What Kind of Knives do I Really Have?

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VinoVeteran
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What Kind of Knives do I Really Have?

Post by VinoVeteran » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:34 pm

Hello All,

I've been in restaurants for a number of years as a bartender, sommelier and management but have decided to attend culinary school. Its a set of skills I want because I believe it'll make me a better Somm and manager if I speak my Chef's language more fluently. I was recently gifted a small set of new knives by a family member and I am wholly unfamiliar with the minutia of different styles of knives in terms of materials used and proper maintenance and am looking for advice and some fundamental knowledge.

The knives are Dalstrong Shogun Series, which Amazon and their website both say are Japanese forged knives, and in the set I was given are an 8" Chef's knife along with, Nakiri, Utility, Boning, Filet and Pairing knives. They're sold mostly on Amazon and seem to at least be popular and well regarded by people. But here's my main questions:

1. They're listed as "Damascus High Carbon Stainless Steel Cladding with a Japanese AUS-10V Core". I've heard of Stainless, Carbon and Damascus blades but never a knife referred to as all three materials. So exactly what are these knives material wise? Are they truly carbon steel or high carbon (I dont know the difference), or are they stainless, masquerading as something else? I want to make sure theyre well taken care of but I do know that different materials tend to require very different care regiments.

2. As little as I know, I do like these knives very much. Ive never owned knives of a quality higher than the "bachelor-pad, Walmart starter kit" type sets so I am excited to use these. The only noticeable part I dislike is purely aesthetic. The knives have an almost mirrored polish to them and I am wondering (and hoping) that this polish will dull with time or can be subdued through some trick or treatment.

3. Lastly, I've been told that for Japanese knives you only ever want to use a whetstone every once in a great while for sharpening and a ceramic rod for honing more frequently. Is this correct and should I be ensuring that I have a certain oil, grit, etc, in order to prolong the life of these knives?

I know thats a lot but thank you all for taking the time on any responses.

jmcnelly85
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Re: What Kind of Knives do I Really Have?

Post by jmcnelly85 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:04 pm

Dalstrong has a strong marketing team, their knives are kinda meh. Not awful but in line with cozinnis for more money. Stainless steels start as carbon but get a certain amount of chromium in them for added corrosion resistance, these knives are a Japanese equivalent to 440c, typically found at Walmart and what not but taken to a higher hardness. I’ve sharpened them to 2k and take a nice working edge but nothing to write home about. The outer cladding is a Damascus patterned stainless with an aus10 (stainless) core. For real, pro work you will probably want a 9-10 inch chefs or 240-270 gyuto for bulk prep projects, the added length will help for efficiently finishing massive projects. The boning, filet, and paring are probably sufficient for the time being, 90 percent of your everything will be done with a full sized chefs knife or gyuto. A progression of 400-600-800 grit wet dry sandpaper is an easy way to turn a mirror into a satin finish, or it will dull with use. A good 1k whetstone is an easy, utilitarian means to keep knives sharp. Frequency of sharpening depends on their amount of use and your tolerance for dull. I wouldn’t be surprised if these knives respond to traditional metal honing rods, but I prefer ceramic rods, strops or stones for maintenance.

http://www.zknives.com/knives/steels/jp/aus10.shtml

salemj
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Re: What Kind of Knives do I Really Have?

Post by salemj » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:11 pm

[I see a great post was added since I wrote this. Sorry for minor duplications.]

Welcome!

1) AUS-10 is a real steel, and apparently a good one. It is a STAINLESS steel, but it also has higher carbon (around 1%) and several other alloys that put it in a higher category than may other options, although I don't think I've ever sharpened it (certainly not at HRC 62), so I don't know how ti takes an edge. Keep in mind that Chromium is what makes a knife stainless...the amount of carbon has nothing to do with a knife being "stainless" or "carbon" per se. As for the Damascus: it is also stainless. Whether it has carbon or not, you do not need to treat it like a reactive knife.

2) You should like them! They appear to be made with decent steel, at a decent hardness, with indestructible handles. I have no idea whether I would like them or not, but the point is, if you like them, that is what counts. The core steel definitely has potential, so there is no reason to think that you are missing out based on materials alone. That said, there is MUCH more to a knife than materials, so there is almost certainly room for improvement down the road even if these make you happy now!

