Most people waste their money on sets of kitchen knives… Why buy one decent item when you can get a whole set of crappy items for the same price?!? People do not shop for knives like they shop for other needed items. Think about it, what if you went to the car dealership and the salesman said, “I can sell you this low mileage Toyota Camry or for the same price I can sell you a three piece package deal that includes a 1987 Ford Tempo for everyday driving, a rusty 4×4 Bronco for off-roading, and a sputtering motorcycle for when you need mileage efficiency!” Would you really be tempted to buy the set?
As price conscious consumers we are always on the lookout for “value”, however sometimes that costs us. Think about it for a second. What is going to be a higher quality item… a $50 set of 15 knives, a $50 set of 9 knives, or a $50 knife? Assuming you are a savvy shopper, you will get what you pay for. The fewer knives you get for the price the better quality each knife will be.
Now take a moment to look at the knives in your 15 piece+ set. Let’s be honest, when was the last time you needed a butcher’s clever, or even understand the practical difference between a paring knife and a bird beak paring knife? Unless you took up slaughtering animals as a hobby or are an aspiring serial killer, I doubt you’ve used the clever in the past year. Nor do I suspect you’ve ever angrily declared to your family that dinner is canceled because you can’t find your favorite bird beak paring knife! I would be willing to stake my retirement on the fact that your knife set includes knives you do not regularly use and you’ve paid for knives you don’t need.
There is nothing more dangerous in the kitchen than a dull knife, nor is there anything more frustrating than trying to cut a tomato with a knife that wields the sharpness of a Buick’s bumper. The only thing a dull knife consistently cuts well is your fingers. By purchasing knife sets you are wasting your money on items you won’t use and getting lower quality products for the knives you will actually use.
You would be better served by spending the same amount of money on one good knife. A quality knife will cut easier, be safer to use, hold its edge better, be easier to sharpen, feel better in your hand… not to mention you will take pride in owning a quality item.
If you are going to own one knife it needs to be a chef’s knife. This is the most versatile weapon in your kitchen and you can use it for every meal. A quality chef’s knife will outperform a cheap clever at butchering, a cheap carver at slicing, and a cheap paring knife at cutting strawberries. Why own several underperforming products when you can own one exceptional item that can be multifunctional?
I currently own the Wusthof Classic Ikon 8″ chef’s knife. If my apartment burned down tomorrow, I lost everything and went on government assistance; I would probably collect aluminum cans until I could afford to replace that one knife. It is easily my most valued piece of kitchen equipment. Purchasing that one knife instantly replaced my entire knife collection.
I can understand if you aren’t a cooking aficionado and don’t want to spend that much money on one knife. I recently purchased a J.A. Henckels santoku knife (Asian chef’s knife) for $35 that is still better than the average knife included in a big box store set. In the end you need to determine what you are comfortable paying and find the best knife in that price range. Once you have your main knife you can always add other quality accessory knives over the years.