Chef knife recommendations?
I am considering buying my fiance a chef knife for our "wedding gift" to each other, but I'm not sure which one to buy.
He isn't a professional chef, but we cook a lot and I think he would really like it. The knives we own are Calphalon and they work pretty well. I've looked at Wusthof knives, and those seemed pretty nice.
What do you guys recommend? Also, I was considering getting it engraved (maybe with his initials or our wedding date), where should I have it done at?
Congratulation for the wedding. Which line of Calphalon knives do you have? The Calphalon comtemporay knives or the Calphalone Katana knives?
Anyway, back to your question. Wusthof Chef knives are good and there are different price points for different line. For example, the Wusthof Blackwood Ikon is the more expensive version. If you like German style chef knives, then I don't think you can go wrong with Wusthof, Henckels, Messermeister, F. Dick. Messermeister is a good alternative. Same quality, slightly cheaper.
Japanese influenced chef knives are also great. I am very fond of them. They are thinner, lighter, and sharper. For less than $100, I would recommend either the Tojiro DP gyuto:
or a Fujiwara FKM
If you want something flashy with a Damascus like pattern, then here are some inexpensive option (from another post):
The original poster finally bought the Shiki Tsuchime Damascus Twinkle Chef knife ($150)
As usual Chem provided some excellent options. I will add that first you need to know if the current knife style is comfortable and matches the cutting style. I mention this because knifes of different origen tend to have different basic shapes, particularly in the belly of the knife, and this has an effect on how they are used. In general European style or "western" knives seem to have more curve to them and work well in a rocking motion. Japanese influenced knives tend to be a little flatter or straighter edged. If it's not a surprise gift, have him test drive some different styles. I'm more of a traditional European cook and prefer the German Chefs knife, my daughter prefers the straighter edged Santuku.
The keys in either case are typically to go for the forged blades with full tangs for strength and durability, although there are less expensive alternatives, they wouldn't be a very big step up. Just within the Wusthof family of knives you have as Chem mentioned the Ikon Blackwood (wooden handle, short bolster), Clasic Ikon (same knife, plastic handle), Classic (same steel, full bolster, plastic handle), Culinar (same blade as Classic with full bolster, metal handle shaped like Ikon), Grand Prix II (same as Culinar with plastic handle), and Le Cordon Bleu (Classic handle in plastic, Ikon shaped bolster). That in itself is a lot of knives from which to choose, and that's just the forged models from one company. Oh, and the Classic Icon comes in black or creme. Happy shoping ;)
"Japanese influenced knives tend to be a little flatter or straighter edged."
An excellent point, mike. Of course, each knife companies is slightly different as well, but your main point is valid. Typically, the German Chef's knives have bigger curvature. The French Chef's knvies are straighter, in general. The Japanese gyutos are a touch straighter than the French version. Here are examples of the three knives for the original poster. Starting from top to bottom: German, French, Japanese:
Again, there are exception.
Knives can be pretty personal. Can you take your fiance shopping and casually look at knives and handle them to see which knife feels best to him? My husband and I have quite a variety of Wusthof, Sabatier (over 30+ years), some ceramic and the knife we both reach for when chopping is our Ken Onion Santoku by Shun. It is very sharp and it is a very comfortable knife for both of us to use. I may buy another when knives go on sale in the 4th quarter of the year. Is he tall and have large hands or is more medium in height and hand size. This can be important in selecting a knife.