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$100 to spend on knives.... set or separates?


phaelon56
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First: if this topic has been covered in specific length in previous posts (which I suspect it has).... feel free to point me towards it and we can let this new post die an immediate death.

I do recognize that there are some advantages to buying separate and very specific knives for certain purposes but my needs may well be less demanding than those of some forum members.

Here's the deal: I cook a few times each week at most, appreciate and insist on sharp knives and use a wetstone once a month or so to sharpen them (based on my limited usage this seems to be often enough). I've been using a motley set assembled over the years - mostly Dexter Russell stainless of the type you see as "house knives" in many restaurant prep kitchens (lower end restaurants at least). They have plastic handles, are not especially well balanced but hold a reasonable enough edge for my purposes.

I have:

wooden block

paring knife about 4"

boning knife about 8"

chef's knife about 10" (slight curve - not the French style)

serrated knife the size of the boner - use this just for occasional bread slicing and things like cutting through turkey or chicken rib bones

Have been staying with a friend during the transition between my NJ apartment and the house I'm relocating into in Syracuse. He had no sharp knives and not even a cutting board in the house before I showed up. Would like to leave him my current set and start over. By the way - can somone suggest a half decent and cheap sharpengin wheel type device I might leave for him in the hopes that he'll kep thee sharp (he will nto use a stone - I'm sure of that).

Sooooo.... I need to replace the functionality of my current set and wish to keep the expenditure at about $100 or so. I prefer to have some sort of a block to keep them in and hope to find something with a better balance and better feel in the hand. I'm not hung up on "brand names" per se and if buying separate knives from different makers will really benefit me I am open to it. I'm thinking that high carbon steel is a good choice for me but apart fromt hat I have no specifics.

Suggestions anyone?

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I went to a restaurant supply store in the Bowery years ago looking for a Wustoff, Henkels or something of that ilk. The guy told me I was wasting my money. He sold me a 10" no name chef's knife for about $30 that kept a great edge for about 4 years with no sharpening and only minimal steeling. It wasn't as pretty as brand name, but I had no problems with it.

Edited by Stone (log)
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There are a couple issues here besides which knives should you buy for yourself. First off, if your friend had no knives or anything when you moved in, he didn't often cook for himself, no? So, it is very unlikely that he will do the maintenance necessary for these types of knives.

Second, instead of leaving your used knives with your friend, it would be more appropriate for you to give him the new knives as a "thank you" gift. Not only because it would be better manners, it would also seem to be more of a gift, as opposed to hand-me-downs. Not to mention that when your friend slices their finger with your old now badly maintained knife, you will be blamed. Get him a set of relatively inexpensive knives designed to stay sharp, maybe even -- EEK! -- serrated. Amazon has a set of Sabatier knives, maybe not the best, but they make a nice housewarming type present for the novice. Here's a 14 piece set for $30, and here's a similar set, but with a mess of other kitchen utensils, for only $10 more.

Since you appreciate good knives and will maintain them as well, take your time and collect good quality knives over time, instead of buying a set of cheap ones now that you will quickly tire of.

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Sooooo.... I need to replace the functionality of my current set and wish to keep the expenditure at about $100 or so. I prefer to have some sort of a block to keep them in and hope to find something with a better balance and better feel in the hand. I'm not hung up on "brand names" per se and if buying separate knives from different makers will really benefit me I am open to it. I'm thinking that high carbon steel is a good choice for me but apart fromt hat I have no specifics.

Suggestions anyone?

Yes. My suggestion is that you spend the entire hundred bucks on a 10" chef's knife. Then, if you find down the road that you are really pining away for another kind of knife that does things you can't do with your chef's knife -- get yourself another knife. Over a few years, you will build up a battery of great knives that really fit your use.

--

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I would suggest getting two good knives. You shouldn't need more than that for most light cooking.

Take a look at some of the online vendors such as Epicurean Edge and Japanese Knife for some ideas. I was speaking with the owner of epicureanedge last night and he was very very knowledgable in this field. I mentioned eGullet to him and he might show up here sometime soon if we are lucky. I was asking him about reccommendations for a small petty/paring knife and he mentioned a fantastic value on a Shun paring knife. I believe it was around $30-$40. For some reason I am having trouble accessing the epicurean edge site right now, but I think I found the same knife at KnifeMerchant.com .

I think that Epicurean Edge has a sligtly better price though. Shun's 8" chef's knife is also beautiful, but slightly out of your range.

Ben

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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if your friend had no knives or anything when you moved in, he didn't often cook for himself, no? So, it is very unlikely that he will do the maintenance necessary for these types of knives.

Second, instead of leaving your used knives with your friend, it would be more appropriate for you to give him the new knives as a "thank you" gift. Not only because it would be better manners, it would also seem to be more of a gift, as opposed to hand-me-downs.

My friend did not ofen cook for himself but now has a girlfriend who's visiting regularly and they're cooking together - at the very least I know that she appreciates better knives. The knives I'm planning to leave for him tend to maintain a fairly decent edge with sharpening at only minimal intervals. Worth noting is the fact that I've been paying rent and also half of the utility bills - this has not been a gratis stay - if it had been I'd choose something far more appropriate and of greater value than my old knife set.

So.... all things considered I think I'm leaning towards a really good 10" and a really good paring knife. I'll wait until later to get the others if they prove to be necessary. I can bump the budget up a bit based on what people are suggesting here.... $140 - $150 should get me these two knives, correct?

