“That knife was pretty sharp. Was he hurt?”

“Hurt! He was stabbed.” 

“How deep was the wound?”

“Deep? It went right up to the second ‘f’ in Sheffield.”

Bad people do bad things. Bad knives do bad things too. There are hacked fingers, missing nails and countless soft flesh wounds as a result. Dull steel does damage. I wince at the memory of that awful feeling of the cooks knife slipping off the edge of an onion and into the top of my index finger.

Anybody who enjoys preparing food understands the value and importance of having a set of top quality kitchen knives. So often, over the years, I have seen new knife sets displayed by their new owners with a proud “They are Sabatier.” or “They are top quality, from Sheffield.”

Bad knives do bad things to you. These are bad knives. No amount of sharpening will make them any good.

Sabatier is a town in the centre of France. Sheffield is an industrial city in the North of England. That is as far as it goes. Whatever history both places may have had in the cutlery business is no guarantee of quality. I would go so far as to say that knives proudly emblazoned with the name of either place are probably going to let you down. If you want quality knives, you have to spend the money. There are no short cuts. I know. Many years ago, I made the mistake of buying a bargain set of Sabatier knives. The decision was as dull as the knives. No end of sharpening would make any real difference. They are fit for cutting potatoes and little else.

Here's where these dull knives come into their own. They are great for digging dandelions out of the garden. Little else.

The good news is that you only need to spend the money once. There are many brands of quality knives. I am not going to guide you. (I have been enjoying a set of Wusthof knives  and a cleaver bought in my favorite Chinese supermarket for over a decade.) Do your own research. When you do buy a set, get the best you can afford. Get a set to include a cooks knife, a carving knife and fork. Get a fish filleting knife, a proper general utility knife and a small paring knife. Don’t forget the bread knife. Be sure to get a steel and a sharpening stone. They will reward you time and again over a lifetime.

Don’t misinterpret me when I do down Sheffield and Sabatier.  I have been in both and they are fine places. Both do have manufacturers who produce fine knives. Stainless steel was invented in Sheffield. However, the name of the town on its own is no guarantee of knife quality.

4 thoughts on ““That knife was pretty sharp. Was he hurt?”

  1. Have you read Bourdain’s first book?
    He goes on at length about knives – and rightly so.
    I’ve yet to find the ideal kitchen knife – a general purpose one – but I’m close!


    • The only recommendation is to spend the money. If you buy a really good knife, you will have it for ever. A great investment as you will forget what it cost very quickly and get a lifetime of enjoyment.


    • Very close to the truth indeed. A good friend just returned from China and brought me a new knife / cleaver. I am loving using it. Very sharp and accurate with a nice, natural feeling curve to the blade.


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