Thursday, April 03, 2008

On knives

Mercer knife kit
My school-issued Mercer knife kit (blades aren't normally nekked in the case like this... they have hard plastic protective sheaths which I took off for the photo)

I received a comment from a reader named Norm (who has a lovely wine blog) regarding the Mercer brand knife kit we've been using in the kitchen. He was wondering if I would recommend them, and while I am certainly no expert, I figured my reply to his question would make a decent blog post on its own, so I did the lazy blogger thing and copied-and-pasted here:

I really like the Mercer kit we have (10-inch chef's knife, 8-inch chef's, 10-inch slicer, serrated/bread, paring, boning, fillet, diamond honing steel, zester and peeler), and from what I understand it's a pretty great bang for your buck. I've been using mostly the 10-inch chef's knife, and I find it does everything I need it to. Plus it's been banged around a bit and seems quite sturdy, yet not industrially heavy. I haven't had to hone it once in six days of use (the steel that comes with the kit is actually a bit of a stone as well and takes off a tiny bit of metal when you use it), but I also take care to wash my knives carefully of the starch and acids that can eat away at the blade and dry it immediately after washing. Though you probably already know that ;).

However, if you're looking for something more lightweight, you might want to look at Japanese knives. My brother recently got a MAC 6.5-inch chef's knife that he *loves* and was only 50 bucks, and which he bought online. It's a sharp sumabitch (cut myself twice on it, though not badly), but it's truly impressive. I'd say the MAC is up there in cutting quality with Global, but without the steel handle.


"MAC Superior" 6.5-inch Santoku knife, aka Sharp Sumabitch(link)

Alternately, if you're looking for even heavier, I love my 8-inch Wusthof Classic, which was a Christmas gift to myself several years ago. You might even like the Wusthofs better than I do because I'm a total weakling when it comes to upper body strength, and those babies are solid.


Wusthof Classic 8-inch Chef's Knife... so purdy (link)

The short answer is I would recommend the Mercer kit. The guys in my class seem to work well with them too. I could write a novel about knives, so I'll stop here. Hope this helps!

*Addendum: The Microplane in the kit photo is actually my own; a gift from a few years ago from my brother. My chef instructor mentioned that the zester that comes with the kit isn't the best for a lot of production, and recommended adding a Microplane (I do so love my Microplane!). Also, the kit comes with nested stainless-steel measuring cups, but they're slightly bulky to lug around in the kit, not to mention we measure nearly everything by weight at school.

4 comments:

Paul said...

It's nice that they give you the 8 inch chef now. When I was in school we only got the 10 inch and I have small hands, so it felt too big for a lot of things. I love my 8 inch Shun.

mll said...

i have a kyocera ceramic knife - that has a 4 or 5" blade and i love it!! although now after 5 years of use i need to send it back to get sharpened. do you guys ever use the ceramic knives?

Anonymous said...

my name is Jr. and im in the Art Institute of Tampa doing Culinary arts also and my school actually gave me a mercer knife kit and im very happy with my knives. Now im not a fan about using my 8 in. chef knife, but my girlfriend bought me the mercer 7 in. santoku knife and i work way better with a santoku than with a chef knife.

Sara said...

I think it is really important to have a good knife in the kitchen because
without a quality knife is hard to get good results.