Student Knives

Joined Mar 19, 2011
Hi guys

Well, I'm about to start in culinary school and my parents said we can make an investment buying decent knives. Thing is I don't have a clue what brand should I buy or which knives I'm going to need. I've seen these sets on Amazon but people have told me NOT to buy the set but to buy them individually.

Thanks for your help.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
There are a few ways to approach this.

Basically, 90% of your work is done with three knives: A 9" or 10" chef's,  a paring knife (a.k.a. petty), and a serrated bread knife.  A boning knife comes in handy too.

The first way is to buy something inexpensive, but decent quality.  Victorinox, a.k.a Forschner fall into this category as do a few others.  I didn't say cheap, just inexpensive.  After a few months you will find out what is comfortable for YOU, if you don't like them, they are pretty easy to sell off or give away, or to use as backups.  You can use and abuse them, learn how to sharpen and hone on them, loan them out to friends (making you a hero to friends and the Chef), and afterwards, they still are begging to be used.  After this period, you will have an idea of what you want in a knife, and how much maintainence you are willing to give them,

Although the basic styles of gripping and handling the knife are the same, everyone works different, has different hands and preferences,  What works for me might not neccesarily work for you.

Also, knives get stolen quickly in culinary schools and at busy workplaces.  In view of this, it is better to have inexpensive knives instead of $200+ knives.

The second way is to buy good quality expensive knives and learn to live with them.  If they "fit" you, then it's great, if they don't then you will either have to live with them, or get rid of them.  When  they get stolen, you will have to replace them.
Joined Feb 17, 2010
Good advice here. Let mom and dad buy you a decent set after you graduate from school.
Joined Jan 16, 2011
You don't need to go that high for a first time out.  A Fujiwara stainless 10" chef is only $82 and would be a great first "better" knife, and it would be the most used knife in your kit.  I would also invest in a couple of stones -- something in the 800-1200 range and another in the 4000-6000 range -- and learn to use them from Youtube videos.
Joined Jan 4, 2011
I fixed this quote:
Originally Posted by chefbuba  

BRILLIANT ADVICE HERE!!!   Let mom and dad buy you a decent set after you graduate from school.
Something I'll add to that is maybe talk to your school of choice. Ask them what they provide, maybe they supply you with a set. Or, you can ask them what they would like you to have before going out to shop. Or maybe ask if they sell sets on the cheap. 

On the other hand, if you've just got to buy yourself a set of knives, this place is about the cheapest, certainly better than Amazon:

This set is only $80. (my recommendation)

Victorinox Forschner Fibrox Starter Knife Set

This one is only $20.

Chicago Cutlery Walnut Tradition Starter Knife Set

(I've been using these same knives since the mid-'70's. They work, and nobody steals them.)
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Joined Mar 19, 2011
This is gonna be a helluva bump... but thank you guys for the advices!!! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
Joined Apr 25, 2011
Hey man. Buy yourself one hardcore chefs knife and an equally gangster paring knife. That's all you'll ever need. For those in favor of adding a bread knife to my list, recall that if your chef's knife is as sharp as it should (needs, really) to be, then it can handle breaking down a pullman loaf with ease. I recommend spending about a hundred on a Henckel, Shun, or Global for the chefs, just pick out one. They will all be amazing in that price range, and maybe one or two throw away victorinox parers. Or invest in one nice hawkbill one and don't lose it. 

This whole package is cheap enough that buying a monster stone to maintain both of those shouldnt be a big deal. 

Keep the school knives they give you in the packaging and sell them to a noob before you graduate. 
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Uh... DON'T use your Chef's for cutting bread, bread (gluten strands) are very hard on edges and will dull a knife very quickly.  After 28 years in this biz, I can testify to this fact, and I  have replaced the blades in electic bread slicing machines on a regular basis.  Bread is hard on a sharp edge.  Ask any baker to verify this.

Since a Chef's doesn't have teeth like a bread knife, it's hard to use a  "sawing" motion  when slicing bread, bagels, burger buns or any other pastry product like cake, danishes, croissants, etc. etc. etc. 

True, if you want to sharpen your own knives and use a coarse stone, (200 - 1000 grit) you will get a "rough" or toothed edge which makes bread slicing easy. 

However, you must observe the #1 rule that all sharpeners acknowledge:  The coarsenesss of the final stone you use on your edge is directly relative to the durability of your edge. 

Coarse stones = edges that don't last long, which = frequent sharpening, which= knives that "shrink" very quickly, since all stones are abrasive and it is their intended purpose to remove metal.  Not to mention the time spent sharpening and the maintainence of the stones.

