Hobbyists who aren't chefs

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by Jeffrey Kramb, Nov 4, 2019.

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  1. Nov 4, 2019 #1

    Jeffrey Kramb

    Jeffrey Kramb

    Jeffrey Kramb

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    I got started buying knives because I work as a chef and want the best tools possible. I take all my knives to work and use them and sharpen them often. I know some people just buy them and don't use them and some just use for occasional home cooking. Those of you who aren'r chefs, what made you decide to start spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on knives?
     
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  2. Nov 4, 2019 #2

    slickmamba

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    cut good.
     
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  3. Nov 4, 2019 #3

    jaeysehn

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    I imagine a lot of it has to do with aesthetic as well (true for me). I like pretty things. Of course when things are extremely functional AND pretty, prices tend to go up.
     
  4. Nov 4, 2019 #4

    gman

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    for the same reasons that people who aren't professional race car drivers buy sports cars
     
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  5. Nov 4, 2019 #5

    jaeysehn

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    Yup. It can be said about any luxury field or product. Who really NEEDS a patek. It's more of an appreciation of the craft. Or maybe some ppl just have too much money.
     
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  6. Nov 4, 2019 #6

    Jon-cal

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    Boredom I guess? There are lots of knife options out there and a pretty strong used market where you can buy and sell without losing much. So, low risk to try different things and keep what I like. I could probably narrow down to a few nice knives but where’s the fun in that. I bought the first jknife on a whim and it was eye opening.

    I don’t really understand buying and not using at all though. I guess you can speculate on certain knives and probably make a bit of money but for the effort it doesn’t seem worth it to me. I suspect some people just enjoy the game though.
     
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  7. Nov 4, 2019 #7

    IsoJ

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    For me it started less than a 6 months ago. I've used affordable 10-60€ knives for 20 years at home to get the job done and not paying much more attention to it. Then when I got a change to try japanese knife, it kind of turned things around. I started enjoy cooking again. All the preps are much more enjoyable, allthought I only cook 5-10 times a week for 5-10 people. I buy the knives for my use. It is a tool for me, but for home use, I now who is using it and how it is used. I can imagine in prokitchen sometimes people may "borrow" and abuse knives and you don't then maybe want to take expensive ones to work.

    It is a part of the cooking hobby and since I don't do pool/snooker/hi-fi much more and the knives are pretty much not that expensive, you get allways some money back from your "investment".

    And funny thing, the kids have come more involve with cooking since I started. So for me it has been a win-win situation. And by the way, I have a looooooooooong way of getting there, where my wife is with the shoes, dresses, handbags etc...
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
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  8. Nov 4, 2019 #8

    LostHighway

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    I haven't hit the "thousands of dollars" realm for knives and stones yet...

    Among other fields I used to work in garden design and estate gardening. Japanese garden design has been a huge influence as has the Arts & Crafts Movement which cross pollinated with Japanese aesthetics and craft movements. I also have friends in the Japanese Sword Society (JSSUS). The (largely) French Situationist Movement thinking has been another influence. I like nice tools and I also really enjoy good food. My interest is in functional tools and I have close to zero personal ownership interest in non-user bling or collector knives.
     
  9. Nov 4, 2019 #9

    Caleb Cox

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    I was a foodie and knife nerd separately, so kitchen knives were the natural intersection of two interests. But as with many people, you fall into a hobby because it's "work" that's not your day job, so it's a fun release/escape.
     
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  10. Nov 4, 2019 #10

    Paraffin

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    I've used hand tools in other hobbies like woodworking, where you develop a sense of how a finely crafted tool makes the job easier, as well as being just aesthetically pleasing to look at and handle. It's not a big leap from there to appreciating high-quality kitchen knives.

    I do use every expensive Japanese knife I own. I'm not a collector, in the sense of buying more knives than I actually use. My wife and I both enjoy cooking, so that helps too. I don't have to hide a knife purchase.

    As for the cost... well, we spent a heck of a lot more on our cooking hobby by renovating our home kitchen 15 years ago. I think just the custom copper hood we had designed and built over our stove and wok burner cost more than all my current Japanese knives combined. Look at it that way, and the knives are a tremendous bang-for-buck in comparison. ;)

    If you work in a commercial kitchen and aren't the owner, you may not be considering the cost of all that infrastructure around you that supports the food prep. Even expensive knives aren't that expensive by comparison!
     
