ESEE Becker Signature Cooking Knife Series 1 Review

ESEE Ethan Becker Signature Series 1 @ BladeHQ.com

 

Who would have guess ESEE Knives and cooking would be in the same sentence, let alone a name? The first words that come to my mind when I hear “ESEE Knives” is not “kitchen knife.” ESEE Knives, in collaboration with Ethan Becker, released their first kitchen knife series: the ESEE Becker Signature Cooking Knife Series 1 Set. Ethan Becker is co-author of the JOY OF COOKING – grandson of Marion Rombauer Becker; and more well-known as the chief designer and founder of Becker Knife & Tool Company.

The Signature Series Knives have been at work for almost five years in his personal kitchen. These four knives are blades that Mr. Becker feels are most essential to the average home cook: a 7″ Santuko, 6.75″ Chef, 5.25″ Santuko, and a 6″ Utility knife. The blades are full flat ground German DIN 1.4116 stainless steel (hardened to 55-757 RC) comparably to the 420HC stainless steel. It’s decent steel: you will have to sharpen this steel more often than some other knives. The handles are soft Santoprene rubber for no-slip grip and easy cleaning. The size of the handle on the 7″ Santuko is very comfortable in my hand. The only nit-picky fault I find is that the handles on the smaller blades are just a shy too short for my hand. I have wide palms and so need a little bit more room than the average person. They are dish washer safe, but as we all know the best way to take care of a kitchen knife is by hand-washing it with mild detergent and warm water. Each blade has Ethan Becker’s signature etched into.

For its price range ($120),  the Signature Cooking Knife Series 1 is a decent knife set. If you  have always wanted an Ethan Becker knife to use in the kitchen, the Series 1 are the knives for you.

You can buy this at BladeHQ.com.

Western versus Japanese

Most knife manufacturers have both the Japanese-style knives and Western-style knives. If you are looking for precision and presentation, Japanese knives have those qualities. If you are looking for quantity and ease, Western knives are the knives for you.

A Japanese knife is lighter, holds its edge longer, and its edge is cut differently than its counterpart. Japanese knives are usually made with harder steel. Which means the blade holds it edge longer (it doesn’t need to be sharpened as often) and the edge itself can be cut a steeper angle (ie 40 degrees versus 36 degrees). It is recommended that you take your Japanese blades to a professional sharpener. Japanese-style knives are more about precision and exactness.

Western knives use a softer steel. Keep in mind softer steel does not always mean inferior steel. Due to the softer steel the blades do not hold their edge as long as their Japanese counterparts, but are much easier to sharpen and are not as brittle. When held western knives have a bit more heft which can be a good thing, depending on your preferences.

It is recommended with any kitchen knife to hand wash them. Many manufacturers say their knives are dishwasher safe, but do not recommend it. Why? From what I found, erosion (or something close it) and particles in the water will eat away at the knife which can cause rust, edge chipping and/or dullness. It is also recommended to clean and dry your knife immediately after use and in between ‘cutting jobs’ to avoid staining and rusting. Yes you may have a knife that is ‘rust-resistance’. Your knife can still be susceptible to rust. Proper knife care will always lengthen the life of your knife.

Like I’ve said before in previous posts: Getting the right kitchen knife is mainly about preference. Be sure you ‘test drive’ the knife before buying it. Feel the knife in your hand. It may be tool, but it will be a tool you will use everyday. Get one that is comfortable to hold and meets your requirements. 

Below shows the anatomy of a Japanese-style knife and a Western-style knife. I had a lot of fun making this little info-graphic.

 Anatomy of a Kitchen Knife @bladehq.com

Which knife brand is the best?

