Battle of the Blades

With so many opinions, I decided a side-by-side “cut-off” would be the best way to determine the right knife for my needs. In the running were the Shun Ken Onion, the Wüsthof Classic, and the Forschner. I ran them through a string of everyday cooking hurdles: each would have to julienne a zucchini, chiffonade basil, and dice a tomato—a veritable steeplechase that would reveal each knife’s distinctive qualities.

The Shun felt like a custom-made tool; my fingers snugly gripped the handle and my forefinger rested easily on top of the bolster. In the chiffonade and julienne tests, its consistency and precision led to delusions of culinary grandeur. But when I sliced into a tomato, my gleeful smile faded as the blade failed to glide through its flesh as well as I had predicted.

Though the Shun certainly made my old Chicago Cutlery look like a caveman’s tool, it wasn’t until I handled the Wüsthof that its shortcomings came into crisp focus. To my great satisfaction, the knife’s extra heft effortlessly guided the sturdy blade through the tomato’s soft flesh. My grip was more traditional—familiar, yet a bit contorted, which made the chiffonade and julienne tests slightly less consistent than they were with the Shun. But the tomato test made quite an impression.

The Forschner made an excellent dark-horse showing, performing all of the tasks with surprising efficiency. But its noticeably thin blade, plastic handle, and light weight all served as reminders of its lower price point. And while julienning the zucchini, I began to envision a callus forming on my index finger.
The final decision was vexing. With every fantasy of owning a sleek, gorgeous tool came a dose of practical utility. And every daydream of lightning-fast precision chopping was followed by memories of dirty dishes left indulgently to soak in the kitchen sink. So in the end I settled on the Wüsthof. Much as I like to fantasize about elaborate culinary experiences in an immaculate Food Network kitchen, alas, I am set in my ways: efficiency and utility are what really satisfy me from day to day.