Recently started looking a chef"s knives and discovered they are like straight razors.....many different ones.....post up yours and help me see the diversaty out there.
Seems like this is another rabbit hole like straights razors....lol.
Valid analogy. Like straight razors kitchen tools are all about personal preference. The reality is, there is no "best" for everyone.
For example, my preference for a chef knife is classic german or "western" design. These typically have a relatively generous blade curve (belly) that lends itself well to rock style chopping, softer steel (typically in the range of 57-59HRC), thicker blades, and double bevel (50/50) edge. They won't hold their edge as long as a harder blade but they are very durable, simple to sharpen and take a nice edge with a few swipes of a sharpening steel. Traditionally, western knives had full bolsters, but modern versions have dropped the full bolster which makes the knives a bit more nimble and even easier to sharpen the full length of the blade.
A traditional Japanese knife (Gyotu) is light, thin and nimble with a hollow ground or single bevel edge and steel that is relatively hard (60+ HRC). Great for up and down chopping and a properly sharpened edge will last a long time but the harder steel tends to be more "chippy" and more care must be taken with them. Also, their hollow ground (70/30 grind typically) blades means that they come in right or left handed versions and require more skill and practice to sharpen properly.
Other things to consider are handle shape and blade length. I've always thought that blade length should be dictated by the size of your workspace, usually that means the size of your cutting board. In a commercial kitchen one may have many square feet of work space so a 10" chef knife makes a lot of sense there. But in most home kitchens an 8" length is usually a good choice for everyday prep.
And, of course, there's price point. You can spend as little as $30 for a very decent knife all the way up to "sky's the limit" for custom or hand made knives.
These days, the line between Western and Japanese knifes is getting more blurred. There are traditional western style knife manufacturers like Wusthof offering knives that have lost the full bolster, are hardening the steel closer to 60 HRC and blade angles that are more acute. This Mercer Genesis is an example of a more modern designed western style knife https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DT1XFSQ/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_39?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER. And some Japanese knife makers offer knives with traditional handles and 50/50 beveled blades, called "western style". Here is an example Misono UX10 Hollow Ground Gyutou
And then there's carbon vs. stainless steel...
As you indicated, picking a chef knife is very much like picking shaving gear. It can be a journey.