inexpensive chefs knives ?

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Joined Aug 11, 2003
well , i'm looking to buy a set of knives as a christmas present for myself this year . i dont have a lot of money to spend on them , but i would like to get something decent . i have always used whatever was on hand at home , and at work we use "next day gourmet" cheapy knives that seem to need sharpening hourly . i am hoping to stay in the $100 -$125 range . any recomendations would be greatly appreciated .
 
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Joined Dec 4, 2003
How many knives is a set to you? I picked up a slicer and a chef in Germany (Wustoff), and add on as I go. I don't care if they match and I only use a couple all the time. My favorite is a Santoku. I'm only happy with the high carbon. I recieved a JB Prince catalog yesterday that had some decent priced MAC knives with a full tang.
 

pete

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In the realm of knives, the old adage, "You get what you pay for" holds pretty much true. To get a full set of knives for $100 you would definately have to get second rate knives. Instead, I would do what most young cooks do. Since you already have knives I would just get 1 or 2 at a time until you have replaced them all. For just over $125 dollars you could buy a high end 8 inch chef's knife, a high end paring knife and a Dexter Russell boning knife (one of the only lower end knives that I truly endorse). This is a good start to get you going. As time goes on and money becomes available you can then replace your serrated "bread" knife, a long slicer, and a couple of utility knives (they are like long paring knives).
 
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Joined Oct 28, 1999
I would be hard-pressed to suggest a SET of knives for any reason, expecially on a tight budget. Is a set necessary? Can you buy one decent knife and build your collection as you go? I would suggest taking a look at the Kershaw/Shun line if you want to go the 'one knife at a time' route. Besides, sets are too much of a headache... you may like the Chef's knife that comes in the set, but may hate the filet and boning knives, etc.
 
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Joined May 26, 2001
I agree with what everyone has said about sets: DON'T :rolleyes:

What are the knives you work with the most? Those are all you really need. Probably a chef, parer, and maybe boning knife. Beyond that, a slicer is nice, but only if you use it a lot.

For inexpensive but good knives, I like the Sanelli line; very comfortable to my hand. I've gotten some at Broadway Panhandler but they are probably available elsewhere. My favorite online source is Knife Merchant, but I wouldn't buy something I've never held in my hand.
 
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Joined Dec 2, 2003
Hi,
I would keep an eye out on Amazon and ebay. Just before I paid full price for my Global knives locally, Amazon had the 3 piece set with the shinkansen sharpener for $129.

If you're not in a hurry, it might be a decent way to get some high quality knives without compromising.

VM
 
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Joined Aug 11, 2003
thank you for all the replies . i think i will go with most every ones suggestions and just get the ones i use . i really only use 3 for most occasions so i'll just look to get them for now . being as i've only been cooking professionaly for less than a year and a half , i dont have a lot of experience with quality cutlery . i've been working in a small place and unfortunately under the ownership of an extreme tightwad . at home as i said i use what ever i have on hand . since i have been working full time as a cook , i have become much more proficeint with a knife than i was before . i just think that i could do a lot better if i had some tools that were worth using .

ok , so what are some of the better names that i should look for . i want to get a chefs knife , a paring knife and a boning knife . if need be i guess i could do without the boning knife for now , but would like to get one . i have about 125 to spend give or take a few bucks . also where should i go to find them . i dont have a credit card so i cant buy online . besides i think i would like to be able to hold something before i actually buy it . thanks in advance again for the help everyone .
 
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Joined Oct 21, 2003
wise to pick just the ones you'll use.Best bang for buck (to me) is victorinox/forschner.Very sharp(and easy to resharpen) and very inexpensive.Not sure where to buy in your area,but check your yellow pages for butcher supply stores.I've found them to have excellent pricing. edited to add:those three knives(together) with the fibrox handles should be way under your budget.
 
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Joined Mar 3, 2002
In addition to the excellent advice you've received here, you might want to look at some extended exploration of this subject on the eGullet site where many ChefTalkers also participate and/or lurk. You might do a search on both sites as this subject has probably come up several times.

The most recent include:

EGullet Culinary Institute segment on Basic Knife Skills:
http://forums.egullet.com/index.php?showtopic=25958

& http://forums.egullet.com/index.php?...f=108&t=25957&


An additional discussion occurs at:
http://egullet.com/?pg=ARTICLE-chadknife

& http://forums.egullet.com/index.php?showtopic=33677
 
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Joined Jan 13, 2004
Markface has probably made his purchase already, but I'll throw in my two cents for anyone who checks out this thread in the future.

The sharpest edge that you can get for the money is an old-fashioned carbon steel knife (less than half the price of high-carbon stainless). Each time you pull it out of the knife rack, you drag it across a steel a few times, and you've got about the sharpest edge you can get.

Yes, they get ugly. So what? Yes, they require a little more care than high-carbon stainless, but not so much. Basically, you just have to dry them right away. There are certain foods that they will stain, but not many. So, keep one stainless around for these applications. (Also, if you keep a thin layer of oil on the knife, you eliminate this problem. I rarely wash my carbon steel knives with soap, just very hot water, so they always have a protective film on them.)

As for balance and handle comfort, let me suggest that unless you are a professional cook handling the knife several hours every day, these considerations are far, far less important than a razor sharp blade. The feel of the knife just won't matter very much.

A relative who trained at the Cordon Bleu in Paris once told me that a chef there told her that the cheapest piece of tin makes the best knife.

The biggest problem with carbon steel knives can be finding them. You'll probably find them only in a professional restaurant supply house, such as several on the Bowery in New York.
 

phatch

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While that has traditionally been true, it is less true today, and I'd wager that it's out and out false now.

