on May 11, 2005
This is an excellent knife: Hefty without being heavy, with perfect balance and a perfect handle, and perfect blade shape. It has good steel, good finishing, and a good edge. It’s only disadvantage is that it has a full bolster. There are knives with better steel, finishing, edges, and looks, but the GP2 shines where it really matters: weight, balance, and handle comfort.
I have used many of the knives on the market (Forschner, F. Dick, and Messermeister industrial knives, MACs, Messermeister San Moritz, Henckel 4 and 5 star, Chefs Choice Trizor, Global classic and forged, Shun classic, TojiroDP, Wusthof Classic, GP, Cordon Bleu,and Culinar, even the ratty but cheap Farberware Pro Forged and Stainless). If I only owned 1 knife, it would be a toss-up between this and my 10" Forschner Fibrox. It doesn't get 5 stars because it lacks some of the features that are increasingly standard on a knife in this price range, but there is no knife on the market in this price range that I think garners 5 stars. The Messermeister has better steel, perfect finishing and modern features, but is too heavy and has bad balance. The Shun is pretty and has a perfect blade but mediocre balance and a tiny, straight, round handle. Globals are nice if you have small hands, but are overpriced and have been made obsolete by MAC, Shun, Tojiro, and a half dozen other Japanese manufacturers becoming available in the US. Forschners are cheap, flawlessly balanced, perform beautifully, and are an unbeatable value, but they're light, thin, look cheap, and aren't going to last like a high end knife. The MAC Superior series is amazing, but has a very limited selection of shapes and this isn't one of them. Their Ultimate Series Tungsten steel 10” chef is good, but twice the price of the Grand Prix2. You just have to decide what features matter to you and choose accordingly. Do not buy a knife unless you have held it in your hand, and preferably used it. Balance and comfort are highly subjective.
If you only own 1 knife, it should be a 10” chef. The 8” chef’s knife is the most common size, but the 10” is usually preferred by professionals and experienced home cooks. Most block sets include the cheapest knives that can still function for most jobs, which is why sets usually include 8” chef’s knifes, 8” bread knives, and 8” slicers, even though 10” knives usually do a better job. For chef’s knives, the extra two inches make tip-work a little less precise, but have many advantages. The longer blade means easier cutting since it gives more leverage and weight. More importantly, the two inches are essentially added between the end of the blade and the bolster. This means that the front 8” of the 10” perform all the functions of an 8” knife, plus the extra two inches create a much longer straight area near the handle, which gives a 10” knife the same slicing length as a santoku. This means the 10” chef does everything both these knives do, and usually does it better. The reason santokus are popular among housewives and not professional chefs is that housewives compare the santoku to the curved 8” blade. Professionals are usually trained with 10” knives, so they see the santoku as a crippled 10” knife which is of value only to people who don’t have the knife skills to use the more versatile and capable 10”. These days, you can acquire knife skills by going online, reading through a free tutorial, and practicing for a few hours, so a 10” is a good choice for anyone who likes to cook.
1) This knife has the flawless balance that Wusthof is famous for (the balance point is precisely on the working fingers when using a pinch grip). Of the Wusthofs, it has the most comfortable and dependable handle. It won’t slip when wet or greasy like stainless steel, and is more comfortable and durable than the two-part riveted handles.
2) This knife is hefty, without being heavy. It's not as light as an industrial or a Japanese knife (Global, Shun, etc), but not as heavy as a Chefs Choice or a Messermeister. Unlike a Japanese or industrial knife, is has the classic graduated spine that is thick near the handle and tapers continuously to a thin point, allowing different parts of the blade to perform different functions. If you want a heavy knife with a graduated, thicker spine with point heavy balance, buy the Messermeister San Moritz. If you want a light knife with a thin spine, buy the Forschner Fibrox, Shun, Global, or Wusthof Cordon Bleu, depending on your price range and sense of aesthetics.
3) At 1-7/8" wide, its blade is a little narrower than most 10" chef knives. This makes it lighter and gives it a sharper point, but can be a detriment when working on vegetables. If you want a wide-bladed knife, buy the Messermeister or the 10” Chefs Choice Trizor. The 10” Trizor is a great knife, but has been doomed to obscurity because all knife reviews feature the 8” chef, and the 8” Trizor chef has several deficiencies that the 10” mostly remedies. Because of the Grand Prix’s narrower blade, the natural partner to this knife is a 7" light Chinese cleaver, which excels at all the things the GP is weak at, but is weak at all the things the GP excels at.
4) This knife leaves the factory with a 20 degree edge, which is not as sharp as the 15 degree edges on the Wusthof Cordon Bleu, Messermeister, or Japanese knives. The edge out of the box is irrelevant though, since it won't last and is easily changed. This knife will take a 15 degree edge and hold it well; the steel is average for a good knife, so it won't hold up as long as a Tungsten or Vanadium steel knife, but that's a small concern unless you're a professional. For the average home user, this means spending 2 minutes every three months, instead of every six. If you don't know how to use a stone, buy a Spyderco Sharpmaker; it comes with instructions, its cheaper than an electric, takes up less space, and sharpens smooth or serrated knives, plus any other pointy metal thing you might own.
5) The only problem with this knife is the full bolster. Full bolsters are essentially obsolete, and quickly being replaced with short bolsters (Shun, Messermeister, Chefs Choice) or no bolster (Global) knives. There are three problems with the full bolster: it makes sharpening more difficult, prevents you from using the full length of the blade, and is uncomfortable on the index finger when using a pinch grip. This problem can only be remedied attractively with a well-equipped bench grinder, which most people don’t have and would rather not use on a $100 knife.
Wusthof doesn't make a perfect knife line. The Grand Prix2 is the pinnacle of the classic German style. The Cordon Bleu is a nice modern style knife. If the Grand Prix2 had the Cordon Bleu bolster and finishing, and a VG-10 blade, it would definitely be a 5 star knife. Until then, only 4 stars, but a solid recommendation.