How do, everyone! I'm hoping I can get some advice on knives. I'm a total culinary idiot about anything that doesn't come in a box or can with instructions, so I'm starting from a very basic level. I hear over and over again on the morning shows and cooking shows that knives are the most important tools in your kitchen, and as such it's worth it to spend the extra money on "good" knives. However, I have some more specific questions. Maybe I should tell you a little bit more about me first: I'm right-handed, I'm a pretty big guy but have "smaller" male hands with long thin fingers (my wedding ring is a Size 7 1/2, if that gives you an idea), the only knife technique I know is to grip it by the handle and cut with it, and my experience with knives is limited to Chicago Cutlery and Tramontina. I don't have a problem paying for good knives and am willing to save up for them if necessary, but I don't want to "pay for a name" -- I'm looking for knives that will do the job for many years to come (with proper care, of course -- I understand that good knives need to be washed by hand and sharpened regularly). So, my questions: 1. The obvious -- which brand(s) would you recommend? 2. How many knives should I get for starters and what types (Chef's, boning, paring, etc.)? 3. Which do you prefer: High-carbon-steel or stainless steel? 4. Are knives with ergonomic handles any better than those with more "traditional" handles? 5. What exactly is a Santoku knife and are they good for beginners like me? 6. Are there any knife sharpeners (hand or machine) that you would recommend? 7. Do you have any recommendations for cutting boards (wood/plastic, any specific brand)? Thanks in advance to everyone who responds!