Originally Posted by Andy M.
a sharp, reasonably priced, easy to use knife
This is what I hear from most people. The main problems here is just what do most folks define as "sharp" and how can we gauge "reasonably priced"?
These are good, serious concerns about quantified aspects. For example, what some clients might define as 'sharp' I would define as a "utility edge." In other words, the edge is pretty much the way it came from the factory. That usually means your "average edge," a bit toothy, and somewhere in the 20 degree range.
Let me demonstrate this from a seller's viewpoint. Just about everyone wants a moderately priced, sharp knife. However, when I take a gamble on my inventory orders I am actually trying to make sure I have great knives for "foodies" and for professional chefs.
And let's not forget one huge aspect of customer service--client expectation
. When a celebrity on The Iron Chef demonstrates impressive knife skills, lots of people want that
knife. It's probably an expensive knife, there's probably a guy like me at the celebrity's beckon call and money is probaby no object. The Galloping Gourmet had a tinker who traveled with him.
And this happens at both ends
of the scale. Both Rachael Ray and Cat Cora sell santukos for about fifty bucks. As a tradesman, do I risk numerous people bringing them back, or simply sharpen them constantly to make them look like the products on TV?
Coupled with the fact that you can just about buy any knife on the internet, I've had to narrow the scope of my niche market. Yes, my wife owns several lower priced "santukos." And you read the same articles and research materials I do. It's actually a Japanese knife by design only. Most times it's a Chinese knock-off.
I sharpened a cheap Chinese 'santuko' last night for a friend. I use the word 'friend' deliberately. I didn't get paid. The steel was of such poor quality that the sound of the stone changed pitch on the bevel. The rear of the knife sounded butter smooth. The front half of the knife sounded like a craggy sidewalk. I informed him of this fact, and made the knife slice newsprint on both bias.'
However, the knife is never going to hold the edge as long as a better knife. A professional chef would never stand for this. And frankly, a foodie client might feel I snookered them by selling them a poor quality knife.
A good knife is not reasonable in price. In fact, many of my clients, even chefs, are pushing many substandard knives beyond their service life and buy "one good one."
The first thing I do with a new client is ask probing questions about the use of the knife and their expectations. I would rather hear the client complain about the price than the product.