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Starter cutlery set

 
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bob_shiltz
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:25 am    Post subject: Starter cutlery set Reply with quote

For a first apartment, what would you guys recommend? I'd like to keep all my cutlery in a block, but it seems like blocks only come with sets. If that's the case, what set should I look at? This is for a first apartment, so I'm not looking for the absolute best- just the best bang for my buck. Price range is less than $150, preferably under $100.
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GaryProtein



Joined: 26 Oct 2005
Posts: 535

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Check out Costco or BJ's. They often have lower end of the line of high end manufacturers knife sets that may be just what you want.
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SirSpice



Joined: 04 Dec 2006
Posts: 95

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldn't get a set, I'd get a really good chef's knife, and a maybe a paring knife (though an $8 swivel peeler will work better in most cases). I'd also get waterstone to sharpen it. With a little time on the stone you can get edges that are twice as sharp as when you opened the box.

Also, try to figure out what you really want:
8" chef's: does everything, and since it's relatively short you can easily cut small fruits and vegetables.
10" chef's: does everything, and since it's relatively long you can also use it to cut big produce (watermelons), thinly sllice meat, and carve a turkey.

Now, if you really want expert advice go to www.knifeforums.com, they'll answer any question you have in minutes. There are also tons of threads just like this already answered there, so you might find what you're looking for that way.

Now, Michael Chu's recommendations are pretty dead on:
Forschner: they are cheap, and they perform, but with a little more money you could get something much nicer.

Tojiro: this is THE bargain of the knife world, high performance carbon steel laminated between corrosion resistant stainless steel. I would get a gyuto (chef's knife), and a petty (paring knife).

The Realm of Ultimate Kitchen Knives: Blazen, Hiromoto, Misono, Hattori and and many other companies all have knives that are expensive (around $130 for a chef's knife), but they are pretty much the best money can buy.

I have a Global 8" chef's knife, and a Tojiro 300mm (12"). Both are great.
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1620
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also you should be able to pick up an empty block from Bed Bath and Beyond or Sur La Table. BBB will have one or two to choose from while Sur La Table will have several - but at higher prices.

You can also order from Amazon.com. I like the blocks which position the knives sideways (vs. up/down) because psychologically I'm not dulling my knives (in reality, niether dull the knives because you're not sliding the knife on the wood as you drag it out, are you?). Bamboo is about 2x more expensive but potentially environmentally sound since bamboo is a fast growing "wood" source.
Link: Amazon's Knife Blocks

One thing about the Forschner/Victoriniox's to watch out for is that some of their chef's knives are too wide (spine to edge) to fit in a slot. Generally, a block gives you a couple 2-in. slots and several 1-9/16 in. slots. The larger Forschner/Victorinox blades (10-in.) are 2 1/8 in. or more in width, so they won't fit in a standard countertop block. They make an 8-in. that does fit however (but be sure to crossreference the model number you are buying with the Victorinox website. Clicking on the knife with the correct SKU number will take you to a page which reveals the width of the knife.
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bob_shiltz



Joined: 21 Mar 2007
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There isn't a Costco or BJ's near me, so I'm limited to what I see on the website. I suppose I'll be doing most of my shopping online. Should I avoid overstock.com? I have access to a ClubO membership there.

I checked out the Forschner website, and I only see two options for my price range, so that's why I'm trying to see if other vendors are realistic. I'm also not so sure about ordering knives separately. I would like of all my knives were from one manufacturer so they looked similar. (There's no logic here, I'm just a bit anal retentive.)

The tojiro knives looked great, but at those prices, I figure I'd be able to get 3 knives and maybe one block/rack before hitting my budget. I currently use Cutco, and when I cook, I generally use the 5" knife and maybe one or two steak knives at a time. Theoretically, Tojiro might work for me, but I'm hesitant to equip myself with only three knives. (I'm just picturing the case in which I forget to do dishes one night and can't cook the next.)
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1620
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bob_shiltz wrote:
I checked out the Forschner website, and I only see two options for my price range, so that's why I'm trying to see if other vendors are realistic. I'm also not so sure about ordering knives separately. I would like of all my knives were from one manufacturer so they looked similar. (There's no logic here, I'm just a bit anal retentive.)

