I am by no stretch of the imagination a professional chef. I would put myself more in the “Advanced Home Cook” category. I am very comfortable in the kitchen, I bake my own bread and cookies (my great grandmother’s ginger-molasses recipe) for my fly-fishing guide trips, and as Mr. Mom, I do the lions-share of the food prep for my family. It is something I enjoy.
My knife block has stood on my counter for as long as I have been married. My wife and I used a Williams Sonoma wedding gift card to buy our first “good” set of knives. The Wustof Classic set came with Chef’s, Carving, Bread, and 3 Paring knives, along with a sharpening steel and kitchen shears (really, really good- deserving of their own review.) The Boning/Filet knife is a Henkel’s I found in my Christmas stocking one year, the longer Oneida Bread knife came into my possession along the way, and the little mystery stainless serrated knife is from Usinger’s Sausage in Wisconsin. It came as part of a gift basket from my Great-Aunt and is sentimental as well as handy when everything else is in the dishwasher (The Horror!)
But these knives are nothing fancy. They are mostly X50CrMoV15, an unspectacular German stainless steel that favors corrosion resistance over edge holding ability. My knives are “nice enough”, I have used plenty of crappy knives along the way and mine are wonderfully functional. However, they are not so nice that I don’t mind throwing them in the dishwasher and the handle decals are for the most part long lost.
Part of me would love to own a truly fine instrument of kitchen destruction or two. But I would feel obligated to take care of it and I have never felt the need to spend the money when my existing set is doing yeoman’s work. Maybe after I attend Murray Carter’s Bladesmithing School this winter and begin to use a custom Chef’s knife of my own creation I will feel differently, but then again I will be hopelessly biased so long as my blade is merely serviceable.
For now I will continue to create such dishes as this evening’s Chicken Curry with tomatoes and squash from my garden, and a side of homemade garlic-naan courtesy of my “nice enough” knives.
What are your weapons of choice for kitchen duty? Are they “Nice Enough”, Objects of Envy, or Sadly Sub-optimal tools of food preparation?