Beginner Home Cook Knife Recommendations

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Thanks for the welcome Lenny!

My experience is extremely limited, and I've started exploring cooking as a hobby. I basically chop veggies and do some light "breaking down" of meat (mostly chicken/fish). I guess what I'm looking for is a nice 8" chef's knife (I think!), but I don't feel I need something top of line, as the quality will probably be lost on me. Anything better than a Wal-Mart knife should do the trick!

Also, thanks for the link! Any and all information helps!

I am going to make a suggestion in the idea of allowing you to gain some knowledge, develop confidence in your skills but also and more importantly allow you to find a baseline that you can use for comparison in the future.

Basically look over all the low or lower cost suggestions here and on other "newbie" threads and just pick a inexpensive knife that you like. Use it and get a feel for it etc, but also keep reading threads and watching video on knife selection and sharpening so you can continue to learn but will also be able to betterunderstand what you are reading and later when your ready to spend more $ will know what questions you want to ask.

No matter if you go with the forshner or a Tojiro it will allow you to get started and move on from there, and not be going on sensory overload etc.
 
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I am going to make a suggestion in the idea of allowing you to gain some knowledge, develop confidence in your skills but also and more importantly allow you to find a baseline that you can use for comparison in the future.
Basically look over all the low or lower cost suggestions here and on other "newbie" threads and just pick a inexpensive knife that you like. Use it and get a feel for it etc, but also keep reading threads and watching video on knife selection and sharpening so you can continue to learn but will also be able to betterunderstand what you are reading and later when your ready to spend more $ will know what questions you want to ask.
No matter if you go with the forshner or a Tojiro it will allow you to get started and move on from there, and not be going on sensory overload etc.
Solid suggestion, LennyD. I ended up getting my current knife (unsure on brand) sharpened at the local kitchen store. Since I'm already used to handling it, it feels great now that it has a nice edge to it. I will take your advice and try to "stalk" the forum for more insight. 

I also wanted to say that I'm overwhelmed with the support of this community. As a first time poster with some very basic questions, the helpful responses have been so nice to see. A big thank you to all!
 
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Forschner Rosewood 8" Chef's Knife

Sale price: $32.95

http://www.chefknivestogo.com/victorinox-knives.html



Victorinox Forschner Rosewood Chef's Knives

8-inch   $35.95

http://www.cutleryandmore.com/forschner_rosewood.htm

OK. I'm going against the general standard tide. I'm recommending an 8" knife. If you're just going to buy one(1) knife, I think you should get a size that you can do more things easier with than not. I know, I'll have the geeks here tell you and me that I'm wrong. OK. I can live with that. But the point is that they're speaking from the geek pov, not as plain old ordinary "home cooks". There is nothing wrong w/ a VF chef's knife. It's a nice piece of equipment for easy money. It will sharpen easy enough and holds it's edge well enough and you can grow very well with it. 
 
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Dude... as a geek, or at least aspiring geek... I will point out that I wholeheartedly recommended the 8" Forschner/Victorinox for for this particular OP.  Fibrox, even, if you want to go cheaper, though I think the Rosewood is probablyl better for a home cook.  As BDL said, same blade, different handle.

I don't think any of the usual suspects pushed towards a longer blade, in fact.
 
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Dude?      LOL.     That's funny. 

I was going on the overwhelming vast majority of recommendations on the infinite myriad of "What Knife Should I Get" threads here on the forum. 10" is almost always the go-to size. I was also concurring with the other recommendations here. 
 
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I'm just not seeing any recommendations different from yours on this thread.  Sorry about "dude".  I NEVER used that term before moving to California.  Now I can't help it.  If I'm busting chops, I mean it good-naturedly.  (I'm not sure I am, but that's a line drawing issue, and with sincere apologies, I'll accept your assessment!)

Sorry, ICEMAN (not "dude," and hopefully never again -- though I can't promise not to be that absent-minded! Hell I address my sister that way sometimes!)

And yes, I affirm your post as truly helpful to the OP, which is what it's all about.
 
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It's AG my friend. 

Now to tell the truth, if I was buying knives tomorrow, as a beginner, I would get these, from Cutlery and More, on clearance, while they still have them. 

LamsonSharp Walnut 1837 Chef's knife  @ $19.95

LamsonSharp Walnut 1837 Fillet Knife  @ $17.95

LamsonSharp Walnut 1837 Hollow Edge Santoku  @ $19.95

I like the look and feel of this style. I think they outclass the Chicago Cutlery of today. They look to me to be real good "beginner knives", and if they're not, they're still not too hard on the pocket. As a non-beginner, I would get a Tojiro Shirogami  petty, santoku, nakiri and gyuto from CKtG. I do not however, think that choice fits in this situation. 

(All Good)
 
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A 10" knife is more efficient; stays sharper a little longer, or at least you're usually able to find a few sharp spots here and there; and has less rocker in the belly which makes it better in terms of getting more edge through the food and on the board.  But unless and until you know how to hold a knife it's a lot easier to keep track of the point on a shorter knife -- which not only makes tip work easier but makes the cook feel safer and more comfortable.

