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View Full Version : Culinary student starting to buy real knives! Advice?



didier
09-24-2011, 04:00 PM
Hi everyone,

First of all, this forum is incredible. I've been researching knives for the past week or so, on this site mostly, and have found a ton of great information. I figured that instead of just reading your replies about various knives, it might help to ask a question myself =). Real quick background about myself--I'm 23 and graduated college last year. I cooked everyday at home for the past 5-10 years and couldn't think of anything I liked better so I took the leap and am currently in culinary school in Paris (and loving it).

I was wondering if you had any recommendations for Japanese knives. My program is 5 months and then I'll be a staging (and getting yelled at) for 6 more months in a restaurant in Paris. I plan on working professionally afterwards and am looking for knives that can get me through the next couple years at least. So far I just have your standard Shun/Henckels/Wusthof kit but none of them are knives I feel comfortable with or like bringing into the work kitchen. I'm looking for a Gyutu if possible around 240 or 270 mm and perhaps a smaller paring and/or utility knife around that I could use as well?

My biggest problem? I'm a broke student so I'm trying to keep it under $200 for each knife, ~$150 if possible. They'd have to be shipped to Paris or to my permanent home in the US and then to Paris. I know good knives will require me to shell out more but I'm just looking for something to hold me over until my loans are paid off :wink: I've obviously looked at the standards (Tojiro DP, MAC, some Masamoto's, etc.) but was wondering if anyone had any specific suggestions. I couldn't believe there was so much information about knives available but once I started reading, I couldn't stop--is that normal? I already see myself buying too many knives in my near future...

Anyway, thanks in advance for your help and I look forward to hearing from you!

Eamon Burke
09-24-2011, 04:13 PM
:ntmy:
A Hiromoto AS 240 is in your budget, and it's not a "starter" knife. Carbon core, stainless cladding.

JCK Carbonext is also a popular recommendation, but it is semi-stainless and will discolor, and since you are in CS, you probably will run into "problems" with idiot teachers and classmates, so I'd suggest stainless to prevent problems/conversations about patina/etc.

Tojiro is a great starter blade because they are so thin and pretty good steel. But they are prone to chipping and don't hold an edge a really long time.

Pensacola Tiger
09-24-2011, 05:45 PM
Welcome to the forum. Everyone has their favorites, but I think you should be looking at "entry level" knives to let you learn what you like without breaking the bank. Plus, if one goes "missing", it's not a financial disaster.

The fujiwara FKM stainless knives from Japanese Chef's Knives are great values. EMS shipping to Paris is $7.

A 240 gyuto and 150 petty will cost you US$121, shipped, leaving you more than enough in your budget to get a couple of good waterstones to maintain your new knives.

http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/FKMSeries.html

G-rat
09-24-2011, 11:31 PM
I would second what Pensacola tiger says. Your stones will probably outlive your current budget for knives. So learning to sharpen a knife is even more important than having knives with amazing steel. The Fujiwara have pretty good carbon steel and cost little enough that you can buy some get a couple stones and have some really sharp knives. Sorry if I'm patronizing you...maybe you already have great sharpening skills

didier
09-25-2011, 03:30 AM
Thanks for the suggestions so far! haha and no worries about the patronizing, you were correct in assuming that I don't have the greatest sharpening skills. One of my main chefs at school here spent 20 years in Japan and over the years learned how to sharpen quite well. He has stones which he'll let me use whenever I'd like (and will teach me proper sharpening techniques) so for the immediate future, buying the stones isn't as big of a concern as the knives. Obviously I'll have to buy them in about 6 months for myself but hopefully I'll have saved up some more money to buy good stones then as well.

Is this logic flawed? I'm asking genuinely since you all know a lot more than I do about this but it made sense in my head!

MadMel
09-25-2011, 06:37 AM
haha the logic isn't flawed.. But you may find yourself wanting to own and use your personal waterstones more and will definitely start comparing yours with the ones your chef has sooner or later. I know cause I've been down the road that you are travelling. I would go for a Hiromoto AS gyuto or a JCK Carbonext Gyuto and a Fujiwara FKM 120mm petty. That way you can get a feel of 2 types of steels and styles and make a decision. All 3 are avaliable from http://japanesechefsknife.com/

Benuser
09-25-2011, 05:57 PM
I'm sorry to say so but you will need the stones as soon as the knives are there. Most Yo-knives have a very poor and unpredictable factory edge if any.

