Who Is KitchenKnifeGuru?
KitchenKnifeGuru is Nate Ouderkirk who is less a guru than a fellow appreciator of fine things and how they are made and how to keep them in tip-top shape. He has worn many hats over the years—graphic designer, waiter, rock-and-roll singer/songwriter, fiction writer, English prof, and (let’s not forget) stay-at-home Dad.
Why is he qualified to wear his KitchenKnifeGuru hat? Because:
1) He loves to cook and has spent decades slicing shallots and chopping cilantro in his own kitchen.
2) Many moons ago he worked as a waiter in a number of high-end restaurants in NYC and had the chance to observe how fine food is produced.
4) He has spent months and months researching kitchen knives and how to keep them sharp—scouring the web, reading books (including a college textbook on the manufacturing of steel).
5) He has interviewed numerous cutlers (professional knife sharpeners) and visited their shops as well.
6) He has taken a two-day class in bladesmithing and forged his own paring knife (well, with a LOT of support).
7) He likes helping people.
Do you have a question, suggestion, or wry insight on the nature of the universe? Feel free to leave a post or message on his Facebook page: Facebook.com/KitchenKnifeGuru.
Had trouble trying to find a contact page, just wanted to let you know I gave you a shout-out on our “Top Knife Sites” list. If you want to check out your blurb, here’s the link: [www (dot) knifesupremacy (dot) com/top-knife-sites/].
Anyway, it’s just our way of saying we appreciate your work. Thanks! :)
Thanks, Kevin. Appreciate your stamp of approval!
Greeting KKG Nate:
Im a newbie to kitchen cooking 201. What’s your opinion on Gunter Wilhelm 10″ knife ? It’s absent from your top 6 list.
Hi Nick, very good question!
I investigated Gunter Wilhelm myself a few years back and in revisiting their website noticed they’ve ramped up quite a bit and have further enriched their story. While the handle and ergonomics appear well thought out and GW might make very comfortable-feeling knives, my reservations still regard the quality of their blades and their ability to take, and hold, a fine edge. This is the core of a high-quality knife — not just how it looks or feels.
Gunter Wilhelm (just a cool German name a Jersey guy decided to name his knife company after) has always been excellent at marketing and hype—but I’m not convinced they’ve put that same excellence to work in the actual manufacturing of their knives. Over the years, their manufacturing story keeps changing and I must admit I don’t totally trust them. (For example, I had a heck of time on their website trying to find out what angle they sharpen their blades at. Never found it.) And there’s something weird in the positive spin their marketing copy tries put on the fact their knives are “finished” in China? When did China become one of the knife making capitals of the world?
I have not personally used a GW knife and I have read some positive reports. So, who knows, they may be quite respectable. Nonetheless, when it comes to sharpitude and edge retention, I think there are more dependable choices out there with better track records. I would recommend starting with something from my best chef knives list.
Hope this helps,
I really enjoyed your website — a lot to learn here!
I was thinking you might enjoy a short documentary about the making of a blade with the ancestral Damascus technique. And not for any common knife, but for the Laguiole — a French knife used by shepherds and farmers since what seems like the end of time!
If you like it, feel free to share it in your networks. Thanks again for you website!
Cool film! This website centers on kitchen knives (not hunting knives, which are another whole world), so I’m not really the one to help you promote. Best of luck though!
I like your site. I appreciate the work you’re doing to educate people on making better knife choices. A couple things I wanted to give you a heads up about:
– On Best Chef Knives—Six Recommendations, when you link to Wusthof, the link is broken because of a typo.
– Your mail icon in the header doesn’t include an e-mail address (this was where I was originally going to tell you about the comment above).
I’ve been a chef for years, but just started a shop to sell my favorite kitchen knives and tools. I’d love to hear what you think about our gear!
Glad to hear you’re enjoying KKG! Thanks for the tip about the link on Best Chef Knives. Fixed! As far as the mail icon link is concerned, I probably shouldn’t even have it. But it’s meant as a convenient tool so that visitors can quickly mail a friend about KKG, not send me an email. For that, I prefer Facebook, as I mention on this very page.