Which Forschner knives did you look at? We're advocating the Stamped knives with Fibrox handles. These are <$30 each and are designed to withstand the abuse of a professional kitchen at a low replacement cost. On Amazon.com you can pick up the chef's knife for about $25.

bob_shiltz wrote:
Theoretically, Tojiro might work for me, but I'm hesitant to equip myself with only three knives. (I'm just picturing the case in which I forget to do dishes one night and can't cook the next.)

You won't want to leave your knives overnight to be washed or throw them in your sink. Wash them buy hand after using them to prepare you meal. Takes about 40 seconds to wash and dry it. It's a good habit to get into. Usually I use only my chef's knife to do everything. I keep two in my block - a Tojiro PHS Gyuto and a MAC Chef's but rarely use more than one knife during prep. If you need to wash your equipment with a dishwasher, then I highly recommend using only the Forschner/Victorinox knives or another brand specializing in lower cost restaurant knives.
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SirSpice



Joined: 04 Dec 2006
Posts: 95

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whatever you buy, I would still recommend that you buy a waterstone to sharpen it. Yes, it's money that could go to upgrade the knife, but the edge you'll get in return is much better than anything you'll get from a factory.

You'll also have the means to bring the edge on any knife back to maximum output.
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ConfidentCook



Joined: 19 Mar 2007
Posts: 4
Location: New York

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You need less knives than you think you do. As SirSpice said, a chef's knife is an excellent all-purpose tool; and as Michael Chu said, you really should wash, dry and return your blades to safekeeping right after use. If you spend on high-end, you won't want to abuse the edges. I know you said you are likely going to buy through a website, but if you're going to pay big bucks for one "golden" knife, you really should shop in person for it, get a feel for the handle, the weight, the balance. It can be a very personal thing.
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SirSpice



Joined: 04 Dec 2006
Posts: 95

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shopping in person has big limitations in the cutlery department. Most stores carry overpriced German knives (Wusthof, Henckel's) and subpar knives from makers who don't specialize in cutlery (Kitchenaid, Calphalon).

A few stores like Sur La Table, and Williams Sonoma carry Globals and Shuns. Both fine knives, but overpriced in my opinion. I would go to the stores to check the knives out, buy some Lamsonsharp Knife Safes, go hame, and order the knives online.

Also, this website has cheap Forschners and some nice blocks:

http://www.chefknivestogo.com/index.html
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bob_shiltz



Joined: 21 Mar 2007
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

After some thought, I think my two options are 3 Tojiros (chef or santoku, petty, paring) + block/rack or a Forschner 8-piece fibrox set.


Right now I'm stuck with 4 different issues to balance: 1) dishwasher safe, 2) potential longevity, 3) number of knives available, and 4) (I hate to say this) appearance.

1) Does anyone know if Tojiros are dishwasher safe? The advice about washing immediately after use makes sense, and I'll try to follow it, but there are some situations where I'd like to be able to run my knives through a dishwasher. When I work with poultry, I sometimes alternate hands and end up using a knife with a hand that has touched raw poultry. After this, I'd like to be able to toss my knives in the dishwasher and forget about it. I know the Forschner's are a safe bet, but are the Tojiros?

2) It seems like the Tojiros are better at cutting than the Forschners are. I get the feeling that it's far less likely for me to "outgrow" Tojiros than it is for me to "outgrow" the Forschners. Tojiros win here.

3) Tojiros: 3; Forschners: 8+shears. Forschners appear to win this one hands down. But will I actually use all 8 knives? Probably not. So this point of comparison seems to be a stalemate.

4) Tojiros look sexy. Forschner's not so much. Tojiros in a block/rack I'll have to find might not look sexy. Forschners in their included block looks sexy. Stalemate.

Aside from the dishwasher safe issue, have I missed something here? I can't really decide because the pros/cons seem to balance each other out.
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SirSpice



Joined: 04 Dec 2006
Posts: 95

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bob_shiltz wrote:
1) Does anyone know if Tojiros are dishwasher safe? The advice about washing immediately after use makes sense, and I'll try to follow it, but there are some situations where I'd like to be able to run my knives through a dishwasher. When I work with poultry, I sometimes alternate hands and end up using a knife with a hand that has touched raw poultry. After this, I'd like to be able to toss my knives in the dishwasher and forget about it. I know the Forschner's are a safe bet, but are the Tojiros?