Kershaw WBS1010 Block @bladehq.com

You’ve heard of them at one point or another:  F Dicks, Wusthof, Kyocera, Tojiro, Calphalon, Chroma, Messermeister, MAC, Cutco, J A Henckels, Shun, Dexter-Russell, Sabatier-K, Victorinox.  The list of well-known cutlery brands goes on. The question then pops up, “Which brand is the best?” There is ultimately no BEST in the cutlery. After researching on the world wide web on which cutlery brand/manufacturer is the best, I’ve come to the following conclusions:

  1. Almost every knife manufacturer claim their knives are the best. Even the commonly known ‘blah’ knife-makers make those claims. That doesn’t help the average consumer, me. I can say: I have gorgeous raven hair, beautiful long eyelashes that do the flirting for me, full and soft lips, a mixed heritage that makes all who stand by me look plain and luscious curves that give Beyonce a run for her money. As a consumer you have two options: Take what I say as truth or be skeptical. I can tell you that I was definitely stretching the truth. (But boy do I sound good when I’m hyped up!) A skeptical consumer is usually the smarter consumer. Do your research.
  2. The general census in the world of cutlery is the following: If you want a quality knife, a knife that makes other knives cry with envy, go with Japanese-made knives. I have to agree with the general population. Japanese knives are of high quality. These knives are light. They hold their edge. In other words they stay sharp longer than their European counterparts. Some of disadvantage to these knives is if you don’t know how to take care of you knife, it will easily fall prey to rust (which is never a good thing), chipping, etc; they usually need to be sharpened by a professional sharpener; and they can get quite pricey.
  3. European and American made knives are usually heavier than their Japanese counterparts. It is sometimes a hit and miss when it comes to value. These knives are made to be ‘consumer friendly’. Meaning they are easier to sharpen; more rust resistant and less brittle than their Japanese counterparts; there is a broader variety of knives which mean a wider price range. Sometimes you can find a knife made with quality steel at an affordable price. Other times you will find an ‘high-end’ knife that isn’t quite worth the price (Do your homework).
  4. Most brands offer both a Western style knife and a Japanese style knife. The main difference between a Western knife and a Japanese knife is the blade structure. A traditional Japanese style knife has a blade with a single edge. A Western style knife has a blade with a double edge.
  5. It all comes down to preference: How the knife feels in your hand; the ease of use; how often you want to sharpen your knife; is sanitation your number one priority; size, weight, shape; how much you are willing to spend on a knife for the kitchen; etc. If you’re looking to get one knife, a chef knife will cover most of your chopping, dicing and slicing needs.
  6. Being an informed consumer takes time and a commitment.

I know what you’re thinking, “This still doesn’t help me. Which brands can I trust? Which brands will offer the quality I’m looking for?” Below are some of the brands that I found to be reputable and offer products of quality.  

Global

Global offers one-piece stainless steel knives. GLOBAL knives are made from the finest stainless steel material (CROMOVA 18).  Each knife is carefully inspected and weighed for balance before it’s shipped to the retailer.

 J A Henckels International

J A Henckels International manufactures and sells most anything that can be found in the kitchen. From cutlery to flatware to cookware to scissors.  They are the parent company of Zwillings Pro, Miyabi (their Japanese knife line), Demeyere and Staub.  Their knives are forged out of carbon steel, stainless steel and/or stainless steel alloy.  

Kyocera

Kyocera offers high-quality ceramic knives. Ceramic knives stay sharp much longer and hold their edge longer than the forged or stamped steel knives. The blades do not absorb any food element; thus making them a a very sanitary knife. These knives are used for cutting soft foods and boneless meats. Kyocera stands behind their ceramic products with their Lifetime Warranty and Lifetime Sharpening.

Sabatier-K

Sabatier-K has been in the knife business for over 200 years. The company itself has not moved from Bellevue, France since its creation. A family business they specialize in cutlery and folding knives. Their knives are made forged from carbon steel or stainless steel.

Tojiro

Tojiro are known for their excellent steel and great value. While perusing their website, I have found them refreshingly open and honest. They truly want to inform their potential customers on what elements should go into a good kitchen knife.