Congrats on your new site! I especially like your post where you passionately dis all the knives on KKG. Ha, ha! All ribbing aside, I enjoyed skimming through your list of kitchen equipment must haves. It’s helpful to have recommendations from a pro that has tested stuff out and I’ll be curious to look into some of those kitchen machines.
Love your blog and your eBook was great too.
I would love the opportunity to co-sponsor a book with you to launch something I am working on. The eBook will be free and make reference to your website as I think it is perfect!.
I also would love to know if you would consider testing a product which you may feature here. You get to keep the product!
Hey Nate! I was hoping you might be able to give me some feedback on a feature I’ve developed in conjunction with several bladesmiths.
The create-your-own-blade system was invented to allow each home cook or expert chef the flexibility of designing their own knife based on their own personal expectations and needs.
I’d love to hear what you think, thanks!
Thanks for your interest in KKG!
Create-your-own seems to be a useful idea—it’s actually what Bob Kramer does when he forges a custom knife. (Although with Kramer, he pretty much leads the way in the design, as well he should.) Anyway, here’s some quick feedback:
– The Aura blades seem too dressy and pricey. Definitely not my thang.
– The Serenity blades look compelling (I especially like the antler). And I like the descriptions about the steel which is helpful to the consumer. But what I don’t like is the lack of bolster (it doesn’t have to be full, but could be half like Shun). It makes the knives look a bit unfinished and cheap.
All-in-all, my biggest question as a consumer would be — how do these knives feel and perform? Will the blades come super-sharp and will they hold a super-sharp edge for a long time. What’s the HRC? When you’re paying that much for a knife, it’s lovely if it’s beautiful, but it needs to be wicked sharp and stay there. If I were to buy one, I would want some kind of guarantee.
That’s all for now! If you’d like to discuss more, it might be simpler to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. BTW, your blades by Haley Desrosiers are my favorites. But way out of my price range. . .ah, well. . .
I have not shared any comments with you for a couple of years now. So nice to see you still here, I love what you do. I’ve been sharpening knives every day here in Nova Scotia since we first “met,” even been in the paper a few times. Keep up the awesome work.
Respectfully, Peter Nowlan
Thanks for checking in. I’m glad to hear your biz is thriving—things are going well with KKG as well. We continue to expand our fan base and help people around the world make better sense of their kitchen knives :)
Hello, this is Anne from RETON RING MESH CO., LTD company. Our company is a professional cut-resistant glove manufacturer with years of experience. Our stainless-steel chain-link gloves can better protect hands at work. Our gloves can be used in the home and professional kitchen, butcher shops and meat processing, as well as in the fish and oyster industry and other fields.
If you want to know more about our product, please be free to contact me at email@example.com.
Thanks, Anne, for sharing. I see your company is located in China. I’ve never heard of your product in the U.S., but it seems to me professional butchers might find your gloves a really useful safety precaution. Once they get used to the thought :) —KKG
Hi! Your website is great! Any thoughts on this knife set and what it includes. I am a basic cooker so don’t need anything too fancy. Thanks!! :)
Wusthof Classic 8-Piece Deluxe Walnut Block Knife Set
– 3.5″ paring knife
– 6″ utility knife
– 5″ santoku hollow edge knife
– 8″ bread knife
– 8″ cook’s knife
– 9″ honing steel
– 1 pair of come-apart kitchen shears
– 17 slot storage block
Can I purchase a gift certificate for a budding chef?
Like $300.00? Can you make that happen please?
Because your site simply kicks-A.
Thanks, Paul, for your rave review! I’m not sure what you’re asking. . .but if you’d like to buy either an Amazon or Sur La Table Gift Card for someone, here are two links:
Amazon gift card
Sur La Table:
Hi. I have a knife that is by Muller & Noble. It’s called a chef knife and is made in the Laguiole style. I am not familiar with this brand, can you tell me anything about it?
