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Henckels Four Star Knife Set: The Most Important Kitchen Equipment You'll Ever Purchase
Written: Apr 13, 2001 (Updated Feb 11, 2004)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:sharp, durable, fine quality, well weighted
Cons:set did not include all of the knives I wanted
The Bottom Line: Assuming that the weight and balance of these knives fit your hand, they are worth every penny.
Every book about cooking equipment I've read has said that the most important equipment you'll purchase for your kitchen is your knives. I wholeheartedly agree.
Before marriage, I owned a really crummy set of Farberware serrated edge "never needs sharpening" knives. I often cut myself (sometimes seriously) and noticed rust on my knives. They were difficult to clean and made cooking more of a trial than a fun experience.
I had never used a good knife in my life. Growing up, my parents had an odd assortment of knives that appeared to have been bought at various times in the supermarket. Everything was dull. I had no idea that you didn't need to "saw" through food in order to cut it.
Why these knives?
When it came time to register for our wedding, my husband and I had a long discussion about knives. I had decided that I wanted really good knives. I went to a local store and held the Henckels Four Star, Henckels Professional "S" and the Wusthof-Trident models. The Henckels Four Star felt most comfortable in my hand. Since I'm the primary cook in the family, it was whatever I liked the best. We registered for a 7 piece set.
As an engagement present, we received a 13 piece set of Henckels International Eversharp Pro knives. These were not the same as the high-carbon hefty wonderful knives we had chosen. These had shiny blades, partial tangs, serrations on every knife (hence the "eversharp" in the name) and were light weight. After much discussion where my husband thought we should keep the gift, those knives went back to the store.
By the way, if you ever need a quick shortcut way to tell the difference between the "good" Henckels and the "not so good" Henckels knives, look at the trademark on the blade. If you see one "twin" figure imprinted, it's "bad" Henckels. Two "twins" equals "good" Henckels.
We paid the difference to get the more expensive set and after trying the knives just once, my husband was hooked! So was I. Cooking didn't have to involve hard manual labor to cut through a piece of meat. There would be no more sawing through vegetables. I could even pare apples without risking losing a finger!
What knives did you get?
Our set included the following knives:
6" chef knife
6" utility knife
5" serrated utility knife
3" paring knife
hardwood storage block
We supplemented our set with the following pieces:
5.5" boning knife
10" bread knife
4" paring knife
8" chefs knife
8" Wusthof-Trident Classic santoku
What do you use them for?
I find that I use the chef's knife for all of the assorted chopping and dicing one does in the kitchen. The utility knife is my knife of choice for tasks such as cutting open melons where I want a blade with a a narrower blade than the chef's knife. That serrated knife does an amazing job on tomatoes and peppers. I know there's a major argument amongst cooks about whether you should use a plain or serrated edge knife for tomato slicing. I don't want to get into that. I'm merely reporting what I use, not the merits about which method is better! I prefer a longer paring knife which is why we have two of them but my husband likes the shorter one. The bread knife is marvelous on all types of bread ranging from soft to very crusty. We don't use the boning knife very often, but when we do, it was worth it! Those kitchen shears also get used daily.
Many people will say that you ought to purchase a carving knife. For our needs, we don't do a lot of carving in our house and when we do, a cheap electric knife is a lot faster for us and was more cost-efficient. What you ought to do, in my opinion, is to evaluate what type of cooking you do and base your knife choices around those determinations.
To take care of these knives, I do wash and dry them by hand after each use. I would never put them in the dishwasher! I regularly steel them and once a year, I take them into the knife store where I have them evaluated to see if they need sharpening or not.
As for pricing, the retail on the set we purchased was $199. We received two of our knives as gifts (the bread and the boning) and I purchased the longer paring knife for $35. Through a combination of gift certificates, credit, coupons and a sale, I only paid $47 for the extra chefs knife. Your price may be more or less depending on sales or whether you purchase each knife individually or in a set.
We're very happy with these knives and they ought to last a lifetime for us. While we probably would have been okay with the less expensive knives, we also would have had to replace them eventually. The Henckels Four Star knives were a better choice for us.
Finally, after trying our knives, my parents have thrown out all of their supermarket knives and have started their own collection of Henckels. They preferred the Five Star to the Four Star line but it's all about what fits in your hand.
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