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8" Chef's knives: Mercer Genesis vs. Mundial 5100

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Stein the Fine Mar 8, 2011 01:52 AM

I'm getting my niece her first real chef's knife along w/ a sharpener & a magnetic strip holder as a housewarming gift for her first apt. I've narrowed the choices down to the 2 above. Anyone have experience w/ either of these and an opinion? Even better would be someone who's tried them both and likes one better than the other.

Yes, I know many people are using a 7" santoku knife these days as their all-purpose go-to knife, but I feel that the chef's knife will be more versatile, since she will only have it and a parer. She doesn't do anything complicated like de-boning, fileting or making sushi, but she might want to cut up a pan of brownies, and I can't see her doing that w/ a santoku.

Looking forward to the responses.

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  1. Eiron RE: Stein the Fine Mar 8, 2011 11:11 AM

    Stein, I have no experience with either of these brands (I've never seen Mercer before, & I've handled Mundials in the store but don't care for full bolsters on my blades), but I do have some questions:

    1) Why these two brands?
    2) What selection process was used to narrow the choices down?
    3) Why do you feel a chef's knife is better than a santoku (or, say, a cake cutter, or even a spatula) for cutting a pan of brownies?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Eiron
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      Stein the Fine RE: Eiron Mar 9, 2011 08:31 AM

      Budget considerations were big as I am trying to get her the best bang for my buck by including several other items she needs in the gift. Those two brands offer classic-style chef's knives at an entry level price (~$35), both made w/ traditional German steel. The Mundial is made at a Brazilian plant which is a spin-off from a respected Solingen company. (They claim they do regular 3rd party testing for quality.) The entry level Mercer is made in Taiwan, but It is not the same model as the the one used by student chefs. I considered an entry level Henckel, but it is made in mainland China & I've had too many quality issues w/ cookware manufactured there to risk it.

      I debated internally about getting her a new style harder knife w/o the bolster, but as I fully expect her to abuse the knife, it's all too likely she would break the blade of a Victorinox Forschner.

      This is her 1st apt. The point is she doesn't have a cake cutter or many other things (I will probably buy her an assortment of bamboo utensils as that material has worked well for me, not scratching even highly polished omelette pans, but it won't slice things.) And I am just using that as an example of the tasks for which a santoku would be rather unwieldy.

      1. re: Stein the Fine
        Eiron RE: Stein the Fine Mar 9, 2011 10:31 AM

        Stein, OK, thanks, I understand.

        I'd recommend you stick with the one you're most comfortable giving as a gift. Based on your further comments, that seems to be the Mundial.

        Don't brush off the robustness of the Victorinox Fibrox line. My son works in the kitchen of a restaurant & says they use the Fibrox knives exclusively. They're NFS certified & easily maintained. The blades are thin, but also very tough & flexible.

        It sounds like you've never used a santoku. I bought a Forschner Rosewood 7" santoku about the same time (14 mos ago?) that I bought a Kanetsune 8.3" chef knife. I find both knives equally good at many of the same food prep tasks. The only two things I can immediately think of that the chef/gyuto is better at is meat carving (due to longer length & lower blade height) & bread slicing (due to longer length). I find the santoku can be much more convenient at general food prep simply because the taller blade allows me to use it as a board scoop. The dropped point of the santoku does not limit any of my food prep cutting.

        For both of my kids, I did something similar to what you're doing for your niece: I bought them "first place of their own" gifts of a Fibrox parer & Rosewood santoku. My son's already moved out, & he said the new santoku is better than any of the Fibrox knives he uses at work. He regularly uses 8" & 10" Fibrox chef's knives at work, but once he got the Rosewood santoku from me he started bringing THAT to work because it was so nicer to use on all of his food prep.

        1. re: Eiron
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          Stein the Fine RE: Eiron Mar 9, 2011 03:41 PM

          Interesting. You've about convinced me to go w/ at least a modified Japanese-style. Especially as your son is in the business. My niece is just your typical stir-frying college student. I'm leaning toward the Dexter-Russel V-Lo line now. It offers both an 8" cooks knife and a 7" santoku with a comfortable handle. It is stamped and shaped like the Japanese made ones, but it uses a bit softer and tougher steel, from what they say on their site. I realize that means giving up a touch of the sharpness and edge longevity, but at her level of use, I think it's a good trade-off for reduced brittleness. They can probably afford to replace the occasional broken knife where your son works, but my niece is on a student's budget, and if I have to replace her knife it would mean 1 less thing that I could get her on the next gift-giving occasion.

