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Question on the "Big Three"
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Thread: Question on the "Big Three"

  1. #1

    Question on the "Big Three"

    Maybe some of you old hands can address this issue better than I. Whenever I read knife advice in a cookbook or magazine, I always hear even quite good people say: "you only need three knives: a chef's knife, a paring knife, and a serrated bread knife." I have all those of course, but my question is, why?
    Sure, if you cut big loaves of crusty bread often you want a bread knife (they're inexpensive enough and there's no good reason to spend big on them). But I don't even get the value of small parer. I mean, doesn't everyone have a vegetable peeler? Do you really switch from a chef's knife to a paring knife to cut a shallot? I take apple cores out much more cleanly with an apple corer, etc., etc.
    So I guess I'm back to what Anthony Bourdain says in Kitchen Confidential: get one good chef's knife and learn how to do everything with it.

    Comments? (like I had to ask)

  2. #2
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    I actually use my parer to peel fruits and veggies, take out nasty bits of silver skin, zest lemons, core apples, de-eye potatoes, etc etc. Why have a bunch of unitaskers (Alton Brown's influence here) like an apple corer when you can just use a paring knife?

    On the big 3, I agree for the most part, but we as knife nuts need to take it a step further. We've gone far past the point where a mere collection of 3 knives is insufficient. On another note, let me ask you this...how would you feel if you saw your local sushi chef using a chef's knife to slice your fish for you? personally, I'd think he's off his rocker

  3. #3
    Senior Member stevenStefano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanB View Post
    So I guess I'm back to what Anthony Bourdain says in Kitchen Confidential: get one good chef's knife and learn how to do everything with it.
    I used to think like that but I think it's a little close-minded. You don't need a ton of knives, but a little variation in your kit goes a long way. If I am trimming meat for example, my suji is infinitely more suited to the task that a gyuto, even if it would do the job. Same with slicing cooked meat, some knives are just better than others, even if they would do it. If you do these things every single day, then the improvements you get become very important.

    Another thing, is that what is the problem with having a lot of knives to do different things? Pretty much the point of this place is that everyone has a lot of knives, and most people have a variety of styles of knives, I don't see a problem with that.

  4. #4
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    Little things like coring strawberries are much easier to do wth a paring knife then with a gyuto/ chef's knife. To me, must-haves are a paring, a petty/ utility and a gyuto. A bread knife is handy if you make/ buy loaves of crusty bread. And a suji is handy if you slice roasts every now and then.
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    Senior Member mpukas's Avatar
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    IMHO, use whatever knives you like, just don't get sucked into the stygma that big name knife makers push with mulitple knife designs and knife sets (which it seems you already haven't). Personally, I use a chef's knife for 85-90% of knife tasks; I use a small knife - 150 - 210 petty for in-hand work, some peeling and some board work. Soemtimes a peeler doesn't work as well as a knife; I use a 300 slicer for, well, slicing; I have a bread knife for hard crusty bread so I don't beat up my gytuo/suji, but often just use either the gyuto or suji. I have a couple of parer's that also get used frequently when I need a knife for tip work.

    Speaking of Alton Brown, have you had the stomach to watch his "Shun Training Video"? Tak abot eating his own words about uni-taksers... he is or was just pushing these peices of crap 'cuz he had a big fat contract with them. Not sure he's still associated with them.
    Shibui - simplicity devoid of unnecessary elements

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    Senior Member Deckhand's Avatar
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    Different tools for different tasks. In regards to parer knives you mentioned. They come in handy. Tournes,fluted mushrooms, I even do radish mushrooms and flowers for my daughters lunch. I am sure it could be done with a different knife like a chefs, but I wouldn't be very happy doing it.

  7. #7
    Senior Member mpukas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WildBoar View Post
    Little things like coring strawberries are much easier to do wth a paring knife then with a gyuto/ chef's knife. To me, must-haves are a paring, a petty/ utility and a gyuto. A bread knife is handy if you make/ buy loaves of crusty bread. And a suji is handy if you slice roasts every now and then.
    +1
    Shibui - simplicity devoid of unnecessary elements

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
    I actually use my parer to peel fruits and veggies, take out nasty bits of silver skin, zest lemons, core apples, de-eye potatoes, etc etc. Why have a bunch of unitaskers (Alton Brown's influence here) like an apple corer when you can just use a paring knife?
    Same. That's basically why I've been practicing a lot with my paring knife. For example, have you seen Pepin use one? He peels, cores, cuts, etc. all with that little knife.

    I have an 80mm paring knife, a 210mm suji, and a 270mm gyuto. Oh, and a cheap 135mm ajikiri/deba from the line that 330mate sells (I think Dave used to sell mini yanagis from this line). I can't really think of any other knives I actually need unless I start cutting a lot more meat, crusty bread, and whole fish.

  9. #9
    I would have trouble whittling down to "The Big 30" let alone "The Big 3".
    "God sends meat and the devil sends cooks." - Thomas Deloney

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    Handwork, general and slicing

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