Greetings fellow food lovers, foodies and culinary enthusiasts; product comparison for us, is comprised of a broad array of culinary items, categories and gadgetry to analyze and choose from. We being the three fundamental components of what comprise the culinary arts society; though it prudent to put within the line of fire, one of the most necessary items and staples found in our kitchens to date. What is a kitchen without good set of cutlery? Nothing more than a glorified cafeteria, to say the least. I have worked within the culinary industry for over a decade; and I have hade the opportunity, pleasure and displeasure to work with every piece here mention in this article.
I once had one of my most influential chefs passionately share with me, “that a craftsmen is only as good as his tools.” Now I did not have a clue what he was talking about at that immediate moment. However, he was addressing the fact that I was infamously known for using my Chinese chef’s knife for almost every cutting, chopping, dicing, julienne, peeling and fine dice task. On that note, I went on a buying and borrowing spree of the following top four culinary old school and new school selections. J.A. Henckles, F. (Friedrich) Dick’s, Wusthof’s, and last but not least, the world renowned Global’s. I will share with you the pro’s and con’s of the before mentioned manufacturers in relation to my actual usage and pricing of them all.
My First purchase was from the legendary cutlery line of ED. (WÜSTHOF’S) DREIZACKWERK of Solingen, Germany; since1814. I bought it from William Sonoma’s for a deal of a price, 85$US. It was one of their new hybrid fusion concept blades, the 7`in. Santuko Chef’s knife; from their “Grand Prix” line. This particular knife style and blade design came about during the early 2000’s. It was a shortened version of the 8`in. French Chef; except the traditional wide angled euro-style blade has been rounded down, to lay flush with the countertop surface. Hence, this design is incumbent to the asian feel and artisanship. This particular smaller asian design, allows the wielder there of to move more efficiently as it pertains to food prep and production. This knife is rather good for attention to detail cutting and prepping when time is of the essence, and efficiency is needed.
This part asian utility/chopping knife crossed with the girth of the euro-chef’s blade design; makes it an o.k. purchase. Sadly, to report; as this tool begins to loose its edge, the come back factor for how long it takes to re-edge this device takes far too long to be acceptable. In addition, once this knife has been re-edged, it does not hold for very long. Also, because this knife was from the Grand Prix line of Wusthof’s cutlery; it had a ergonomically rounded, black crescendo back handled designed, with the Wusthof’s insignia embedded into the base of the handle. I am sure that that is why this knife cost as much as it did. Apart from that, the price tag had nothing to do with quality of artisanship; but more to do with is visual appeal to the egocentric. Just because it is a “Wusthof,” does not mean that it is worth it, for those that have to work with cutlery for a living, work with something else. For the average and somewhat ardent homemaker, the Wusthof home kitchen block knife set is functionally utilitarian, but you could find just as capable cutlery sets for a considerable amount less, 100’s$ less. Wusthof’s carries nine different lines of cutlery, most of which are overrated and overpriced for those of us that have high expectations but are frugal with their finances in relation to the cutlery that we use and purchase. In a 1 to 5 star rating system, Wusthof’s receives 2 out of 5 stars. Considering their alleged worldwide reputation, my expectations were higher than their standards.
Next on the chopping block of culinary product scrutiny, is the award winning and world renowned “Global.” The first Global knives were designed in 1985 by Komin Yamada whose task was to develop a range of knives which was truly new and revolutionary, harnessing the best materials available and the most modern design concepts. Mr. Yamada did just that; his on the cusp premise of conventional culinary purpose, fused with modern day ergonomic artistry; has rendered a line of culinary functionality that has embraced the venue of artistic covetous appeal with acceptable levels of notoriety and praise. This award winning line of cutlery somewhat lives up to its reputation and appeal. However, with the price tag that accompanies these instruments of artistic functionality, Mr. Yamada is far from a starving artist. If you are the kind of person that just has to have items of visual and functional appeal, and money is not an object, the Global cutlery line is perfect for you.
