Shun knife blockset or mixed knives as a gift
I am looking to buy either a Shun knife block set or a few Shun knives individually for a friend who is a 3rd year apprentice chef in her final year.
Now from reading various chef/knife forums, Shun knives do not seem to get alot of love. However my friend has her heart set on Shun.
I would really appreciate some input on the following from anyone who has professionally used or has knowledge of Shun knives:
1. Which Shun series to get? (The person in question will be a Chef by the end of the year). I've seen: -Shun Classic -Shun Pro -Shun Reserve -Shun Ken Onion -Shun Premier
I know this might come down to personal preference, but overall which would suit a new Chef the best? What are the advantages/disadvantages of each series
2. Knife block set or Individually selected knives?
Having no knowledge of Chef knives I am not sure if the knives that come in the knife block sets would be adequate for her. What would you recommend? Getting a 9-11 piece knife block set or selecting individual knives?
If individual knives is the way to go, which knives and accessories should an average Chef always have in their collection?
(Money isn't an issue)
Thanks in advance for any advice.
There are reasons not to buy Shun, and all of them are value-related. There are better knives for the money, and the same knives for less money. BUT, if they want Shun, why not get them what they want? It's a gift, after all, so I'll leave it to you to define your relationship.
Shun Classic. There is no reason IME to pay more for the other ones.
Don't buy the block. A pro cook does not have room for a block, and they are impossible to clean, and therefore banned in a lot of places by health code(like here). Plus the Chef's knife in the block is 8", and with the profile Shuns have, a pro cook will either want a Santoku or a 10" Chef's, depending on how they work. So buy a 10" Chef's, the bread knife, a utility, and a ceramic honing rod. Maybe some edge protectors and a Shun logo emblazoned knife tote.
Seeing as you have stated that she has her heart set on the Shuns, I'd recommend the following:
Shun Classic as it has the widest variety of knives and will allow her to keep that synergy in the knife bag if she wants to add to it in the future. (It's important to some people.)
9" bread knife
3 1/2" or 4" paring
12" rounded tip slicing
That would cover her for darn near everything in terms of knife needs as they apply to what she'll experience at a/any job site.
(Edit: I agree with Eamon in that the 10" gives you more blade to work with, but seeing as it's a "she" a lot of females tend to opt for the smaller blade length. You should ask what she prefers.)
Shun only uses 2 types of core steel (the steel in the middle of laminated layers that actually does the cutting): either VG10 or SG2. SG2 can get slightly sharper, and while it degrades/dulls from maximum sharp to ~85% sharp just a little slower than the VG10, it does hold that 85% edge for a looooong long time. I gave my sister an SG2 knife and after almost a year of respectful (no abuse)daily home use, it still had a decently sharp, very functional edge.
However, SG2 is more expensive, a little trickier to sharpen (to get the most out of it you have to have intermediate to advanced sharpening skills), and some say it a bit more fragile/chippy if really abused (but I have not had that problem).
SO, if your friend likes sharpening / plans to sharpen often, then she might not see that much of an advantage with sg2. However, if she wants to be able to wait a few weeks(maybe months depending on how hard she uses them, on what surface, and how sharp she likes them), then SG2 will probably show some benefit.
If you pick vg10, then the "shun classic" line is a no-brainier. I really like their simple d-shaped handles (just make sure she's not left handed) and they are just as well made as any of the other lines. Also, I actually prefer the Shun classic paring knife to the paring knife from any of their other lines. IMO, it's the best designed paring knife I've ever used.
However, the other thing to consider is blade profile and ergonomics. This will come down to what type of technique she uses / prefers. If she like the traditional Euro style where the tip keeps contact with the board and the blade is rocked though the food, then you want a knife with a bigger belly ( a more curved blade) and a tip that is higher up (closer to the spine).
Like this one:
or this one:
However, many knife knuts like the folks on here prefer to use more Eastern style motions where the whole blade leave the board and either moves straight down or diagonally though the food to make the cut.
For that, a flatter (less curved) blade with a lower tip is more desired.
Personally, I think that a 10" chef's and a paring knife are a great place to start. If you want to add a 3'rd knife maybe slicer or bread, but the problem with the shun slicers and bread knives is that they are not very long (mostly around 9") For 90% of the bread and slicing tasks, a good 10" chef's knife will work fine, but for cases where a specialize knife is really needed, she is probably going to want something longer than what Shun makes, and for really crusty or seedy, hard bread, vg10 and sg2 steels are a poor choice because they will chip. So...a boning or utility knife maybe be a better bet if you are going to stick with Shun for all of the knives.
maybe you should also checking Miyabi Birchwood!http://www.surlatable.com/category/cat780428/miyabi is lighter, less chippy & better look(IMO)