Knife Upgrades

It has come to my attention that since I’ve worked at Sur La Table for going on a year and a half, that people assume my kitchen is full of top-of-the-line products. Not so! Surprisingly most of my paycheck actually does come home with me (as opposed to being spent at work). We are still using more or less everything we registered for when we got married in 2010. Most of the stuff we were generously given was good quality, and replacing it would be an exercise in needless expense. I’m so grateful for this fact!

That said, the knife set (Farberware, not carried anymore; see similar) that we were given is good, not great. I knew nothing about knives when we registered at Target so I signed up for one that included LOTS of knives. Just in case, right? I it’s a 20-piece set (includes 8 steak knives), which is HUGE for a knife set! After 3 years, some were getting a little dull, so last spring I took them to work and got them re-sharpened. They were good to go for a while longer, while I decided what I really wanted to get. Some of them are developing brown patina spots, and that’s our own fault for putting them in the dishwasher (see the end of this post for knife care tips).

After much agonizing, I finally decided to make a few upgrades to the knife corral. Here’s my lineup before upgrading… a photo I took so I could visually see what I was working with, and do some brainstorming.

My Knives, Before

Many chefs will tell you that a person needs three good knives in their kitchen. A chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife (with serrations). I like having a bit of a larger arsenal, but overall I agree with this rule of thumb. Therefore, some of my good not great knives are perfect for less-frequent, specialty jobs.

This meant that I wouldn’t need to replace my:

  • Cleaver (far right). Pretty standard, nice and heavy. Does its job well.
  • Carving set (center). Believe it or not I rarely make poultry or roasts that need to be carved. ;) These are in fine shape.
  • Bread knife (long, serrated). In my opinion, all bread knives are pretty similar. Not a splurge-worthy area.
  • Miscellaneous knives (far left). The yellow one was a gift from J.A. Henckles, from attending a training event for work. It is wicked sharp! The gold one’s brand is Kuhn Rikon. It’s also wicked sharp, and cheap. You may recognize it from my sister’s food-themed bachelorette party favor bag.

The knives on the chopping block (pun intended) were my:

  • Chef’s knife (2nd from right). The most-used kitchen knife, I was ready for something sharper made of higher-quality steel.
  • Santoku (3rd from right). My second-most used kitchen knife, I use a 7″ santoku for most fruits and vegetables.
  • Paring and utility knives (3rd and 4th from left). Using the yellow-handled knife has me spoiled! A longer utility of equal sharpness would be amazing.

Since I finally had a chance to pull out my knives all at the same time and evaluate them, I was able to make a decision on what new knives I would get without getting overwhelmed. Now, the knife block boasts two newbies!

Knife Block

Shun Sora and Global

I chose a Shun Sora 8″ chef’s knife and a Global 5.5″ nakiri to replace my chef’s knife, santoku, and utility knife. Two in, three out! I got Japanese knives since they are sharper and more precise than German knives (which the rest of mine are), and they will keep their sharp edge longer. I plan on doing a more in-depth review on these two, and a quick and dirty rundown on Japanese vs. German cutlery later this week. It’s too much info to squeeze into this already-long post, but it will go a long way towards helping anyone make an educated purchase of their own knives. Oh yes, and I promised you some tips to keep your cutlery in top shape:

Tips to make your knives stay sharp and last longer:

  • Use a honing steel to maintain the edge of the blade regularly. This allows you to go longer between sharpenings.
  • Don’t put knives in the dishwasher! Harsh surfacants in dishwasher soaps can damage the micro-sharp edge.
  • Don’t let them sit in water (in the sink, in a puddle on the counter). Brown rust patina spots can develop. Keep your knives dry!
  • Store them in a wooden block, on a magnet, or with edge guards in the drawer. This protects the blade, and your hands!

Do you have a favorite knife brand? See you later this week for more knife talk! 


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Staci blogs about travel at

2 thoughts on “Knife Upgrades”

  1. For years I had IKEA knives… like the cheap plastic handle ones. I didn’t think twice about it until we got a new knife set off of our registry. The difference of a good knife is amazing! I have totally underestimated the power of a good knife. And dare I say… they can look downright sexy (is that weird to say??? haha)! Especially the two that you picked!

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