For reference on the following discussion, refer to Steel Guide

Consider that the carbon content of a high carbon stainless steel knife is right around 1%, on average. 440A is a common stainless steel for kitchen cutlery. Really cheap stuff is probably 420.

The good "carbon" steels also hang out around 1%, but very rarely higher. 01, 1095 being very popular in hand crafted knives and tough stuff. It's not what you see in the cheap carbon kitchen knives. Just as with stainless, lower carbon knives are the dominant steel. Both for cost and maintenance reasons.

Carbon is what turns iron into steel. The more carbon,, the better the steel can be. Not automatically is, however.

The critical piece in the comparison you're making is in the heat treatment of the steel. Stainless was harder to heat treat. And fabrication methods didn't create as good of a crystalline matrix in stainless steels. Those flaws are exposed in the heat treat.

But with the economics of stainless compared to carbon, there has been great progress in the heat treatment of stainless steel. Additionally, steel can now be fabricated from fine powders and vaccuum "forged" creating very consistent crystalline structures.

Only at the very lowest end of the scale with knives no one on this board would consider for kitchen use would I consider your statement to be true in todays' kitchen knives.

And a big factor in the test is the user's ability to sharpen.

On that list, I own knives in various steels. From the staining steels, i have D2 and M2. From the stainless, I have 440C, ATS-34, 154CM, AUS 6, AUS 8, 12C27 and S30V.

The S30V is the best of the bunch and the most expensive. I'm not impressed with the D2. Very hard to sharpen and not particularly good at holding the edge. The M2 is also hard to sharpen but will hold the edge longer than ATS34 and lesser steels. I use it for very hard use only when I absolutely need the edge and can't stop to touch up the edge. S30V in stainless can keep up with it with much easier resharpening and costs only somewhat more than the M2.

The other hassle with carbon steel in the kitchen is the staining of the food. Forget about the knife. Cut artichokes iwth a carbon blade and watch them discolor.

Chop a bunch of potatoes and look for the black streaks from your blade.

Carbon isn't worth it in the kitchen.

Phil
 
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Joined Mar 2, 2002
I use a chef's knife for most stuff. About 10 years ago, I got a job as a prep cook at a place that would provide a resourse for buying a knife if you didn't already have one. I bought a Forshner (sorry about the spelling if it's wrong) for $15. I still have it. It's lighter than I like to use for a lot of applications - I like a heavy knife - but I can't complain. Forshner used to be wood handled, though. You have to make sure it gets cleaned well where the wood meets the blade.

But if had to spend less than $100 and I could only have one knife, that's what I would get.

RF
 
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Joined Jan 13, 2004
Phil,

I am new to this site, and its nice to meet you, but I respectfully disagree. Let's talk about discoloration. Artichokes discolor no matter what you cut them with, which is why you need ro rub a little lemon juice on the cut surfaces. And I promise that a well- maintained (i.e., not scoured) carbon steel knife won't discolor food very often. And, as I said, if you use carbon steel you should keep a stainless or two around for the rare instances when stainless has an advantage.

As for the edge, no doubt that carbon does not HOLD an edge as well, but it TAKES an edge better with a few strokes on a steel. And remember, I'm talking home cooking, not restaurant use (although its interesting that just about the only place that you can find carbon steel in the U.S. is in a restaurant supply store). If a home cook runs the blade over a steel when he or she firsts takes out the knife for each meal, how many times do you think he or she will really need to re-sharpen the knife?

I guess the other factor is how you feel about your tools. A carbon steel knife connects me to my mother, my grandmother, and even my great-grandmother (who I never met, but whose ten-inch carbon steel knife resides in my mother's knife rack) and to generations of skilled cooks. I feel the same way about an iron skillet. It connects me to a tradition.

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phatch

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Tradition is nice, sure. I cook in cast iron a lot because it cooks well and I use it outdoors too. I'm a Scoutmaster and that traditional method of cooking works very well there.

In the 70s when I did most of my growing up, we had two carbon steel kitchen knives. An 8-10 inch chef's knife and a parer. They were by far the sharpest in the drawer then. Even though they needed less sharpening, they need more maintenance in my opinion.

If you do make a commitment to carbon, I recommend mineral oil for your blade. It's food safe and will keep your blade safe when in not in use..

Phil
 
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Joined Oct 23, 2003
fwiw, I ordered a couple of sabatier au carbone chefs knifes from Amazon afew weeks ago. They were out of stock and am waiting for shipment. Both 8 and 10" chefs were 49.95 with no freight. Worth a look.
As someone who uses knifes for a living I've never had a carbon knife but have used them-and am looking forward to them vs the wustof, heinkels, messermiester etc... stainless that inhabit my toolbox. It seems with stainless i can't hold an edge for more than a couple of days-week with hitting the norton again or send them out for factory sharpening.

hth, danny
 
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Joined Mar 3, 2002
I recall reading somewhere (grey memory gap) that the newer Sabatier carbon steel knives are not as good as the old ones. Anyone know if that is true?
 
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Joined Oct 23, 2003
i think China was supplying their lower end knifes but haven't heard of a change in the French made ones. I'll let ya know when i get mine :).

danny
 
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You got a deal, dano. The prices for those knives on amazon today are considerably higher. Better make sure they make good on your order.

Anway, I need to replace my 8" and now you've made me covet one of these. When you get them, please let us know how you like them.

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Joined Feb 9, 2004
if your have $125 to spend on knives, your best bet is to spend $100 on your Chef's Knife and $25 on your boning knife and paring knife.
 
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Joined Oct 23, 2003
yeah, i got a couple of "good" chefs knives that have been following me around for a while ;) just gettin tired of them-and the edge. Might have to get a carbon steel boner though...
And still waiting for the dang things.
danny
 
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