You don't have to sell a 10" or 11" knife to someone who already has the skills.  If I'm talking to someone who is talking about making the effort to develop them, or is in a pro situation with an adequate station size, I'll recommend a 10" over an 8" chef's. 

If I'm talking to a woman who says her petite height and hand size are better served by a short knife, I'll talk about how it's grip and not size.  As much because I hope she'll develop good grip and chopping skills as for any other reason.  

Otherwise, I don't say anything.   Sometimes -- well a lot of the time -- I use a 12" slicer as my "everything" prep knife.  It impresses the heck out of me, but it's stupid and shouldn't impress anyone else.  I can tell you that it certainly doesn't impress my wife.  A santoku or an 8" chef's (which are pretty much the same things) may not be my favorite go-to knives, and I particularly don't like 8" German profiles (like the Forschner), but since the prejudices didn't come to me on tablets of stone I figure it's a good idea to let everyone have their own opinion without my interference.  

Cooking should be fun, and knives are just one of the more entertaining guests at the party. 

BDL 
 
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And i claimed ot be an aspiring geek.... (if I had more money, I'd be a true geek).... at least in the sense originally mentioned, because given an opening, I'd push someone toward a 10" knife, too. Or at least something longer than 8".  However, didn't see an opening in the OP.  Someone clearly says they want an 8" knife, I believe them.
 
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I am just curious as to why the recommendations tend to a 10" knife as opposed to 8" knife. I am a working chef (not an office chef). For 20 some years, I used an !! 1/2" Henckels forged full bolster. I used it for at least 97% of my tasks. For the last 10 years or so, I have used an 8" MAC MTH-80. I use it for at least 97% of my tasks.

I loved my 11 1'2" Henckels and still do. We put in lots of 60-70 hour weeks working in sympatico over the years. However when I pick it up today (mostly out of nostalgia) it feels like a chainsaw, albeit a well balanced graceful one; but massive all the same.

I accomplish all the same tasks and in the same amount of time with both knives, so I have seen no reason for me to go back to a longer knife. Hence the curiosity as to the reasons why others prefer a longer knife?
 
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BDL already gave reasons -- also, I'd add what's not a reason so much as an encouragement that one "usual reason" for wanting a shorter knife is weight or unwieldiness of a larger one; moving to Japanese knives (and such), there are many that are lighter and more agile. And a more "French" profile is easier to point than your Henckels, I would think.

For many tip-down tasks, you don't have to lift the handle as high or move the knife as much, too (Norman Weinstein's knife skills video shows this, perhaps it's on youtube -- even though his preference for Wusthof classic knives goes some little way toward working against his point).
 
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Yes I read BDL's reasons.

I was hoping to get the reasons of multiple people.

My basic question was concerning preferences on length, not profile nor western vs eastern, but I appreciate your taking time to answer.
 
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Length is directly related to profile, of course.  A circular blade could be uselessly long (this is a theoretical extreme, obviously). And the western vs. eastern was really meant primarily as a proxy for weight vs. lightness.

I'd also suggest having a look at the Weinstein video:   At about 1:22 forward, on point.

There's another section of the video where he shows them side by side to make much the same point, maybe more clearly, but I haven't located it on youtube in my brief perusal.
 
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phatch

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I like a longer blade for a couple of reasons.

Primarily because of the lower angle when making the same cuts. You can slide the point out away from you a bit more and keep a more natural angle when chopping an onion or potato.

Big fruit and vegies are more easily handled with a long blade. Both cantaloupe and Watermelon often exceed 8", even 10, but the extra length in the blade helps. And for a melon or hard squash, a Forschners blade can be a bit flexy for handling well. Cucumbers cut the long way. A 10" blade does so more easily and evenness comes easier to that cut.

Efficiency. When I've got a big stack of carrots or celery, the longer blade handles the whole group easier and as pointed out, at better angles.

now, I'm just a home cook, not a pro.   I'm about 5'10", not a big guy really. Lately I've been using my 8" IKEA blade because it's a great piece of steel. I'd love it were a 10" available. Still, I reach for my 10" Henkels when I need to process bigger amounts or big objects. I do miss the elegance the longer blade offers in cuts and work in general. But my 10" blade is not as good as my 8 currently.

I need to remedy that.
 

phatch

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Let me try to clarify. Yes, i can do with the 8 what I can do with the 10.

When I say the 10 brings elegance to the cut, I mean that to equate to ease and comfort  which also improves my efficiency and accuracy.

For a shorter person, the better angles in the cut should also be of more importance than for a tall person actually.

But as I mentioned, I'm using the 8 a lot and that is because of it's edge holding and sharpness. These features too are important in choosing a knife, not just length. Combining good steel in a longer knife makes sense, though you do reach a point where more length is a hindrance. 10" seems to be a length that offers the most benefit with the  least detractions.  I don't pretend that it is universally so for all users, but just generally so.
 
