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Recommendation for chef's knife

A bunch of us need to buy a good chef's knife as a special birthday and Christmas present for someone. $150 budget. We know it matters how it weighs and balances in the hand so we'll buy it from somewhere it can be easily returned, in case what we choose doesn't feel good to him. He could use a seriously good chef's knife. What I don't know is if the one he has is a Santoku. Personally I'd go with a flat edge vs Santoku but comments are very welcome. Thanks.

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

asked about 3 years ago
12 answers 1960 views
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pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added about 3 years ago

I really like the Shun knives, and I am an obsessive knife guy. Damascus steel. The Japanese have a tradition of sword making so they are really good at it. I use a santoku as my "travel knife" but I barely use it at home. You should be able to find a Shun chef's within your budget at Sur La Table.

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added about 3 years ago

I second the motion in favor of a Shun knife! I was given one as a gift from Williams Sonoma a few years ago, and it is absolutely fabulous. WS also will sharpen the knife for you for no charge (even repaired a broken tip for me--one of my roommates was wreckless with my prized knife). I also have the Santoku 7" and it is currently on sale. http://www.williams-sonoma...-

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ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added about 3 years ago

I've taught knife skills for a number of years, and choosing a knife is as personal as choosing one's underwear. I would suggest instead of buying a knife for him, get him a gift certificate to a store where he can select a knife, and he can choose it for himself. As well, just about every chef/serious student/cook has a favorite brand. Even more, there are new knives coming on the market frequently. A highly informed cutlery merchant can advise and assist him to spend his money in the wisest matter. If he should live in the Boston area, I'd suggest a gift certificate to Stoddard's, the oldest cutlery store in America. They are incredibly knowledgeable and their customer service is second to none.

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dinner at ten

dinner at ten is a trusted home cook.

added about 3 years ago

I love my Global 8" chef's knife and have bought them as gifts for several family members who now love theirs as well. The price is well within your range and they are available at WS and Sur la Table.
One thing to consider (if you're not familar with this) is that Japanese knives (including Global and most Shun knives) are sharpened at a more extreme angle than European/Western style knives, and are also made out of a harder but also more brittle steel. This is great for most foods -- the extreme angle plus the hard steel gives them a very sharp edge that doesn't require very frequent sharpening -- but not ideal if your friend does much meat cutting that involves bone (this can chip the knife and you really want the softer European steel for that).

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added about 3 years ago

dinner-at-ten, that's very interesting about the steel sharpening - thank you. It's been a long time since I bought my old Wusthof knives for home so checking this out is an education! Thanks again.

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added about 3 years ago

Thank you everyone for these great tips. Will let you know about any good deals I see.
June, we need to give him an actual knife but I will definitely check out Stoddard's inventory.
Pierino, wondering why you use a Santoku as a "travel" knife? Because you wouldn't want to chance taking your others out of the house?

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HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added about 3 years ago

@Pegeen, I have a santoku as well and I rarely ever use it. I just don't understand all the fuss. It's a great knife, but it's not my perfect knife. I can see why @pierino uses his as the 'travel' knife. I would not be too upset if my santoku was lost, confiscated (gotta love TSA), or damaged. Now if it was my Meissermeister (sp?) 10" chef knife (my baby, figuratively); no way in heck, does that ever leave my kitchen. My husband feels the same way :)

Voted the Best Answer!

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pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added about 3 years ago

Pegeen, in fact I have two santoku in my knife inventory. It's my "travel knife" for its versatility. I frequently cook for friends when I'm away from home and a santoku is good for both slicing and chopping. And of course the bevel is different from German knives. One thing I've learned over the years is this; don't ever walk into someone else's kitchen and expect to find a sharp knife.

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added about 3 years ago

June - Stoddard's is awesome! Lots of cool gift ideas there.

One more question on the knife:

So the upshot is that we’ve agreed on a Shun, 8 inches, because surveillance revealed that he has a 6 inch Global santoku. We’re going with Williams-Sonoma because that’s the only cookware store close to him. They may not have the lowest prices (though they seem fairly competitive) but we want him to be able to go to a real store and handle other knives if he chooses to return this one.

We’re willing to spring for the extra $30 for the “Shun premiere” but can anyone provide an opinion on whether it’s worth it over the “Shun classic”? I would be very grateful.

Thanks again. Happy holidays and keep your credit cards under control. (My Williams-Sonoma shopping cart just got very out-of-control. I’m walking away now…)

$180
http://www.williams-sonoma...


$150
http://www.williams-sonoma...

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added about 3 years ago

p.s. He's a superb home cook, doing serious kitchen duty at least 6 nights a week. So he will use the heck out of this knife.

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Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

added about 3 years ago

After more web research we decided on the Shun Premier chef, 8 inch. He is now Samurai. And has a gift receipt.

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added about 3 years ago

I am with June on this one. I am a knife junky and have quite a few both new and pre-owned. It is a very personal decision. But if you must, I personally love my Shun knives and it can be the first of his knife collection, which he will no doubt add to over time.