Rec wanted: 1 great chef's knife
new kitchen getting close to completion and i'm replacing a few items and buying a few new. my ancient chef's knife is damaged and i'd like to get a new one. any recommendations? this one should last another 20+ years!!!!
What's your current knife - what do you like about it and what do you not like? (weight, length, thickness and rigidity) How much do you want to spend?
No matter what anyone says here, don't buy a knife without handling it. If mail order, make sure you can send it back if you don't like it.
Having said all that, a sort of universal recommendation for a standard grade chef's knife would be the Forschner/Victorinox 8". A light, stamped (not forged), but very well made and long-lasting knife that is thin but has good rigidity and does a decent job holding an edge. A real workhorse, used in many commercial kitchens - and at $29.95, it's a real steel...
At the other end of the house there are wonderful gyutou's from Japan, like this one, the Hattori KD34. The 210mm is only about $1,030.
I have an HD series knife - much more reasonable - about $150 - and still an excellent Japanese style knife with a super edge.
Ok, you say the damaged one is ancient. If you liked it,, look for another like it. Mine is not truly ancient but is 40 years old. It is carbon steel Sabatier, and you can find such knives on the Best Things website. Not all knives badged Sabatier are equal. I am very fond of the Thiers Issard brand. A decent chef's knife will not break the bank (probably cheaper than a top line Wusthof). If you like the heavier German style knives, they all seem to be high carbon SS, which is quite different from carbon steel. I have not had experience with the proliferating Japanese knives, but they certainly are pretty and they do draw raves. I agree with applehome..try it before you commit.
A Japanese Gyuto is a great knife but, you need to use a different techinque with it. A lot of people that go from traditional "German" chef knives cut themselves with the Gyuto because of unsafe habits learned using the German pattern knife for many years.
A German (higher tip) or French (lower top) are probably your best choices. Go to a mall with large department stores and look at the Henckels and Wusthof knives for comparison. Avoid the cheap chinese junk, consider the better Spanish knives and the premium German knives.
redgirl: "... my ancient chef's knife is damaged and i'd like to get a new one. any recommendations?"
The most important recommendation is ... not to rely too heavily upon anybody else's recommendation.
There are few things in life more individual than the feel of a knife in the hand, and nobody but you can tell you how a knife will feel in your hand. One person's "perfect balance" will be another person's "doesn't sit right."
Aside from balance is the matter of the edge. As you will learn, if you do not know already, there is a fierce divide concerning bevel shape (single bevel, double bevel, multi-angle bevel) and hardness. A softer steel will generally take a keener edge but also will require more frequent steeling and sharpening, while the edge of a harder steel knife will allow longer intervals between sharpenings, but usually will not get that last iota of sharpness that can be achieved with a softer steel.
And then, there is the amount you rock the blade when you work with the knife: many "French" chef's knives have nearly straight edges, and thus require a different technique for rocking-chopping than the more curved edges of "German" chef's knives. (In this discussion French and German refer to knife styles, not necessarily nation of manufacture.) And single-bevel "Japanese" knives handle differently from either French or German knives.
So the best recommendation is to try the knives out yourself, hands-on. Which means that loyanty and fair play dictate that you should patronize one of the local (not mail order) merchants who pays the rent for the location where you are allowed to try the knife hands-on.
And then, to counter that, may I suggest that among the knives that you try before you buy, you handle the Edgecraft Chef's Choice -- unless you decide early on that you dislike ALL "German" knives, because although the Chef's Choice knives are forged in Pennsylvania, they tend to follow the German design style of a relatively hard steel and a relatively curved edge.
I would guess, judging by the boards you've posted to, that you live in Manhattan, the Outer Burroughs, or Italy. If you do live in the NYC area, there must be a gazillion great knife shops around those parts, so I urge you to go to one and spend a couple of hours holding all that they have. If it were me, I'd take a head of celery with me and ask if I could slice and dice with the knives I liked best. It's not like you're going to ruin the knife, and it's not like fine knives are cheap. Good luck!