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A detailed look into High-End Professional & Consumer Cutlery

Michael aka Mac

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Michael aka Mac

Ok so I have had my share of blogging on this website and thought it was about time I talk about cooking, specifically the best cutlery to use.

I will be honest, the cutlery one may choose usually either fits their budget, or skill level (with exceptions), or due to how it looks, or the country it was made in.  It is like seeing those professional athletes buying high-end or custom-made; golf clubs, tennis rackets, bicycles, etc.. Then there is that 1st time golfer that maybe found the golf club in the garbage., why spend money on something you don't know if you like playing?  Those are the two extremes with everyone else, including myself, being in the middle.

There are a lot of Top Name Brands out there like (and in no specific order of ranking) Victorinox, Mercer, Mac, Global, Made In, Shun Wüsthof, Miyabi, & Zwilling JA Henckels to name a few.  All of these brands have different knife lines, which is what I call different 'levels' of quality.  They go from rank 1 workmanship as in for that 'Professional Golfer', to starter knife sets for 1st timers.

These 'ranks' of knife line series vary from Hand or Machine Forged knives, Stamped knives, or Laser etched cutlery. So for example, a Forged knife series may have several ranks of knives starting with the 'Professional Cutlery series'. These are one of the more expensive knives that the Brand sells, with the exception of Signature lines, which I will discuss later in this article. Using a Chef knife as an example, the professional series Chef knife will be the thickest of all the series and of all the ranks. You will be looking at the sharpest, most durable, and with the most blade retention of the Brand's knives. Everything about the knife can only be described as perfection for that Brand.

Next you have the 'Stamped' also referred to as the 'Cookie Cutter' Method, and the Laser etched/cut method or as I call it 'The Star Trek" method. 'Set Lasers to stun, err I mean cut'. Unlike forged cutlery where the metal is heated in a forge until it glows, and then is hammered into shape, 'Stamped'  & 'Laser' methods use a sheet of metal where the knife is created using one of those two methods. These knives tend to be much thinner, less strong as their forged counterparts, and much more reasonably priced. These knives still have decent blade retention, still sharp, and still covered under amazing warranties. They are less likely to have a Boster, and they are lighter than forged knives, (for the most part, there are always exceptions)

There are advantages for lighter knives. Working nonstop as a food prep or sous chef, the weight of the knife becomes problematic, and the food prepping can wear a person out faster with heavier cutler vs. lighter ones. At the same time, if one is cutting through bone, and using a Butcher knife/Meat Cleaver, the added weight can make it easier to cut through the bone, and it is more likely to damage a cleaver with a thinner blade than it is with a thicker one.

Why is the country of origin important?  Germany for example has been making cutlery in Solingen for almost 300 years, passing down the trade skill to their countrymen over the centuries. The recipe for their metal allow also has passed and handed down. They are focused on their traditions in knife making.

Where does one start when buying cutlery?

For some it starts with that very 1st knife; which knife on the other hand depends on the person.  For many, they either buy a 'Brand's' Starter set, which usually includes a Chef knife, a Utility knife, & a Paring knife or they choose a knife block set, which usually consists of a Chef knife, Bread knife, Utility knife, Serrated knife, Paring knife, Poultry shears, Steak Knives, and a Diamond honing Rod, & a Knife Block (there are also more extensive knife block sets with specialty knives)

Back to those that start out with either a single knife or a 3 piece starter set. These individuals usually buy specialty knives either when the occasion/need arises, or if due to budget constraints, when finances permit.  There are pros and cons to buying a full knife block set and one piece of cutlery at a time.  For example, the person buying a knife set for the 1st time & pays for a $20-$40 knife block set (lowest rank series line) hasn't much to lose compared to the person that paid $99 for a knife set. If he or she just doesn't get too involved with cooking, chances are that set will suit them well, and if he or she does get more in-depth cooking experience and decides to get something better, than they didn't break the bank with their purchase.

The person buying the knife set for $99 that ends up not getting into cooking, spent up to $79 more than he or she possibly needed to, but on the flip side, spending $99 on a knife block set only to realize you out 'grown them', then your investment has taken away from a better knife block set, and it would have been better to have gone for the few higher end series.  Then there is the person that buys just a single knife. Going up to a more professional grade until you hit your skill level, or desired 'final knife', once you get to the Brand name, and Model series that you like, you can now either get a complete set, or gradually fill in your set piece by piece.

What did I decide for my Cutlery?

Honestly, I think this decision was made for me, least in a brainwashing sort of way. I am a 3rd Generation, 

Zwilling J.A. Henckels cutlery user. For those that may not know this.  Zwilling JA Henckels is the 'Parent company', and they own in addition these cutlery Brands:  J.A. Henckels line,  Henckels line, Henckels International, & Miyabi.

The Zwilling JA Henckels' Forged line is primarily located and made in Solingen, Germany  and includes their professional grade series such as Pro series, Four Star series, &Four Star 2 series.  Most of the subdivisions like certain Henckels series are either made in India, Spain, or with the majority of the series, China.

