Best Value Chef's Knife for the Aspiring Home Cook
Many of us aspire to become better home cooks. Perhaps, you're trying to recreate your favorite meal or you just want to eat healthier and control what goes into your food. What I've discovered is that, cooking is very much about technique and how you prep, with a touch of creativity. I think that one of the first steps to becoming a better home chef is acquiring the proper tools. One at a time, or, in bunches if you're a gear nut! The proper tools are invaluable to improving the technique aspect of cooking. The first thing any serious or hobby cook should buy is surely a good chef's knife. It's super versatile and can be used to slice vegetables, dice an onion or carve up a chicken. I searched far and wide, all across the internet, reading various message boards, to find the best knife/cost ratio.
And, what I found after scouring the cooking and cutlery forums and then testing a few knives in varying price ranges and styles, is that the knives from Victorinox have the best value/performance ratio, while still being easy to maintain.
As rated by Cook's Illustrated, the Victorinox Fibrox 8" Chef's Knife is one of their top picks time and time again. In performance and especially value. I tested this knife, as well as, a considerably more expensive Kikuichi TKC forged chef's knife and a moderately priced Henckels 4-Star. The Victorinox, in my opinion, performs up to par with its more expensive, forged Japanese and European counterparts especially when sharpened and honed. Even straight out of the packaging, I found it to be exceedingly sharp. Of course, it isn't all about sharpness. The Victorinox knife handles great as well. It's relatively light and agile leading to precise cuts. If the knife you choose is uncomfortable for your hands, or unbalanced you'll never get great results. If possible, its best to handle a few knives at a store and see what fits you best, then you can make a proper decision. One caveat about the Fibrox handle is that, I find it to be a bit bulky. I've adapted a pinch grip that works and is comfortable, but if you have small hands you may consider purchasing the Victorinox Rosewood 8" Chef's Knife instead. It's a bit more expensive but is fitted with a very nice rosewood handle. Another option, and about double the price, but still a great value is the Mac Superior Santoku knife. Those less experienced handling a longer knife might find a santoku knife's shorter blade and lighter overall weight easier to handle.
As regards to sharpening, I recommend the Fiskars Rollsharp and a Victorinox honing steel to maintain the edge between sharpenings. Fiskars is also recommended by Mac knives(another highly regarded Japanese brand); as it is very easy and effective in sharpening to the 15* factory bevel.