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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!!!!

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  1. 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...
    http://www.cutleryandmore.com/knife.htm

    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.
    http://japanesechefsknife.com/KDSerie...
    I have an HD series knife - much more reasonable - about $150 - and still an excellent Japanese style knife with a super edge.

    1 Reply
    1. re: applehome

      redgirl will be lucky if she can get that KD knife for $1000 -- afterall Hattori stopped making knives.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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!

            7 Replies
            1. re: Caroline1

              caroline1: yes and thanks for the smile. i thought i would get some good ideas here and then find some time to go do exactly that...just been caught up in a huge gut-reno of our kitchen so taking notes and will enact the action soon.

              1. re: redgirl

                If you're in NY, definitely visit Korin.

              2. re: Caroline1

                How the heck you guess this poster live in Manhattan?

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  You go to her profile page and look over all of her listed posts and see which regional boards she has posted to. She has posted once to Manhattan, once to Outer Burroughs, and once to Italy. It was 2 to 1 odds she doesn't live in Italy. '-)

                    1. re: redgirl

                      Word is that you just can't get a decent bowl of Spaghetti-Os if you live there. '-)

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        Keep talking about France, and redgirl will get a French knife.

              3. What is your price range and what do you seek the most from your knife? I think applehome, tim irine and others have given excellent suggestions.

                I say the best budget Chef's knife is Forschner Victorinox. Really, ~$25 for a 10" inch:

                http://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-4752...

                I also recommand Dexter-Russell especially if you are into American made knife and wood handle knives. The fit and finish is not as good as Victorinox, I believe. Here is a 8" stamped knife for $25:

                http://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-4752...

                If you want something slightly nicer but not expensive, then I would recommend a Wusthof for German style stainless steel chef knife or a Tojiro for Japanese style stainless steel gyuto ($80).

                http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tojiro-...

                1. Posters have given some good advice already.

                  I will just throw out there a couple other ideas:

                  (1) Also think about blade length. I usually prefer 10-inch knives, but my wife doesn't. I have both of the 8-inch and 10-inch Forschner Fibrox knives and for this knife I tend to prefer the 8-inch. It just feels more nimble. So I would suggest that if you try out knives at a store, also try out 8 versus 10 inch and consider family members' knife use.

                  (2) No matter which knife you purchase, get a good sharpening steel and learn how to use it properly (most people don't). When I lightly make a few swipes on each side of my Forschner before cutting, it makes a huge difference and maintains the blade so it doesn't get dull as fast. A great chefs knife that isn't maintained will never be a good knife.

                  chemicalkinetics posted a link in a previous thread, but the below link is one place that explains different products and how to hone properly. I am not saying you should jump into sharpening stones or other sharpening gadgets, but if you learn to hone correctly and use a hone that fits your knife, you will probably have a better blade than 90% of America.

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

                  A Forschner and a Idahone ceramic steel have worked well for me and they will cost you around $60 together. But again there are other knives and hones too.

                  1. I own the following:

                    -Forschner (Victorinox Fibrox) 10" chef's
                    -Shun (Classic) 8" chef's
                    -Mac (Professional series) Santoku 6.5"

                    The prices on those knives are $35, $125 and $110, respectively (on cutleryandmore.com)

                    Having had all of them for 2+ years, my impressions are as follows:

                    1) Forschner will give you the most bang for your buck BY FAR. If you look at ATK, they recommend Forschner for just about every knife I can think of: chef's, paring, boning, bread, slicing. I use my Forschner as a workhorse for the heavy duty jobs; butchering, cutting through bones and hard veggies like squash, etc. I used it for all my cutting needs for quite a while and I have no complaints. For anyone looking for their first 'good' kitchen knife, I recommend Forschner all the way.

                    2) Shun makes an outstanding knife. The blade is thinner and it glides through just about everything. As much as I love this knife, it probably gets the least work of the 3.

                    3) I absolutely adore Mac and use that knife the most. Chopping veggies and herbs, slicing meats...all a breeze. The blade is incredibly thin and sharp. I've never even taken mine to a stone and it still goes right through everything with minimal effort. Mine is a Santoku, but I feel pretty confident saying their chef's knife would be just as good.

                    I don't think knives are a cut and dried case of you get what you pay for. At the end of the day, it comes down to what fits your hand and how important style is to you. If you want a no frills workhorse, go Forschner. If you want something a little more pretty, go Shun or Mac.