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  11. Nov 4, 2019 #11

    Kristoffer Tyvik

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    I go through special interests like some people go through clothes. It’s probably something that’d get me a four letter abbreviations diagnosis if I want to a doctor, but I always need to have an interest I can loose myself in reading up on.

    Knives happen to be very good combination of a functional hobby (the family needs to be fed), steel (I’m a mechanical engineer and a welding engineer) and Japanese culture (best county I’ve been to by far).
     
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  12. Nov 4, 2019 #12

    Boynutman

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    +1 for many of the reasons & journeys above. But my teenage daughter’s favorite concept perhaps made me understand best why I enjoy it so much: it is just sooo Satisfying to cut with a good and sharp knife.

    (next up: ASMR knife vids)
     
  13. Nov 4, 2019 #13

    ian

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    Well, I spend at least an hour a day cooking. At some point, I started realizing that cutting things with fancy knives is very satisfying. It's all about the cutting experience for me. The feeling of a high end knife gliding through product is revelatory, and if the product then just drops off the side of the knife, the experience becomes orgasmic. :)

    Isn't this the same reason you buy high end knives, you professionals? I mean, presumably you could do basically everything just as well with a Mac, perhaps with slightly more sharpening.

    I certainly haven't spent a billion dollars on knives, though, since I only keep enough at once to fill up a mag strip.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2019
  14. Nov 4, 2019 #14

    tgfencer

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    Knife buying is my one luxury hobby. I often times pine for the days when I had none.

    I sometimes look at knife buying like this. Say a knife cost me $500. If I'm a pro with two weeks of vacation (I assume some cook somewhere gets this, although not in my limited experience), I might use it roughly 351 days of the year. That's $1.42 a day and then it's entirely "paid off." Not such a high price, less than a coffee. A home user might use that same knife only half the year, 182 days. That's still only $2.75 a day.

    Either way, assuming you keep the knife longer than a year, the upfront cost doesn't actually work out to be a bad trade off in the end, especially when allowing for salvage/second hand sales value. At least, that's what I tell myself...I purposefully ignore the compounding effects in regards to buying multiple knives.
     
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  15. Nov 4, 2019 #15

    ian

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    To be fair, a professional will use the knife for much longer each day than a home-cook will, so the price per hour used will be much different. But more or less I agree. Lot of use for the money.
     
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  16. Nov 4, 2019 #16

    K813zra

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    I like sharpening. I like knives. I like cooking and do so 3x a day 6x(+) weekly. It just seemed to fit.
     
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  17. Nov 4, 2019 #17

    Barmoley

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    I've always been into knives. Started as a kid when my dad gave me my first pocket knife. I was 4 or 5... I've been playing with knives ever since. Isn't it amazing that such a simple tool can be used in so many ways and be so essential to everything humans do, boggles my mind. One day, I realized that most knives that I own outside of kitchen knives get carried a lot and used very little. Fixed blade knives get used even less. The knives that get used the most are kitchen knives, yet these are the worst knives that I own. This didn't make sense to me, so I started looking into kitchen knives. Because kitchen knives get used so much, one can obsess over the minute differences among different knives. For being such a simple tool, knives, especially chef knives sure have a lot of tiny differences in them that make the whole a lot more than the sum of its parts. I try to use every kitchen knife I buy, but sometimes when I receive it, I look at it, handle it and realize that it is not for me. I've been through many by now and I can tell this pretty quickly with some. Doesn't mean these are bad knives, just not for me at this time.....
     
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  18. Nov 4, 2019 #18

    tgfencer

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    Yup, but that was going to be to much math for me to calculate.
     
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  19. Nov 4, 2019 #19

    WildBoar

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    I'm not a professional cook, but I cook at home daily and not just occasionally, so I am not sure I should be responding. But I got into knives because the Wusthofs I had totally stunk, even though they were billed as the best you could get (they were a present from my then-girlfriend). Prep took forever, as it took a long time to cut up everything. That led me to search for better knives, which led me to the old kitchen knife subforum on the Knife Forums. That resulted in a Japanese 210 gyuto, which turned out to be too short, even though I had been using an 8" chef knife previously. That led to more knives, both Japanese and from some custom makers. That basically led to an appreciations of craftsmen and of usable art, which resulted in a block or two of some totally unneeded custom knives. A DT ITK still does the brunt of my daily work, and my wife mainly alternates between a HHH 'production' knife and a Harner line knife. A few pettys and sujis from Dave M, Butch, DT and Del round out the 'heaviest use' category. The Burkes, Raders, etc. are mainly just brought out for special occasions.
     
