My cousin has asked me to recommend a chef's knife--for general use. She has bread, paring, meat carving etc. And just needs a really nice one. It's for her birthday. Suggestions?
Knives are so personal, they must be comfortable to hold. If I were to buy a new knife, I would invest in 1 really great Japanese knife, although I still enjoy using my Henkel 8" chef knife. it's also good luck to add a few pennies to the gift as well.
I've been using the same 8" Wusthof Chef''s knife for 10 years, ever since my Father gifted it to me. Properly cared for, a good knife will be your #1 tool for several years!
Go to a good kitchen store or knife shop and hold half a dozen to see how the grip feels, the weight, the balance. Then hold a "Global" chefs knife and your mind will be made up.
I own Global as well as Shun and my own preference is for latter. But then they feel comfortable to me. The Bob Kramer knives from Sur La Table are fabulous but really expensive. I'll politely disagree with my friend ChefOno on the Granton edge. It's useful for some tasks but I wouldn't that on my work horse knife. Japanese knives are interesting compared to German style knives as they have no bolster; it's all knife.
Of course if you want to go cheapola you could go with the Rachael Ray sponsored Furi knives from Australia with the cute orange handles which can be relied on to fall off.
Sure can do. First I'm a knife guy, period. The granton edge is useful for slicing stuff that is already soft or already cooked. I own a spiffy Viking carving set that I won from Food52. But when you are attacking animal carcass and you are cutting through tough muscle and joints and stuff, then a standard edge chef's knife is preferable. I like Japanese knives because of the way they feel in my hand and they really hold an edge well with good care and maintenance (the bevel is different). Japan has an ancient tradition of sword making so they really know their stuff when it comes to metalurgy. A scimatar btw is a great knife to own if you have room for it in your collection---the blade of the Saracens---it can be as long as 16".
ChefOno, stay away from Maui. All the people you are trying to escape from over here are already over there waiting for you.
When I started culinary school our knife kit included an F Dick knife:
It was chosen by the school on the basis that it's a good knife - well balanced, suits a number of hands, not too heavy, and is a great, quality "starter" knife. (Plus the design was "sexy" which according to my chef instructor would inspire us to look after it well - but he is very prone to enthusiastic hyperbole).
They said that when we knew a bit more about cooking we'd know what to look for in our next knife, and this was absolutely true - after cooking with this nonstop for a year, when I tried a few out I could really sense nuances.
The point is: the comments about a knife being personal are spot-on. I find the Global knives too light, but the grips are good in my hand. What a person looks for in a knife will evolve as they use it more. And, in the meantime, the F. Dick knife is a solid option.
Just make sure to get a quality honing steel along with it - it's as essential as the knife!
Interesting point on the Global knife feeling "light". They are not all the same. The forged ones do have some heft to them. The lighter ones I'm not so sure. Nothing wrong with F. Dick knives though.
Do you think your cousin will be comfortable with a chef's knife? Some folks never take to the size of the things, and they do look dangerous. The 8" Wusthof is a thing of beauty and is the ooh and aah gift of choice, but it has a very rounded blade that is best for a "rocking" motion. The 7" Santoku style Wusthof is easier for most people to deal with.
In any case I think a Wusthof is the gift that screams "I love you," and I wish I were close enough with any of my cousins to give such a swell and pricey present!
A santoku shape is the knife I most often travel with because it's the most versatile. But a true chef's knife is an essential tool.
One comment I will add to my earlier one is: how long are you using your knife for? Half an hour making a small home dinner versus working in a kitchen for an 8 hour shift.?And I agree slicing tomatoes is different from cutting through a carcas - but the that is why we have half a dozen different knives for different jobs.
We love our Al-Mar chef's knife. We use it for almost everything. It's large, heavy, and sharp enough to be useful when you need to wield a stout knife, but it's designed so that it's useful for even the smallest of tasks--cutting veggies into matchsticks or for dealing with fruit. The balance of the knife is spot-on, so using it is a pleasure. It really does act as an extension of your hand.
On another note, we own two Carter knives (a nakiri-style knife--basically a Japanese vegetable cleaver; and a smaller paring knife), and both of them are exquisite. When we can afford to do so (they are pretty pricey), we plan to purchase another Carter knife. Unbeatable.
Knives are light leather gloves, you have to "try" trhe on. When I married, I registered for Wustof Grand Prix and love them. For a chef's knife though this has been my workhorse for 7+ years, http://www.amazon.com/Rachael-Ray-Coppertail-3-Piece-Bamboo/dp/B0009NWH0O/ref=sr_1_2?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1336579586&sr=1-2
For a slicer knife the Lamonsharp - amazing.
I have ery small hands. How about a gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma? Great Gift!
I too have Global knives but they aren't for everyone. Could you take your cousin to pick one out? I see you live Charleston the store Charleston Cooks! should have a good selection. Maybe you could make a day of it, the Le Creuset store and Williams-Sonoma are just up the road from it as well.
I totally agree about knives being very personal. If you live near Atlanta, GA, you should look at The Cook's Warehouse (www.cookswarehouse.com). They always have great specials on investment-quality knives. I'd look at Wustof Classic (Germany), Henkel Professional (USA) or Shun (Japan), all of which have a forged blade and a triple riveted, full tang handle and life-time warranty. These are not as pricey as some of the others suggested. The Wustof Grand Prix has the same blade as the Classic, but doesn't have a riveted full tang handle. The Victorinox is a good basic starter knife and has been rated #1 by America's Test Kitchen; however, it is not considered an investment quality knife. It can be sharpened, but you'll eventually need to replace it. You can't go wrong with a good quality 8" Chef's Knife.
For general use, I love my Wusthof chef's knife. Highly recommend.