Originally Posted by TripleB
1) Should a Chef's Knife be the first knife I purchase?
2) What length should I purchase?
3) I don't want to put a lot of money into a chef's knife
4) What chef's knife would you recommend in that price range (remember, I'm a newbie and will never be a professional)?
5) Am I better off getting a single chef's knife or something like a Ginsu 14 piece stainless steel set with a block (that includes a chef's knife) for $60 or so?
6) What other advice would you give someone just starting out as far as required 'hardware'?
I will only be cooking for my family of 4 and family gatherings.
Thank you for your help.
Yes, Chef's knife. Get a 10" Victorinox to start with. The steel is quality, and the composite handle very comfortable. They are not pricey, and even if you move one to a different knife later, it will be a great backup and a great camping knife. If not the Victorinox, go the Chicago Cutlery brand. They make an excellent forged knife for very little outlay.
I fiddled around with 7 and 8 inch knives for years. Don't. Get a 10" right away.
Your next purchase should be a 3 1/2 inch paring knife. Here, I don't care for the Victorinox, and would recommend a Henckels or a Wustof. I've found cheaper paring knives don't cut it.
The you will want a 6" utility, and a fillet knife, in that order. Fillet knives are great multitaskers - just buy a cheap one, because the very thin blades are a pain to sharpen. A utility knife completes the set of the four knives that will be of most use to you. You may wish to add a 10" slicer to the group if you are cooking for company, but your chefs' knife will do fine for this, as long as it's a 10" one.
Under no circumstances do I recommend a set. A knife set (and I've bought three or ten in the past) might contain one knife you use, and the rest you will not.
My own knife rack (the ones I use) contains a 10" Sabatier chef's knife, a 3 1/2" Wustof Classic parer, a 6" Kai utility, an 8" Sanelli fillet knife, a 6" Sabatier boner, and a 10" Henkels slicer.
In addition to those above, I have a 12" Victorinox chef's knife I use for making slaw, and an 8" serrated Chicago cutlery I use for cutting bread on occasion.
Except for the two Sabs, they are all different. I have two or three drawers full of old discards, some of them expensive. Don't use them. I use the knives I like in my hand for that specific purpose, and that doesn't necessarily mean the same brand at all.
I do my own butchering, but that is a different story. The above collection is what I use, and I could very easily get along for the rest of my life with what I've recommended to you.
Oh yes, I almost forgot. Get a good steel (Victorinox here, too. I use their 10" one) and learn to use it!! They are not expensive and a few whacks of the steel after every knife use will keep your knives usable for about 6 months between actual sharpenings. And unless you know how to sharpen a knife well, have it done for you.
A steel does NOT sharpen a knife, incidentally. It just straightens out the edge after use.
I was a bit of a knife freak, and I'm trying to save you some pain. My Mom was a chef, and I've ended up using pretty much the type of knife she used in the workplace, although different brands. I'ts got to feel good in your hand or it's useless, even if lovely Rachel Rae uses it.