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If someone chooses a shorter knife over a longer because they lack the skills to use the longer knife profitably, it seems to me that the best course of action is to acquire the skills and then reevaluate the choice.  That's very frequently the situation here when people ask, as they so frequently do, "What's the best knife for ME?"  What allows the discussion of length and recommendation to the 9-1/2" - 10" range is that the willingness and desire to improve knife skills is almost always part of the motivation in buying a good knife. 

Just to be clear, at the end of the day, in my opinion, the best length for anyone is entirely a matter of taste.  You should use whatever you enjoy you most. 

In terms of my own preference, I like two knives as my go-to gyutos.  One is 10" K-Sabatier, and the other a 27cm Konosuke gyuto.  I also have a 12" K-Sabatier au carbone which I use as a "chef de chef," for splitting chickens and the like; and while I'll use it to chop onions if it's out, it's too heavy and awkward to be much fun.  On the other hand, my Konosuke 30cm suji, is a helluva lot of fun to use as a gyuto in the sense that using it impresses the heck out of me with me.  But it's not a rational choice, I don't recommend it, and I must be easily impressed by myself because it sure has heck doesn't impress anyone else. 

Most of the time when you hear someone say he uses a 12" knife he's trying to say more about his own bad self than the knife.  Present company excepted, of course.

Phatch,

"Elegance" is a very good way of putting it -- don't be surprised if you're imitated.  You'd be surprised -- or maybe you wouldn't -- how much of that comes from grip; and how much a good grip makes a little extra length a non-issue.

You often hear (and read) women who want a short knife because they have small hands or petite stature; but far more often than not, the preference disappears when they start using a good grip -- which, by the by, requires a sharp knife.   

ChefLayne,

Given that you were comfortable with a 12" knife, how would you compare a 10" MAC Pro to your 8" MAC Pro?  Do you find the 8" that much more agile. 

Big Green Egg IC,

Don't be put off by the thread drift.  Your questions and expectations are perfectly reasonable, and there's no reason you shouldn't get yourself an adequate knife. 

You've made it very clearly that your current knives make you feel you're missing something -- and you're right. Your "knife care class" is a normal reaction to the very powerful paradigm shift that a sharp knife is more about sharpening than the knife itself.  Don't panic, you're not in over your head.  Fortunately, there are some relatively simple and [ahem] relatively affordable ways to deal with sharpening.  But it is something which needs to be addressed in order for you to start developing good enough knife skills to make prep fun instead of a chore.  You'll also find that a lot of ingredients like onions and herbs taste better when they're cut cleanly instead of hammered or sawed into submission. 

More fun and taste better are two things you should have.

BDL
 
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ChefLayne, Given that you were comfortable with a 12" knife, how would you compare a 10" MAC Pro to your 8" MAC Pro?  Do you find the 8" that much more agile.
I spent at least an hour trying out different lines and sizes of MAC knives, cutting vegies, melons, tomatoes etc. It is not so much that I found the 8" more agile, I just liked the overall feel of it best and didn't notice the missing 2". It has been about 10 years now so I don't really remember the exact differences, but there were distinct differences between the MTH and the MBK which are both knives in the professional line and I definitely preferred the MTH. The biggest MTH is the 8". Initially I never would have believed that I would go for an 8" chef knife after years of using an 11 1/2" Henkels, but the time I spent test driving the 8"MTH quickly dispelled that notion.

Today at work, it was a heavy knife work prep day. 8 full hours of nothing but knife work, we were prepping for a 15 course tasting menu for 50 people tomorrow night. I did vegies, I did fish, I did meat, I did all kinds of cuts and techniques; basically all day long I did, I did, and then I did more. It was funny because for the first time in a long time, I really paid attention to my knife and its work due to this thread. I can honestly say that not one situation came up where I wished I had a larger knife. When it comes right down to it, I really don't see much difference between an 8" and a 10" anyway. That's my story and I'm sticking to it./img/vbsmilies/smilies/chef.gif
 
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Solid suggestion, LennyD. I ended up getting my current knife (unsure on brand) sharpened at the local kitchen store. Since I'm already used to handling it, it feels great now that it has a nice edge to it. I will take your advice and try to "stalk" the forum for more insight. 

I also wanted to say that I'm overwhelmed with the support of this community. As a first time poster with some very basic questions, the helpful responses have been so nice to see. A big thank you to all!

Sounds like you have one comparison down already, how sharp is better. ;)

Try and see if you can post a pic of this knife as I know it will help all on trying to help you find your way to a happy decision. Plus having some kind of starting point to try and help you understand the differences between the knife you have and all the potential ones you may look at buying.

Mostly just hang around and ask whatever questions you may have so you can pick up more info etc.

I know it can be a bit overwhelming with so much info to absorb etc, but you will figure it out if you try :)
 
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