Even though I work my way to the level and occupational title of Chef, I could never muster the financial heart of spontaneity to purchase one piece of Global ware. However, I have worked with my share of Exec. Chef’s, Sous chefs, Line Cooks, Caterer’s, and Personnel Chef’s; and more than a few dared to endevor and purchased Global piece sets and complete sets. (As a showcase) I have worked with Global’s enough to surmise that functional artistic cutlery looses its visual appeal a great deal with repetitive usage. I know that that is an obvious statement; but that is what I am saying. If you are going to pay the enormous markup price, just because your knife looks like an article that you would want to hang up, frame, or display; do exactly that. For obvious reasons, functional cutlery was never entended to be eye candy. It was intended to be used, dropped, dinged, and sharpened until it is grinded down into a filet and or paring knife. In addition, in the season in which I used the coveted Global’s, I was personally not impressed at all. I did not appreciate the lack of essence & girth in the blades compsotion. It was too light to the touch and in its usage. Futhermore, the Global factory blades edge is acceptable from the date of purchase. However, with occupational use, it’s re-edge factor, and sharpness retention is not quite up to par. In addition, the Global’s prettyness fades right into an eyesore. So why even bother with buying them? When you can better appreciate them from a pictorial perspective, while saving a significant amount of cash out put in the interim.
Saving the best dynamic duo for last, ZWILLING J.A. (HENCKELS), Founded in 1731 in Solingen, Germany & (F)RIEDRICH (DICK) has been a manufacturer of high quality products since 1778. Judging between the two of these cutlery manufacturers it is a neck and neck finish. There really is not much that I can say along the lines of scrutinizing the product performance of the two formerly mentioned manufacturers. Both Henckels, and Dick’s line of professional and housewares cutlery is absolutely worth whatever the asking price is, wherever you may purchase their products. Their professional and homemaker lines are exceptionally well crafted, balanced, and durable. Their knives can take a bit of a beating; as well, they also hold an exceptional edge when properly honed and maintained. If you are in search of at least two cutlery brand names that can truly stand the test of time, and are worth the investment; need I say anything more?
Now in closing, I would like to add for the consumer audience, a few cutlery points of fact, and an above honorable mention. When shopping for cutlery, the knive(s) of your choosing should be comprised of at least a fifty fifty blend of stainless and carbon steel. (This is something that an educated sales representative will be aware of.) The greater the ratio of carbon steal within the knife, the softer the blade will be; however, this effect will make the blades edge the more malleable. This in turn will create a superior sharp edge, capable of creating some superb culinary feats.
That being said, establishes segway for “the above honorable mention.”
(SABATIER) DIAMANT produces one of the finest high quality carbon steel chef’s knife lines to date. Money should not be an object when it comes to considering the purchase of one of these magnificent instruments of culinary design. With an edge that is as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, the Sabateir 12`in. Chef’s knife is definitely not for one who is a student in the culinary trade, or a novice homemaker. I have used this knife, and I was amazed at the craftsmenship, and the fineness of the blades edge. Moreover, it has a well-balanced girth and performs as well as its user’s expertice. Although, if you are looking for a pretty kinfe, reconsider your standards. The reason is that this knife is composed of carbon steel, when it becomes exposed to air, after it is removed from its packaging and the protective coating is washed off; it begins to darken rather quickly. It will look rather superior right out of the box; but within a few days, it will look like you found it outside in the dirt. However, who needs pretty, when you can render a paper-thin slice, from an ample medallion of sushi grade bluefin tuna?
In closing, I would like to mention, there is a considerable number of producer of acceptable quality cutlery out there in the world. Most well known department stores carry affordable, functional, yet stylish home block sets, as well, single purchase cutlery items for the young culinary professional or enthusiast. However, for this product comparison, three well-established manufacturers, and one new commer to the cutlery industry, were chosen so that their reputation and credibility could be put under the consumer microscope; but from a professional perspective.