Review: Brandless 8" Chef's Knife

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Senior Cook
Oct 2, 2022
Brandless 8” Chef’s Knife

‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a chef in possession of a good knife must be in want of a beater,’ said Jane Austen (didn’t she?). While scholars parse and prattle about the attribution, cooks debate the meaning of ‘beater.’ I’ve seen definitions ranging from ‘workhorse’ and ‘the knife you reach for first’ to ‘the one reserved for nasty jobs, like chopping chocolate or frozen vegetables,’ or ‘cheap and sturdy--if you break it, just buy another.’

I hold with the latter definition: a beater is like a hockey team’s enforcer, a menacing presence that protects its more valuable teammates by reminding opponents of the long arm (and short temper) of the law. Thus when an armor-plated butternut squash appears on my cutting board with its armor-plated hide and smug ‘bring it!’ attitude, I bring my beater: a santoku by Miu, a French commercial supplier, of rare 8” length. Its hand-saving companion is a 1-lb rubber mallet. To this day they are undefeated. (You can get a similar mallet for $2.49 at Harbor Freight.)

Lately I’ve seen reviewers awarding ‘style points’ to knives, and I call that baloney. Style is not only irrelevant here but counterproductive, resulting in the failure of this Brandless chef’s knife as a chef’s knife. Streamlined to the nth degree, it has a too-shallow blade (giving minimal knuckle clearance for my medium-size hand, and no help for scooping) with a santoku tip and a handle that is cylindrical, has no neb, and is excessively long. Gorgeous, yes—but clumsy, despite its light weight, a mere 6.3 oz. The blade is stamped and 2mm thick, with only its last 3/8” ground for the cutting edge, resulting in very poor balance (possibly a reason for the too-long handle) but herculean strength. Pound away, friends! This beater can take a beating. Rockwell hardness (per my Tusoban hardness files): 60-62. Made in China. ©2023 Bill Marsano. Image:
I don't know, I wouldn't consider that a chef's knife really, it looks similar, in a bad way, but it's obviously someone's idea for a really cheap entry level knife from China to compete for that market share. For the uninformed where price is key, it'll sell regardless, but it's definitely not a knife most if not all legitimate chef's would ever consider. Your giving this "chefs knife" too much credit imo.
I called it a chef's knife because that's how it's presented--and then showed, I think, how it fails to live up to its billing , and is merely a beater, something to hammer through a squash.
Yeah, for me it comes down to using the right tools for the job in the kitchen because I've seen some pretty dangerous things that didn't end well over the years. Hitting a chefs knife with a rubber mallet is probably something most chefs would probably freak out over if they saw someone doing that, I know I would. Maybe insert a thin blade along your cut line repeatedly, it's then easily opened.
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