Professional knife set for home cooking

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Joined Jan 7, 2022
Hi,

A person is searching for a professional knife set for home cooking. He is more into medium price level but may consider higher if the knives performance worths it. They plan to use knife for occasional steaks cooking, apart from that just regular cooking. I was looking into MAC professional but they may be unnecessary expensive. Any advice on that? Thx
 
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A few things . . .

First, I highly recommend avoiding the purchase of a knife 'set' (and I believe I have some really good company here that share that sentiment) . . . I find sets can be substandard in quality and you end up with knives you don't need. A set will often have an 8" bread knife . . . and bread knives should be at last 10" long. Do you really need a cleaver? How about a slicer? Probably not at this point. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would trade my original cleaver and slicer for a 6" chef's knife. Honing rods are usually mediocre too.

Second, get the best money can buy and purchase two knives to start . . . an 8" chefs knife and a paring knife. Also, a good honing rod. I have a couple of great knives that are decades old. They have held up well, maintain a good edge, etc.

Third, make sure what works and feels good in the hand. The best chef's knife for a particular cook maybe a different brand than a paring knife. I have my personal preferences, but it took a while to learn what I liked.

Lastly, learn how to use and maintain the knives. A dull knife is a bad knife no matter how much you spent on it. Keep them clean and wash them immediately . . . or at least soon as possible. Learn to use a honing rod and use it often to keep the blades straight. When you have become comfortable with using a honing rod, then move on to learning how to sharpen the knives. And, never ever put them in the dishwasher! The knives can get damaged.

Over 30 years ago I spent approximately $500 on a set of knives. It was not a good decision and a waste of money. The knives looked great in the knife block but were not the quality I should have gone for. Good-looking knives aren't necessarily good knives.

Look back through the archives on ChefTalk and review previous discussions we've had about knife sets and why they are not the best way to acquire good knives.
 
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Thank you very much for a detailed reply! Please, clarify, does the abovesaid concerns as well Mac professional starter set which includes Chef's, paring and serrated?
 
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Joined Jun 11, 2013
You are definitely looking at 'top-drawer' knives! The Mac Professional Starter Set is nice and the knives are all good sizes . . . but, that's pretty spendy.

You might want to consider putting together a culinary knife gift set yourself:
  • Two-piece set of an 8" chef's knife and a paring knife. For a quality two-piece set, consider the Wüsthof two-piece IKON or Classic set (about $225-$250). (FYI - the handle for the IKON is a little larger with a slight curve, while the Classic has a more traditional shape to the handle.). Both the IKON and Classic lines are really good quality and will last a long time if taken care of well (hence, the need for a honing rod). For less money, you may want to consider the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Professional S two-piece Chef's set . . . that's around $180 or so. What I like about the Zwilling set is the paring knife is 4" long compared with 3.5" for the Wüsthof. It's also easy to add other knives over time to both of these product lines. (Although, I have to admit I have a hodgepodge of different knife brands in my kitchen.)
  • A honing rod. A honing rod if used with reasonable frequency will likely be in greater need than a serrated bread knife. I have several honing rods . . . the label came off of the one I use the most often. But, many honing rods are $20-$25 . . . like the Wüsthof honing rod
  • A bread knife/slicer . . . my favorite bread knives have all been pretty inexpensive . . . but, the blades are usually 10"-12" long. The bread knife I use the most often is a Mercer Culinary Millennia (they make both a 10" and 12" long version) . . . it's under $20 on Amazon and has nearly 13k reviews with a near five-star average. It slices things like tomatoes really well too!. We use it so much that it is kept on the counter on a grain-end cutting board in front of the toaster.
  • A method for helping keep knives sharp (honing rods help straighten the edge, they don't sharpen . . . although, it can give the sensation of feeling sharper after it's been straightened). Learning to use a whetstone is a bit ominous and more involved than what is needed on a day-by-day basis (or weekly or monthly). I decided to give this little KITCHELLENCE three-stage knife sharpener a try after a chef I know raved about it. I really like it and use it frequently. It makes keeping a good edge on the knives easy and then once a year I get out the whetstone and go to town. It's under $20 at Amazon
I hope this information is helpful. Good luck!
 
