I've had this inexpensive chef's knife for 4 years and it's my favorite

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/05/20/ive-had-this-inexpensive-che.html

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I’ve only seen Winco goods at Restaurant Depot, so I assume they are in the pro-range of quality. They make excellent pans, too

They’re in the range of stuff that restaurants buy because it’s cheap.

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They tend to be the nicer/longer lived restaurant tool brand.

Their their tongs are $7 rather than $4, but much thicker steel, and better stainless. Their sheet pans are $20 instead of $12, but much heavier and more durable.

Never much liked their knives though. They’re a bit cheaper, but no better than some of the worst Dexter Russel knives. And not as good as the stock white handle DR knives.

The dirt cheap restaurant brand that comes off best is Mundial, and I’ve heard good things about Kiwi for Asian knives. Most food service knives worth mentioning come in more expensive.

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Yeah, restaurant knives are run through those horrid automatic knife “sharpeners” and generally brutalized. These Restaurant Depot Wincos are basically as common as ramekins. I’ve actually worked in places that had a sharpening service come in about once a week and swap them out. They looked like they’d been sharpened on cement. The chefs who care bring their own set in and guard it like a baby.

I am actually a big advocate of the one or two dull knives in a kitchen. Useful for breaking up things like big blocks of chocolate, opening obnoxious packaging (staples, over-pasted cardboard), chipping ice, etc. Plus, any guests who can’t be trusted with a real knife get a blade of the quality they’re used to.

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Those look nice, and I might try them some time, but I’ll once again advocate my favorite: the Victorinox kitchen knives. I have the larger chef’s knife, a small chef’s knife, and a paring knife. They are great. They hold a narrow/sharp edge for quite a while. The only drawback is that the steel is a bit hard and is unforgiving of any abuse; it’s easy to get a ding or nick in the blade.

A big plus on the Vics, for me, is the texture and size of the handles. I can have my hands and the knife covered in chicken grease oil and still have a confident and clear feel for the knife.

Again, no knock on these. I just love my Victorinox knives. Also, I think the Vics might be a bit cheaper.

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I hear good things about Victorinox knives. I have only used their small serrated knives (except for pocket knives of course) but those do keep sharp forever. I think if you are looking for an inexpensive chef’s knife that you are actually going to use rather than fetishize they are the way to go. That said my favourite knife is my 15cm Tres Claveles Uniblock Chef’s Knife, which I picked up in an ironmonger’s in Reykjavík. It doesn’t hold its edge better than knives of a comparable price range but its shorter blade together with the knuckle clearance of a full sized chef’s knife fit my working style perfectly. It has traveled with me for two international moves and has been in daily use for more than half a decade now. Meanwhile my much more expensive Zwilling knives are languishing in a cupboard hundreds of kilometres away.

It’s also the perfect symbol for serendipity and for why local businesses are important for me. I needed a knife and although I was looking for a full sized chef’s knife it wasn’t obsessive research for the best knife online that brought me something that fit my needs much better, but rather walking into the only store I knew carried knives and choosing what the limited choice and my budget allowed.

Edit: we posted at the same time (or rather I was typing while you posted) but it seems great minds think alike, @Supercrisp

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I have never seen, nor heard of, those being used in regular restaurant kitchens. And I’ve been in a lot of restaurant kitchens.

From what I understand they have some use in institutional food, and apparently some chain restaurants use them. But their “professional” pedigree comes by way of things like meat packing and fish mongers.

These places also aren’t using cheap mechanical sharpeners. But the more expensive, higher end Chef Pros (often white labeled as Winco!). They’re used for touch ups and knives go for proper sharpening on a belt sander later.

Those things aren’t preferred, but they’re not the disaster they’re often claimed to be. Used properly they have their place. Like people with grip problems. They’re meant to be used lightly while the original bevels are still intact, and knives will need correcting or a hand sharpen eventually.

But yeah otherwise restaurant house knives see some nasty abuse, people will open cans with them. They’re always run through industrial washing machines in big piles.

The only time I’ve ever run into the Wincos is larger chef knives and cleavers. Often used to do shit like chip ice or break up frozen chickens. They’re the big brutes that came free with your order. And no one seems to care about.

I once found one being used to stabilize/level a bar sink. And I don’t think it’s possible to sharpen them without a machine.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t good ones though. Wusthof and Messermeister make food service knives. And those victorinox knives people are always on about are just food service knives, and not particularly special ones.

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I’m currently interested in a utility knife that isn’t high carbon that is affordable, last set of knifes i had kept getting rust spots and it was driving me crazy. With the amount of random brand crap on Amazon i gave up, i did buy some basic chef knives at a restaurant supply near me but still need a good utility knife if anyone has recommendations.

