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Is it rude to sharpen someone's knives?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I'm a cooking geek and frequently find myself cooking in other people's homes when they start to prepare food and roll their eyes and sigh because they don't enjoy cooking.  One thing that drives me nuts is using other people's knives that are poorly maintained and dull.  I have no problem finding their steel (most of them have one in their knife "set") and at least honing their knives so I can work with a straighter edge.  Many people respond with "Oh, so that's what that's for."  The knives are not great, but at least they're better and safer.

 

We prepare Thanksgiving dinner at our son's house.  In addition to all of the ingredients, we usually pack along our own knives.  We gave our son some really good knives several years ago and they are nowhere to be found.  Instead he and his wife purchased a Wusthof set.  None of the knives are maintained and they throw them in the dishwasher to wash them.  :eek:

 

Last year, I packed along my sharpening stones and sharpened all of their knives when I got there.  After watching my DIL and SIL slicing vegetables with tiny cheap paring knives on small plastic boards, I handed them freshly sharpened knives more appropriate to the task and a wooden board.  They marveled at the difference (Duh!).  My son then wanted to know more about knife sharpening.  I gave him a quick lesson and also talked about knife maintenance . . . including don't throw them in the dishwasher.  Immediately after dinner was over, they threw all the knives (and sterling flatware) into the dishwasher.  I could only stand there and shake my head.

 

Since they're family, I feel I have a little more latitude with what I can get away with.  I don't seem to be getting through to them about the why and how of sharpening knives.  I think I'll just plan on sharpening all of their knives every Thanksgiving.  Friends don't seem to mind the steeling of their knives (I haven't shown up with my stones and sharpened the knives of friends . . . only family).

 

I try to avoid appearing to be a knife snob and being positive about the importance and joy of sharp knives.  Years ago, I learned so much from friends of ours that are professional chefs and would steel our knives when they were cooking in our kitchen.  This led to asking them a lot of questions about knives, knife maintenance, and sharpening.  I didn't mind that they did this . . . In fact, I welcomed their insight and instruction.

 

Is there anyone else out there honing or sharpening other people's knives?  If so, what kind of reaction do you get?

post #2 of 9

I sharpen my mom's and MIL's all the time... I swear they rub them on the corner of the Stainles Steel sink to purposely dull them when I leave.

 

It's insane but what do you do?

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #3 of 9

It really depends on the situation.  I have sharpened other people's knives, but only when I am either asked to sharpen them or I have asked permission.

 

If I know I am going to be cooking at someone else's home, I will bring my own knife roll, cutting boards and Edge Pro Apex kit.  I do control who gets to handle my knives and I also control what cutting surface is used.

 

Usually, since most kitchens are stocked with knives which have never been sharpened since purchase, most of the knives need to be sharpened.  Letting the hosts feel the cutting difference between their knives and mine is usually enough for them to spark the conversation towards sharpening and to let me to sharpen their knives.

 

 

Galley Swiller

post #4 of 9

I would for people who aren't in the food business like friends and family (if asked), who clearly have no concept on the importance of sharp knives. But I would never touch the knife of a colleague, or fellow chef.

 

About 3 years ago I purchased a brand new knife for my mom and dad who lived in PR since they always used knives that look like something aboriginal people use in a third world country deep in the jungle. When I went to visit them last year I was looking for a knife to use and found the knife I had given them brand new, still in it's sleeve. I asked my mom "why haven't you used this knife?!!", and her response was "because it's so sharp I'm scared of using it".....some people just like using dull knives. I'm amazed at how they adapt to using these kinds of knives and actually know how to work them quite well.


Edited by Pollopicu - 3/22/14 at 3:47pm
“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #5 of 9

I never take it upon myself to decide that somelse's knife is not up to my standards of sharpness and therefore a situation that needs immediate rectifying.

 

I don't rearrange their pantry so that it flows more efficiently from a production status.

 

I don't correct their seasoning on the NY steak and fix the broken beurre rouge.

 

Basically, I just smile a lot, sincerely ask what I can do to help, and express my gratitude at being invited over for dinner, saying what a wonderful treat it is to share the evening meal with friends.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #6 of 9
I just pack my own knives and ignore the slabs of steel with handles in other's kitchens. Less hassle and less frustration that way.


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post #7 of 9

As a home cook, one of whose main hobbies is cooking and baking, I'd love to know how you arrange a pantry "so that it flows more efficiently from a production status".

On the topic at hand, we're  just finishing a major kitchen remodel and I've looked at ATK article on knife sets and am looking at buying our 1st good set of knives.  I guess it depends on knowing your hosts.  I, myself, would be open minded to having someone give me a lesson on knives and knife sharpening.  Others, not so much.  And some must just be happy to have you do it sans the discussion.

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loomchick View Post
 

 Instead he and his wife purchased a Wusthof set.  None of the knives are maintained and they throw them in the dishwasher to wash them.  :eek:

 


I have the original Wusthof steak knives, and 12" carving, and 4" paring knife "we" (I) got as a wedding gift 20+ years ago, they have all been through the dishwasher over and over again, on average of one a week and none have shown to be any worse for it.
My High carbons never but stainless, you bet. Especially that my dishwasher has a heat sanitizing capability.


I have always carried my own knife kit with me to family/friends houses for parties.  At least for the past 25 years.
Simple rule: Nobody uses my knives, I don't use anybody else's knives. (unless I gave it to them in the first place, see below.)   

I will sharpen/hone peoples knives for them, but I won't just start doing it, without permission. Especially a fellow professionals knife.

Everybody we know that gets married get the same wedding gift from us, a Boos wooden cutting board, a bottle of mineral oil, a (Wusthof) 8" Chef Knife, & 4" paring knife, and a "medium" steel. Along with the promise that any time I visit I will "touch up" their knives for them.

post #9 of 9

There are several reason why people don't recommend putting knives in the dishwasher. They can damage other utensils, or be damaged by things bumping or scraping against them, It increases the risk of someone accidentally cutting or stabbing themselves (if put in right side up), or damaging the tip (if put in upside down), or damage the handle if wooden or riveted, but mainly because most detergents can hurt the blade, especially over time. Plus they really don't need all that time to get clean and don't take any time to wash. 

 

Whenever I cook at home a keep a sink full of hot, soapy water so its much easier to just clean them in there and at work of course we already have the three sink setup so I just wash them in there and skip the dishwasher.

 

But hey they're your knives, do whatever you want with 'em. 

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