An Ode to the Commercial Beater Knife

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This post is inspired by @stringer and his continued stan of the Kanehide Bessaku line.

Like many of us, I have some pricey knives. But if you were to tell me to jump in to a busy restaurant service tonight, I wouldn't be bringing many of them. It's not because they're too expensive or whatever (I'm in the camp that knives are meant to be used), but mostly because the expensive knives have maxed out the stats in other categories like thinness behind the edge, or hardening the steel as much as it possibly can. Sometimes you just need a knife that can see you through a service without having to worry about it. One that can do basically everything you need it to, stay sharp enough to do the job well, take a decent amount of abuse, and that still feels like a relative joy to use.

For me this was those nihonkou knives that were ubiquitous like 20-ish years ago. I grew up using them in my dad's kitchen. I still love them. I also get the appreciation people have for $700 super thin, super hard knives with beautiful attention to detail, but for me those aren't commercial tools.

So tell me folks: what's your favorite beater?
 

M1k3

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Mercer Millennia.

Hear me out. It's $20. If it gets used as a can opener when I'm not looking, so what? It's cheap. It has a brightly colored handle. Easy to spot if it walks away. And it's cheap.
 

Nagakin

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Our prep team is on point, so I haven’t brought any knives to work for months now and mostly use the house paring knife during service. That I usually keep submerged in a hot hold boiler.
 

Walla

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I'm a big fan of the beater knife... especially given bad things can and do happen in the restaurant kitchen...

Once service starts the more fragile knives get put away...I have an old Sabatier and a tojiro sujihiki that come out.

Lobster whacking would really do a number on most Japanese knives...the Sabatier just laughs...and if it hits the ground it's the tile that will suffer more...keeps me from crying...

Take care

Jeff
 

chefwp

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I have different levels of beaters, I have a box full of Mercers that were once part of a culinary school kit, they go camping with us now.
I have a Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu (think classic but with no bolster) that I keep handy to beat on things, to rock chop without worry, chop nuts, or just for nostalgia's sake, that knife has seen me through a ton of shifts back in the days of pro cooking!

But I find the original premise of the question interesting. What would I take into a restaurant today, I think I'd take my Yoshikane 210 SKD and my CCK 1103 Cleaver for prep, my Sukenari 210 petty/suji semistainless (YXR7) on the line, and I'd probably have my Mercer bread and an old Wusty paring along for the ride too. I'd definitely bring the old Wusthof along just in case a real beater was needed. Some of those others aren't really 'beaters' but tools are meant to be used and I think they are sturdy enough, it's not like my knife skills would become super careless just because of the situation.
 
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Just curious, would something made out of an ultra tough steel like z tuff be able to hold up in the pro environment without having to baby it? Could you have a “nicer” beater? I know this isn’t really the point of the question but I just wanted to poll the pro’s here
 
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Just curious, would something made out of an ultra tough steel like z tuff be able to hold up in the pro environment without having to baby it? Could you have a “nicer” beater? I know this isn’t really the point of the question but I just wanted to poll the pro’s here
So I guess the point of it is that my beater is nice enough. I legit don't need or usually want anything more in a pro knife unless I'm doing sushi or other knife intensive washoku.

Nicer knives might do some specific tasks better, but for an all-around pro kitchen knife I really don't think that a nicer knife is better.
 

M1k3

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Just curious, would something made out of an ultra tough steel like z tuff be able to hold up in the pro environment without having to baby it? Could you have a “nicer” beater? I know this isn’t really the point of the question but I just wanted to poll the pro’s here
Probably. Z-wear holds up really good in a pro environment.
 

labor of love

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Dexter 9inch santoku. Profile is close to watanabe actually. Personally I find Dexter easier to sharpen than Victorinox.
 

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coxhaus

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My vision would be the same as when i worked in a restaurant 50 years ago. One large Henckels Chef knife.
 

blokey

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Dexter Chinese cleaver, surprisingly good and truly all purpose.
 

daveb

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I wouldn't bat an eye to losing my Mercer.

I've lost a couple Mercers for people - I'm sure they would thank me for it.

Probably. Z-wear holds up really good in a pro environment.

Yes it does. HSC suji in foreground, 180 petty in the background. And of course the Rosle tongs....
 