  20. Nov 5, 2019 #20

    Interapid101

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    Very reductive to put people into two bins: chefs and hobbyists. As a former cook, I find it interesting you used the word “chef” instead of “cook,” and I also find it interesting you used the nearly derogatory description of “hobbyist.” Many of the most talented cooks I’ve encountered are amateurs, and I’m positive that many other pros here would agree. The first post has an underlying message that only pros should access the best tools, and that is a very questionable assertion.
     
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  21. Nov 5, 2019 #21

    MowgFace

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    I'm pretty much the same as many of those above. I love cooking, and knives have been an interest to me most of my life. Japanese knives not only tickle my fancy in aesthetics, but also for the craftsmanship.

    I have also justified to myself all my purchases by the $$$/Time Used, also thought to myself if my kids can ever pry them from my cold dead hands then the initial investment is nothing.

    Mowgs
     
  22. Nov 5, 2019 #22

    James

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    For the same reason why I spend nearly the same if not more for fishing gear. It's a hobby and I enjoy it
     
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  23. Nov 5, 2019 #23

    panda

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    99% cooks and chefs use crap knives
     
  24. Nov 5, 2019 #24
    Not sure the percentage is that low - but decimal points are such a bother.....

    I started using "good" knives as an enthusiast. Henckels led to Shun which led to KKF and all that entails. My enjoyment with using the perfect knife for a job was no small part of my decision to go into pro cooking as a twilight career. I (foolishly) thought I was a good cook, I liked the knives, the food, surprising and pleasing peoples, and of course the groupies - what could possibly be wrong?
     
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  25. Nov 5, 2019 #25

    bahamaroot

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    I've always been the cook in the house and gaining an appreciation for a sharp knife led me down this rabbit hole. I thought I was doing well with my carbide pull-through and my grooved steel. Then I started to learn how bad those pull throughs were for your knives so I started to look at wet stones. And how can you look at wet stones and not look at J-knives at the same time. After reading all the praises of different J-knives I decided to "splurge" on one. What an eye opener that was! I couldn't imagine why they cost so much or believe they could be "that" much better. Now I do have a few thousand dollars worth of knives that I love but don't need. I don't own a boat or have another expensive hobby so now this is it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2019
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  26. Nov 5, 2019 #26

    labor of love

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    I just make “cooking professionally” a convenient excuse to own way more knives than I need.
     
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  27. Nov 5, 2019 #27

    Carl Kotte

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    Well I think it was only natural since my mother is a deba, my grandfather was a petty and there are a lot of boners and beater knives among close relatives.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2019
  28. Nov 5, 2019 #28

    Chuckles

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    I am a chef. There was a small window of time where I was extremely hands on in the kitchen and was able to afford a couple nice knives and was very fortunate to be a part of this forum and was able to borrow and use a ton of amazing knives that I could never have found or purchased. I don’t really use a knife at work that much anymore (union account yada yada). I probably have more in common with the hobbyists than the production heavy cook and chef members most days. It really is just way more fun to use the techniques that are possible with a sharp bada$$ knife whether that is at home or in a professional environment.
     
  29. Nov 5, 2019 #29

    Hassanbensober

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    I’m also a chef working in a soul crushing 70 hr + week hotel 2 restaurants plus banquet kitchen. The life has stifled most of my other hobbies and collecting using and redistributing world class knives is the best way to mix business with pleasure. Have to always have something either coming in or going out it’s something fun to look forward to every week. This place provides great resources for that and I thank you all.
     
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  30. Nov 5, 2019 #30

    Steel+Fire

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    I worked as a pro for 10+ years out of HS. Got burned out and switched to an office job. 9/11/2001 happened so I went to war part time for a decade and finished my 4 year degree. Now I make enough to afford knives that would have been a blessing back in the day. I got by with my trusty 10" Henkels 4 Star chef knife for my whole life as a line cook, never knew what I didn't have. I think back to struggling through shifts with dull ****** knives and just laugh.
     
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