Sorry, but I’ve never heard of Muller & Noble knives and after some online research could find neither hide nor hare of them. If I were you, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it—there are so many wonderful kitchen knives out there to choose from. Here are just a few for starters. . .Best Chef Knives — Six Recommendations.
I’m a lefty. The Shun handle I think is really made to fit in a right hand, BUT, after use, I have gotten comfortable with the feel—though some lefties won’t. The knife is super-sharp and a little scary to use out of the box. I keep my wife away from it.
Do you offer a service of coming to my house – or me delivering my knives to you – to sharpen? Like a service that is every other month for example? I cook fresh daily and I love having sharp knives, but it is a stretch to actually sharpen them regularly. Look forward to hearing from you. . .
No, I don’t sharpen. . .but here is what I advise:
#1) It is no easy task to find a high-quality knife sharpener. I live in the NYC greater metropolitan area (dense with people, right?) and my solution has been to mail my kitchen knives to sharpening services I trust. Read my article: Reviews of Professional Sharpening Services for tips.
#2) You need to learn how to hone and, then, to do it regularly. This will make your sharp edges last and last and will also save you from wearing down your knives’ edges so fast from oversharpening. Read What’s a Honing Steel? for a primer.
Also, check out my Kitchen Knife Sharpening Action Plan for a step-by-step instructions. . .
I inherited a 10-inch Sabatier Professional Two Lions Chef from my father. Was wondering how it compares to, say, a Classic Wustoff or a Henckels Pro S?
The Sabatier brand name is a gnarly mess. The reason is because the name was never trademarked, and thus there are dozens of companies that use the Sabatier name with various suffixes tacked on (like Two Lions, etc.). Some are old, authentic companies that sell high-quality forged knives. But others are phonies. On top of this, even the authentic companies can have various lines varying in quality.
So the short answer is that your Sabatier may, or may not, be comparable to a Wusthof Classic or Henckels Pro S. Enjoy it as a memento from your Dad, but don’t put much weight in the quality. I have a Cutco butcher knife that I inherited from my folks that I have the same attitude about :)
There’s plenty more on the internet about Sabatier though. . .so if you like to investigate, go to town. Here’s a taste. . .
I’ve got a question for you about honing knives. I can’t for the life of me figure out why it is better to hone edge-leading instead of edge-trailing. To be clear, when I say edge-leading, I mean to hone as if you are cutting into the honing rod.
What I’ve heard, read, and seen all over is that honing is realigning the blade. The sharp edge has “folded (or rolled) over” in some spots and you are trying to undo this.
In my mind, if you honed edge-TRAILING, you would “unroll” or “unfold” the blade, thus making it cut better. On the other hand, if you honed edge-LEADING, you would make the roll (or fold) worse.
Can you help me wrap my head around this?
Sorry to be so delayed in responding, but I wanted to query one of my expert professional knife sharpeners and see how they would reply to your question. Here is what Phil from KY Sharp in Kentucky had to say:
“I suspect what’s really going on when honing is that the cutting edge is becoming somewhat soft and malleable and is rather easily being reshaped back to uniformity as it’s pressed against a hard flat surface (even a round steel is basically flat at the exact point of contact). It really doesn’t matter how your soften the cutting edge, whether using a leading edge or trailing edge motion. I hope this makes sense.”
I’m not sure Phil’s answer covers the whole ground. Here’s my two cents:
In visualizing what’s happening at a micro level, my guess is that we’re forgetting that the honing action is never straight and perpendicular to the hone, but moving horizontally across it while it moves down. And it’s this horizontal motion that is crucial to catching the micro bent edges and bending them back, and this happens whether the edge is leading or trailing. If the knife went straight down the steel while honing, without moving horizontally, then I think it might make a difference whether it was leading or trailing. Because then the leading edge would be more likely to smash down the bent edge, rather than bend it back. Honing this way would be impossible, of course, because it would take forever to cover the entire length of the blade and be sure you covered every millimeter :)
Anyway, there you have it, two different takes on why it doesn’t matter whether you lead or trail when honing. If I were you, I wouldn’t mull this over for another second, but concentrate more on learning how to keep my honing arm steady and make a habit of doing it!