El Pescador
09-25-2011, 06:23 PM
I'd buy the cheap shiroko gyuto and petty from cktg. You'll be out all of $75.

Benuser
09-25-2011, 06:59 PM
Do you mean the Tojiro Shirogami series? I'm not sure that will be suitable for someone who is to enter a French culinary school...

Eamon Burke
09-25-2011, 07:14 PM
I'd buy the cheap shiroko gyuto and petty from cktg. You'll be out all of $75.

Sold out. It'll be a few weeks. Plus I agree, they might not be the best for a guy in a French-style CS.

Peco
09-26-2011, 01:54 PM
From experience: Buy the knifes you want to keep - buying cheap will eventually cost you more. I'm a chef myself and I'm not using 100 different knifes when working in the pro-kitchen. Get a few good ones ... 5 maybe 6 ... and pay the extra bucks from the start. You will be a lot more satisfied doing so - from day 1 and many years ahead. This is your work not a hobby, you need good tools as they are 80% of what makes your job enjoyable and a success.

Just my 2 cents ....

G-rat
09-26-2011, 06:49 PM
From experience: Buy the knifes you want to keep - buying cheap will eventually cost you more. I'm a chef myself and I'm not using 100 different knifes when working in the pro-kitchen. Get a few good ones ... 5 maybe 6 ... and pay the extra bucks from the start. You will be a lot more satisfied doing so - from day 1 and many years ahead. This is your work not a hobby, you need good tools as they are 80% of what makes your job enjoyable and a success.

Just my 2 cents ....

So in light of what Peco said I would like to say that I entirely agree with this and not what I said earlier...having a nice blade first was super important to me understanding what sharp was...the problem is if you can sharpen well you can make any knife scary sharp with practice. So the idea here is that better knives will last you longer than stones. But the problem is that if you don't have stones you can't get em sharp again. The reality is sharpness can cost lots of money and not just because we knifenuts are after something particular. Maybe I'm wrong but the reality is having sharp japanese knives with edges that last a good long while in a pro kitchen is expensive...at least thats how I see it.

Eamon Burke
09-26-2011, 07:27 PM
So in light of what Peco said I would like to say that I entirely agree with this and not what I said earlier...having a nice blade first was super important to me understanding what sharp was...the problem is if you can sharpen well you can make any knife scary sharp with practice. So the idea here is that better knives will last you longer than stones. But the problem is that if you don't have stones you can't get em sharp again. The reality is sharpness can cost lots of money and not just because we knifenuts are after something particular. Maybe I'm wrong but the reality is having sharp japanese knives with edges that last a good long while in a pro kitchen is expensive...at least thats how I see it.

I don't think it's that way at all. Pro kitchens need knives with a fairly agressive edge(by our standards), unless you are slicing sashimi or doing some ultra-patient decorative work. Prep work, line work, etc...you may sharpen up to .5 micron, but it's gonna hit the rod at some point, and that'll be the grit.

Carter always says you need a coarse stone, and a fine stone. I really think that you only NEED a medium grit stone, and a simple strop--maintain the edge before it's crap and clean it up on the strop. It'll take like 10 minutes and only needs to be done 1-2 times a week max. I worked for over a year with a Shapton Pro 2k and a homemade leather strop with .5micron CrO on it, and my edges are no sharper today--they are more consistant, stronger, and take less time to put there, but that improvement didn't cost me any money.

didier
09-26-2011, 08:42 PM
Hm, I do see both sides of your arguments. Initially I was leaning towards the Hiromoto AS240 gyutu and the cheaper Fujiwara FKM petty since that would fall into my budget, and would give me a feel of 2 different types of steels like MadMel said. It'd also leave me about $50-100 which I could use for stones or another purchase in the future. Reconsidering whether or not I want to use my chef's stones for the next month or if I should just buy mine now...

Thanks for all of your input! It's been really helpful. My roommates are started to get worried that I'm on a knife forum and have been reading about knives for hours a day now...

SpikeC
09-26-2011, 08:51 PM
Have you used your chef's stones yet? A little experience with them could help inform your choice of stone.

didier
09-26-2011, 11:36 PM
Have you used your chef's stones yet? A little experience with them could help inform your choice of stone.

I did, albeit shortly. He gave me a really quick demo on how to use them before class and I only had a few minutes to test them out. I asked if he could teach me properly again later and he agreed.