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Duukt

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Bud Light presents: Real Men of Genius
(Real men of Genius)
Today we salute you Mr. Commercial Beater Knife Sharpener Guy
(Mr. Commercial Beater Knife Sharpener Guy)
Using just a grinding wheel and an apron, you're living the sharpening dream.
Getting paid to do your hobby
(You'd do it for free if they refused to pay)
Sure you might cut yourself, get metal in your eyes, overgrind or round the tip.
(Don't round that tip)
You say to yourself, should I thin this? If I don't, will they notice? The knives aren't that great to start with.
(They're commercial beater knives)
So crack open an ice cold Bud Light, Grinder Boy, cause we all know, if you overgrind, no one will care anyway.
(Mr. Commercial Beater Knife Sharpener Guy!)
 

M1k3

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My vision would be the same as when i worked in a restaurant 50 years ago. One large Henckels Chef knife.
What are saying?

"1 knife"?

Can someone translate? I thought they did stuff bigger in Texas?
 
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Cheap Chinese cleaver, stainless dulls slower and carbon sharpens quicker so it’s a horse apiece. But it’s got to be one actually from China that Chinese cooks use, not Japanese nor by an American or European company although I guess I haven’t tried a cheap Japanese one.
 

blokey

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Cheap Chinese cleaver, stainless dulls slower and carbon sharpens quicker so it’s a horse apiece. But it’s got to be one actually from China that Chinese cooks use, not Japanese nor by an American or European company although I guess I haven’t tried a cheap Japanese one.
I would say Dexter cleaver is one of the best cheap ones you can get, it even out perform most Shibazi, Zhangxiaoquan, Wangmazi and Dengjia stuff you see In China, the grind is traditional Chinese and was used in commercial Chinese kitchen in North America for a good reason.
 

YumYumSauce

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My favorite "beater" is my Tojiro dp for nostalgia. It's the 1st knife I ever bought. It's also my least used work knife now, mostly for loaning. Other knives that I think would make good beaters are the vics, chinese cleavers, macs, as have been mentioned.

Nowadays I rarely see a need to use "beaters" as "beaters". Even if shits hitting the fan, theres usually a better way to do things, and if not usually a guy next to me with one that doesnt mind 😈😏.

The other knives I take to work is mac parer, 150 mm and 210 mm Gesshin ginga petty, semistainless Gengetsu gyuto, and white #2 Gesshin Uraku gyuto.

Currently, I've been getting by rotating the 210 mm Ginga petty and 240 mm white #2 Uraku gyuto on 4-500 cover nights.

They're not super expensive but not exactly cheap either. Psychologically, being that I spent a little more on them it makes me work in a more controlled manner. I sharpen as needed and Id rather sharpen these reguarly than hassle with cheap stainless.
I think the upper $$$ limit for knives that Id regulary use at work is $500. Already started rocking my new tf denka. Gonna use it on slower days for now.
 
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As @Ochazuke mentioned. I am a Kanehide Stan.

I have used them for my main work knives for years. I recommend them to people on here, to coworkers, and to culinary students. They are a great balance of edge taking/retention and toughness.

Old Beater Meet New Beater

But there are many other beaters in my collection. I take great satisfaction in turning beaters into Ferraris.

They don't make my favorite super beater any more. Montana Knife Works 10" Chef Knife. At my last hotel gig people were expected to have their own knives. If they needed one they usually bought one from the "knife guy." He charged $40 for a knife that I could buy for 3 for $30 on Amazon. And if you let him sharpen them you needed a new one about every 6 weeks. So I bought a dozen every couple of months and sold them at cost to people who needed them. And I sharpened most of them too. After awhile the knife guy stopped showing up. I only have one left. And it's an 8" not the 10" I prefer. This one I rescued from the trash can. The handle had broken so someone was throwing it away. I reground it and rehandled it. It's not really finished. But it's sharp as hell and ready to rock and roll. I think the handle is zebra wood.


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I'm also a big fan of Ontario Old Hickory. But they don't make 10" knives anymore either. It's actually much easier to find 10" Forgecrafts than Old Hickorys. And you have to regrind and rehandle them too. But then they're pretty sweet. The handle on this one is made from a broken acacia serving platter.

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I love my vintage Sabatier blank. I also ground and handled this one myself (Baltic birch plywood in case you are wondering). Left it extra chonky.

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Forgecraft slicers and boners are great and super cheap. I use this one for scaling fish and doing all sorts of butchery.

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The Hida Tool Tosa Nakiri. Still need to rehandle this one.

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And I am a sucker for a vintage no name Chinese cleaver.

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Wagnum

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One more for Victorinox. They can take a beating and don't totally suck to sharpen
 
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