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The Epicurean Edge site says it's "rebuilding" and takes me to a different site that lists no Shun knives. I did check www.knifemaster.com and found them.

The 3.5" paring and the 10" Damascus clad chef's knife look like a good deal and I can easily cost justify buying them both (cheaper than eating out and there aren't too mnay god restaurants around here anyway).

I could agonize over this (unlikely) or just take the plunge. Any good reason why I should choose other knife brands or look elsewhere? Also.... any distinct advantage to getting one of the 4" paring knives with a slightly different blade shape? I've been very comfortable with the overall size of a 10" chef's knife and am not inclined to move down to the 8" size unless there is a good reason (apart from cost) to do so.

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I noticed that they do not list all of their kitchen knives on that page. Give them a call or shoot them an email. I know for a fact they have them at a pretty good price. He might even have a different suggestion for you depending on your purpose, they are very knowledgable.

Ben

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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I've got a 10" chef's knife on hand as well, but it doesn't get much use anymore. I'm too addicted to my santoku knife, which is a use-all for me in most scenarios. For specialty jobs, I have my cleaver, boning knife, paring knife, bread knife, etc. For basic cuts though, it's all about that santoku.

R. Jason Coulston

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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I suggest you at least hold your knife candidates in your hand before buying. There are lots of more than adequete knives out there, but the feel of a particular knife in your hand can make all the difference in the world. Your decision to buy two basic knives of quality is a wise one. It's worth taking your time.

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i sorta agree with the get the 10" chef's knife and then get more if you need.

alternatively, get a 6" or 7" Santoku from Wüsthof or Henckels and then use the remainder to get a cheaper stamped 3" paring knife.

Doubt you'll really need more than these two.

Do not expect INTJs to actually care about how you view them. They already know that they are arrogant bastards with a morbid sense of humor. Telling them the obvious accomplishes nothing.

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I doubt that I can find these knives (for example, the Shuns) to hold in my hand in Syracuse. I'll pop down to NYC for a weekend late January or early February - suggestions for where to see a good selection?

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At ADPA we use Victorinox as our cheap, everyday - but decent - knives. They're like less than 10 bucks for a paring knife and only in the 20's for chef's and bread knives. But don't use a serrated knife for bones! Get some garden shears or a cheap Chinatown cleaver instead.

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I doubt that I can find these knives  (for example, the Shuns) to hold in my hand in Syracuse.  I'll pop down to NYC for a weekend late January or early February - suggestions for where to see a good selection?

If you have some time, do stop by Korin/Japanese knife for some beautiful knives you'll probably never see anywhere else stateside.

http://www.korin.com/catalog/

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I really think the use of a paring knife is overrated. I use a paring knife less than a boning knife. Though each cook will be different. But I use a cheap-ass peeler for peeling fruits and vegetables, don't do things like fluting mushrooms or turning potatoes and carrots very often. Otherwise, a chef's knife covers just about everything. However, you can usually find an excellent paring knife, the Henkels 4 star, for under $20. Personally, I prefer a 6 or 8 inch chef's knife. Make sure you have a chef's knife you'll be happy with for your whole life and if you have any leftover, then move onto the other knives. Ever watch Sara Moulton on Food Network? She's a small woman and uses a big old chef's knife almost exclusively.

boning knife about 8"

chef's knife about 10" (slight curve - not the French style)

serrated knife the size of the boner

Not to be crass, but did you just say you have an 8" boner? With my Jewish heritage, obviously I'm impressed.

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Not to be crass, but did you just say you have an 8" boner? With my Jewish heritage, obviously I'm impressed.

I'm Irish.... don't be too impressed.... you know how famous my people are for exaggeration....

When I worked as a buyer at Cornell we used to order in knives a couple times each year to assemble tool kits for the folks taking culinary classes at the Hotel school. Our vendor of choice at that time was the F. Dick Company. Needless to say.... it caused general hilarity in our small office (I shared a tiny space with three two other buyers) when the line item description of "F DICK 8 INCH BONER" had to be entered in the system for some unsuspecting redneck shipping guys to check in when it arrived.

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At ADPA we use Victorinox as our cheap, everyday - but decent - knives. They're like less than 10 bucks for a paring knife and only in the 20's for chef's and bread knives. But don't use a serrated knife for bones! Get some garden shears or a cheap Chinatown cleaver instead.

I started buying Victorinox about 2 yrs ago after my butcher turned me on to Brothers Cutlery here in Denver. I still use my significantly more expensive heavy steel knives that I bought 10 years ago, but am equally happy with the Victorinox. They are lighter and wear more quickly, but are easy to sharpen and cost about a third of most German/Japanese knives I've seen.

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I have the Bunka and paring knife out of this set a Victorinox 12" carver and bread knife and an 8 " Japanese chef's knife given to me as a gift. The paring knife is a joy when slicing garlic or turning shallots into dust .Not as pretty as some but really good steel that stays sharp a long damned time.Don't let the description of the other knife fool you, it takes on meats and fish handily. Those two knives get 90% of the work and only need monthly once overs with the waterstone..

If you want stainless I'd say get F.Dick , little harder than Victorinox and holds an edge longer

my 2c

Jorge

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I went to a restaurant supply store in the Bowery

Hey, Stone: do you happen to remember the name of the place? There are so many restaurant supply stores around Delancey, Rivington, etc., that I've never braved myself and actually gone into one. If you found good knives at a good price, I'd love to know about it (I'm in that area a lot).

And, the Victorinox knives some of you are mentioning: is that the same company that makes/sells Swiss Army products?

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