Hi, Nate – Just discovered your site while searching for sharpening profiles (lefty, but didn’t know until recently that there are different profiles for different folks). Anyway, three things:
First: See first attachment for the way we’ve stored our knives since the mid-70s. A piece of 3/4″ plywood with slots 1″ apart.
Second: A photo of three soft-steel knives from an earlier age. Is this type of knife still available? The long ones came from my late parents and I bought the shorter one (my favorite knife) about ’67 in MA. They’re so thin, flexible; and steeling seems to be all they need for years, but they’re getting ‘shallow’.
Finally: On the direction of grinding, many years ago I read an account by someone in search of old-time wisdom who was watching a farmer using a water-lubed pedal grindstone. He asked why he was turning the wheel away from the edge, expecting an answer about drawing out the steel or perhaps aligning with the North Star. “To keep my pants dry!” was the answer…
Oops, I just discovered that there doesn’t seem to be any way to attach those two photos! What am I missing? – Larry
Sorry, but I don’t allow photos and such in the comments on this site—the main reason being that they slow the site down (page load and refresh times, etc).
1) Sounds like you’ve created an excellent custom drawer rack for your kitchen knives. Congrats!
2) Even if I had photos, it would be pretty hard to analyze your soft-steel knives from a distance. Can you tell if they are stainless steel (still shiny), or do they have a dull gray patina on them (which would make them carbon steel)? It sounds like they might be carbon which might be the reason they have been so simple to maintain through steeling all these years. At any rate, I’m sure you could find something like them with some digging around. . .
3) Funny story. . .
Thanks for the instant reply!
They’re definitely not stainless. Kinda etched into a mottled gray by time and who-knows-what acid juices. Not prone to rust, but the patina may help. Thin and VERY flexible. The long ones are great for slicing flank steak unbelievably (almost see-thru) thin. The ‘sharpest’ knives I own, but gotta steel them up every time.
Any ideas where I can find a discussion of old-time, soft-steel knives?
Sorry, Larry, but off-the-top-of-my-head, I don’t. You might try Chowhound. Otherwise, you’ll need to do some serious Google research. There are many Japanese carbon-steel knives. . .but they are NOT soft steel, and they are not inexpensive :)
Hi Nate! I have recently started investigating the world of high-end cooking gear and just found your site. This is a treasure of information which I look forward to reading thoroughly. Thank you so much!
Glad KKG could be of service :)
Hello KKG, wondering if you have a favorite way to store your knives? Perhaps on your site (but I have not seen any comments). Thanks much for your posts!
My favorite way to store knives is in a knife block—it offers full protection of the blades, easy access, and saves cluttering up my valuable kitchen drawer space with knives. It also, I believe, allows the most compact storage.
But there are three standard ways to store knives—each has their pros and cons. The main thing to remember is that you always want to protect the sharp, but delicate, cutting edges of your knives.
1) Knife blocks
Pros: see above
Cons: You must be careful to: 1) not squish the blades into a slots that are too tight, and 2) avoid pressing/rubbing the cutting edge of the knife into the wood as you remove or insert the blade. Either of these can unnecessarily wear down the cutting edge. Soooo. . .whenever I remove or insert a knife into a slot—especially a chef, or larger—I purposely use the spine edge of the knife to guide it in and out.
2) Drawer slots
Pros: excellent blade protection; relatively easy access; saves counter space
Cons: robs you of drawer space
2a) Drawer w/knife sheathes/covers
Pros: same as above
Cons: maximum hassle to remove sheath/cover every time you use a knife
3) Wood-protected wall magnet
Pros: excellent blade protection; easy access; saves counter and drawer space; nice visual display (especially if you have attractive knives)
Cons: needs to be properly mounted; takes up wall space; needs to be accessible
VERY IMPORTANT: Do NOT use a wall-mount system with exposed magnetic strips that attach directly to your knives. The pressure of the magnets against your fine cutting edges, plus (and most harmful of all), the unavoidable torquing of the knife edges against the magnets every time you mount or remove a blade risks nicking your knife edges on a regular basis. Please avoid like the plague ;)
Hey, enjoy the site. I recently sent knives to Art of Sharp, and got them back unsharpened. Apparently Frank is dealing with some medical issues and is unable to work, and unknown when he will continue sharpening. There isn’t anything on his website about the pause, last time I checked. Might want to let your readers know. Cheers.
