We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I guess the high-carbon, high-maintenance ones are the best, but whatever. I like the ones with a curved blade so you can rock it when chopping garlic, parsley, etc. Maybe you only need two knives: a bread knife and a chef's knife.
You can sometimes find used high-carbon chef's knives on eBay.
I'd add a butcher's boning knife, good for breaking down big chunks of meat like a Boston butt, and doing the detail work carving up a duck, goose, or turkey. Makes a great paring knife in a pinch, too.
Maybe you only need two knives: a bread knife and a chef's knife Those are the only ones I use regularly, but I also use a Sabatier Curved Paring Knife for peeling potatoes. It seemed like a good idea when I bought it, but it's too damn hard to sharpen. I also own a meat cleaver and Disston bone saw for the big jobs (grin).
My go-to knives are a serrated bread knife from Portugal, and a six-inch Henkel utility knife in place of the eight-inch chef knife most people gravitate to. I find the utility knife meets most of my needs as well as a chef's knife, and is much more deft in operation.
My secret weapon, though, is a Victorinox rope knife. I suppose they are available online, but I get mine at Marine Specialties, the Army/Navy store in Provincetown. They are like a paring knife but with a super sharp serrated blade, simple and rugged. I use them more than all other knives, they last forever and can slice a ripe tomato or tear through thick packaging materials.
Those Gunter Wilhelm chef knives look pretty useful.
We got our current kitchen knife set from Costco - a butcher block full of knives - for about $150 IIRC. Probably from China, although I don't recall that either. That replaced another set of knives we got from Costco earlier for about $30 dollars the set, most assuredly from China. All in bright colors with plastic handles. The colored ones rotated out of our kitchen to the kitchen at the church, whose pathetic collection of 50-year-old giveaways couldn't cut hot butter. It goes without saying that I am not a serious chef, or even and un-serious chef, just a guy that cooks dinner a few times a week.
The niceties of carbon steel knives are lost on most home users, and many of the food snobs don't (know how to) do the (unglamorous) maintenance. They just went with the knife equivalent of Cuisinart - a status-safe choice.
I know because i was once a kitchen snob... Now the fancy whetstones are in the toolchest instead of the kitchen; the sharpening steel went missing. I buy midrange SS knives and sharpen them on a gadget that does the positioning for me.
We cook big fancy meals at least once a week for the Sabbath. I often use a Borner mandoline for much slicing and dicing - it strikes a sweet spot between speed and ease of cleanup.
If all you want is a good all-around knife, why not get a Japanese santoku-style knife?
My old Wüsthof knife without the scalloped Granton edge is still going well after thirty years, and if I'm lazy, I can still sharpen it on an AnySharp blade draw sharpener and finish it with a few draws in a travel sharpener with fine sharpening rods.
Even Ikea has a few of these that won't set you back more than twenty dollars or so, and they'll sharpen well enough the same way for the lazy.
Post Alley Crackpot