3) Sharpening is a rabbit hole. I think the current, general consensus around here is that if you are dealing with HRC hardness above 60-1 (which you are), it is often easier, faster, and produces better results to strop the knife rather than using a honing rod. That said, using a ceramic rod is totally fine.

For actually culinary school work and anything in a normal restaurant, I also think there is a general consensus that a 1-3k edge is often the most versatile for the majority of people on the majority of days, even with a knife of this type. This is NOT the case on this forum in particular, but this forum is does not consist of most people! Even on the forum, however, there are a number of chefs who specifically keep a number of their "kit" knives in the 2-4k range (or even below, if for butchering), even while they keep other specific knives at higher levels of finish. For these knives and school, you can easily get a Cerax combo stone from CKTG that covers these ranges and/or covers a lower range for heavier sharpening plus something around 1.5k, which might be more idea for your ambitions. Eventually, you'll get more specialized stones down the road. Keep in mind that grits are not as "standard" as they seem: a 2k stone by one brand can actually be more refined than a 3k stone by another. In general, though, you can trust the numbers to give a sense of general refinement. And, in general, you'll fine that the majority of metal removal takes place below 2k, and above that is mostly refining the edge that is already there, which is why you can get away with stopping at 1-3k without any issues at all in terms of daily performance. (Most of my knives, even as a home cook with fairly expensive knives, serve me best on most ingredients between 2k and 4k; I prefer 2k or so for stainless, and 4-5k or so for carbon these days, although I also strop most knives using something a little more refined, too.). FYI, Mark also sells a stropping kit that I think is terrific for the price: everything you need for a quick $60 or so and it will last a long time.

I think you'll have fun with all of this. It sounds like a great gift. You have enough patterns/types to really get to know your own technique and what you like about each knife in terms of balance, grind, etc. After heavy use, you can still love these knives, but you may also be ready to try something different, too, which would be fun. While these knives seem fine, it is easy to imagine that there is room for improvement, too.
~Joe

Comments: I'm short, a home cook, prefer lighter, thinner blades, and own mostly Konosukes but have used over a dozen brands.

Bensbites
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Re: What Kind of Knives do I Really Have?

Post by Bensbites » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:44 pm

I have friends in the bbq world who have sets and love them. I know one guy who gets them for free as part of his sponsorship. I can’t get a choil shot to see how thin behind the edge they are. I like lighterweight handles myself.

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lsboogy
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Re: What Kind of Knives do I Really Have?

Post by lsboogy » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:22 pm

I think you will be quite well off with your Dalstrongs for a good while. I know a chef (pretty good one) who has a couple of them and he really likes them. That said, knives are a personal thing - I tend to go for very refined edges (most of my knives are finished at 8K and then stropped) and very thin knives with very hard steels.
But I also like using a set of shuns when I cook at times - the steel is not as good so they don't take the same kind of edge or keep it, and the geometry of them is not what I like either in grind or profile, but there are times I need NSF knives, and these are great for occasional strict kitchen rule sessions - I'll never complain about my shuns (softer steel than your Dalstrongs) - they may be overpriced, but they allow me to work in places none of my other knives are allowed. Stepping into your knives will start opening a new world for you - you may end up as nuts about knives as most of the members are, but at the very least you are discovering that some knives cut certain things far better than others.
If you get comfortable with your new knives and learn to use them properly, you will begin down the path that most of us are on - discovering the limits of knife performance that you can't buy at a corner store. I'll be learning till I die I hope - food is a human need, and good skills let you take that need and present it as an art form. Why we all like to go to a high end restaurant at times.

jmcnelly85
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Re: What Kind of Knives do I Really Have?

Post by jmcnelly85 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:51 pm

Fwiw, I’ll take a shun over a dalstrong.

Cahudson42
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Re: What Kind of Knives do I Really Have?

Post by Cahudson42 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:32 pm

Never heard of Dalstrong. So took a look on Amazon.

Glad I never did hear of them. Seems Mark has so much better stuff here at CKTG for less $$.

Reminded me of all the Kuma hype.. 3cr13 - 'best steel going'

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lsboogy
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Re: What Kind of Knives do I Really Have?

