French Chef Knife?

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by riderc90, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. riderc90

    riderc90

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    Alright.

    So I think I am looking for a French profile chefs knife. Based on my research and experience that is. However, the only reputable brand of French knives is Sabatier. Not that they're bad. Just not feeling the love from them I suppose. I don't have a great reason. I guess I like options not a monopoly.

    Anyhow.

    The reason I want/need some good French profile knives is because I am a "pull-cutter." (Occasionally a push cutter.) I generally wear out any German style chefs knife because they have entirely too much curve/arc entirely too early. So what I end up doing is holding the knife at a 40-60 degree angle and using mostly the tip.

    This works. However. It is starting to damage my wrists. And the tip of my knife is disappearing because it is the thinnest part and is having to be sharpened more frequently than the rest of the knife.

    Anyone that can help feel free to reply! Any and all help is appreciated!
     
  2. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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  3. galley swiller

    galley swiller

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    Do check out the posts in the thread listed by Kokopuffs.

    Also, keep in mind that there is no single company known as "Sabatier".  The brand name of "Sabatier" actually covers a number of different lines of knives made by a number of different companies, almost all of which were traditionally based in Thiers, France (south of Vichy).  There was also an awful row made in France in the 19th Century about trademarking the "Sabatier" name, to the point where over 20 brand names using some sort of "Sabatier" label were at one time or another in production and sale, each named line produced by a different knife maker or company.

    Nowadays, there are 3 companies which are considered to have historical roots to the Sabatier name - Sabatier K, Thiers Issard and Mexeur et Cie - which have or recently had their product lines available in the United States.  There is also at least one "Sabatier" brand sold in the USA, imported by an American company, with knives made in China.

    For the real thing (i.e., made in France), consider the carbon-steel lines as your first priority.  None of the stainless steel french knives are particularly distinguishable from other stainless steel knives.  It's the carbon steel knives which really sparkle in the culinary action.

    "Sabatier-K" knives are available both directly from France (http://www.sabatier-shop.com/ ) and from an outlet store in South Carolina ( http://www.sabatieroutlet.com/ ),  You can also find Sabatier-K knives from other retailers, including Amazon.com and China Fair Inc 

    Carbon steel "Thiers-Issard" knives are mostly available through "The Best Things" ( http://www.thebestthings.com/ ).  

    Both the Sabatier-K direct site and The Best Things site have offerings of "historical" knives, where there are knives made from knife blanks which were forged decades ago.

    Mexeur et Cie used to be carried by Sur La Table, but I don't know if it will return there.

    As for the Chinese-made Sabatiers, they are all stainless steel - and sold in sets of 15 or 13 knives (with knife blocks as part of the sets) for $40 and $60.  Make your own impression from that price point as to the quality - 

    In each case, take a look through the search engine at ChefTalk to get the past comments and reviews, especially by Boar de Laze ("BDL")

    Hope that helps

    Galley Swiller
     
  4. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    The only stainless Sabatier I own is a bread knife made in China and it works quite well after 10 years of use.  All the rest are made of carbon steel purchased at retail stores long ago and at ebay and yes there are occasional deals to be made at ebay, still!
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2014
  5. benuser

    benuser

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    I would like to hear from the OP why he uses "pull-cutting". If I understand it correctly the major work is being done by the tip.
    With a traditional French blade there is a strong distal taper. Above the heel the blade is very thick, while the tip is almost fragile. It's really meant for slicing, or for what BDL calls "guillotine and glide". The distal taper will be counterproductive in the OP's case.
    Japanese chef's knives have largely been inspired by the French example, but the distal taper is generally less pronounced, and their tips tend to be a tad lower than with the original French.
    If the OP insists of using his "pull-cutting" technique he might even consider a flat santoku instead of a chef's knife.
     
  6. riderc90

    riderc90

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    I am calling it pull cutting. But I do not know. With the right knife I hold at 20 degrees straight down until I get contact with my board and then pull back.

    German style is terrible for me for some reason. I have to hold it at a more aggressive angle. It is uncomfortable and it ruins the tip because it's not what the knife is designed for.

    I thought a French style would be better because the blades generally aren't as deep or aggressively angled.
     
  7. benuser

    benuser

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    Would you be prepared to reconsider your technique?
     
  8. mhpr262

    mhpr262

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    why does it have to be a French knife? A Japanese gyuto is pretty similar in profile (if anything they have even less belly) and they are available with gigantic blade lengths (300mm and over) so you won't have to raise your knife to such a high angle for food of the same "height".
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2014
  9. riderc90

    riderc90

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    It doesn't have to be a French knife. I have used a wide variety of knives including a few customs. Just in my browsing a French style seemed appropriate.

    And yes benuser, I would be willing to do so. I am always open to learn more and expand my knowledge and experience.
     
  10. benuser

    benuser

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    My problem with the "pull-cutting" is that you use only a small part of the edge, and don't benefit from the distal taper.
    About a more conventional technique:

    http://www.cookfoodgood.com/?p=405
     
  11. riderc90

    riderc90

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    Fair enough. I'm heading to work now and will give this a shot. I'll let you know how I do with it
     
  12. benuser

    benuser

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    Looking forward to it
     
  13. riderc90

    riderc90

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    It's a very different feel for me. Slicing and rock chopping is easier and more comfortable. It may be a usable technique once I do it enough. But right now it feels foreign. Perhaps my knives aren't suited to it either.
     
  14. benuser

    benuser

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    I'm not sure I do understand this very well. You're complaining about a profile being unadequate to perform a bizarre technique if I may say so. But if you're comfortable with traditional slicing and rock-chopping I would stick with that, and abandon your "pull-cutting". BDL's "G&G" is only a variation on traditional slicing.
     
  15. rdm magic

    rdm magic

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    If your pull cutting is what I imagine it to be, consider getting a cleaver.
     
    riderc90 likes this.
  16. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    I have a German style chef knife. Sometimes I pull. Sometimes I push. Sometimes I rock. Sometimes I roll (not really).

    Even if you pull cut you don't have to be restricted to using only the tip, in fact when I pull I use the leading edge where the belly just starts to curve towards the tip.

    You say you occasionally push cut. When you do, you don't use the tip do you? Same principal with the pull cut, just in reverse.
     
  17. riderc90

    riderc90

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    Coincidentally I am getting a cleaver. :)

    And thanks cheflayne. That's a really good way to look at it
     
  18. benuser

    benuser

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  19. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Or it might get illustrated by this knife


    which is the one I use at  work for 98-99% of my tasks that require a knife. It allows me to push, pull, rock,,slice, glide, guillotine, etc., It can do them all.
     
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  20. benuser

    benuser

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    Sure, but pulling doesn't seem that comfortable to me!