Our Guide To The Best Knife Set For Culinary Students
As a culinary student, you know that prep-work is just a part of the job. Dicing onions, mincing garlic and julienning carrots may be tedious, but this first crucial step has a direct effect on the outcome of your dish. Uniform cuts allows for even cooking, and makes the dish easier to consume. But if you’re using a mediocre knife set, prep-work can be time-consuming and torturous.
Our Recommended Set…
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Having the Right Knife Set Is Crucial For a Culinary Student
No matter whether you’re baking pastries or cooking a fine Italian dish, one thing is for sure: knife work is a critical part of every recipe you work on as a culinary student. A chef’s knife is an extension of his hand, and mastering your knife skill is absolutely critical if you want to succeed in this industry.
But not matter how great your skills, you’ll have a tough time dicing, mincing and chopping at an efficient pace if you’re using the wrong set of knives.
Benefits of having the right student knife set:
- Ease of use. Make dicing, chopping, mincing and slicing a breeze.
- Progress faster. Last more than just a few months.
- More accurate. Allow you to make accurate, precise cuts.
- Always have all the needed equipment. Ensure that you have the right tools for the task, be it filleting, dicing, boning or slicing bread.
Key Things to Consider When Buying a Set of Knives For Students
During your time at culinary school, your knife set will get a lot of use. For this reason, it’s better to spend a little more to invest in a high quality set that will last you well past graduation (with proper care, of course). A couple of things you want to consider when looking at knives are:
- Steel quality. Japanese or German steel is preferred, but Japanese is often preferred because they tend to be more agile, hold onto their edge longer and allow for unmatched precision when cutting.
- Comfort. The handle should feel good in your hands. The knives you use should be properly balanced. Remember, you’ll be spending quite a bit of time using your knives, so if they’re uncomfortable to hold, you may end your day with hand or wrist pain.
- Balance. We touched on balance briefly, but it’s important to note that the balance point of the knife should be where the blade meets the handle. The weight should be evenly distributed, so you can easily slice and chop. That rocking motion should be effortless. The only exception to this balance rule is with a short blade. In this case, you want a heavier handle that will give you more control.
- Blade length. For most tasks, an 8” blade is ideal. Longer blades can be useful for specific ingredients.
Having the right set of knives is absolutely crucial when you’re in culinary school. Knives are to chefs as paint brushes are to artists, so invest in a high quality set – you won’t regret it.
The question is: which knife set should you choose. Buying knives is a personal decision, but if we could recommend just one student set, it would have to be the Shun 8-Piece Classic knife set.
Our Favorite Reviewed: Shun DMS0899 8-Piece Classic Student Knife Set
For those of you who don’t know, Shun is a world-renowned cutlery manufacturer based in Japan. I use the term manufacturer lightly, as the company actually handcrafts all of its knives.
Included with this set is 7 knives, a 9” honing steel, and a storage case for easy transport.
The knife collection includes:
- 3 inch paring knife
- 6 inch utility knife
- 9 inch bread knife
- 8 inch chef’s knife
- 9 inch slicing knife, hollow ground
- 6 inch fillet/boning knife
The included honing steel will help you keep your knives sharp, and just about every knife you could possibly need is provided in this collection.
The great thing about this set is that it includes knives from Shun’s Classic line, which is of excellent quality. Some manufacturers will create student sets that include sub-par knives that don’t really live up to the brand’s reputation. Shun is an exception to this rule. They consider these knives to be heirloom quality, which means they can be passed down to future generations (if you care for them properly).
Speaking of care, it should go without saying that these knives should never be placed in the dishwasher. All of the knives in this collection should be hand washed and dried immediately after use.
Razor Sharp Blades, Comfortable Handles
The Classic collection features razor sharp blades made of high carbon stainless steel, which means these knives will hold their sharp edges for a very long time.
Each blade is clad with 16 layers of stainless steel, which is what creates that unique Damascus look.
Made with VG10 steel, the razor-sharp 16 degree cutting angle allows for absolute precision when cutting.
Every knife in this collection has excellent balance. Whether you’re deboning chicken, slicing peppers, chopping onions or paring an apple, you’ll enjoy unparalleled control and precision.
The handles themselves are a work of art, and made of D-shaped Pakkawood. They’re comfortable to hold thanks to the offset steel bolster. This bolster actually helps minimize fatigue, which is especially important for culinary students who will be spending a lot of time using their knives. The bolster is slightly offset to the right side, which encourages proper finger placement and allows for better balance.
The Useful Carrying Case
To complete this collection, Shun includes a convenient carrying case that makes it easy to transport your knives to and from class. The nice thing about this case is that the knives are stored in a zippered compartment, which means that they stay protected. There isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room either, so you don’t need to worry about the knives bumping into each other and dulling or damaging the blades.
On the top layer of the knife compartment, there’s a zippered mesh compartment and a few other storage slots, so you can bring your school essentials with you in one simple case.
For culinary students, the Shun Classic set is one of the highest quality knife collections you can buy, and one that we recommend to all new students.
What’s good about this set:
- Top quality blades forged with Japanese steel
- Precision cutting
- Offset steel bolsters reduce fatigue and improve balance
- Pekkawood handles are comfortable and aesthetically pleasing
- Blades are forged with VG10 super steel for maximum durability
- Includes all the basic knives culinary students need
- Heirloom quality that will last for generations
And what’s bad:
- No specialty knives included
Shun’s 8-piece knife set is a great foundation for students. It includes all of the basic knives you’ll need, but it does not include any specialty knives – you’ll have to purchase these separately. It’s rare for a student set to include specialty knives, but it should still be noted.
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Make Your Choice Wisely
One of the best things culinary students can invest in is a good set of knives. The right knife set will provide you with years of use, and make prep-work a breeze. Knife work is one of the most important skills you’ll learn at culinary school, so having a good quality knife collection is essential. Shun’s 8-piece set of Classic knives is the ideal choice for aspiring chefs, and will provide you with all of the basic knives you’ll need to tackle most prep jobs.