                    1 Reply
                    1. If you want one chef's knife you'll treasure, buy one from Bob Kramer. http://kramerknives.com/kitchen.htm

                      If that's a little rich for your blood, and you don't mind rewarding the scalpers/resellers, Bob's done some designs for Shun that bear his name. I think either SLT or WS carries them.

                      23 Replies
                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        Good luck with the Kramer even if you have tons of cash burning a hole in your pocket. I think his Damascus is $400 per inch of blade and the wait is so long, they now have a lottery for newcomers so you have a slight chance that you won't have to wait 5+ years for your knife to come in.

                        1. re: smkit

                          Yep, Bob's made a name for himself all right...LOL. If he's still using 52100 steel in his "regular" kitchen knives, I don't see much functional reason to mortgage the farm just to get his Damascus. What's he doing now, forging little American flags into the mosaic?

                          I recommended Bob mostly because the thread's originator wanted recs for 1 great chef's knife that would please for 20+ years. Bob's knives do that.

                          1. re: kaleokahu

                            You are suggesting a $2000-4000 knife by Kramer which I am sure is a lot more than just "1 great chef's knife". Great is an understatement.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Gee, his straight carbon steels chefs are going for $2-4K? I gotta get a new line of work!

                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                I think that is about right, but I may be wrong. Anyway, Bob Kramer's knives are more expensive than Hattori's KD knives for sure, and Hattori knives ain't cheap.

                                I thought you retired

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  OMG, he IS charging that much! I had no idea. When Bob moved from Seattle to Lynden, he called his new place the Big Pants Ranch. Now I know why!

                                  Correction to all: I can't recommend a $2,000 knife to anyone.

                                  But I guess I should sell my Kramer custom hunter and buy life insurance on Bob.

                                  Nah, not retired, just retahded.

                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                    Correction: There is a long list of people willing to pay $2,000 for a Kramer. You can recommend it to a lot of people -- but not everyone.

                                    No need to apologize, he makes great (very expensive) knives.

                                    k.

                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                      Well, some of Kramer knives were auctioned at eBay at very high prices.

                                      "The last knife Kramer auctioned in January sold for more than $9,000."

                                      http://www.csindy.com/IndyBlog/archiv...

                                      I don't get the "buy life insurance on Bob" thing.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        I have but one question: If you don't see the sashimi actually being cut, can you taste the difference between some sliced with a $300.00 knife and some sliced with a $9,000.00 knife?

                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                          A sharp $300 knife versus a sharp $9,000 knife would probably have the same result in terms of taste. A sharp versus a dull knife would probably produce a different texture as it would likely tear the flesh more or squish the delicate flesh if too dull.

                                          Unless the knife was really dull, though, a person probably wouldn't notice it.

                                          Take a laser sharp Japanese knife with an acute angle and cut an apple in half and then use of pretty sharp Wusthof with a wider angle to cut another apple. The one cut by the duller wusthof will brown a lot more. That is a good visual way to see the difference -- taste is another thing completely though.

                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            :)

                                            Personally? Personally I cannot tell any difference, but then I am a person who don't turn down a Budweiser. Last I checked, I was dreaming about Fil-O-Fish from McDonald.

                                            The argument is that real sharp Japanese yanagiba (aka sashimi knives) can take on a very sharp edge and that the produces sashimi which have a nicer and smoother surface with minimal tear. However, there are many great awase yanagiba at $300-400 range. At the end, the skill to use and maintain that knife is probably more important which is why most Japanese sushi chefs sharpen their knives on a daily basis.

                                            That said, Bob Kramer's knives are not yanagiba. They are mostly Chef's knife. As far as I know, Bob Kramer knives used to be well under $1000 range, and then he got really famous due to national interviews.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              Seriously? Budweiser and fil-o-fish? I was thinking that Doritos and Schlitz were on the menu tonight.

                                              Yeah, it is amazing the cult following of knives these days. But then again, I am guilty. I buy the stones, the strops, the diamond spray, leather hones, multiple 240 gyutos...and on and on...

                                              But then a chef said to me once..."there are a lot worse hobbies you could have." I guess I could blow $80 on a round of golf two weekends a month.

                                              1. re: smkit

                                                I like Doritos too, but I have never tried Schlitz. :)

                                                Knives are interesting. They are so simple and yet strike a deep chord for many of us. It wasn't the knives which got me into this game. It was the sharpening. Knife sharpening is a practical hobby. It produces a useful tool at the end, and gives me a sense of accomplishment. It is easy to learn, hard to master. I got into home cooking for similar reasons.

