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Jul 11, 2011 08:15 AM

Restaurant supply store knives, any good?


Still learning about knives, and really benefiting from the wealth of knowledge on the Cookware board, so thanks a lot guys. I've heard that restaurant supply stores are good places to pick up inexpensive, functional pots and pans so I stopped by a Gordon Food Service to check it out.

Turns out they have a GFS line of cooking knives with prices ranging from $9 to $20. Selection is limited but they have all the basic types covered: chef's, santoku, cleaver, slicer, bread, paring. Very no-frills with molded plastic handles, but the blade shapes all look OK as far as I can tell. In the fine print on the back I read they are made by Kitchen Essentials, which is a name I have not come across on this site with regard to knives. Does anyone know if these inexpensive GFS knives are any good?

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  1. "I've heard that restaurant supply stores are good places to pick up inexpensive, functional pots and pans "

    Often to be true.

    "GFS line of cooking knives with prices ranging from $9 to $20. "

    Hmm, I don't know any thing about GFS. Is that a brand? I have, however, heard of Kitchen Essentials and didn't think they are particular good, but that is really painting a very board brush for an entire company.

    Does the same restaurant supply store offer "Victorinox/Forschner" or "Dexter-Russell" brands? Those two are considered restaurant workhorse knives. Fairly inexpensive and very functional. Now, not all Dexter-Russell lines of knives are good. The International line and Basic line of Dexter-Russell are not as good, but most of the other series are good. "Victorinox/Forchner" is very well-respected and very easy to get hold of. You can even buy them online like Amazon for a very reasonable price.

    If you want some really inexpensive knives which can form a nice edge, then I am going out on a limb and suggest you to look for Kiwi knives. Not very pretty:

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Hi, GFS is just short for Gordon Food Service, which is a big restaurant and institutional supplier in the Midwest. The knives I was looking at are GFS branded but made by Kitchen Essentials. Could it be that these GFS branded knives are of different quality than KE's own line? Maybe someone can shed some light on that.

      I did recently buy a Victorinox chef's knife to give as a present but I of course didn't open it to try it out. I'll see if I can chop an onion with it the next time I go to his place.

    2. The best thing restaurant supply stores offer to a retail consumer typically is value. You are not paying for a brand, or a fancy handle, just solid performance. They won't often look pretty in the kitchen-unless you like white, green or yellow plastic handles, often the colours of choice, and almost always the material. The blades willl be a good quality stainless, so they will always look nice. What you will not get is the staying power of, say, a Shun, which is hand made from high carbon steel and will stay sharp for a very long time-but at a price 10-15 times or more that a comparably sized and shaped restaurant supply knife.

      Also, restaurants and butchers will usually employ a sharpening service so that when the knife can no longer be sharpened by a steel, the service will grind a new edge. So, when you buy your knives, get a sharpening stone, or,better yet locate a service to keep your knives in sharp shape.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Scary Bill

        Thanks Scary Bill. Do you have experience with this particular brand of restaurant supply knives?

        1. re: RealMenJulienne

          No, don't have any GFS.

          Before buying a bunch of knives I'd check out other restaurant supply stores. You have to hold them, see how they feel in YOUR hand and find out about the steel used. Many of the restaurant knives will use a good German stainless. Some of our Tramontinas use Argentinian (I think?) stainless, and while it is cheaper, it wirks well in certain circumstances. We have some Tramontina and some restaurant Henckels that we have acquired over the years that IMO work just as well as our more expensive Henckels. None however match the Shun knives that Mrs. Scary buys when I am not around! Go to a Williams Sonoma to take a look at some of the knives you will eventually want to buy (but don't buy them there, you can find them cheaper elsewhere)

      2. I find that unless you get the industry discount, a lot of their knives are about the same as you get on the internet. The ones in my area sell Forschners for the same price if you get the regular chef knives, paring, bread etc. If you are looking for more restaurant-specific knives (like blunt tipped knives) you might get a better deal at restaurant supply stores because they are more special and you will usually have to pay shipping costs on the internet vs. Amazon free shipping.

        2 Replies
        1. re: smkit

          "I find that unless you get the industry discount, a lot of their knives are about the same as you get on the internet"


          That is what I found for Victorinox/Forschners knives. However, I found that Dexter-Russell knives to be noticeably cheaper from restaurant supply store than on internet sites like Amazon.

        2. My white-handled Dexter-Russell is a total champ. Not flashy, but a solid performer. It takes an edge will and will hold it a good long time. Not as "cool" as some other knives, but in the end, it has done anything I have asked of it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Westy

            Wow, that must be the same vintage as my Dexter boning knife, mid-70s??? As is my Chinese cleaver. Both from East Bay Restaurant Supply in Oakland, still in constant use.

          2. I also like my dexter-russell supply store specials...a parer and a serrated job

            6 Replies
            1. re: BiscuitBoy

              They're inexpensive,durable and dishwasher safe,not much to look at but the only one you have to impress is yourself.These are the knives I used in a pro kitchen for years(with much success) before I was bitten by the bug....

              I still have my DR serrated knife that I bought 15 years ago and it still cuts bread like a bastard

              1. re: petek

                "still cuts bread like a bastard"

                That is a really interesting way to describe a knife. :)

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  :D It's an "izm" I use to describe something that's hardcore

                  1. re: petek

                    I picked up a couple of white-handled Dexter Russells after the NYT article that talked them up a couple of years ago, and have been very happy with them. A great value. I wouldn't put any knife in the dishwasher and expect the edge to remain decent, though. :-)

                    1. re: Erich

                      "I wouldn't put any knife in the dishwasher and expect the edge to remain decent, though. :-)"

                      You're absolutly right,but that's what we had to do at the restaurant,and after a bit of steeling the edge was brought back to life.