In my mid-20s, I made the conscious decision that cooking was going to be a Thing for me—not a thing I did because I had to eat or because it’s just what people do, but something more like a hobby. It was going to be important, and I was going to learn to do it reasonably well. To mark the significance of this decision, I decided to pitch the Ginsu and buy my first good knife.
A few months earlier, a friend who cooks had recommended Wüsthof Classic knives, and so I’d decided that a Wüsthof Classic chef’s knife was the one to get. An 8” chef’s knife would have cost something like $140 at the time, and I don’t know how flush with cash you were in your mid-20s, but that just wasn’t an option for me. Even at $99, my 6” Wüsthof chef’s knife was still a shock. I stood there holding it for a few minutes in the store before going to the register, asking myself if this was really a Thing I wanted to invest in. “Natalie, you aren’t a very good cook. Are you sure you need a very good knife?”
But I figured that the best way to motivate myself to improve at something was to sink money into it. The thought of not using something, and thereby wasting the money invested in it, was and still is a very strong motivator. Or so I tell myself whenever I “invest” in a gym membership.
Now it’s a decade+ later, and I still use that same Wüsthof nearly every day. I did finally upgrade to the 8” version a few years ago, but I reach for its older, smaller sibling often. It feels natural. The blade stays sharp with regular honing, the handle is smooth and shiny with wear, and it’s just an all-around great knife.
I’ve tried to branch out into other knife brands, especially after joining Sur La Table, but nothing feels quite right. I once went into one of our stores determined to buy a knife made by — let’s call them Brand X — only to try every single Brand X shape we sell and walk out of the store with a new Wüsthof Classic bread knife instead. Maybe Wüsthof really does fit my hand best, or maybe I’m just so used to it that no other knife feels the same, but here we are.
So when one of our cutlery buyers handed me a new 8” Wüsthof Epicure Slate chef’s knife and asked that I test it out, imagine my surprise at discovering that I liked it … better than the Classics. The blade is slightly wider than what I was used to, so it took a few minutes to stop bumping it awkwardly into my cutting board. But the handle! It’s unnervingly smooth with a curved belly that’s so comfortable to grip. Hand fatigue? What hand fatigue?
Like any Wüsthof, the knife is ideally balanced from tip to heel, and the stainless steel blade is sharp and easy to maintain. This collection also boasts some pretty impressive technology that knife aficionados will geek out on, but for me, it’s that handle! All else being equal, that handle was enough for me to take my 8” Classic out of the block, put it in a sheath, and store it away. My 6” chef’s is still in the block though – Old Reliable is never going anywhere.
So do you stick with one knife brand, or do you like a variety? What’s the knife you’ll never part with?