Amateurish home chef snorts too much Sichuan pepper dust; demands ninja “death blade” to smite hordes of uppity onions, intolerable tomatoes, and all the #*&^$ mauve leprechauns rummaging through the crisper.
Basically, i’m a home “chef” who spends a lot of time in the kitchen and enjoys doing so. Recently realized that, as in woodwork, if you enjoy it, then it’s worth getting the right tools. And in the world of the kitchen, that means having something that a.) burns stuff (check!) and b.) juliennes vegetables, meats, and / or fingers with equal aplomb. (noooo dice)
Currently, i have a drawer of $20 Wal-Mart specials. Only one – a chef’s knife – is used consistently, and with a little love, tenderness, and thoughtful care, its stainless steel edge can be brutalized over 30 grit rock into some form vaguely resembling “sharpness”. Actually, i must be doing something right, because i can sharpen & hone the thing to a level that scares most casual users and has surprised (cut) a few careless hands that thought they were holding one of their usual 2x4s.
But i know enough about knives & stones to understand that, in a professional environment, this thing has about the same acuity as your average Louisville Slugger and doesn’t “cut” the product at hand so much as it might, say, aggressively beat it to submission. Having said, i don’t know much about fine, high-quality blades and could use the benefit of some professional advice. As, no doubt, could most of the general public. Offer what you will.
What I’m Looking For:
Budget of $200 or under. Knife would be a daily worker. I assume a chef’s knife is best, due to the rocking motion of a good ‘belly’ and the fact that i do a lot of work with vegetables, especially tomatoes and onions – the usuals – and that’s where the sharpness and belly of the blade seem to matter most. I use my current ‘chef’ 98% of the time and, frankly, could chuck the other lot into the street and never miss a one.
I work with plenty of meats, but try to avoid “hack & slash” jobs. I’d like the ability to cut thin strips (Asian style) which also seems closely tied to blade sharpness (and quality).
From what i have read, it seems that the style-laden Japanese blades are a better fit to my profile than the Western / German “meat cutlasses”. Doodling around the web, i’ve seen a chef’s knife from Shun (Premier, 8-inch) that seems decent enough for the job, but perhaps i overestimate my own level of finesse with a delicate blade ... or give more credit to the manufacturer than is due.
Knowing what you know now, what knife would you grab for under $200 if "THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!!"
PS. Not scared by a tool that might need a little special TLC. The proper tool used in the proper way can be a transformative thing. Fully willing to trade some convenience for a zap of brilliance in performance. Or, well, any spark of 'life.'