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Celebrity-endorsed kitchen knives don’t always cut the mustard

Chef chopping herbs

Have you invested in a good chef’s knife? There’s a huge range available, from humble £10 offerings to expensive celebrity-endorsed knives. Yet, a high price or celebrity name doesn’t always guarantee quality.

I’ll cherish the memory of my birthday this year due to the extra special treat I enjoyed – a visit to the two-Michelin star restaurant L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Covent Garden. My seat at the bar overlooked the thronging kitchen, where skilled chefs created our meals as we watched in amazement.

I was struck not just by their skill in preparing gorgeous food, but by the way they used their tools. It was hypnotic to watch them carve wafer thin slices of ham off massive legs hung on hooks, and use special kitchen tweezers to transfer them to the plate.

It didn’t take me long to realise that all the knives they used in the kitchen were made by the manufacturer Global, which we’d just included in our latest test of kitchen knives. It was reassuring to see that a top chef thought as much of those knives as Which? does – especially as we’d just given them a high score for the second time.

Celebrity endorsed isn’t always best

But being associated with a top chef doesn’t always guarantee that a knife will be the best you can buy. We also tested knives with the names of Jamie Oliver and Raymond Blanc emblazoned on the handle – sadly they didn’t match the Global standard.

I always think it’s a shame when an inspiring TV chef has their name associated with a less than inspiring product – I’ve seen it several other times in our testing, with barbecues, steamers and health grills.

One thing that being involved in the Which? test of kitchen knives has taught me is that price is a really bad guide to how good a knife is. Our test awarded Best Buy status to one knife costing £100 and one costing less than £20, so you don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on a knife to guarantee that it will be great.

Should you splash out?

Although they can be a cut above the rest, it’s hard to know whether it’s worth me splashing out on the really good Global knives when I don’t have the same skills as demonstrated by the hard-working young chefs in the kitchen of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon.

Is owning the best knife money can buy going to bring more confidence to my cooking? Or am I just going to feel guilty when I use them to chop cucumber and cherry tomatoes, rather than create astounding gastronomic delights?

I’m tempted to think it is worth the investment just to have a reliable, sharp and comfortable knife, whatever I’m cutting. But perhaps you’re happier with a more humble knife?

Comments
Guest
Damn Young says:
26 July 2011

I don’t like sharp knives. It is so easy to get a nasty cut. Even the great Jamie Oliver cut his finger with one on one of his USA trips. I once cut my finger with a serated knife, when I worked in Safeway’s fruit & veg years ago, and it took ages to heal. I think I am more likely to ban knives from my house, than to pay through the nose for them.

Guest

take a course on knife handling . what your saying is only based on fear of sharp knives . you are
among the minority .

Guest
Jordan says:
10 January 2016

That makes absolutely no sense. If a knife can cut a vegetable (or whatever else you’re cutting), it can cut your finger.
A dull knife is significantly more likely to slip off the vegetable than a sharp knife. If a knife slips off the vegetable, it’s significantly more likely to cut you than if it just sliced through the vegetable.
A sharp knife is much more likely to simply slice through the vegetable and hit the cutting board underneath, instead of slipping off and cutting you.
Having un-sharpened knives makes your kitchen more dangerous, and it’s simply irresponsible not to sharpen them regularly.

That is, unless you’re placing your fingers directly underneath the blade. If so, in either case, you shouldn’t be in the kitchen until you learn where to put your fingers.

Guest
Louise C says:
26 July 2011

I’ve three Sabatier stainless steel knives in different sizes.
Love the design and weight of these.
But after many years, I still can’t master using the sharpening rod!
I feel they should be professionally sharpened now.
Or do I just buy another type of sharpener?
Any advice would be welcome please.

Guest
Chris, Earby. says:
29 July 2011

Kitchen Devils by Fiskars, Finland, make a sharpener with two small wheels. It is about six inches long and I use it all the time and I have very sharp knives. Not suitable for serated knives. Chris.

Guest
Tony B says:
29 July 2011

I have owned a set of Sabatier knives for fifty four years and these are carbon steel knives.and appart ftom the occasional grind to straighten the cutting edges, they are perfect. The tool used for sharpening the knives is called a steel, not sharpening rod as Louise C stated, and is the best way to sharpen knives, as if it is used correctly does not tear strips of metal off the knife as cheap sharpeners do.

Guest
Spiro says:
6 December 2017

if you have a really high quality blade, you do not have to use those two-wheel sharpener, best way to keep the blade sharp is to sharpen it manualy on a steel rod or a fine whetstone. Afterwards you can shave your face with that knife. I find those wheel sharpeners to be knife destroyers

Guest

There is some advice on sharpening knives in our online guide to kitchen knives.
http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/kitchen/reviews-ns/kitchen-knives/faqs/
Basically it is little and often and in a controlled fashion.
Don’t, whatever you do, try to copy what you see on the telly with people swooshing the sharpening steel left and the knife to the right and alternating the sides of the blade along the steel in a lightening fast action. I know from bitter experience that it is best way to get massive great dents in your blades!

Guest
Adrian McGachie says:
29 July 2011

Good advice – most TV chefs sharpen knives in the most dangerous fashion! My advice is to hold the sharpening steel by the handle with the steel pointing downwards, and away from you. None of this sharpening down the steel, onto your hand malarkey.

So, holding steel in this fashion, hold the knife against the steel with the heel of the knife nearest to the handle, at the top, at angle of about 20°. Now in a controlled fashion, draw the knife down the steel, at the same time pulling the heel of the knife through to the tip. This way you’ll sharpen the whole blade in a couple of strokes. Repeat on both sides of the blade.