I am by no means a professional chef. I’m not even sure I feel comfortable going so far as to say that I’m a decent cook. That said, I do alright for a bachelor.
Several years ago, on my first read-through of Kitchen Confidential (a book that has since made it onto the very short list of books I re-read on a regular basis), I came across a section where Anthony Bourdain recommended a particular manufacturer of high-quality, reasonably priced chefs knives:
“Most of the professionals I know have for years been retiring their Wusthofs and replacing them with the lightweight, easy-to-sharpen and relatively inexpensive canadium steel Global knives, very good Japanese products that have — in addition to their many other fine qualities — the added attraction of looking really cool.”
I happened to be in the market at the time for a good chef’s knife, so I took the recommendation and added one to my birthday wishlist.
It’s a very nice knife. Fantastic quality, cuts like a dream, has a great heft in your hand, easy to grip, easy to sharpen (with the proper equipment), and is everything you could really ask for, at least coming from the perspective of someone who appreciates quality and functionality without having the added benefit of professional knowledge or years of first-hand experience.
Recently, though, I began to hear some positive things about the knives that IKEA had to offer. I’m known for being a sucker for IKEA. The reasons there deserve their own blog post. But on my last pilgrimage, I took extra care to be on the lookout for some of their new knives. While there I grabbed a bread knife, an essential tool that I was still somehow sorely lacking, as well as a smaller utility knife.
I must say, although I readily admit I was predisposed to having a favorable attitude about them, I was shocked at just how much I really liked them. For one, they arrived out of the box razor sharp (I managed to cut myself mere seconds after opening the blister pack because, ever the perpetual ignoramus who likes playing with sharp objects, sometimes I can’t help but check to see just how sharp the blade really is).
But sharpness is all relative and has to be maintained. How are the knives themselves?
They’re surprisingly heavy and well-balanced. The “lines” designed into the hilt make them even grippier than my Global knife. That’s not to say I’ve really experienced problems holding onto my Global, but there is some property about the IKEA knife that makes it feel even less slippery when my hands are, say, covered in raw chicken slime. The weight of the blade is concentrated how you would hope, and you can balance the knife right where the handle meets the rest of the blade. In all aspects, I’m blown away by the quality and the feel.
So mock IKEA if you must, but for my money, the next time I need another proper kitchen knife, I’m going to skip the Global and grab one from IKEA— for less than half the cost!