If you could have only 1 knife...?
I'm out of college, and it's time I build up my cookware beyond the wal-mart sale rack. Bought my first All-Clad piece (and some bamboo spoons to protect it). Now I'm moving onto a knife. So if you could only use one knife what would it be? I assume a 6"-8" chef knife, but please correct me if I'm wrong.
I know my way around a blade having grown up hunting and butchering game, so I do sharpen my own. What are some brands I should look into in that $100-$150 range? (I plan on looking for sales, so that why I'm curious about reputable brands).
Top priority would be durability, versatility, and a blade that will hold an edge.
Culinary arts vary from hunting and butchering. You need three essentials for the kitchen: a large serrated slicer, an 8" to 10" chef's knife and a 4" parer. Those are your mainstays. Invest in good stuff - Henckels or Trident. I have had both for over 30 years and they're worth it.
Agree with 8" chef's/santoku knife and a 4" parer. I could *probably* get by without a serrated knife.
Henckel's Professional "S" or Shun Classic are what I'd recommend to the OP. But go "try" the knives out in your own hand. What fits right in one person's hand may not in another.
An 8" chef's knife will handle almost anything you throw at it. In your price range, a Wusthof is a good choice and can usually be found at the low end of you range when on sale.
I've had one for over 20 years and it still takes an edge beautifully.
You'll hear many other brand recommendations; in the end, it's what feels good in your hand, which is a combination of heft and balance. So try and shop where you can pick up the knife, not just look at it.
I'll let the knife mafia weigh in on specific models, but an 8-10" chef is the way to go, at least to start. I like the Euro geometries, but a reasonable mind could also favor Japonaise. MAC and Forschner get high marks with less than premium prices.
<I assume a 6"-8" chef knife, but please correct me if I'm wrong.>
I would say between a 8" - 10" is more popular. If you favor a shorter knife, then I strongly recommend you go for a santoku. It is shorter, yet it has a good flatter profile to allow more board contact surface.
<What are some brands I should look into in that $100-$150 range? >
That is a nice range. If you are into German style knife, then Wusthof Ikon is nice. There are other choice of course.
I personally prefer the Japanese style or rather really Westernized Japanese style. A Tojiro DP knife is excellent, and relatively inexpensive:
Especially, the Tojiro DP Santoku is on sale for only $50:
+1 on a Tojiro DP. I have their 240mm (9.4") gyutou and their nakiri. They both take a screaming sharp edge, stay sharp for a long time, and feel good in my hand.
On the Euro side, I think Wusthof and Henckels that others have mentioned are safe bets. I used to like them a lot before I started buying Westernized-Japanese knives. I really like the harder, thinner steel alloys.
Another Euro option might be Fante's. They are a kitchen supply store in Philly, definitely worth stopping into if you're local, but they also sell online. They carry most of the major Euro knife brands, plus Sabatier, plus their own Fante's brand that are made in Solingen, Germany of high-carbon stainless steel. 8" chef knive runs about $60.