Wusthof

Wusthof is a family owned company. Since 1814 Wusthof has been providing knives to chefs and cooks. They offer various handle options providing a wide range of grips.  Each knife is forged from a single piece of steel alloy (X50 Cr MoV 15).  This steel alloy combination allows for the blade to stay sharp, have a longer lasting cutting edge, have a higher stain resistance and is easier maintenance and sharpening.

Buying a kitchen knife is like buying a car or a mattress: There is only so much research you can do. Eventually you’re going to have to go the dealer’s lot or mattress store and give the car/mattress a test drive. Kitchen knives are the same way. Go to your nearest kitchen knife retailer (Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target, Macy’s, a restaurant supplier, etc) and hold the knives in your hand. Decide which knife makes your hand sing or cry. Let me know which knife you decided to buy.

Which kitchen knife should I buy? Part 1

There are three types of consumers out there. The first is what I like to call the “blind consumer”. That consumer goes and buys this or that relying on what is said on the packaging. A typical conversation between a blind consumer and the targeted product might go like this:

Blind Consumer: “I need a kitchen knife.”

<Goes to nearest store that sells kitchen knives. Finds the knife aisle. Pulls a knife off the shelf.>

Knife Product: “Buy me! I stay sharp forever! I’m the best knife out there.”
Blind Consumer: “Ooh, it stays sharp forever. AND it’s only $9.99. I’m getting a great deal!”

<Buys the knife. Blissfully unaware of what is really inside the packaging.>

I am ashamed to admit that I fall into that category sometimes. I get pulled into the sometimes-outrageous claims that get put on the packaging. “If it’s on the packaging, it’s gotta be the truth!” The blind consumer is not the smartest of shoppers. The next category of consumer is the “skeptical consumer”. This consumer is someone who will do some research when looking to buy a product (but not much).

Skeptical Consumer: “I know I need a good kitchen knife. I don’t know much about what makes a kitchen knife good, but I’ll see what others have to say.”

<Googles: Best kitchen knife to buy.> <click>

Skeptical Consumer: “This blog raves about Wusthof knives.”

<click> ”

Skeptical Consumer: “So does this site. Hmmmm, I wonder if there are any bad things I should know of before buying.”

<Googles: Wusthof knife reviews.> <click>

Skeptical Consumer: “There are a couple bad reviews here and there, but overall Wusthof seem like a good buy.”

<Orders online or finds the nearest Wusthof retailer to purchase his new kitchen knife.>

OR

Skeptical Consumer: “My friend loves her Tojiro. I think I’ll go on her recommendation and try it out.”

The skeptical consumer knows not to rely completely on what the manufacturer claims its product will do. But he also doesn’t do serious in-depth research. He does enough research to assure himself that the product he is buying is of good value. The last category is what I like to call the “deep consumer”. She does her research. It may be months before she is ready to make a purchase. She combs through the blogs, wiki, reviews, anything that will give her the upper edge. She asks questions on blogs. She becomes an ‘expert’ or very close to one in the product she wants to buy.

Deep Consumer: “I need a quality kitchen knife. Which brands are reputable? etc.”

<Googles: Kitchen Knives, Brands of kitchen knives, etc.> <click> <click> <click>

Deep Consumer: “Hmm.. there are Japanese, German and French style knives. This is more complicated than I thought.” <Googles: style of kitchen knives, Japanese knives versus German knives, steel qualities, etc.>

<click> <click> <Googles> <more clicking>
….(weeks of research to months of research to perhaps even a year later)

Deep Consumer: “I feel confident enough to make a choice. I’m going to buy…”

I think everyone can remember falling into one or more of these categories.  Which are you? I would love to have the time to be a Deep Consumer. I think everyone would like to always be a deep consumer. Despite my desire to be the educated consumer, I can’t always afford the time to sit down and do in-depth research on a product. And so with this blog I hope I can help you, the consumer, to feel more comfortable in the world of cutlery which will hopefully help you make an educated purchase.

