I'm looking to purchase a new, great-quality chef's knife. Any recommendations?
I've had a Global 10" chef's knife for several years and I adore it. It costs about $100 but it's absolutely worth it. I love the weight and feel of the knife in my hand and apparently a lot of good chefs do, too (Bourdain, who I don't care for anymore, swears by them - it's actually why I bought that knife). It stays sharp for ages, although you can buy a sharpener for it on Amazon. I own several Global knives and they rock. Bonus: unlike Wusthof or Henckels knives, you can use the 20% off coupon on them at Bed Bath and Beyond.
Go to a place that will let you hold the knives or buy from a place online with a good return policy. Personal recommendations for the cheap Victorinox or Mundial 5100 series. For the med-end go with Global. Shun, or Wusthof. For the high end go with well...that's another post. Honestly if you are just starting out go with the Mundial 5100 series, they are well weighted and made from German steel, assembled in Brazil. You will be amazed at the quality for the price.
You should probably figure out whether or not you prefer Japanese or French style knives first, and go from there. Japanese knives are sharpened along the full edge of the blade, while French knives have a rounded, fattened guard where the blade meets or transitions into the handle that some people find more comfortable (but can affect how you cut when dealing with large things like squash). Within each category there are varying prices, styles, blades, handle angles, etc. but then it becomes again more a matter of personal preference and what feels best. Get something that feels balanced and like an extension of your hand. Once you get into the $100-140 range, all of the knives are around the same quality, so you can rest assured that if you just pick the one you like, you'll have a great knife.
pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.
I'll second most of what RachelS wrote. My own preference these days is for Japanese knives. But that knife has to feel right in your hand. and also hold an edge. As far as a brand I would go with Shun. If you really want to step up in price the Bob Kramer knives available through Sur la Table are fantastic.
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