There are a lot of great knives out there, many of which I won't likely get to try, and a lot of opinions of what makes a great knife. I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on which are the true 'classics' that everyone should really try at some point. These are the ones that really highlight a particular profile, steel, or some other characteristic. I've got a bunch that I could call out, but will pick two that stand out to me:
Wustohf classic (old style, pre 1990) 26cm chef's. This was in my kit when I worked the line- 26cm chefs, 20cm slicer, 14cm boner, and a few cheapie parers. The wusthof were the iconic European style knife- I liked 'em better than the henckels equivalent at the time, I think the wusthof had a flatter profile back then (I think....) although a lot of the guys were using henckels and felt they were superior, for me the wusthof shape IS the western knife that set the standard in continental kitchens of the day. It's a must try simply as a reference point. I still have my original kit from back in the day, but now I use 'em to cut garlic off the garlic press, open plastic seals on bottles of stuff, and cut open sous-vide bags. Still, as I teach my sons to cook they're learning on these exact same knives- mostly as many of the culinary schools still recommend wusthof/henckels, but also for the legacy and provenance.
Masamoto KS 240 gyuto - one of my first japanese knives, and an iconic blade that opened my eyes to the possibilities of a real knife. It was nothing but sharpness, thinness, lightweight- and the feel of a wa handle for me was pure liberation. I discovered japanese knives just as I was leaving the culinary profession, so used the 240 KS only briefly in the restaurant and for a couple of catering gigs, but oh man! While other knives have taken its place as my favorite, the KS was (and still is) a remarkable example of versatility and sexiness on the line. The profile is unique and very utilitarian- it does everything fairly well,but some would say excels at nothing. I don't disagree, and considering the modest price for a slightly used KS, that's why it's a classic.
So I'm curious to hear your 'classics'- sure we all know and love the boutique and high-end blades out there, but what are the day-to-day knives that really stand for something?