                                                As long as the person put good uses to his knives, it is all good. Your knives are high end practical knives, like your Hiromoto AS gyuto. Your should write a review here some time on your stones and knives.

                                                There are many hobbies which require more money and less practical than knife collection.

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  I used to keep a couple non-alcoholic Schlitz in my fridge. It was sort of the canary-in-the-coal-mine thing. Whenever anyone popped that beer, I new they were drunk and needed to go home.

                                                  I got into knives because my fiancee (now wife) bought me a beautiful Mr. Tanaka damascus santoku that was very expensive. I had to learn how to sharpen that gift. There is a reason I married her...

                                                  1. re: smkit

                                                    "my fiancee (now wife) bought me a beautiful Mr. Tanaka damascus santoku."

                                                    Wow, where did you find such a kind and understanding woman? :)

                                                    That non-alcoholic Schlitz sounds like a good trick

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      She's understanding now...but just wait...

                                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            I just meant Bob's really come up in the world since he started the PR whirlwind with Saveur, NYT, CBS, etc. Speculators might want him dead--artiste prices go up then! Google William Scagel for a little price eye-opener.

                                            I know Bob, he's actually a really nice guy, so don't get me wrong. But he hasn't really come up with anything new (52100 was popularized by a guy in Idaho or Montana named Ed Fowler decades ago). And there are Damascus pounders who do better, more intricate work. The heat treat comes out of a book. What Bob has done is, by dint of hard work, created a MARKET for outlandishly expensive and coveted kitchen knives. He deserves all his success, but when ONE knife costs more than a huge AGA stove, well, I just can't recommend him anymore.

                                            But hey, anyone want to buy my Kramer hunter? 52100, temper line, tapered tang, nickel silver bolster/guard, sheath sewn by the master himself. Has his name on the ricasso and everything! Just kidding, mods--I have a few more deer to take.

                                            And no, Caroline, the taste is the same even with a 5-cent razor blade.

                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                              "Speculators might want him dead--artiste prices go up then!"

                                              Ah, I completely didn't think of that. I was thinking more along the line that you may want to buy more of his knives now and wait for them to go up in prices in the future.

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                A long wait. Bob's young and healthy. Then again, you breathe enough cocobolo dust, and who knows?

                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  Sometime the prices of knives can go up dramatically without the person dying. Take Bob Kramer himself as an example. The prices of his knives only shot up recently. His knives may go up even some more because say they get caught up in foreign lands, or say the economic recession recovers and people have more money to spend.

                                                  Hattori Ichiro retired at around age 60. Many things can cause his knives to go up.

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    Good point. I wish Bob luck as the preferred bladesmith of the House of Saud and the Russian oligarchs. Still, to borrow a word (and style) from the latter, Bob's fancy stuff is a smidge nekulturny, don't you think?

                                                    The recession hasn't hit true luxury goods. Probably never will.

                                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                                      "smidge nekulturny"

                                                      If Nekulturny is what I looked up, then I don't think his high end knives are uncultured. Unless you consider all knives to be uncultured. In that case, yes.

                                                      http://www.urbandictionary.com/define...

                                                      Kramer knives are definitely expensive and I don't know if I can actually really use a $3000-4000 knife as a practical knife. It would be like me having bought a pair of $3000-4000 shoes. I would either just stare at them or I would be tiptoe walking with them. Neither is desirable.

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        Bling is nekulturny, and Bob's crossed the Bling Line.

                            2. As mentioned in passing by BigE, you might want to consider getting a Japanese santoku as a nice all-around kitchen knife. My Glestain santoku is the knife I reach for most often when I'm cooking.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: tanuki soup

                                I agree that Santokus can be a good all-around kitchen knife. One of my favorite knives is a santoku, but switching from a German-style western knife to a gyuto or santoku takes some transition. Santokus have a nice tip for doing onions and shallot and a good flat edge for chopping, but if you are used to rocking a lot and chopping herbs, it will take some getting used to.

                                That is just my experience. It took me about 3 months to transition to my first Shun santoku before I felt totally comfortable with it.

                              2. For the beauty of it, Berti large chef's with the oxhorn handle.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: mikie

                                  Can anybody tell me how to start a new discussion? Thanks'

                                  1. re: Nugentrocks

                                    Go to the topic you wish to start a discussion (thread) like Cookware, Home Cooking, Not
                                    About Food, etc. and there is a red tab at the top that says "ADD NEW POST". Click on that and proceed from there.

                                    1. re: John E.

                                      Oh man Thanks a lot. I had trouble finding out how to do it so far. I'll try that.