Starting a knife kit

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by matthew schaler, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. matthew schaler

    matthew schaler

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    I was just accepted for my first stage and am looking into starting a knife set. I'm buying good knives, but I wanted to know what types are the essentials for someone working in a professional kitchen? I know a chef's is a given, but I'm a little confused as to what else. On the same note, I know a sharpie and Moleskine are needs, but what are the other tools that I'll most likely need?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    It will depend a bit on your assignment specifics.

    But beyond a chef's knife, you'll want  a serrated bread knife, a paring knife. Beyond that perhaps a petty (a 6-7 inch utility knife) and/or a boning knife. 
     
  3. matthew schaler

    matthew schaler

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    Thanks. It's a Spanish tapas place ( the chef has actually worked for Ferran Adria and Jose Andres!). As far as a paring knife goes would something cheap like a Forschner Rosewood be acceptable? I rather put more money into things like a chef's knife and a petty. Also, if you have any preferred brands I'm open for suggestions.
     
  4. thetincook

    thetincook

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    I like Mundial. Good quality, and cheap enough if they get stolen I'm not hurting. Almost bought dexter russel last time.

    I would add a long flexible boner (hehehehehe). Can do double duty as a filet knife, especially for smaller fish.

    Also, good peelers that you keep to yourself. Very, very important. I really like the little Kuhn Rikon y peelers. I bought a stash of them off a truck a years ago.

    Waiter's style wine key.

    An off set serreted knife, instead of the serreted bread knife. Off set is such a nice feature, believe me.

    Don't forget a honing steel. You'll also want to get a two sided stone. I keep an AcuSharp in my roll to touch up my knives mid shift.
     
  5. matthew schaler

    matthew schaler

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    Would something as cheap as a Forschner be fine for this? I don't want to cheap out, but I want to save money where I can.

    Also, I actually was able to get an answer from Michael Symon and he suggested things like a truffle slicer and a clever which I found kind of odd.

    Thanks for all the advice, and keep it coming I want to absorb all the knowledge I can get =].
     
  6. thetincook

    thetincook

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    Forschner would be fine.

    Truffle slicer? Srsly?

    A cleaver is pretty much redundant if you've got a chef's knife. Plus it's a whole different motion to master. There are some tasks where a heavy clever is more appropriate, like cutting through bones, but meh, chef's knife will do you fine just about every time.
     
  7. Iceman

    Iceman

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    There is nothing "cheaping out" with Forschner products. You shouldn't have any need to "stage" for anyone if you have the money and skills to back up $300 knives. Here's 2 great sets, from Victorinox Forschner, that will serve you just fine:

    Victorinox Forschner Fibrox Deluxe Knife Roll Set: $139.95

    http://www.cutleryandmore.com/victorinox-forschner-fibrox/deluxe-knife-roll-set-p14596

    [​IMG]   [​IMG]

    Victorinox Forschner Rosewood Deluxe Knife Roll Set: $184.95

    http://www.cutleryandmore.com/victorinox-forschner-rosewood/deluxe-knife-roll-set-p1720

    What You need and what Michael Symon uses are two different ideas. You are working in a Spanish Tapas place. If you ever have need for a cleaver or truffle slicer, I'm sure they'll have them there. 
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011
  8. matthew schaler

    matthew schaler

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    Yeah I guess I'm underestimating the quality of Forschner. Thanks for the suggestions. It was a little weird because I asked Chef Syman what he would expect a stagiere to have. I really can't wait to build my set and start my stage as this seems to be the very beginning of my career =] Thank you guys so much, I'm really appreciating all this input!
     
  9. potato42

    potato42

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    Yes Forschner makes a quality knife. If you have the money you may find yourself even more satisfied with some of the other recommendations like Tojiro, Fujiwara, and Togiharu. Shun, while often frowned upon, is also not a bad choice although the relative value of the brand is questionable.

    The recommendation for a cleaver is something I find interesting. Keep in mind that there are different types of cleaver out there. What many people commonly think of is a thick, heavy knife intended for butchering meat and powering through bones with brute force. A "Chinese chefs knife" (or chukabocho) on the other hand is a thin slicing cleaver that is easily interchangeable with a standard chefs knife. My personal preference much of the time is for a thin slicing cleaver over a chefs knife. The techniques are a bit different, but the basic cuts are the same - push cut, pull, chop etc. The extra height of the blade makes guiding the edge with your left hand easier, and the extra weight helps the edge fall through food even easier. In addition when you're done cutting, you have a large flat surface to scoop product onto to get into your pan. If you're interested in trying a thin slicing cleaver, I recommend CCK as an excellent brand to start with.
     
