General Question

breanne's avatar

Chef's knives: Should I invest a small fortune in one?

Asked by breanne (484points) May 5th, 2008

While looking to outfit my starter kitchen, I am contemplating whether I should spend $100+ on a knife, or just get a cheap one (~20–30 bucks) and replace it every couple years or so. Suggestions?

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25 Answers

wildflower's avatar

Depends on how much use you have for it. If you want a more up-scale one, why not make it birthday or x-mas wish?

It’s always good to have quality kitchen/cooking equipment….....and a chef’s knife….has so many uses…...

andrew's avatar

Yes, yes, yes. Get one. Just one. Take care of it. You won’t need to replace it.

Life is much too short for a crappy knife.

peedub's avatar

There are few different factors involved. How often do you plan on cooking? Do you know how to sharpen knives? If you are good at sharpening knives, maintaining a good edge on a less expensive knife shouldn’t be too hard. Personally, I would say drop the cash, but I cook almost everyday, sometimes every meal. You can go to Costco and get a full set of Henckels for a good price.

I think you should get this one.

As Ferris Bueller would say: “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”

simone54's avatar

Get a really nice one and hide it don’t let anyone else use it.

Lightlyseared's avatar

I have a Global forged chefs 8in which is lovely to use and pretty easy to keep sharp. My advice would be to buy 1 at a time and only get those that you are actually gonna use. If you buy a set you save money but they usually bundle stuff you wouldn’t normally use.

gooch's avatar

I agree with the saying “Buy the best you won’t be sorry”

wildflower's avatar

I agree with Gucci: “Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten”

bpeoples's avatar

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good quality knife. I have one of these: it’s $60 and stays sharper and cuts better than my $200 Shun chef knife. Blue steel is a grade of high-carbon steel (not stainless steel) that is super super hard, the sharp bit of the knife is made from that, then wrapped in stainless steel.

Come to think of it, I’ve been cooking with this knife for 2 years without getting it sharpened, it’s just about at the point that I think I maybe should, but it’s still sharp enough to be totally safe to use. The downside is that the carbon steel parts of the blade will rust if you do not take care of it (drying it immediately after washing it), but even so it’ll last you longer than any other knife you can buy—that is, stainless steel just doesn’t keep an edge as long as carbon steel.

hannahsugs's avatar

Cooks Illustrated does scientific testing of all sorts of kitchen equipment. They buy a whole bunch of knifes, for instance, and use them for a whole bunch of purposes and see which is the best and stays sharpest over time. Their first choice is this one .

I have one of these knives, and I would strongly encourage you to try it before you make a big investment. It’s a joy to use, and it’s stayed perfectly sharp for the year I’ve had it, and I use it for almost everything, every day. The only knife that beat it on every measure in their tests was a $475 custom-made chef’s knife. They also tested it against newer designs, including Japanese-style knifes like peedub linked to. It still was rated the best!

(If you want to read reviews of this knife and all sorts of other equipment, you can sign up for a free two-week trial of the Cook’s Illustrated website . It might be worth it while you outfit your kitchen!)

youknowconnor's avatar

It depends on what you eat. My diet is completely consisted of pudding and soft cake so I would reccomend a cheap knife. Or no knife at all.

cage's avatar

I work in a Butchers. They use proper good knives. All really good knife sets are worth the investment, but you need to keep them in shape. So as well as the set, consider getting some steel or a whetstone.

This way your knife set will stay sharp for years and years. :)

PupnTaco's avatar

Get the best quality Henckels you can afford.

Bri_L's avatar

This knife, R. H. Forschner Victorinox Fibrox 8-inch Chef’s Knife 2 years running, was tested on America’s Test kitchen and was recommended over others more expensive.
I bought it for my wife and she loves it.

I found it here: for $23.00

myrrie's avatar

Yes! You should invest in some good knives, or so I read in how to cook a tart! (the book)

susanc's avatar

I have the same knife as peedub. It’s such a good knife that I never use any other one, except a cheap serrated bread knife.

breanne's avatar

I would say I’m a beginning cook, but not necessarily incompetent at trying some more advanced things. I am not, however, going to be butchering goats anytime soon, like I saw on Iron Chef last night. I live abroad a good deal of the year, so I’ve had a hard time deciding if I should invest in some good ones and just tote them around, or just get cheapies and toss them when I leave. I bought a really crap knife in England last year that lasted about 4 or 5 months. Since it’s so expensive to eat out there, I do tend to prepare most of my food. Next I will be moving to Eastern Europe, but I will buy something here in California before I leave.

My sister is a professional cook, but I’ve found that the pros tend to be snobby about brands and stick with them, even if they end up costing nearly 200 bucks a piece. I have no qualms about being frugal, so I am delighted to see many mid-priced good knives. Thanks for your suggestions!

tekn0lust's avatar

I have two ceramic kitchen knives that I absolutely love. I have had these almost 10 years now and have never sharpened them.

They are hard to get in the US now though, in fact, I can’t even find my specific knives online anywhere.

The thing about knives is they need to feel good in your hand. A badly weighted knife or a knife that doesn’t feel good in your hand doesn’t buy you much IMO.

Bri_L's avatar

Check out the America’s test kitchen website. They have very objective reviews and often find price doesn’t mean quality. BUT sometimes does. They just found this william sonoma pan that was the most expensive in the lot and worth every penny. but they back it up. They gave the knife I mentioned the top rating two years running and have and use them all over the show.

In the end, the chef friend I have says the one thing they can’t rate, that no one can, that is the most important, is how it feels to you. That can only come with use unfortunately.

LuckVIII's avatar

depends on what you mean starter kitchen. Did you just buy a new house. If so or if you’re a little tight on budget I would get a decent knife set for now. Keep your eyes on which knives you use most and buy each of those better knife when they are selling a good price. Since you’re not a chef you are bound do some mistakes/damage to your knives so why not do it to cheaper sets now than to a 200 dollar knife. Have fun and experiment with your beginner set of knives so that you really appreciate your expensive knives later. If on the other hand you have lots of money then go ahead an buy the best

bpeoples's avatar

Call me a grumpy old man, but I’d recommend against ever buying a “set” of knives—you need, basically, three knives:
– a bread knife
– a paring knife (I prefer ones that aren’t quite paring knives, maybe 4–5 inches long)
– a “chef” or “santoku” knife (I prefer a santoku, it’s a better balance between a vegetable and a chef’s knife, in my hand)

Cooking with poor knives is just dangerous and frustrating…

breanne's avatar

I don’t have any plans to buy a set of knives, but I will probably buy a block and fill it myself with knives I find useful, rather than what is dictated to me as essential in a Macy’s pack. I have no problem spending 100 bucks on a knife so long as it will last me a long time, but it looks like from many of your recommendations, I will not have to spend anywhere near this for quality. So you’ve all given me a lot of goodies to consider. Thanks a lot! I’ll go out and buy myself a whetstone and watch some Alton Brown on how to use it appropriately.

peedub's avatar

Alton Brown is the sheez. I second bpeoples on his knife holy trinity idea. I like a nice flat steel like this one for sharpening my knives.

susanc's avatar

Is a block the best thing for the knives? I keep mine (all 3 of them) on a magnet strip.
Handy. Don’t know if it’s hard on them.

peedub's avatar

@Susanc- Yo tambien. I hate it when I see the knife tossed into a drawer.

stevenb's avatar

I may be way too late for this,but look up cooks illustrated and check out what they have to say. I bought the knives they have recomended and have had several chefs tell me how much they liked them. I love them too. Check them out.

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