The knife is one of the earliest tools used by humanity. It first appeared at least 2.5 million years ago and has evolved to become today’s most essential culinary tool. Over a lifetime, a family might go through three or four sets of knives. They get lost, handles break or blades are chipped and dulled beyond repair. Unfortunately, we take our knives for granted. We wash them in the machine and throw them in a drawer until we need them. Our knives don’t like it. The moment of truth comes when we step into the kitchen to make dinner; to peel a potato, chop an onion or slice a brisket, and our knives take revenge and just don’t cut it anymore.
To a home cook like me, opening a new set of Cutluxe knives, each boxed individually as if it was a precious gift, is as thrilling as opening a box from Tiffany.
- 3.5” Paring Knife is a little beauty with a smooth blade and sharp tip making it perfect for peeling and slicing fruits and vegetables, cutting delicate foods into shapes, or creating venting and scoring in delicate pastries
- Artisan Series 5.5”. A utility knife with its serrated full tang blade has cut my prep time in half. Chopping and slicing vegetables and meats – a job I do not like at all -it lets me glide through the process while it does all the work.
- Artisan Series 8”. Until I held this knife in my hand, I did not realize that it had been a knife that was holding me back from prepping my dinners in a more creative way. The blade is made with a single piece of artisan-forged, high carbon Thyssen-Krupp steel from Germany. And I immediately felt the balance with the ergonomic handle. This is my kitchen workhorse, perfect for delicate dicing as well as all meal-prep needs.
- Artisan 7” cleaver knife. Where has this cleaver been all my life? It lets me spatchcock a chicken in a minute by cutting through meat and bone without using a knife and a mallet; with one swipe, I can cut through a watermelon, smash a few garlic cloves, flatten a veal scallopini and easily perform techniques I have seen on TV cooking shows.
Besides being beautiful enough to show off in the kitchen, there’s more here than meets the eye. The attractive pakka wood handle is counter-balanced with three rivets and premium stainless steel, but while it looks heavy, it feels good in the hand. The high-carbon German steel will last for years and resists staining and rusting. Clearly, not all knives are created equal.
After a rehearsal with each knife, I feel more confident trying extravagant food presentations. Cutluxe is a cut above.
A few years ago in Tokyo, I spent 2 ½ hours in a class learning how to hold a knife and how to slice a Lotus pod correctly. No easy task. The Japanese are extremely serious when it comes to their knife handling and development skills. In fact it can take 10 years of training to become an itamae (sushi chef).
In the culinary world, many professionals rank prep work low on the totem pole. The prep-work (cutting, chopping slicing) is done by entry-level cooks, and gets done before the “real” work in the kitchen begins. However, if you want to succeed in a professional kitchen, good knife skills are a major requirement.
For home cooks like me, the art of the dining experience includes the visual aspect. We get such personal satisfaction from serving our friends and family beautifully plated, colourful dishes. It may not taste any different from unimaginative plating, but I have always maintained that first, we eat with our eyes. Who doesn’t love to hear compliments about a meal they’ve prepared?
With a new set of knives in my kitchen, a whole world of possibilities is about to open.
On another note: Immigrants learning to read English say that the most puzzling word in the language is knife. “How do you pronounce knife?”
Sara Waxman is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.