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Knives are personal things for chefs. Not only do we (I’m just a few months into cooking school and saying we LOL) use them a lot (for me third only to the wooden spoon and little metal tasting spoon), but knives also kind of give us our personality in the kitchen. With so many things the same – the white coats, uniform pants, black shoes, etc… there’s hardly anywhere left to express a bit of indivuality or show some personality. When I saw the knives of New West KnifeWorks I had to try them because they’re certainly different from all the big-name German knives out there.

Most of you probably know I’m in full time cooking school at Shatec now. I had just started schooling, with these really basic knife sets every student received. Black plastic handle generic knives… supposedly of German origin with a blade about as sharp as the back side of a key. Actually that wasn’t such a bad thing as we all fumbled through our first paysanne, battonette, julienne, and the all too famous brunoise. Too sharp a knife too soon and we all might have ended our kitchen careers as quickly as we started.

I soon realized though that the knife wasn’t going to carry me through the time at school, and I began looking for a replacement. For full disclosure I was contacted around this time by the folks at new West KnifeWorks. I visited the website and saw the images and thought the knives looked really nice. Talked with them a bit about my preferences, types of cutting I regularly do, etc and their guys and I worked out two knives I should try to get a sampling of what they offer.

One thing I had learned from the school set was that in the production kitchen I favor a larger knife. I thought all the 10 or 12 inch knife talk was insecure chefs exercising a bit of compensation to put it bluntly

But actually the larger size was nice for me as it’s easier to slide ingredients you’ve been cutting up on the blade and move to containers… also the weight of the blade means you actually push less when cutting… letting the blade and gravity do more work for you. So I went for the biggest I could find. The 9. It’s from their Phoenix line of knives. Nice and big with the divots usually found in a Santouko but in a more western friendly nice shape. Sort of a best of both worlds knife. I like the simple cocobolo handle as I was getting a Fusionwood for the other knife.

I took it to school and cooked with it for the last few months before commenting. After using it for a few months I can safely say it’s damn sharp, balanced, holds an edge for a while and has become an extension of myself as I’ve grown with it. I also have a Global and Wustoff and prefer this one to both for most of my cutting needs. I’ve chopped a lot of veggies, deboned chickens, and in a pinch used it to fillet a fish. It performed well in all situations. My classmates at school were jealous and all wanted to hold it and try it out. Some commented it was “crazy sharp” and that “it scared them”

. It definitely was a huge leap forward from the knives provided by the school.

The other knife I ordered was from their more standout “Fusionwood” series. At school we  have to carry a small pairing knife in our jackets at all times… useful for cutting strings, opening supplies… threatening taxi drivers (JK). I liked the look of the handle and had to admit to wanting a bit of personality in the kitchen. Instead of a generic black handle sticking out, I have a brightly colored wooden handle. Also important is that if anyone picks it up to use it I know right away as it certainly stands out in the kitchen.

The blade is sharp. It actually slid though my chef jacket arm pocket when I put it in without the case! It’s well balanced, cuts like it needs to, and looks even better in person than in the photos. I’d like a full set of steak knives or others for the home. They look really nice and feel great in the hand. I’d try a larger sized chef’s knife from this series after using this one if only they offered larger. For home chefs though I think the 8-inchers should work great and look nice if you display your knife sets out in the open.

The only concern I have, and it’s small, is that I wish they had a 10 or slighly larger even than the 9. For me in the kitchen it’s still a little narrow a blade for picking up and sliding ingredients into dishes. Not as bad as the 8-inch Global, but still more narrow than what we were previously using. The learner size though does mean it’s easier to move around inside meat cuts and a quicker up and down… so like everything it’s a trade-off.

All in all I’m very happy with the knives. On days I know we’re not doing anything exotic in the kitchen I can simply bring my 9-inch and pairing knife and leave the knife roll at home. These two sizes do 90% of what I will ever need in the kitchen.

New West Knifeworks

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