Success! To anyone who helped advise me on a chef's knife as a special group gift for a friend (we ultimately decided on a Shun 8-inch chef's), I just wanted to say thank you. Today was the day and I don't know when I've seen such a happy person. He was chopping everything in site and I think would have been happy taking on some outpatient surgery. ;-) I have to say, it's a handsome knife - nice to look at something so pleasing while you're using it. So thank you all for your help.
You deserve a cookie.