“Chefs put more money into knives than cars,” says Chris Weist, the 49-year-old executive chef of McHale’s Events and Catering. The most important tools of the trade, quality knives can cost thousands of dollars. “I wanted to start a business that took care of them,” he says. Weist also wanted a means to support his own knife habit, so in 2011 he started Cincy Sharp, putting his fascination with blades to work.
What differentiates Weist’s sharpening skills from other knife services is his method: While others dry grind a blade, Weist performs minimally invasive surgery with Japanese waterstone. “I’m preserving instruments,” he says. “When someone hands me a $1,000 sushi knife, I’m going to take care of it. Dry grinding would tear it up.” From broken tips and large nicks to customizing a bevel, Weist takes on anything and everything, turning most orders around in under 48 hours from his Anderson Township garage. And recently, Weist has expanded his service from chefs and restaurateurs to include the general public.
Weist is still feeding his habit—his current favorite is an 8-inch Glestain with grantons (dimples that break surface tension between blade and food)—though being able to handle other people’s prized knives now satisfies more of it. “It was a dream come true to work on a Kikuichi,” he says—a Japanese knife made by a company with a 700-year-old tradition, known for their Samurai swords. “[It’s] a perfect storm of the right metal treated the right way. But I’d really like to hold a hand-made Bob Kramer or Murray Carter. Someday.”
Eight Is Enough
Which knife to buy? An 8-inch blade is suitable for most cooks. “Pick it up and feel it,” says Weist. “It should feel like a natural extension of your arm.”
High carbon + stainless steel + forged blade + full tang = quality knife
At garage sales and auctions, look for Japan stamped into the blade when buying a used knife. “The Japanese know how to make steel,” says Weist.
Your workhorse should be as good as you can afford. For quality mid-priced knives Weist recommends the Miyabi line by Henckel and the Wusthof Ikon series.
Some of the most coveted knives are by master bladesmith Bob Kramer. Expect a year wait for one of these $300 per inch beauties.
Cincy Sharp, (513) 240-8130, cincinnatiknifesharpening.com
Originally published in the October 2013 issue