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Dec 28, 2012 09:38 AM

Mercer 9inch Chef Renaissance: worth it?

First of all, everyone, nice to meet you! This is my first post since I discovered Chow just today when browsing the web over some knife stuff. Looks like a fun and alive community here!

To business: I am looking for a knife that can accomodate the shortcomings of my Robert Herder Santoku (which I love to bits) in my humble home cuisine. The santoku is very thin, razor sharp, and can be used for precision tasks. It seems to prefer (surprise, surprise) more of a chopping than a rocking motion. It will slice all the veggies and fruits as well as fish I present it but I am , I think rightfully, scared to put it to the heavier work (e.g. whole chickens, melons, etc..) so I don't.

I am know looking for a chef's knife, preferably 9 or 10 inches (I have a paring knife and the santoku if I want a shorter blade). After some searching, I think my question would probably be best answered with a German-style chefs knife (tell me if I'm wrong) since they take more abuse and allow for more of a rocking motion, which I want to 'master' as well.

If my analysis is correct, then a Wusthof classic 23cm or Wusthof Cordon Bleu 23cm seem most appropriate at first sight. I find then, however, on the expensive side (I have been told such as well). So, my eye has fallen on the Mercer Renaissance 9 inch chef's knife, but I am wary of it due to its price and place of manufacture (Taiwan, right?).

What do you guys think? Is the Mercer a good choice? Are there better options in your opinion (including the fact that I was looking at a maximum of about 150 dollars, preferably less)? Please let me bear the fruits of your experience and wisdom ;)

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Welcome.

    I am on the road now, so I will write something quick. Yes, you are correct that the softer steel typical German style Chef's knife can take more abuse. On the other hand, if you already have a Santoku you like, you can always go with a real meat cleaver which can take up even tougher job. It is up to you, of course.

    In term of Mercer I have not used it myself, but a few people here have claimed that their Mercer knives are good enough especially the low price:

    If you want something more reputable and cheap, then I would look for the stamped knives from Victorinox and Dexter-Russell (they are about $25-35). Mercer has the advantage of being forged knives and while being cheap. I personally do not care for or against forged knife. If you want forged German Chef's knife made in German, but cheaper than Henckels and Wusthof, then I would suggest you to look for: F. Dick and Messermeister:

    For example:

    1. I've done a few and they take a respectable edge. Bear in mind it is, for me to order online a $50 knife that performs close to a $120 knife.

      Probably the best, and only, $50 forged German steel knife you will find. They are bang for the buck blades not status symbols.

      Buy a Mercer for your heavy duty work and spend the money you save on Japanese blades.


      1 Reply
      1. re: knifesavers

        Oh yeah, you were one of the people who vouched for the knife. Thanks for sharing your experience again.

      2. All right, thank you good ppl for honest advice! Makes me feel so welcome ;)

        I had found some of the posts mentioning Mercers, but not all (CHOW search function not up to par?). However, you guys convinced me, I think my next buy will be the Mercer 9inch, since I think 10inch will be slightly oversized for speedy rocking (+smoother curved belly).

        I looked at the Messermeister and F. Dick, but they are a bit more pricy, and seem to offer similar blades to the Mercer (though still considerably cheaper than Wusthof , I never really realized their price bolatedness). I personally like a forged blade for the feel-in-hand, although I don't mind stamped for cutting's sake.

        Concerning status symbols, my surroundings culinary wise are pretty low key, so even something remotely sharp will demand some awe XD. No worries there. I even got smiles from me olde 10 dollar supermarket knife after a sharpening.. If it shaves hairs off my forearm, I am sufficiently pleased.

        So yes, I wil probably go for a Mercer, and use my savings for other (Japanese style) knives (would love a me a good sashimi knife) or maybe a cleaver I can totally trash without feeling too guilty.

        Anyways, THANK YOU! And see you around the forums ;)

        2 Replies
        1. re: LeYak

          <I had found some of the posts mentioning Mercers, but not all (CHOW search function not up to par?)>

          :) A lot of us use google to find CHOWHOUND posts. :P (No, really).

          Take care, and see you around.

          1. re: LeYak

            Hi. +1 on using a stouter knife on things that may damage your precision blades.  Although I'm not familiar with the Mercer, its' X50CrMov15 steel blade is commonly used on many European knives and should be thick enough and pliable enough to withstand abuse / hard usage.  Be mindful to use the thicker section of the blade near the heal when going through something like a chicken leg bone. Plus, models without a full bolster are easier to sharpen.

            Alternatively, a med-heavy Asian cleaver can be had for ~$20and will work better as a chopper.  The thicker Asian & western meat cleavers are overkill for poultry.