is a 10" chef knife really necessary?
OK guys I am off to a good start with a wusthof set and it comes with a 8" chef knife.. which seems to handle well,... but seems like concensus is saying 10" is better etc. Is it really necessary for the home cook? I am not cutting 8 hours a day, in fact just preparing 1 meal a day.. If 8" is a little less effecient, but repeating the sawing action with a shorter knife is not a big deal, is it?
Blade size for a chef's knife only seems to matter in providing stability in cutting very hard rind cheeses or large, thick skinned melons or squash, or chunks of chocolate where being able to control the blade and prevent it from rotating is critical to your life and limb. Otherwise, frankly my favorite size is actually a 6" chef's knife that I use at least 5x more frequently than my 8" blade and that one I use at least 10x more frequently than the 10" blade; nonetheless, having it handy and sharp is a luxury that I truly appreciate. However, my 6" version is one that I acquired 15+ years ago as my first serious knife and it remains a go-to staple. In short, I could go without the 10" blade but am glad to have it available
I love my 10" chef's knife but I bounce back and forth between my 8" and 10" chef knives. Depends on what I'm cutting, etc. I don't think it's a necessity just a matter of personal preference.
As flourgirl says, it's really a matter of personal preference. I use my 6" and 8" knives much more often than my 10". The longer knife is helpful in dealing with things like winter squash and large heads of cabbage, but I could certainly get by without it. Perhaps you can borrow a 10" and see how it suits you, before you make the investment. Another option is to go for an inexpensive stamped one from a restaurant-supply house. The Dexter-Russell Sani-Safe line is one example, but there are others in the same price range ($25-30), or even lower.
"but seems like concensus is saying 10" is better etc"
It's just personal preference. At home I use 8" the most. At work some days I use 8, 10" or 12". Sara Moulton uses a 12" . I would think due to her petite size and lack of upper body strength she needs the extra heft of the larger blade. There simply is no universal one "best" size and it's certainly not necessary for you to have a larger one.
mostly I'll go for the 8 inch chefs or a santoku, either a 5 inch or a 7 inch, before the 10 inch heavy german chef's knife. it's a personal choice though, and has more to do with how the knife feels in your hand than whether one is better than another. If you're cutting something that's large in diameter like a watermelon, it's nice to go through it with a single stroke of a 10 inch knife. Or something like hard acorn squash, where you want a little more oomph. But 9 times out of 10 it will be an 8 inch chefs or a santoku for me.
Nice to have, particularly when there's lots to chop (presuming you have a large enough cutting board), but by no means a necessity. 8" is enough for just about everything, and when it's not enough, you can chop in two batches. My father has loved to cook his entire life, and he's never used anything longer than an 8" chef's knife.
On the other hand, if you find a 10" knife that really feels good in your hand, you might find yourself using it where a smaller knife would do. For a several years I had a very nice carbon steel 10" Sabatier chef's knife, that was a beautiful lightweight knife that took a very sharp edge, but it never felt right to me, because I'm just accustomed to heavier knives, so I tended to use my 8" Henckels more, but recently I replaced it with an extra wide 10" Wusthof, and that one feels right to me, so I'm using it more than the 8".
To echo previous thoughts, I use my 10" (I bought a Forschner for ~$25) for cutting squash and other hard produce, and also for breaking through bones.
It might go without saying, but I'd certainly recommend using a thicker, German style blade for any of those tasks.
The advantage of a big knife is that it's bigger. that's useful for things where you want to make one cut -- watermelons, cabbage, and so on; and where you want to use the leverage the length gives you for cutting something hard. It's also useful if you take advantage of the longer cutting edge to do more at the same time -- cutting up half a dozen carrots at the same time, instead of just one. That's the big reason they're common in restaurant kitchens; there's lots to cut up, and not always lots of time to do it. It does require knife skills to do that, and many non-professionals have laughably awful skills.
If you're not willing to learn them, and put them to use, a smaller knife probably will serve you just fine, since post people don't cut up huge melons regularly.
The disadvantage of a big knife, by the way, is that it's a big knife. the extra length is a bit harder to control, and for operations with the tip of the knife, a shorter knife is handier.
I have 6", 8" and 10" knives in my block, and reach for the 6" and 10". I use the 8" only when I grab it by mistake, or the 10" is on the other counter.
Totally agree. Though one tends to have a favorite size and probably make of knife to do their major work, having a complete set of sizes and types can make a great difference in comfort and speed no matter what the situation. Try hulling 30 pounds of strawberries with your 10, 8, or 6". That is where my itty bitty 3 inch Henckels Twin Pro-Paring Knife becomes the "Belle of the Ball". You may only use it sparingly, but when you do need it, you kiss its bolster! I'm happy....chef is happy......everybody happy! :-)
Also, I have found by accident that since almost all my knives are from different makes, the handles are different. Right out of the corner of my eye I can even pick the right one I want because of this. Win Win situation.