  10. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    The most important thing to remember about buying knives is, does it fit well in your hand? Can you use it all day long?

    I am partial to Forschner's, they are the only knife that fits well in my hand, and the price is right.

    I have a few that are close to 30 yrs old, there's a lot more steel in those than the newer ones.
     
  11. potato42

    potato42

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    I respectfully disagree chefbuba. It may indeed be the most important thing to you, but your grip on the knife and technique might be the reason for that. Personally I find that with a pinch grip I'm happy to work with almost any knife that offers a good profile and sharp edge. In a pinch grip weight and balance play a bigger role than the shape or size of the handle.

    As for steel, I simply do not understand the "more is better" mentality. If you mean they will last longer, I have quite a few knives that I expect will outlast me, and I'm sure they have significantly less steel than the 30 year old knives you're talking about. If you mean that they are somehow tougher, that has everything to do with the quality of the steel, the heat treatment, the profile of the blade, and the way in which it is sharpened.

    Again Forschner makes an excellent knife for the money, but there are other better performance options.
     
  12. Iceman

    Iceman

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    "... better performance options"  

    That very well may be so. But as it is, the OP was "... just accepted for my first stage and am looking into starting a knife set". Why would anyone suggest he get his first knives from an assortment that starts north of $70 for a chef's knife?  [Tojiro, Fujiwara, and Togiharu]  Not that those are not nice suggestions, I just don't think realistic. 
     
     
  13. potato42

    potato42

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    I don't think it's unreasonable at all. As I said "If you have the money you may find yourself even more satisfied with" - I'll leave it up to someone else how to decide to spend their money.

    If I were to make a more specific recommendation, it would be to invest in a higher quality chefs knife, and go for budget options for the other knives.

    For a final time - Forschner makes a great knife for the money. sheesh.
     
  14. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    Potato, how long have you been working in a professional kitchen? Holding a knife for hrs on end? Nothing wrong with my grip and technique,

    there's 30 years of knife skills behind it. I have bought my share of other brands over the years, for me Forschner is the most comfortable.

    There is no more is better mentality, I simply stated that I have a few 30 yr old knives. There was more steel in them 30 yrs ago compared to the same knife made today.

    You go spend your $100 on a french knife that does the same thing as my $30 knife. I could care less about having the "trendy" name brands.

    The brand that I choose to buy has suited my needs well for 30 yrs, and I didn't have to worry about someone stealing my spendy knife.
     
  15. potato42

    potato42

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    I tried my best to present thoughtful arguments that were respectful while providing a different point of view. I'm disappointed that my posts above have been taken as some sort of attack on a favorite knife brand or a jab at how one chooses to use a knife. I don't think you guys are wrong in your decision, but I'd like to stress that just because you have found what suits you, does not mean everyone else will also think so.

    chefbuba I was in no way suggesting that your grip or technique were wrong, and I don't doubt your experience including the fact you have tried other knives that did not suit you. My experience differs, and as I stated I have never had a problem working with a sharp knife regardless of handle. I didn't understand your mention of more steel in regards to your older knives, perhaps it was just an extraneous comment? You make an excellent point about not having to worry if someone steals your knife. Truly $30 is a much easier loss than something three times (or more) as expensive. You're right about this too, in the end they all get the job done.
     
  16. Iceman

    Iceman

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    Relax Potato, we're all just having conversation, you get to be included. Matt appears to be a kid staging for his first real position, and he wants to build a starter set. Someone asking for advice has no real idea of what they will want when they are seasoned veteran journeymen. If he did I don't think he'd be looking for help on a bulletin board. Shoot, I've been cooking since 1966. My 2 main go-to knives could be replaced new, out the door, for less than $20 on clearance. I think people worry more about cool tools instead of learning the craft. Don't back off your opinion, just get some thicker skin, buttercup. 
     
  17. matthew schaler

    matthew schaler

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    Thank you guys so much, I think I'm getting a very good idea of what my set will consist of, I'm excited beyond words about all of this. I also think I'm going to get a sauce spoon along with a wooden one and maybe some tweezer tongs as I don't care for regular tongs.
     
  18. potato42

    potato42

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    [quote name="IceMan" url="/forum/thread/66375/starting-a-knife-kit#post_355279"]
    I think people worry more about cool tools instead of learning the craft. Don't back off your opinion, just get some thicker skin, buttercup. 
    [/quote]

    Oh I'll be the first to admit I love cool tools. The way I see it, if you're going to be using it so often, why not have something nice? There are other sections of this forum that focus on learning the craft.