          1. re: Stein the Fine
            Chemicalkinetics RE: Stein the Fine Mar 9, 2011 04:03 PM

            "It is stamped and shaped like the Japanese made ones, but it uses a bit softer and tougher steel, from what they say on their site."

            Yes, it is made of softer and tougher steel, but how did you get it from their website? I could never find it there. I got my information by talking to a Dexter-Russell technical person.

    2. Chemicalkinetics RE: Stein the Fine Mar 8, 2011 11:15 AM

      Stein,

      I don't have hands-on experience with these knives, and I suspect many don't because they are not as common as others. However, these knives were discussed in previous posts on CHOWHOUND. Search for them and see if they are useful for you.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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        Stein the Fine RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 9, 2011 08:43 AM

        Good idea. I will.

      2. m
        MOSFET RE: Stein the Fine Mar 9, 2011 06:58 AM

        Out of those two I would recomend out of those two the Mercer. Mundial is just blaa..Maybe take a look at Dexter or victorinox too. Mercer knives are big in the culinary schools

        3 Replies
        1. re: MOSFET
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          Stein the Fine RE: MOSFET Mar 9, 2011 08:48 AM

          Thanks for your take on the Mundial. As I mentioned above the Mercer model for home cooks is a less expensive model than that used in culinary schools, so I don't know how it compares. She's a busy student, and I'm concerned about her abusing the knife to the point that she might break the blade of a Victorinox. Haven't come across the Dexter. Will check it out. Thanks for your feedback.

          1. re: Stein the Fine
            Chemicalkinetics RE: Stein the Fine Mar 9, 2011 09:46 AM

            Stein,

            So it is for her culinary school? Both Victorinox and Dexter-Russell are the most popular restaurant kitchen knives, which mean they are not very good looking but inexpensive and get the jobs done. I think they are tougher than they look -- afterall they are designed for busy kitchen setting. I have some Dexter-Russell knives. They are not bad. They are not easy to find outside of restaurant supply stores. Here is a link if you are interested. Again, they are not pretty:

            http://restaurant-supplies.katom.com/...

            Don't get the Dexter Russell Internaional. All the other ones are ok good.

            Alternatively, sometime Henckels Chef's knives are on sale in Home Goods, Marshall, TJ Maxx for ~$40-50.

            1. re: Stein the Fine
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              jorjagirl RE: Stein the Fine Mar 9, 2011 10:19 AM

              The Dexter Russell I-Cut is a very nice forged blade knife in your price range-about $37.00.

              Wusthof just came out with a new foodservice line, the Wusthof Pro. It is a stamped blade, the 8" chefs knife is around $30.00.

          2. s
            Stein the Fine RE: Stein the Fine Mar 9, 2011 03:50 PM

            Thanks, all. I've decided to go w/ one of the currently popular stamped knives. I can get the Dexter-Russell V-Lo knives--either the 7" Santoku or the 8" cooks--directly from their website: www.dexter-russell.com

            They seem to be a good compromise between the toughness of traditional steel and the convenience of no-bolster design.

            They also sell a manual sharpener. She's not a culinary student, just a busy kid who cooks for herself & her roomie a few times a week, and I don't think she can take the time to master sharpening stones. (Please, purists, don't yell at me. She'll get there someday, I'm sure. Just not right now.)

            2 Replies
            1. re: Stein the Fine
              Chemicalkinetics RE: Stein the Fine Mar 9, 2011 03:58 PM

              It is usually more expensive to get a product from the company webstie. It has to do with manufacturers avoid undercutting distributors. If possible, you should find another site. The price difference can be quiet big. Let's take V-Lo 8" Chef's knife.

              This 8" V-Lo from Katom is $23.37.

              http://www.katom.com/135-29243.html

              Yet, it is $38.95 from Dexter-Russel home page:

              http://www.dexter1818.com/Item_Detail...

              Of course, there are many other websites other than Katom.

              No one said anything about sharpening stones... but if you want I can start
              :).

              P.S.: V-Lo is a very good choice for the comfortable handle.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                Stein the Fine RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 9, 2011 04:35 PM

                Ohhh. Thanks.

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