Be forwarned, if you bring an expensive ($150.00 and up) knife to work or school, odds are 2:1 that it will get stolen in the first week, and  3:1  that it gets "borrowed" by an eejit for purposes for which it was never designed to do.

True, school knives are inexpensive, but there is a certain logic to using them in school, for reasons I listed above, but also that since everyone has the same stuff, the odds of it being stolen are greatly reduced. 
Joined Apr 25, 2011
"Uh... DON'T use your Chef's for cutting bread, bread (gluten strands) are very hard on edges and will dull a knife very quickly."

Well no, actually. You SHOULD use a chef's knife to cut bread because it will produce a cleaner cut and it wont potentially destroy the structural integrity of the bread by dragging (rather than cutting) some errant seed or grain down through la mie. Causing damage to the slice the way a bullet tears through flesh.
Serrations on a blade typically indicate the blade being of low quality steel that can't hold or maintain an edge capable of cutting anything (bread included) without TEETH. So you put teeth on it, craft it out of garbage tool steel and sell it for cheap so the operator can toss it when it loses its edge, because everyone knows how impossible it is to resharpen a serrated blade.

You may think, "then why not simply buy a higher quality knife and have it shipped off and maintained by a professional?" Well, because you could just as well just own one top notch chef's knife thats more than capable of cutting food without question, and sharpen the thing as intended on a regular basis by yourself.

This guy is going to school, he's officially not a civilian anymore. He'll be using that knife frequently enough to warrant a nice stone to maintain it with.  

There's simply no evidence to prove that bread is somehow "harder" on a blade than I don't know, a squash. it makes sense until you actually think about it. 

As for asking a baker about knives? 

I've never known one baker who didn't use some garbage paring knife or kmart blade, simply because that sort of work doesn't too frequently require a knife and when it does, the damage is often severe (portioning dough with a knife directly on a steel prep table, scraping the sides of a springform to remove a cake.) Hence bakers often using pallet knives when working with bread. 

Think beyond what you are taught in school Allan. 
Joined Oct 10, 2005

Business before this curent one was a catering biz, baked my own bread and made upwards of 300-600 sandwiches per day.

Wanna slice 30 pullman loaves with a Chef's?  Be my guest.

Wanna slice 2-3 dzn croissants for crosissantwiches with a Chef's?  Be my guest.

After the third one, you'll tear it, and I'll ask you to smarten up.

Wanna slice 2-3 dzn bagels with a Chef's?  Be my guest.

After you slip and cut yourself or cut a bagel "on the diagonal" I'll ask you to smarten up.

Wann slice through a  sourdough or rye loaf with a good 1/4" thick crust?  Be my guest, just don't use my bread.

And if you tear rather than cut through a hot dog bun, Portugues bun, or burger bun, I'll ask you to smarten up  

No one ever said that a serrated bread knife is a cheap knife just because of the scallops.

Frankly, there is a lot of evidence on gluten strands being very hard and destroying knife edges.  Try google.

For someone just starting cooking, the O.P is better off learning how to handle a knife and learn the various cuts then he is to start learning about sharpening, bevels, stones and abrasives, and the maintainence of this equipment.
Joined Apr 25, 2011
Foodpump - I second your opinion.  Especially about not using chef knife on bread.  I doesn't matter how high end the knife is but how sharp it is.  A good set of stones and practice creating the perfect edge is all you need.  In school knives do disappear quickly.  Save the Wusthof until graduation. I will admit I love my wusthof collection and at this point can't live without them.  I also like to have a Santoku in the mix for veg.
Joined Mar 19, 2011
Thanks guys for your advices :D

A cousin gave me these knives as a gift so I'm actually struggling to understand how to maintain them (I only have a ceramic rod), they're all MACs except for the boning knife, that's an Elephant Sabatier.

Here's a pic of the little (and not so little) devils:

Joined May 31, 2011
Wow Allan... that's a jackpot! As far as watching them at school... well, you will.  OK.  I'd still think about getting something way less valuable for the day-to-day, carry, leave in front of other (jealous) poor students.  Fantastic set of knives you were given! Nice photo, too,
Joined Jan 8, 2010
I've never liked bread knives. Don't really know why but we just don't seem to get along.

So I'm one of the people using a sharp chef's knife for cutting bread and almost everything else. I haven't noticed my knife getting dull much quicker than anyone else's.

I have to admit that I only slice bread for personal use, so nowhere near the amount Foodpump is talking about.....
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