Thanks so much for this. My list of professional sharpeners is IMPLODING! There are already two others that are temporarily in limbo. That leaves only two reviewed pro sharpeners for now. Fortunately, they are both excellent.
MAC knives do not have a lifetime warranty in the U.S. Only 25 years which seems like a long time unless, like me, the knife breaks. There are no exceptions and they claim that their knives are so much better than anyone else’s that you should be happy you had the knife, at least until it broke. If you want to see a photo of my broken MAC knife, I would be happy to send it to you. The blade broke in two, sitting in a drawer.
BTW I attempted to signup for your newsletter elsewhere on your site and it did not work. You might want to take a look at this issue.
Sorry about your MAC knife! This is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone complain about the quality of a MAC knife. Also: I’ve never heard of ANY knife breaking in two while unused, sitting in a drawer. Very, very odd.
In spite of this, all I can say is that MAC’s reputation speaks for itself—and I think it’s at the highest level of industrial knife making. Thanks for sharing your experience, but I’m afraid it will not be enough to color my opinion of MAC knives.
Dear Mr. Ouderkirk.
Two days ago I happened upon your website. My wife and I, nearing 80, have been fighting covid for 3 weeks now. I must say your articles and blog have boosted my spirits and have really helped our recovery to press on.
I have been cooking for family and friends for over a half a century and have always loved the cooking activity and results (even when disasters required special sauces and slight of hand).
I have ancient knives from Wusthof (from the early 1970s) and MAC knives (early 1980s—I still enjoy mine that have the rounded tips and clever-looking holes for wall hanging), and modern ones from Global (the G-2 being my favorite) that for some reason people started giving me as presents about a dozen years ago.
I totally agree with you, that the best cook knife is the sharpest one on the particular day I am doing a bunch of prep work.
As these days I work with mostly soft stuff such as tofu, veggies, and fruit. I find that I have been using and enjoying the discontinued (I think) Wusthof Pro series. I also have the Victorinox Fibrox series, but the Wusthof grips fit me perfectly.
I started with these “commercial grade” knives when more and more family and friends started stopping by after I retired. I found my cherished knives were getting abused and being put away wet and sometimes even unclean. I first purchased the Wusthof Pro as “disposable” knives I could leave out for company to use (and secure my favorites safely out of sight).
Turns out I have been using the Wusthof Pro 8 and 10-inch chef’s knives and Victorinox fibrox 6-inch utility and paring knives daily for a dozen years now. The designs are spot on, the materials and build quality without compromise, and the edges holding up nicely. Recently, to help with my sore and stiff hands, folks have given me two radical design “duo-glide” knives from Dexter. They are strange looking, but with great and comfortable grips, decent edges out of the box, and really do ease the hand pain of food prep.
I have spent over 10 hours reading through your articles and have learned so much!! In fact, I have ordered three 14 X 17 Dexas cutting boards a few hours ago. And tomorrow I will be calling Bob Tate to arrange sending him my G-2, a 6-inch Wusthof, and a MAC.
Thank you for the great information and entertainment value your work has offered me!
–Cap in Narragansett RI.
Great to hear from you Cap! I am so glad KKG could play a small part in boosting your spirits and hastening your recovery :) I must admit that, over the years, I’ve found so much about my health to be mental.
It is so much fun to hear how much you have enjoyed the content on this site. (A lot of work has gone into it.) And I can’t help but believe that perhaps one of the keys to your longevity is your openness and eagerness to learn new things. . .