Shun knife block set or mixed individual knives as a Gift?

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by squall, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. squall

    squall

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    Hi,

    I am looking to buy either a Shun knife block set or a few Shun knives individually for a friend who
    is a 3rd year apprentice chef in her final year.

    Now from reading various chef/knife forums, Shun knives do not seem to get alot of love. However my friend has
    her heart set on Shun.


    I would really appreciate some input on the following from anyone who has professionally used or has knowledge of Shun knives:

    1. Which Shun series to get? (The person in question will be a Chef by the end of the year). I've seen:
    -Shun Classic
    -Shun Pro
    -Shun Reserve
    -Shun Ken Onion
    -Shun Premier

    I know this might come down to personal preference, but overall which would suit a new Chef the best? What are the
    advantages/disadvantages of each series


    2. Knife block set or Individually selected knives?

    Having no knowledge of Chef knives I am not sure if the knives that come in the knife block sets would be
    adequate for her. What would you recommend? Getting a 9-11 piece knife block set or selecting individual knives?

    If individual knives is the way to go, which knives and accessories should an average Chef always have in their  collection?

    (Money isn't an issue)



    Thanks in advance for any advice.


    Regards,
    Squall
     
  2. kingofkings

    kingofkings

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    Probably the classic, maybe the Ken onion but they're real expensive. CKtG do have them on clearance at the moment thought I think, but you'll be limited on the range.

    Steer away from a set, get a chefs knife around 10 inches, a smaller knife and a bread knife. She shouldn't need much  more unless she does specific tasks every day (breaking down animals etc).

    Seriously though, try to put her off a Shun. Unless its going to be a total surprise that you've bought her knives, show her some of the threads that you've seen. It was enough to put me off  getting a Shun, and you can get incredibly better stuff for the price, or the same quality for so much less money.

    Don't forget to factor in that she'll need to keep the knives sharp, so either get her a set of stones if she's the handy type, or get yourself a set of stones and offer to keep them sharp for her.
     
  3. mike9

    mike9

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    Does it have to be Shun?  Does she have experience with Shun?  I ask because there are other knives out there for less money that will perform better on the line.  A block set has too many elements that will sit idle in the block IMO. 

    Japanese knives are task specific and I have settled on these for my kit:

    240mm Gyuto

    210mm Deba

    300mm Yanagiba

    150mm Petty

    Heavy cleaver

    Bread knife  

    Mac 10.5" combi steel/hone

    When I switched from Western to Japanese style knives I started out with Shun Classic's (chef, santoku & paring) then tried Yoshihiro (gyuto and petty) - all in VG10.  Later I found that carbon suited me better - it was what I was used to in my old western knives.  I also find it easier to maintain the edge on carbon than VG10.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2012
  4. squall

    squall

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    Happy to hear recommendations for other Japanese knives, possibly the same look as shuns?
     
  5. mike9

    mike9

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    The Yoshihiros I mentioned are VG10 with san mai construction with a hammered finish above the shinogi line and a western style handle.  Not everyone takes to the Wa type handles.  Nice knife - great balance and looks and very sharp.  Here's a link to CKtG - plenty of knives and info:  http://www.chefknivestogo.com/   Jon at JKI also has a wealth of info: http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/

    Both of these men are very helpful and knowledgeable don't be shy about contacting them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
  6. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Giving knife gifts to a good cook is tricky.  Giving knife gifts to a nascent pro (who knows everything) is trickier still.  That she is female doesn't make it easier. 

    Is it possible for the two of you to go shopping together -- even online? 

    It's very difficult to make a good case for Shuns.  There are many knives which are better in an absolute sense, represent better bang for the buck, or both; and which do a better job of rewarding good knife technique.  Shun chef's knives are particularly awkward (we can talk more about why if you like).  On the other hand, if Shun is what she really wants, Shun is what she should have.  Gifts are for making people happy, not for "teachable moments." 

    Good knives are all about good sharpening.  No matter how good, how expensive, how beautiful, all knives get dull and any dull knife is a dull knife.  Don't waste money on knives which won't be competently sharpened (and I don't mean by a service, or solely on a steel).   Do you know if she has a plan for sharpening yet? 

    The basic knives in a "pro" kit are the chef's, slicer, bread, and "petty" or paring.  There are also a few specialty knives for tasks like butchering, fish or decorative cutting which the recipient may or may not need.  Sometimes it's also nice to have a heavy duty knife for heavy duty tasks which might damage a light chef's knife.  

    If either must be budgeted, I suggest putting the most consideration and money into the chef's then working down.
    • What's your budget?  Hard to start narrowing the possibilities without guidance on that topic.  Money isn't an issue?  Or, money REALLY isn't an issue.
    • Is price/performance value important?  If you're buying a soup to nuts knife and sharpening kit, it should be. 
    • Is appearance important?  It should be as important to you as it is to her -- otherwise it's a distraction. 
    • Do you really NEED the Damascus look?  It's appearance only, doing nothing positive for performance. 
    • Can she sharpen yet?  I know I already asked, but it's important.
    • Would you consider buying only a chef's knife and a sharpening system?  Together, keeping an eye on value, those two things could run more than $500.
    Not writing down a particular collection of knives and sharpening stuff is killing me, but developing your choices should be about delighting her.  Let's educate your decision making process and take it from there.  If you'd rather have a list than an education -- perfectly understandable -- I can give you that. 

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
  7. jimbo68

    jimbo68

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    If I were giving knives as a gift to someone who has some knowledge of knives, and cooking,  I would present one she would not purchase herself.  That would be a fine offering from an upscale maker.  Say something from Japanese Chef's Knife. 
     
     
  8. squall

    squall

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