I'm sorry to tell you, but they are definitely not. But than again, no knife really is. Aside from bumping the edge on something and chipping it, the handle can crack or discolor, and at a high enough temperature you can alter the tempering of the blade (citation needed). One of the prices of fine cutlery is that you need to take good care of it, which goes beyond not putting it in the dishwasher.

bob_shiltz wrote:
2) It seems like the Tojiros are better at cutting than the Forschners are. I get the feeling that it's far less likely for me to "outgrow" Tojiros than it is for me to "outgrow" the Forschners. Tojiros win here.


They are better cutters by a long shot, and they also feel better in my hand. The handle and balance of a knife depend on your personal taste. I like both the thick handle on my Tojiro, and the thin handle on my Global. I guess I'm not picky in that department, except when some manufacturers (like Wusthof) put sharp edges on their square handles, which is awful for me. I have a few Chicago Cutlery knives that came with a block. They had really thick square handles with sharp edges, but when I sanded it with some fine sandpaper they were suddenly very comfortable. I also worked the edge over with my water and diamond stone and now I use them regularly.

bob_shiltz wrote:
3) Tojiros: 3; Forschners: 8+shears. Forschners appear to win this one hands down. But will I actually use all 8 knives? Probably not. So this point of comparison seems to be a stalemate.


The petty can replace the parer and boning, and the chef's knife can replace the slicer and bread knife. I would wait to buy more than 2 Tojiros. The 240mm gyuto (9.6" chef's), and 120mm petty (4.8" paring), will get you through any meal. With the $7 shipping it comes to around $100.

bob_shiltz wrote:
4) Tojiros look sexy. Forschner's not so much. Tojiros in a block/rack I'll have to find might not look sexy. Forschners in their included block looks sexy. Stalemate.


The Forschner Fibrox look plain, and they would look a little out of place in a wooden block. The Tojiros look awesome, the edge is polished and you can see a thin cloudy line where the stainless sides meet the carbon edge, but your block would look pretty empty (well you can fill it with your cutcos).

bob_shiltz wrote:
Aside from the dishwasher safe issue, have I missed something here? I can't really decide because the pros/cons seem to balance each other out.


The Forschners aren't bad knives. They are consistently ranked number one by Cooks Illustrated, and chef's love them for their durability and performance. For home use, I'd choose something more refined. I think you'll get a better return investment from the Tojiros, but the choice is yours.

Than theres the issue of sharpening, and thats a LONG discussion by itself.
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Howard



Joined: 21 Nov 2005
Posts: 64

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chinese cleaver and paring knife. If you've an Oriental supermarket nearby, check if they've got a CCK KF1301. Alternatives are by Town Food Service (47374) and Dexter. Thin-bladed cleavers, mind you, not meat cleavers.

http://chanchikee.com/ChineseKnives.html

If you want to spend more, you can check these out:

http://japanesechefsknife.com/ChineseCleaver.html

Whatever the cleaver can't do, the paring will. Pick up a cheapie serrated knife for bread, though, and if you host dinners at your place, you'll probably want a long slicer of some sort.
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Taamar



Joined: 09 Mar 2006
Posts: 52

PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SirSpice wrote:
Shopping in person has big limitations in the cutlery department. Most stores carry overpriced German knives (Wusthof, Henckel's) and subpar knives from makers who don't specialize in cutlery (Kitchenaid, Calphalon).


Strangely, my favourite knife (and I'm a professional chef) is a Calphalon. The 'Katana' series is fantastic, it takes a fine edge and holds it, the balance is right at the bolster, and it's very light weight for its size (which some love and some hate). The point is, name means very little. Take someone who knows steel with you, and find a knife that fits in your hand like an extention of your body. You only need two knives, a paring knife and a chef knife (or santoku).

I second the suggestion of the Lamsonsharp knife safe cases, a block is silly unless you have a bunch of knives.
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