But I diverge…Why this huge intro when this post is suppose to be on kitchen knife brands?

There is so much information out there that I decided to divide the information in the following post: What brands are reputable and have quality knives; what the difference is between a Japanese-made knife from a German-made knife from a French-made knife; and what are the must-have knives in a kitchen; and the anatomy of a kitchen knife and how to take care of it. I thought it would be a simple task of finding the top 5 brands of kitchen knives. After doing my research, my task grew into a intricate tree of information. My research branched out from what I thought would be a simple topic to types of steel, types of edges, handle types, brands, sharpening, types of specialty knives,  etc. I still feel like I only know the bare minimum of what is cutlery.

However, I feel confident enough to say this: When buying a kitchen knife, it’s all about preference of the chef. It’s like buying a mattress. The feel of the mattress under you is oh-so more important than what brand it is. A knife is like that. If you don’t like how it feels in your hand and how it ‘drives’, then it’s not the knife for you. Like most artistic forms, it’s mainly about the feel, the touch and less about the mechanics.

Meanwhile, take a look at this  infographic. It shows you what each type of knife is used for. I find it very helpful in deciphering what’s being said when floating around the different kitchenware blogs.

 

If you're looking for Kitchen Knives…

…we recommend shopping for kitchen knives and kitchen knife needs at BladeHQ.com. These guys try so hard. JA Henckles, Kershaw, Boker, Benchmade- they have all the obscure brands no one has heard of. But just you wait- shortly their shelves will be lined with amazing brands like Al Mar, Microtech, Spyderco, Victorinox, Wüsthof and more brands you may not have heard of. Progress isn’t always pretty.

Want to learn more about the kitchen knife? Visit Wikipedia’s kitchen knife page. There’s a ton of great info on blade materials, manufacturing, edge types and grinds, handles, knife types and uses as well as some fascinating historical information. Who knew that the kitchen knife could be this interesting? Wait for it… that’s right. We did. KitchenKnife.com- dedicated to all things kitchen knife and kitchen knife related.

If there are specific kitchen products you’re interested in just drop us a line and we’ll consider adding them to our website. At some point in the near future KitchenKnife.com will open it’s own ecommerce shop filled with kitchen knives and kitchen knife accessories. For the time bring you can ship at BladeHQ.com.  Thanks for stopping by!

KKC

Welcome to KitchenKnife.com

Welcome to our website, www.kitchenknife.com. We are thrilled to occupy this spot on the web. Why? Well, because we love kitchen knives and all things kitchen knife related!* The kitchen knife is probably one of the first knives that people are exposed to. Growing up you see your parents use a kitchen knife to prepare food and you probably used one yourself while eating dinner. The knife, as people quickly discover, is a very useful tool. Individuals and companies dedicate their time, resources and mental energies to the creation and care of  incredible knives for the kitchen (as well as the outdoors).

Kitchen Knife

In any event, if you’re here it’s because you’re interested in kitchen knives. A kitchen knife is a knife which has the intended primary purpose of food preparation. Often most food preparation can be accomplished with a few simple kitchen knife variations such as the parring knife, large chef’s knife and cleaver.  However, over time dozens of variations have evolved for specific tasks. Kitchen knives can be made from any number of blade and/or handle materials. Kitchen knives can rage in price from a few dollars to many hundreds of dollars each.  From the casual kitchen vigilante to the professional Chef the kitchen knife has carved (sorry) out a home in every corner of life. And with that brief introduction, we welcome you again to www.kitchenknife.com.

____________________________________________

*And if you think about it, the number of kitchen knife related items is staggering. There’s knife sharpeners, kitchen blocks and chopping boards. Not to mention cutting gloves, knife bags (you know, when you need to bring your kitchen knives with you), edge protectors and electric sharpeners. And then you have your peelers, your can openers, food processors, and a whole array of related products that you’ll need to buy in connection with a kitchen knife set. And cookbooks. You’ll need a ton of cookbooks.  

KKC