    Definitely not changing my opinion either, but it appears that we do agree on a number of points.
     
  19. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    I know a lot of chefs in high end places who use high end (and expensive) knives.  In fact, most of the chefs I know in high end places, use expensive knives. I also know pros (online) who consider themselves "knife experts,"using inexpensive knives, sharpening with "diamond steels" once a day, and only really sharpen their knives a couple of times a year.  As many times as I've been involved in these type of threads, I wonder whether many among the second group really know what a sharp knife is.

    In my opinion what makes one knife worth more money than another in a line and heavy prep situation are edge characteristics, wear characteristics and comfort. 

    Victorinox / Forschner is pretty much as cheap as you can go and still get (what I'd consider) a decent knife.  They really are a lot of knife for the money, and are usable.  They get fairly sharp fairly easily, but don't hold their edges well.  If you want to get better than "decent," you'll have to go Japanese or high-end German.  The Fujiwara, Togiharu and Tojiro DPs mentioned are very much bottom of the top end.  They'll out-perform a Forschner sure, but they are not as good as more expensive blades.

    Petty and paring knives are not quite the same thing.  If you're going to use a short parer for peeling, opening packages, cutting string, etc., you certainly can go Forschner.  In fact, given the short lifetime of the small blades (they disappear from sharpening) cheapness is a real virtue.  I like the fine-edged Rosewood series, but a friend of mine swears by the disposable serrated Forschners with the plastic handles.  You just want something you can get sharp.

    On the other hand, if you're going to use a petty for paring, boning, shallots, and all the other smaller knife tasks -- you'll want something a little better.  I have a 4-3/4" Forschner Rosewood parer, but it's nowhere near as useful as my 6" petties.  They're just different.  You want something you don't have to sharpen several times a shift and Forschners unfortunately can't do that.  Getting my first 6" petty (actually, an old carbon Sabatier Nogent "slicer") changed the way I (ex-pro, long time home cook) do prep and very much for the better. 

    I know it seem confusing, but don't panic.  In most line positions, you'll use your chef's 90% of the time.  The big exceptions are boucher (butchering prep), poisson (fish), pastry and garde (cold pantry).  The petty really steps up for boucher and garde.  Poisson can be its own world.  Let's put off talking about that as long as possible.

    Speaking of petties, you probably don't need anywhere near as many knives as you seem to think you do.  So you can save some money there.  Invest in a decent (or better) Japanese chef's knife, a decent Japanese petty, and Forschner (Rosewood or Fibrox) for your bread and slicer.  With the yen/dollar rate of exchange going nuts, you should plan on spending around $100 (or even more) for your chef's. 

    Speaking of money, you'll also need to budget for a sharpening kit.  For your first stage, and keeping to a budget, that probably means something like a King 1000/6000 combination waterstone and a Forschner "fine" steel.  No oval steels, no medium steels, and no diamond steels, okay padwan?

    Unless you're doing a LOT of specialized work, four blades (or so) in your roll is more than adequate.  You can save some money right off the bat by not buying everything Michael Symon dreams about. If you need specialized knives, especially butchery knives -- unless you're fabricating a lot of "fine dining" fish -- Forschner (the name keeps coming up) is very good indeed.  You probably think you really, really need a European style "boning knife."  You don't.  Not only is there's very little it does better than a petty (including de-boning, frenching, etc.), they're a pain to sharpen. 

    If you do go up-market with your chef's (gyuto), you'll also want something inexpensive which laughs at pumpkins, pineapples and bones.  I recently got a 10" Forschner cimiter which I can't recommend highly enough not only for meat work but as a "better beater."

    While I don't dislike Mundial or other budget clones of classic German knives, I can't recommend them either.  They're heavy, the blades are thick, and the knife steel is so soft they lose their edges very quickly.  Really, they're more crowbar than scalpel.  Some people like heft and don't make a fetish of sharp.  More power to them.

    If you take away anything from this post, let it be this:  Knives are not the largest part of the equation.  Learn to sharpen really, really, really (sensing a theme here?), really well.  A sharp knife will "fall" through an onion or potato without effort.  If it isn't at least that sharp, it's dull and will compromise the speed and quality of your work.  Considering what a difference it makes, it's surprising that even in professional kitchens very few cooks know the meaning of "sharp."  Try and find someone who does know and can teach you. 

    Good luck,

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2011
  20. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    My previous post was so changed, I thought it worth adding a post to bump this thread up the queue.  At least the OP will realize his questions are still of interest.

    BDL