yeah, i considered that, but i still feel bad asking for extremely expensive knives - the ones i want will be expensive enough...plus, we need so many other things, i would prefer to get more gifts, than have a group chip in for one large gift
In one of my prior lives, I owned a restaurant (fool that I was). I too loved to cook, had just taken early retirement and decided "why not, how difficult can it be?". HAH!
Anyway, I had a knife "service". They came in once a week and replaced all of the knives in my kitchen. It was inexpensive and that assured me of always having perfectly honed edges on all of our knives because the most dangerous thing in the kitchen is a dull knife.
What I might suggest, is for you to go to a restaurant supply store and check out the knives there rather than the shopping mall speciality stores or the big-name department stores. You will find utility and useability at a reasonable price without investing in the brand name and all that goes with making you, the buyer lust for that brand.
Now, with all of that said, what do I have on my COUNTER for my visitors to see (and use if they insist on helping)? IKON. (I like their look and feel also.) What do I use on a daily basis? The no-name knives I picked up some years ago at the restaurant supply store in Charlotte, NC. I also have a pot rack with Calphalon and a few copper pots on display. What do I use on a daily basis? That's right, the beat-up, no-namers from the restaurant supply store plus a few I've picked up at Sam's.
I used to buy the high dollar pans too and eventually noticed they wore out about as quickly as the cheaper ones. Now I buy the cheaper food service variety from various sources. And of course the ultimate in cheap pans that last forever - my cast iron Lodge pans which are made a little east of here in South Pittburgh, TN. The perfect pan for steaks and hamburgers! Nice crust and flavor.
Never thought I'd jump in to test the waters on the subject of knives but I have a great deal of experience. Personally, name does nothing for me except what you tell people in conversation. The important things? Yes Sharp!
How you use them is really what matters. Dish washers, drops in sinks with other instruments, dragging across a cutting board, "wiggling" through a cut are all abuses. Any sharp chef's knife is great for me. I don't like the Santoku that has become popular on TV shows, it doesn't rock.
That's it for me on knives. I don't know if that actually helped but I thought I needed to start somewhere!
I wasn't going to bother posting this, but since this thread has been brought back to life, I thought I'd share what I had learned since I started this topic. Done quite a bit of research since then.
What I've learned is that the most important aspect of picking a knife is the type of steel used. German manufacturers (Wusthof, Henckel, etc.), all use a softer steel, intended for the "average consumer" who want decent performance and appearance, but might give their knives a bit of a beating (putting them in the dishwasher, for instance). They sharpen easy, but also dull easy. For better performance, Japanese knives are they way to go - much harder steel, which allows for a steeper edge angle, and longer edge retention. They tend to be lighter, thinner, and razor sharp. To prove the point, German knives rate around 54-58 on the Rockwell hardness scale, while most Japanese knives tend to be around 60+. Of course, there are a variety of steels, each with it’s own pros and cons (ex. Amazing edge and performance, but not stainless). There is tons more to learn (western vs. eastern Japanese knives, knife shapes and designs, handle design, etc.), but that’s enough for now.
With this in mind, I have (most likely) decided on the Shun Classic set of knives. These (along with Global) seem to be the most popular Japanese style knife in the US. They are also very attractive with a Damascus-style pattern on the blades (see William-Sonoma for pics). Of course, there are tons of other brands of Japanese knives (including many “task-specific” knives), and true knife connoisseurs tend to mock Shuns because of their popularity. But I like them ?