Demetrius

Knives

156 posts in this topic

Since moving to northern Virginia a little over two years ago, I have enjoyed the opportunity to use this site and other blogs to explore the local restaurants and farmer's markets.

The latter has probably been more enjoyable as it has afforded me the opportunity to purchase locally grown produce and fresh meat to bring home and prepare for my wife and I.

While certainly not an expert in the kitchen, I am not a novice either. I would like to invest in a superb set of kitchen knives, and believe that Wustof is the best available.

I am unable to purchase a full block set, and would rather purchase one or two at a time to complete the block.

If anyone has any feedback, or suggestions regarding this brand or others please let me know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use both MAC and Wustof's, and have found that hands down MAC are better knives. Plus the pairing knives are less expensive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For most home cooking I don't think that you'll find a whole heck of lot of difference between the high quality knives (Wustof, Henckels, Global, etc.).

I think the most important thing is to go to the stores and try them out. Pick the ones that feel best in your hand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think the most important thing is to go to the stores and try them out. Pick the ones that feel best in your hand.

Completely what he said. Don't worry so much about block sets. A good chef's knife and paring knife will do 90% of what you're going to want done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do I need to consider the size of the chef's knife? The three sizes that most knives I have seen fall into the range of: 6 inches, 8 inches, or 10 inches. The latter sounds a little big and think that an 8 inch knife is more than sufficient. Agree?

Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have Wusthof Grand Prix knives. I love them, they are great. I have the bread/chef/paring/carving knife and a block. My one regret is that I didn't buy as a group. They are a ton more expensive (as far as I can tell) when you buy separately. I know you said you wanted to buy separately and buildup, but check Amazon or Ebay and see if they have massive discounts.

Also, as a recommendation...I have this for sharpening (ideally you use a stone...but this is a quicker version)...Furi Diamond fingers (just google it)

Also, a thought from Tony Bourdain's book, Kitchen Confidential

"You need, for God's sake, a decent chef's knife. No con foisted on the general public is so atrocious, so wrongheaded, or so widely believed as the one that tells you you need a full set of specialized cutlery in various sizes. I wish sometimes I could go through the kitchens of amateur cooks everywhere just throwing knives out from their drawers - all those medium-size 'utility' knives, those useless serrated things you see advertised on TV, all that hard-to-sharpen stainless-steel garbage, those ineptly designed slicers - not one of the damn things could cut a tomato. Please believe me, here's all you will ever need in the knife department: ONE good chef's knife, as large as is comfortable for your hand. Brand name? Okay, most talented amateurs get a boner buying one of the old-school professional high-carbon stainless knives from Germany or Austria, like a Henkel or Wusthof, and those are fine knives, if heavy. High carbon makes them slightly easier to sharpe! n, and stainless keeps them from getting stained and corroded. They look awfully good in the knife case at the store, too, and you send the message to your guests when flashing a hundred-dollar hunk of Solingen steel that you take your cooking seriously. But do you really need something so heavy? So expensive? So difficult to maintain (which you probably won't)? Unless you are really and truly going to spend fifteen minutes every couple of days working that blade on an oiled carborundum stone, followed by careful honing on a diamond steel, I'd forgo the Germans.

Most of the professionals I know have for years been retiring their Wusthofs and replacing them with the lightweight, easy-to-sharpen and relatively inexpensive vanadium steel Global knives, a very good Japanese product which has - in addition to its many other fine qualities - the added attraction of looking really cool.

Global makes a lot of knives in different sizes, so what do you need? One chef's knife. This should cut just about anything you might work with, from a shallot to a watermelon, an onion to a sirloin strip. Like a pro, you should use the tip of the knife for the small stuff, and the area nearer the heel for the larger. This isn't difficult; buy a few rutabagas or onions - they're cheap - and practice on them. Nothing will set you apart from the herd quicker than the ability to handle a chef's knife properly. If you need instruction on how to handle a knife without lopping off a finger, I recommend Jacques Pepin's La Technique."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Surly Table I think has a good selection of high quality knoves.  Also, I think eGulet had a culinary instistute on knives once.

I can't find an eCGI course on knife selection per se (they have them on sharpening and skills), but here is The eGullet Chef Knife Thread.

Also remember to consider knife storage. Since you're not getting a block (unless you're buying an empty one, which you can, but I still submit you don't need to fill it nessesarily), you will need something to store the knife in for both safety and for the sake of not banging up your new knife. I got my 8-inch Henckels at Sur La Table (as a set with a paring knife...seemed a decent value) and they had these plastic clamshell covers for the knives that have served well, in the low single digits of dollars, if memory serves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely try before you buy, as the wise minds have agreed above. My brother has a set of either Wusthof or Henckels, both of which have a really great reputation... however, they have a black resin-type handle, which gets very slick when the knives are wet and is very hard to grip. This stuff is what they don't tell you when you're in the shopping stage.

I have a set of Chicago Cutlery, stainless handle, the full block with sharpener. Lessee... it's... this set, currently available for $100 from Target. Definitely the paring knife and the chef's knife get the most use. Maybe buy a set like this and then just replace the chef's knife with a more expensive alternative?

The 6/8/10 question is also one that can be solved by holding the knife in your hand and going through the motions with it. A knife that feels good in your hand is a good knife. A knife that does not, is not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A thought (or 2) for Tony.

Knife weight is a little less important when your dicing up one onion at home then when you're a prep cook and dicing up a 20 pound bag every day.

Tried the Globals and hated them. The balance and grip were all wrong for me. (They do, however, look cool)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sur la Table allows you to test out the knives so take a trip and see what fits your hand the best. Their prices are pretty competitive to what I have found online.