Post by lsboogy » Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:37 pm

33 years ago I got my first Kikuichi in Japan, and very few (even chefs in LA and NY) knew about these kind of knives. I got my first Masamoto a couple years later and was still not convinced - used my old Sabs most of the time, and I used them in a mostly French manner. I was introduced to Korin by a chef bud in NY in the late 90's and started learning more things. Very few chefs or line cooks used J knives until 10 years ago - mostly victorinox or wusthof type stuff from the people I knew and saw cooking. I only heard about this site from a friend who moved back into town and showed me a Richmond (Kurosaki) Laser AS knife that was as good a cutter as any sub $500 knife I had ever used (still looking for a 240AS one). Point is that most regular folk never cross this site - they think WS or SLT are the shiz for cooking tools, and buy what they think are the best things out there. And shuns are the priciest knives at both of those places (on display things), so the general public (99.995% of the population) will probably never even hold a Kikuichi or Nenohi knife, let alone a Kramer.
A Dalstrong or Shun will be something that very few will ever own, and given that the production of some of our knives is in the dozens per year only a few on the planet will ever hold them, let alone cut with them. We live on the high side of knives - bleeding high - don't pooh pooh what others own or aspire to. When Darien Connecticut learns that Konosuke is cool, we will never be able to get another one. Kind of like trying to buy an Enzo - price tag .... Nope at least 4x and rising. I'll never be able to afford one, or a 917 long tail - too many people know what they are. Be glad we can get the knives we can, and remember that a shun is a really really nice knife for most - they may not know, but I doubt most of the people here have ever owned and driven a Formula Atlantic car (I have) - we live with the best knives in the planet, be happy with them, and if people are happy with a shun or victorinox - let them be happy. When the rich masses learn about these knives, we won't be able to afford them any more - live well, cut well, cook well - food is art and great food is great art

Chefcallari
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Re: What Kind of Knives do I Really Have?

Post by Chefcallari » Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:47 am

My 2 cents

Im a pro chef and have been cooking professionally for almost 15 years. Ive used a dalstrong and there perfectly fine for what your gonna do.

Now.... You are a somm and a manager whonis looking to be a better somm and a manager... To "talk the talk" better with your chefs right?

First off i am absolutely stunned that you are willing to do this for tge better of your career and whatever restaurant you run. My hats off to you... It would be an even better industry if every one tried to seen it from the other side.

But i would really really recommend against NOT going to culinary school for this. It's very expensive and time consuming..... And you wont learn the "walk and talk" that your looking for.

If your looking to learn terminology and have a understanding of techniques.. Go buy "The professional chef ninth edition" its produced by the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) and is what is issued to all students.

It will give you a step by step process on how to be a culinary professional, all the terms and techniques, knife cuts and cooking times! This is the talk...

Go to your current chef and ask him if you can shadow him... Start to finish for a full day.. Off the clock
Then ask him to work... Off the clock....
He will say yes.
Then you can start from learning everything from the dishwasher(and how he is the most important position) to his position ( ordering, managing staff, inventory ect)
This is the walk...

I say this because learning about your chef means learning the kitchen... All positions... Because he is all those positions... And he needs every one of them to do his job.

This will not only help you understand the ACTUAL walk and talk of your chef and his kitchen, but it will earn you respect in his eyes and the eyes of his staff (which is even more important) and he will want to work with you better..... Aka the whole restaurant wins.

The book costs about $100
Culinary school costs about $30k

.... You can pay pal me the $29,900 when your done lol

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jbart65
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Re: What Kind of Knives do I Really Have?

Post by jbart65 » Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:53 pm

lsboogy wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:37 pm
A Dalstrong or Shun will be something that very few will ever own, and given that the production of some of our knives is in the dozens per year only a few on the planet will ever hold them, let alone cut with them. We live on the high side of knives - bleeding high - don't pooh pooh what others own or aspire to. When Darien Connecticut learns that Konosuke is cool, we will never be able to get another one. Kind of like trying to buy an Enzo - price tag .... Nope at least 4x and rising. I'll never be able to afford one, or a 917 long tail - too many people know what they are. Be glad we can get the knives we can, and remember that a shun is a really really nice knife for most - they may not know, but I doubt most of the people here have ever owned and driven a Formula Atlantic car (I have) - we live with the best knives in the planet, be happy with them, and if people are happy with a shun or victorinox - let them be happy. When the rich masses learn about these knives, we won't be able to afford them any more - live well, cut well, cook well - food is art and great food is great art
Good points, but I do think it's proper to inform anyone who comes to this site that they can do better.

I don't do that with family and such. I sharpen what they have and leave them be. If they use my knives and show curiosity, well, then I give them the full Monty ...
Jeffry B

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