobriquet

        Agreed, once it hits the scallops, it's dead.

        I'd only recommend it if you find yourself slicing finer things, like Alton said, carving. I make Gravlax a lot and like to slice it thinly, the scallop edges help with that. But if you're looking for an every day work hourse knife, ditch the scallops. I never found a difference when I was say cutting carrots on a daily basis. Only when I wanted paper-thin cuts without tearing the product.

        I wish I didn't buy my 8" Wushtof Chef knife since I had the Santoku with Scallops. I could have gone for the 10" Chef Knife instead.

        1. re: moreana

          The granton edge may make most sense on carving knives used for meat like hams, and Santokus used for vegetables like cucumbers. In other words, thin blades used to slice things that tend to stick to the blade. You don't need to spend a lot of money to buy a quite functional knife like this. I also wouldn't worry about the scallops interfering with sharpening. For most home cooks it would require several life times of use and sharpening to wear away this much of the blade.

          1. re: paulj

            I just tested a couple of my knives making thin slices of English cucumber. The scallops on my inexpensive Farberware Santoku performed as advertised - the slices did not stick at all. They did stick on the Japanese blade that I bought from Cost Plus. I did not bother to test the chef's knife buried in the drawer. I don't think it's enough an issue to determine the knife choice.

        1. re: scubadoo97

          Gimmick maybe, but to me that word entails charging $$$ for something that doesn't matter. With most knives you get what you pay for no matter if the granton edges are there or not. So while it may just be something people perceive as an advantage, if you buy a cheap knife or an expensive one, you'll still be getting what you pay for.

          1. re: HaagenDazs

            Nonsense. There's very little correlation between price and quality with knives. Can you buy a crappy knife for $20? sure. Can you buy a crappy knife for $200? Sure; it's probably easier. Can you buy a great one $20? No, but you can get a very good one. It won't have a fancy name, nor totally non-functional decoration like most of the fancy Japanese knives do these days, but it'll have a good functional blade, made of good quality steel, ground in a good geometry. There are some very nice expensive knives, but there are lots more that exist to extract money from people who don't know anything.

            1. re: dscheidt

              In a sense, what HaagenDazs wrote is correct. if you buy a cheap knife you get, literally, a cheap knife; whether it is good or bad, is a different matter. With modern steels, it is possible to cut a perfectly functional knife from sheet steel, and then grind an good edge. If you want things like full width taper, heavy bolsters, etc, then you need a more expensive forged blade.

              These scallops can be easily ground into the side of a cut steel blade, and hence have little relationship to cost.

              1. re: paulj

                Yes, you can buy a cheap crappy knife. You can also buy a very expensive crappy knife. Price isn't a good guide.

                And there are lots of really niced stamped knives around these days. Forging a knife gets you nothing, except weight.

                1. re: dscheidt

                  You can choose to argue just for the hell of arguing but... you kind of missed my point - maybe I wasn't really clear.

                  Based on the popularity of the granton grind, you can find that style/kind of knife in a huge range of prices and a huge range of quality in a huge range of stores. From German drop forged, to carbon steel French, to ceramic Asian, to crap TJ Maxx American, even to Rachael Ray Furi! ;-) My point is that you shouldn't look towards the granton edge as a deciding factor, (to help answer the original poster's question if you read it carefully) rather you should look towards quality construction and material that the knife is made from as well as what you can afford and what fits your uses.

              2. re: dscheidt

                Can you buy a great one $20?

                Yes you can. A Chinese Cleaver purchased in New York's Chinatown in the market downstairs on the southside of Canal Street between Mulberry and Mott Streets.

                It's a Stain-Free Carbon Blade that holds a great edge and doubles as a scoop/scraper. I have all the name brands in my knife collection, but this Cleaver is right up there with the best of them in making clean razor thin cuts.

                  1. re: MMRuth


                    Yes, the name escaped me in a Senior moment, but that's the name of the market. There used to be a market across from the Chinatown Fair on Mott Street after Moscoe......they had the same knife there many years ago. I think I purchased my first one there back in the mid 80's for $9.99.....a bargain to say the least. next time in Chinatown, I'll have to purchase another one just for the sake of it.

                    The cleaver has a full shank, about four inch handle made with brass and wood, and stain-free carbon blade 8 inches in length and 3.5 inches in width......the manufacturer is Dexter of Massachusetts.

                    1. re: fourunder

                      I'm having more of those myself these days. I bought my wok and some dishes there, but that's a great price for a cleaver and I'm going to have to check it out when I get back to NYC.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        Whenever I take a newbie to NYC's Chinatown, I always make certain to include Kam Man as part of the tour. Guests are always fascinated by the products in the store and the items always purchased downstairs for souveniers are the Chinese soup spoons and the Tea Cups with Lids.

                1. re: dscheidt

                  "... nor totally non-functional decoration like most of the fancy Japanese knives do these days..."

                  Are you serious? I interpret this statement to mean, in your opinion, the majority of Japanese knifes are non-functional decoration. You must not be too familiar with Japanese knives if this is the case -- the Japanese (and those who produce them in Japanese style) produce some, if not all, of the worlds best blades.

                  I certainly agree with your point below that forged knives aren't necessarily the mecca (is this a byproduct of German knife marketing?) and that you can buy some really wonderful $20 knives. But I need to seriously disagree with your blanket statement about Japanese knives; it's simply not true, at all.

                  To the OP, I too, like many of the posters here, think the grantons on knives are a marketing gimmick. A true hollow ground blade is something worth seeking out, but not these new fangled scallops -- especially on a chefs knife.

                  1. re: mateo21

                    Does hollow ground belong on a chefs knife? Wouldn't that produce an edge that is too fragile? According to the wiki article on 'grind', a hollow ground edge is common on mass produced blades. On a mechanized production line there isn't nothing tricky about producing this grind.


                    The purpose of these scallops is quite different from a hollow grind, or any other grind. The scallops start 1/8 to 1/4" away from the edge.

                    1. re: paulj

                      I was referring to the hollow ground found on certain traditional Japanese blades (e.g. a yanagi) where the back of the blade is "hollow ground" with a very large diameter stone, making it concave -- which separates the food and the blade via the subsequent gap.

                      1. re: mateo21

                        So these are single bevel knives, typically used for slicing sashimi? I assume with those knives that the main bevel faces outward, with this shallow hollow toward the uncut fish. That should help the knife pass through without sticking. Thus the knife would cut with less downward pressure.

                        I was thinking of grantons serving more to allow the cut slices to fall away from the knife. That reduces the mess (due to slices clinging to the blade), but not the effort. I haven't payed much attention to the resistance issue. I suspect most home cooks don't keep their blades sharp enough to notice such a difference.

                    2. re: mateo21

                      I interpreted his "non functional decoration" to include all the damascus layering that many Japanese blade manufacturers have as a model option.

              3. Hi!

                I have Santokus, both plain and with a granton edge. Honestly, I'd be hard pressed to tell the difference.

                Good Luck!

                1. A few years ago i wanted some high quality knives. Cooks Illustrated magazine rated several knives including some very expensive. They highly recommended Victorinox, made in Switzerland. As I recall thats what all their cooks used. They make several types you will have to Google the name to find sources and models. The edge is incredible sharp, lasts well, it's our favorite and it will not break the bank.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: studioman

                    To be fair, they also recently said that the Bob Kramer $485 knife was the best knife they ever tried, but left that mention in a sidebox, and not in the "results" page.