Some of the exceptions to all the rules are the Signature lines, many of which tend to be a Damascus style welded knife lines, with a strong inner core that the metal layers are welded on to. Bob Krammer lines, and the Japanese Miyabi lines are like this.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Michael aka Mac


I am no stranger in the kitchen. My belated biological mother was a horrible cook; she would burn Hotdogs- Cooked in Water!!! When she made fish, even the cats wouldn't eat it. My 1st decent meal she provided was when I was in 8th grade- she gave me $0.75 cents for lunch at the school cafeteria.  

So, to my readers,  it should be of no surprise to hear that  I first started to learn to cook at 6 years old.  My father had bought me a Donut Maker. He took out 3 measuring cups, one for flour, one for sugar, and last, one for water.  By the end of the day I had not only learned to make donuts by myself, but I got hooked on the concept of cooking.

By the time I was 10 I was baking bread alone.  ( I just wanted to mention the company Bread Alone in Upstate NY near Hunter, in the Catskill Mountains, that in my opinion, has the greatest bread in the United States).  By 13 I had mastered breakfast (yep, pancakes, waffles, Frittatas, & even Eggs Bennedict with homemade Hollandaise Sauce) It was only a few years later that my father gave me my 1st Kitchen Cutlery knife, a Zwilling J.A. Henckels 3" Four Star Paring knife.

The extent of my cooking skill level can be summed up to me catering for over 60 people at a mansion for a Thanksgiving Feast.

My 1st knife may had been a Zwilling brand, but the 1st knife block that I bought was from Cooks Club.  I had fallen into the rouse that a thinker blade is a better blade for all situations, and in this circumstance, I was wrong.  Long days of food prep left my hands and arms exhausted. 

I tried some stamped and laser cut knives from Mercer, and Victorinox, but at the end of the day I found myself using the wrong type of knife for the job, using my Zwilling JA Henckels 3" Paring knife, just due to how well it preformed, while still being thick enough to be sturdy, but far lighter than my other knives.

Fast forward to today, above on top, is my kitchen in Queens, NY. This collection was years in the making, adding a knife each year. Below, is a closer look at a few of these knives (I also have drawers filled with an assortment of specialty knives)



A vast majority of my knives as I have mentioned are from the Zwilling corporation.

Starting from the left going right on the Miyabi Magnetic Knife Block:

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Four Star: 9" Bread Knife, 7" Chef Knife, 7" Rocking Santoku, 5.5" Prep knife, (different brand utility knife), 5.5" Serrated knife, Boning knife, (Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro series) 6" Cleaver, & a J.A. Henckels 5" Santoku knife.

Bellow in boxes:

A Japanese IMARKU 7" Nakiri knife (red lining box), & a Japanese Miyabi Birchwood SG2   9" Damascus Chef knife.

Although it may seem that I have already mentioned a lot of kitchen cutlery, but that does not include the knife block next to the Stainless Steel Coffee Maker on the left which houses a 2 piece J.A. Henckels Carving set (Knife & Serving Fork), a Zwilling J.A. Henckels Four Star: 3 " paring knife, 3" wide blade paring knife, 2.75" Trimming knife, & 4 piece steak knife set which isn't cheap $$$$)

On the other side of the sink, not in photo, near the dish rack there is another vertical Knife block set that holds some of my 'Beginning" knife set pieces from Cooks Club, Joyce Chen Cleaver, and 3 different sized Serrated knives.

Last in my 6 tier 6 drawer storage unit I have 6 Ballarini assorted paring knives styles, 4 Piece J.A. Henckels Graphite BBQ Grill set (8" Chef Knife, 5.5" serrated, 3" paring knife, & 5 " scraper knife), 2 Victorinox boning knives ( 3 1/4 Vent Boning knife, 6 inch flexible boning knife), 2 Mercer boning knives (6" semi stiff, 6" flexible), Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Four Star 8" Chef knife, 5" Santoku, & Zwilling J.A. Henckels Professional 4" paring knife, along with an assortment of miscellaneous consumer brand (unlike the Professional high-end Brands above), and a variety of specialty knives (cheese knives, citrus knives, decorating knives, peeling knives, etc.)

My Gramps always told me "Make sure you have the right tool for the job"  and that includes which knife one uses, meaning that one would be using an array of knives during prep work.

As an example, a Tomato knife, a serrated knife with a 2-tine forklike tip, has the ability to cut the thick outer skin of a tomato, without squashing the soft interior of the fruit, and the forklike tip can be used to move the slices to the side after each cut.

A cleaver/butcher knife (just a heads up, all cleavers are butcher knives but not all butcher knives are cleavers) is a much thicker blade that is strong enough to cut through bone.

A bread knife is similar to a tomato knife in that it cuts the hard thick outer layer of bread, the crust, but it does not squish the soft bread interior.

If anyone out there wants me to continue on this thread expanding it to cover specific uses, knife techniques, or any questions regarding cutlery, utensils, cookware, or small kitchen appliances,  click "Like" on these posts or drop me a message on this thread posting.


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