What do Chef's prefer: Carbon Knives vs. Stainless Steel Knives?

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by yoshihiro knife, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. yoshihiro knife

    yoshihiro knife

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    What do Chef's prefer in the kitchen, carbon or stainless steel knives? I would love to hear from Chefs directly and see what their opinions are on this subject.
     
  2. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Speaking strictly from a home kitchen perspective... I use and enjoy both, but if put on an island with only one knife it would have to be a carbon steel knife.
     
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  3. mike9

    mike9

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    Hi Bruce and welcome to Cheftalk. 

    I've always been a fan of carbon blades, but that enthusiasm has been tempered after acquiring a few really good stainless, clad and semi stainless blades the past couple of years.  Hiromoto AS, Carter High Grade, Ealy AEB-L and one of your Molybdenum Gyutos.   All of these are a far cry from the 440 found in average trade knives.  All take a superb edge and hold it very well - better than my old Sabs which can get stupid sharp, but don't hold the edge long. 

    Steel aside it's the profile that is most important to me.  I love the old Forgecraft's for that reason and look for similar profiles in contemporary knives.  And speaking stupid sharp that Squid knife I bought from you is . . . well I can't be distracted when using it.  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
     
  4. the apostate

    the apostate

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    My first knives were some older (late 60s early 70s)  carbon Sabatiers, so naturally I have always had a certain nostalgic affection for carbon knives.

    That being said, over the years, and in a wide variety of professional kitchens, I've noticed only minor performance differences between carbon and stainless blades, provided they were both of decent quality steel, of course.

    Blade geometry is, to me, of far greater importance. Give me something fairly thin and wide with just enough curvature and I'm a happy chef.
     
  5. soesje

    soesje

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    in our kitchen we are free to use whatever we like.

    I always bring my own knife set.

    it does contain both stainless and carbon.

    the knife I am using most, is my eden kanso aogami, which is carbon, and gets several treatments with a ceramic steel throughout prep when needed.

    its thin, and very sharp and light.

    I have learned to sharpen (on a waterstone) my knives myself and given the work that is once a week/ fortnight.

    at home, I use my wusthof classic ikon which is stainless and not as sharp but still sharp.

    I think in the end it does not matter much, other than using SHARP knives.

    in the pro kitchen, thats an understatement.

    I wonder why you are asking…..
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
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  6. yoshihiro knife

    yoshihiro knife

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    I enjoy hearing about the many opinions that everyone has on this post. I find that some chefs and home cooks love the way stainless is easier to care for, while some chef's prefer the way a high carbon Japanese steel holds an extreme edge and the way it sharpens very nicely on a whetstone. I also thought it was interesting to read that the shape of a blade and its contours plays such a pivotal role. In regards to carbon steel, does anyone have a preference towards Japanese or European steel?
     
  7. soesje

    soesje

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    differences between japanese and european steel are getting smaller , in my opinion.
    though japanese steel is still known as one of the best and hardest, keeping its edge best.
    I use both french carbon and japanese aogami steel.
     
  8. mike9

    mike9

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    I much prefer Japanese carbon.  Particularly white #1, blue #2 and AS depending on the task.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  9. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    My personal preference was always for carbon steel. My first set of knives was a sabatier carbon steel set of knives and I still have them. They still have a great edge and I would probably get the same knife today. Never seem to mind cleaning the stains from the blade. Out of curiosity @Yoshihiro Knife  what do you sell the most stainless steel or carbon? My gut would tell me the average home cook prefers the ease of stainless but the professional will always take carbon.
     
  10. yoshihiro knife

    yoshihiro knife

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    Hi Nicko,

    There are a lot of different preferences out there. A lot of time home cooks prefer stainless steel knives. However we do have many different knives that incorporate carbon and steel together to get the best of both worlds. Our Damascus lines are very for popular for that reason. We also sell some very unique stainless and stain resistant knives that are forged in the traditional Japanese way in single edge variations such as Yanagi Sushi knives that are made of VG-10 and Ginsan-Ko steel. We also sell high carbon steel knives that are not stain resistant, but there are ways to prevent and remove rust, if that happens. I always encourage people to make decisions that fit their purpose and ability. I am always happy to answer any questions people have about Japanese knives, so I would encourage anyone to feel fee to contact me if they want to ask me anything.
     
  11. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    I'm from the 70s when Chez Panisse and Pig by the Tail were THE ONES.  Henckels SS was considered the best SS along with Sabatier CS.  And to this day I'll take my Sabatiers over all although I give both them and the Henckels a rough up with my old steel from Fredrick Friodur.

    In the early 80's I got from a Japanese place two bochos, sashimi and sushi (Or Deba) along with a waterstone.  Great tools.  Really great.  For Japanese style cuisine only.  European requires a Sabatier type blade, thicker.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2014
  12. ghee lip ong

    ghee lip ong

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    Hi kokopuffs,

    I'm curious with your statement that Japanese knives for Japanese style cuisine only and a thicker Sabatier type blade for European cuisine.  Can you please share your thoughts on how you derive to that?

    Thanks.
     
  13. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Ghee:

    The bochos seemed well made but much lighter, meant imho for fish and veggies.  They just seemed like very delicate instruments that perhaps shouldn't contact bone or be dropped and I forget what metals those knives were made of.  The blades were layered is all I recall.  For me the knives were dedicated to those two items alone, fish and veggies.  And way back then I wasn't as knowledgeable about cuisine and knives as I am now.  8)

    Best,

    -T
     
  14. yoshihiro knife

    yoshihiro knife

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    In my opinion I think the line is blurring in some ways between Western and Eastern cuisine. Where cuisines and techniques developed in a sort of geographical isolation in the past, today we see not only fusions of cuisines, but fusions of techniques and information. In Tokyo you can eat the finest traditional French cuisine and in L.A. you can Kaiseki cuisine. There is a lot of change, but one constant I see is the desire for Chefs to find precision cutting tools. Some find them in traditional single-edged Japanese Yanagis and some find them in the western style of a hollow ground Gyuto Chef's knife.
     
  15. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    I agree and admittedly never used the bochos for other than japanese style cuisine.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  16. panda

    panda

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    started out using stainless now all my knives are strictly carbon.  think that says it all.

    off topic - have you considered using aogami super steel?  do you take custom orders?
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  17. soesje

    soesje

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    panda, I'd love to know WHY you switched from stainless to exclusively carbon (and which ones???).

    don't have problems with your knives developing spots during service?
     
  18. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Same here.  Carbons are quicker and easier to sharpen and take a sharper edge than western stainless blades.  Back when I first started in the '70s Japanese stainless wasn't around nor available.
     
  19. soesje

    soesje

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    yep, easier to sharpen….. I have noticed that there are also differences in quality of carbon knives comparing my japanese aogami to the K-Sabatier … as in sensitivity in the pro kitchen, the latter is much easier to care for.

    of course this is comparing apples to pears ;) as we say here…..two totally different knives in material and hardness.
     
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  20. panda

    panda

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    ease of sharpening is the primary reason for the switch (turned out to be a much more important factor than i had originally anticipated), but they also take better edges and there aren't too many stainless knives that i find suit my preferences.

    i currently use kochi and takeda gyutos.  masamoto hc at home (which i am not critical of at all for this purpose).

    as for maintenance during service, i'm very OCD about keeping my knives clean so that's not much of an issue, but if i do get an occasional stain i just clean it up after service, not a big deal.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014