Pros: excellent performance
Cons: pricey, blade too narrow at times
Reviewed by Chef Joe George
Something you'll notice right away about this knife is it's appearance: It is, quite literally, a work of art. Sleek curves, colorful, polished, and ergonomic design; razor sharp and fast slicing; if this knife were a car it would likely be a late 1970's Corvette Stingray. And when you hold it in your hand you'll notice a couple things, too. One is that it is really comfortable. The long curved handle is not only lovely to look at, but it's ergonomic design makes it nice to hold as well. But the thing that struck me the first time I held it was its weight, or more specifically, its lightness. For someone such as myself, who is more accustomed to a heavier German-style chef's knife, it's light weight was a bit disconcerting. But don't let this mislead you, because this knife—I found out—is a workhorse in the kitchen. And the combination of it's lightness and ergonomic design makes it comfortable to work with for long periods.
Here's some interesting background information about the knife. New West KnifeWorks knives are 100% American made and the factory produces it's own hydro power to operate its machinery. In this day and age when this seems more important than ever before, this alone is enough to sway me to purchase one of their knives. In 2009 the manufacturing plant was moved from Japan to Massachusetts. The Fusionwood handles are made 130 miles away in Vermont, and the steel for the blade comes from Syracuse, NY; less than 300 miles from the New West KnifeWorks plant. And the plant is powered through the natural power of a nearby river.
The handles on these knives are made so beautiful by layering dyed hardwood veneer and impregnating the wood with a proprietary engineering grade resin, and the resulting handle is as lovely to look at as it is to hold. The blade of this knife is really impressive. Using powder metal technology, the blades have nearly three times the amount of steel carbon as other top-of-the-line leading brands. And because of this the blades are able to be made thin and razor sharp. They are also said to be nearly indestructible (but I haven't had mine long enough to have an opinion on this).
I work as a professional chef who has many years experience and have used many knives over my career, and for the past three weeks I have used this knife as my primary knife. And my views are 99% positive regarding this knife, and it's likely that I held back the 1% because I do not think that any knife can be perfect (but this one is nearly perfect). Really the only negative thing about this knife I can think of is that, while the blade is sleek, it is—for me—slightly too narrow at times. I do not mean thin, but narrow. When I am dicing or mincing things I often use the knife as an extension of my hand and use the knife to scoop up what I have just cut . This of course is possible with this knife, but the blade was a bit narrow (yes I am being picky here).
But how was the knife's overall performance? Excellent. The blade held it's edge and slicing and dicing is a joy. Believe-it-or-not, a couple times I actually did some of the prep work with this knife that I would—as the chef—normally pass off to the cooks. It has a precision cut with both large items and small, and it is a comfortable tool to hold all day; the top edge of the blade is rounded for added comfort as you “pinch” it in your grip.
Lastly, I have to add that this is a pricey knife. It retails for $279 at their website. But do I think it's worth the price? Without doubt. A knife to a chef in a busy kitchen is really an extension of themselves. When you are rushing around and pick up your knife you don't want to have to think about it; you want the knife to do the job it was designed to do and do it well. This knife does that. And to put things in perspective regarding the price, yes it is a small investment. But after purchasing a chef's knife like this you'll not have to have to again. Not only does it function exceedingly well, but it was built to last. This knife is perfect for someone who wants a high-end knife in their home kitchen, but even more so it will make a great addition to any chef's cutlery collection and will likely become their “everyday knife;” it has for me.
Joe George is Executive Chef of the Twentieth Century Club in Buffalo, NY. He is a frequent contributor to food magazines and websites, and he blogs at UrbanSimplicity.com.