Kitchen Knife Review: MAC 10-inch Chef Series

Blade: 250mm long; double-bevel edge; stainless molybdenum steel
Handle: western-style (no bolster); Pakka-wood
Weight: 229g
Price: $70 discounted ($120 standard)

Knovember continues with a look at another recent knife acquisition, a MAC gyuto. I’ve seen this knife described as “a slab of metal with two pieces of wood stuck to one end,” a description that is certainly accurate in more ways than it is glamorous. This is a no-frills piece of cutlery whose design philosophy is clearly oriented toward getting the job done in a straightforward and efficient manner rather than trying to look fancy and impress visitors to your kitchen (though the size may do the latter for people who aren’t used to anything longer than 8 inches). That said, I do find that it does its job well, which—let’s face it—is an extremely important part or making any tool worth having.

The knife (which was purchased online) arrived “packaged” in an unimpressively flimsy cardboard box which had not been properly closed before having been placed into a larger cardboard box. The very tip of the knife was slightly bent, which I am inclined to attribute to damage suffered during shipping on account of the crap packaging rather than a manufacturing flaw. Other than that, the fit and finish is fine; some tiny gaps between handle and blade at the front end do not seem to be much cause for concern and although neither spine nor choil are eased, I don’t necessarily expect amenities like those at this price point either.

The blade measures in at about 250mm, or 10 inches. In spite of the length, it’s a thinner beast than many of its counterparts, with the spine measuring about 2.5mm thick above the heel (compare to an 8-inch Zwilling 4-Star’s approximately 3mm thickness above the heel). The lack of a bolster combines with the thinness to make for a relatively lightweight knife for the size (a mere 26 grams more than the 8-inch 4-Star), which is quite nice. On the other hand, due to the fact that neither the spine nor the choil are eased, using a pinch grip is markedly less comfortable. The balance point is right at the end of the handle, which puts it just in front of where you would hold the knife with a hammer/sword grip and just behind where you would hold it with a pinch grip. This might make for a decent hybrid or transition type of knife if you want to think of it that way; it isn’t the most pleasing setup I’ve ever handled but it certainly isn’t bad either.

In general the performance is good and the knife handles like a lighter, nimbler version of a classic French chef’s knife of the same size. This is quite nice for people used to that sort of blade (the Gastrognome—whose current favorite knife is an 8-inch French chef’s—reports that switching sizes to the longer MAC seems more comfortable than switching profiles to an 8-inch German chef’s knife) and the knife rocks, chops and push-cuts well. It handles onions, herbs and most vegetables with ease, with the larger size naturally lending itself to dealing with larger quantities of food more easily than a shorter knife would. That said, the out-of-the-box edge isn’t the sharpest thing out there in spite of what the marketing blurb printed on the piece of paper that comes in the box would have you believe (ripe tomatoes proved especially troublesome) and the flat blade does suffer from stickage issues (particularly with starchy foods like potatoes).

Now comes the part where I leave the realm of science and objective detail behind to discuss my fluttery feelings. And my feelings are as follows: I like the knife. I think it is a good knife. Is it an absolutely stellar knife? No. But I did not pay for an absolutely stellar knife and indeed, the price I got it for made it a pretty good deal, which makes me happy. At the same time, I feel somewhat vexed by not having more things to compare this knife to—say, for example, a Shun Classic or Miyabi Fusion in the 10-inch size. I have handled/own 8-inch versions of those knives and they do offer nicer fit and finish but I think the MAC’s blade might still compete favorably with them in a side-by-side comparison, making for a choice of whether a nicer handle and a particular aesthetic are worth 30 or so dollars more. (This doesn’t, of course, factor in preference for things like Shun’s more German-style profile versus MAC’s French-style profile.) Lastly—and combining both the issues of vexation and proper comparison—is that the poor MAC chef’s knife arrived at close to the same time as two other knives that are now in my collection. And though these knives may be of similar lengths, I feel that comparing them to the MAC becomes problematic in the same way that comparing a Honda to a Porsche or a Bentley is problematic. So for now I would say that my feelings are that I like the MAC and would recommend it to someone, particularly if they can get it for a discount or on sale. More pictures and further updates post sharpening and modification will be incoming!


More kitchen knife reviews:
Miyabi Artisan 8″ gyuto/chef’s
Miyabi Fusion petty/utility
Miyabi Fusion 8″ gyuto/chef’s

2 comments to Kitchen Knife Review: MAC 10-inch Chef Series

  • Still, for 70-120 clams, I claim it to be in the realm of better than good. Then again, being the utensil snob I am, anything less than stellar just won’t do…

  • Amon-Rukh

    It’s true–less than stellar can give you the blues. I do like this knife. And after visiting SLT yesterday (to purchase a lucky toad chopstick rest) and seeing their latest ass-reaming price hikes on cutlery (a quick search shows WS has done the same as well) I have to say that the MAC’s comparative value has gone up considerably. Paying $20-30 more for the better fit and finish of a Shun or Miyabi was a question worth considering but with those two now nearing $200, paying $60-80 more than the MAC seems awfully questionable.

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