Any steel worth making a knife out of is gonna spot or rust if you don’t hand wash and dry it properly. And might get some spotting anyway if you live some place with a lot of humidity and salt in the air.

And and good stainless cutlery is “high carbon stainless”. It’s the label “carbon steel” you need to avoid, though they’re not as tricky to maintain as people say. Once you get a patina on there it’s mostly on autopilot.

I have one of these and I love it:

It’s an insanely good knife for the money.

Fujiwara FKMs and Tojito DPs are the usual best bang for the buck in a Japanese knife. I have an FKM petty, it’s great. But you’ll need to sharpen them out of the box.

You already have kitchen store knives so any of those as value suggestions, like the Victorinox Fibrox are gonna be a side grade. Until you get into the stuff that costs as much as the above.

Cutlery and more has frequent sales on very quality knives, especially Henkels and Miyabi who they seem to be very close with. So watching things there is a great way to get a bargain on fancier shit.

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Thanks for your thoughts on the matter, there’s plenty i dont know about different steels but i know some can be more resistant to spotting and rusting than others. The ones i had before would start to rust pretty quickly when in contact with moisture compared to other knives i’ve had in the past so that drove me nuts and i’ve hated my set for years :stuck_out_tongue: Right now i don’t have a need to have a wide range of different knives, but definitely still keen on getting a nice yet affordable pairing or utility knife.

I’m in the process of still sorting out my kitchen things (just moved), once i have everything in its place i’ll look at that site.

Victorinox, Yo. Thud!

Their chef’s knife is top notch. Maybe the best knife I’ve worked with. And it might still be 40 bux on Amazon.

The thing is that the components in the alloys that contribute rust resistance also bring other properties that can make the steel useless for blades and tools when there’s too much of them. The most stainless stainless steels are used for things like work tables and appliances. They’re typically laser cut cause anything else will just burn up (which makes drilling holes on them fun). So even if they’d take an edge good luck getting one on there.

I personally haven’t noticed much difference between different knife steels in terms of rust. At least not enough to say ooo get this one. But Scandinavian steels (even carbon) have a reputation for excellent rust resistance and being excellent knife steel. I have a Mora outdoor knife that’s never spotted, very good knife. But I don’t use it as heavily as my kitchen knives.

Pairing knives are one of those things where it usually doesn’t pay to get spendy. Like fillet knives they often work better when they’re thin and stamped and I’ve just never found myself using them all that often at home.

I usually get Dexter Russel V-Lo parers, they were my preferred fruit knives when I was a bartender. But Opinel makes some really affordable, really well regarded ones from Scandinavian stainless for like 12 bucks. Or less than 20 in a 2 pack, I’ve had my eye on some as steak knives.

Though they also make very cute steak knives.

I’d recommend trying the utility knife instead. But it’s a tricky category to shop in. A lot of utility knives are weird sandwich tools or useless shapes. The better ones tend to get labeled prep and petty knives these days. I’ve been using them for years where you might otherwise use boning and paring knives. And an ever growing group of the professional cooks I know have been doing the same. I have the FKM petty currently for this, and it’s a great knife. But can be a little tricky to sharpen.

Victorinox knives are significantly more expensive at MSRP these days, edging up into fine cutlery on sale prices. Though they are themselves on sale frequently.

Their popularity has gotten away from them and the manufacturer has been raising the prices. They’re a good buy on sale. But a lot of the time there are much better food service brands for cheaper. The nicer rosewood handled ones are absolutely not worth their current pricing.

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It’s ok man, keep at it and one day you’ll be able to afford a second knife, maybe even a fork!

Anthony Bourdain

“Don’t touch my dick, don’t touch my knife.”

― Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

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Ha! I forgot about that one. That came out when I was working in my first restaurant and it was like the Pentagon Papers for back of house staff.

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As a knifemaker (yes! multi-talented!), I say get over the fear of spots and just let a good “plain” high carbon blade spot up and patinate. After they do, they’re actually pretty protected from rusting unless you leave them wet etc…

Or, if you want a really high performance stainless kitchen knife (at least better than standard production), you’re starting to talk about some of the more difficult to heat treat “exotic” stainless blades, and custom manufacture. There are lots of makers that can do that for you, but like anything handmade, it’s going to cost $$$.

TBH, if you’re not going to notice the difference between a good stainless blade, and a really good blade, just buy one of the more reputable brands in stainless. Save yourself a bit of cash.

Me, I use my own at home:

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Mundial is good and well priced. We have a mix that have been flawless for a decade or more. Just touch up the edge with a steel now and then and maybe a light session with a stone once a year. Just don’t throw a good knife into the sink with regular cutlery!

X-All-The-Y_phixr

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