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A couple of questions J JuliaG - how much board space do you have? Are you comfortable with a 8+" knife, or a 9+" knife? Oh - and the big one . . . are you in the USA? That right there is a game changer.
 
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Guys, thank you so much! Sorry, seems my notifications went wrong, couldnt see your replies.

The person for whom the knives are intended is not a cook. Neither am I. So I cannot say how much board space he has or which handle length is more comfortable...So, as you guess, the set would be easier than combinating by self.

He has now sent me that he watched Yaxell Zen series set of 3 knives. Zen-37 series I guess. Are you able to say smth about them? I cant find this set in the US or wherever... We are in Russia but delivery is not a problem...
 
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Maybe also some advice on the quality set of knives that would be suitable for steaks and meat, bread and general kitchenette? Because I too doubt that I would need a serrated knife.
 
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As far as I can see, this set contains Chef's 200 mm, slicing 150 and utility 120. Do you think for non professional this set would be more useful than standard set of chefs, paring and serrated?
 
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Here's my 2¢:
- The starting point is always a good chef's knife and paring knife. Weight, balance, blade rigidity (cheap ones tend to flex). For most people 8" is fine. Don't skimp on the price of the paring knife: you will use it several times a day
- Next comes a proper honing steel as described by posters above and a decent Y-shaped vegetable peeler (not technically a knife but used just as often). Don't go for dirt cheap. Something like OXO Goodgrips is a good example
- The long bread knife is only useful if you cut large loafs (e.g. sourdough) or cake bases. Here rigidity is essential. I have a 30 year old IKEA knife that is still perfect
- The next one for me is a filleting knife. Your friend may not be expert at skinning fish but it has multiple uses and its thin blade reaches parts other knives don't...
- Finally a cleaver is a must-have, not just for 'violent' chopping but also to flatten chicken breasts or tenderise various things.
Hope it helps
François
 
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As far as I can see, this set contains Chef's 200 mm, slicing 150 and utility 120. Do you think for non professional this set would be more useful than standard set of chefs, paring and serrated?
It's really important to handle knives before you buy. For example many everyday home-cooks buy the soft handle IKEA chef's knife: great value for money and a decent blade at the price. Yet it doesn't work for me: the curvature is too much, making 'rocking' when cutting un-natural. Also the handle is not comfortable in terms f shape despite being made of a great material. Try before you buy!
 
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Joined Jan 7, 2022
It's really important to handle knives before you buy. For example many everyday home-cooks buy the soft handle IKEA chef's knife: great value for money and a decent blade at the price. Yet it doesn't work for me: the curvature is too much, making 'rocking' when cutting un-natural. Also the handle is not comfortable in terms f shape despite being made of a great material. Try before you buy!
Thank you!! Will advise the person tomorrow.
 
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So, we decided to combine a set of mac! I guess, chefs, utility and paring. Any ideas on where in the US to catch a deal on them?
 
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Have you looked at victorinox knives?
Since this is the first (set of) knives you buy, I wouldn't go to expensive.
Go run of the mill. Keep your knife sharp by honing. Learn to sharpen.
Use it for some time.
After that, you'll know what you are looking for. No harm in having 2 chef knives ;)
 
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Have a bunch of different knives here.
A few Mercer..some are good, some crap.
Was in Puerto Vallarta watching kitchen staff doing prep- with big plastic handle Tramontina chef's knives (not available north of Mexico), went to the supplier there & bought one - luv it!
Have one Victorinox butcher knife ( given to me by a butcher) use that for cutting down prime rib slabs.
All the Henkels are archived in the garage.
 
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Thank you for your info, it is very valuable. However, the person wants Mac). He has these wheystones and everythibg, he knows how to sharpen and do things, and he doesnt want to be much assertive with knives, for ex he orefers to buy online for good price rather than go physically try the knife. So far we have chosen MTH-80, pkf-60 and pkf-30, what do you think on those?
And now the question us where to grab a deal on them...any thoughts?
 
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