The Globals and Shuns are pretty light and I personally do not like that feel, no matter how many onions I happen to be chopping. Personally I own a couple Wustof Grand Prix II knives, and just picked up another as a Christmas present to myself, and really like them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I took the Intro to Knives class at Sur la Table- $25 I think, but comes with a coupon for a knife purchase- 10-15%. I found it to be helpful and definitely a good way to try out all the brands. I ended up with a Furi chef's knife because I have small hands and like the fit. I never would have thought about that brand before the class (this was pre Rachel Ray endorsement).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you need instruction on how to handle a knife without lopping off a finger, I recommend Jacques Pepin's La Technique."

L'Academie de Cuisine offers a nice basic knife skills class.

FWIW, I love my Global, but when I dropped it off at La Cuisine to be sharpened, I picked up a 9" Messermeister San Moritz Elite, which I also love. (Yeah, I know, I don't need two chef's knives - I'm just a gear geek.) Here's one more vote for 'try before you buy' - find one that fits your hand and won't fatigue you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I second JPW's suggestion to find a knife with a grip that works for you. I have a 10-inch Shun and love it. Wusthof and Henckels are the wrong shape, and Global the wrong weight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do not put myself forth as a knife expert, but I had an experience that may be of interest. Two decades ago when I was visiting Kyoto, I asked for an appointment at Kyocera hq since I was writing about technology and I was interested in their printers and cameras. Oddly, they assigned a Spanish-speaking employe (just back from Peru) to brief me, which worked out pretty well since I have a much better knowledge of Spanish than Japanese.

After showing me what they were working on in my areas of interest, this gentleman paused dramatically, and said, "But those are not our most exciting products."

He had my interest. "Kyocera derives from Kyoto Ceramics," and we are working on a ceramic knife that will revolutionize the cutlery industry." He showed me a sample. "This knife," he explained, "is sharper, more durable and lighter than anything on the market. It does not retain odors, it wipes easily and if it ever needs to be sharpened, we will do it here for the customer. There is only one little problem."

"Problem," I repeated.

"If you are working in a kitchen with a tiled floor, and you drop the knife and it lands on its point, it will shatter into a thousand pieces. We're working on that."

Well, 20 years have passed and I notice that Ming Tsai is pitching Kyocera ceramic knives. I wondered whether the passage of time had enabled the company to solve its little problem.

I recently bought a chef's knife with a 6" blade. Would that I had the experience and knowledge that other contributors here do. All I can say is that it cuts meat and vegetables quote nicely. It is an in-between size. And so far I have not dropped it on its point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I do not put myself forth as a knife expert

In spite of that, have you tried the Chinese chopper and if so what did you think?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In spite of that, have you tried the Chinese chopper and if so what did you think?

Yes, I tried the cleaver (which I bought at Great Wall on your recommendation). It does the job but it's heavy. You can't use it for precise jobs. It's great for deboning a fowl.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Also remember to consider knife storage. Since you're not getting a block (unless you're buying an empty one, which you can, but I still submit you don't need to fill it nessesarily), you will need something to store the knife in for both safety and for the sake of not banging up your new knife. I got my 8-inch Henckels at Sur La Table (as a set with a paring knife...seemed a decent value) and they had these plastic clamshell covers for the knives that have served well, in the low single digits of dollars, if memory serves.

That is true about the clamshells -- all sizes, max about $5 each. I have several, but I find I only use them for knives I don't use much. My real knife-storage score came from Target -- it's a rectangular molded-plastic tray, similar material to the clamshells, with 2 humps in it (running crosswise) and 4 slots in them for knives. Fits in a drawer and holds the 10" slicer, the 6" chef's and 2 paring knives, which are the workhorses I use on a more-than-daily basis. It cost maybe $2 or $3, back in the housewares section with all the little drawer trays. It's probably made for something else - who knows? Personally I think those knife blocks get nasty fast -- dust and kitchen spatters and you can't run them thru the dishwasher -- feh.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This isn't SO innovative... but does anyone have experience with ceramic knives? That and the microplane grater are the two things I think my kitchen is missing. (Besides the 7.5-quart Calphalon pot I ordered last week.)

I bought a ceramic knife when I was in Tokyo a few years back. Love it. I generally reserve it for vegetables, though it works great on meat too. You just don't want to go hacking away at bones with it. It stays super sharp -- no steeling, no sharpening (and no dropping on the floor!). Lighter than a steel knife, so less chance of hand fatigue on long chopping sessions (not really something I worry about, but figured I'd point it out anyway).

The potential for breakage is, of course, the drawback to these knives. But take good care of it, and it'll be your friend for life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This isn't SO innovative... but does anyone have experience with ceramic knives? That and the microplane grater are the two things I think my kitchen is missing. (Besides the 7.5-quart Calphalon pot I ordered last week.)

Ceramic knives can be dificult to sharpen yet they hold an edge better than steel. I guess I'm too conventional to give up my steel knives. As for microplanes, The Microplane brand is top shelf. I have all 3 available types, the standard fine one, one to shave chocolate and another for hard cheeses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

not named sur la table or william sonoma to buy nice kitchen knives such as mac or misuno. want to be able to hold them in my hand before i buy them, so i was hoping anyone knew of a store in the area that might sell them.

ty.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Got a great salesguy at Sur La Table. Let me feel all the different knives. He gave me some critique on each, and I decided on one. No pressure, very friendly service. Bought 2 more since this first experience.....but I'm not sure they have the brands you are looking for. I went in wanting to get henckels, so I didn't really notice any of the others. Hope this helps you out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
La Cuisine in Old Town.  On Cameron Street, behind City Hall.

And it's a very short walk to Restaurant Eve for a nice lunch after.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now