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Günter Wilhelm-THE “KNIFE GUYS” IN THE CUTLERY BUSINESS

Günter Wilhelm-THE “KNIFE GUYS” IN THE CUTLERY BUSINESS

Who would have guessed that an award-winning manufacturer of high-quality knives and cookware would be tucked away right in our own neighborhood?

Günter Wilhelm® was established in 2002 with the mission to design, manufacture, and market a distinctive brand of high-quality knives and cookware at affordable prices. The company spent years interviewing chefs to find out what features they prefer. A knife that was comfortable to hold with a balanced blade and handle were key requests.

Upon visiting the showroom at 628 Swan Street in Ramsey, any Food Channel fan worth their salt will recognize numerous faces on the wall of chefs who swear by Günter Wilhelm knives and cookware. The company manufactures the cutlery of choice for many professional executive chefs, world-class barbecue and grilling champions, numerous pit and grill masters, and countless backyard and home cooks.

This year marks Günter Wilhelm’s 20th year in business, and CEO David Malek takes great pride in his company’s products. “We wanted to build sharp knives with good edge retention,” says David. “We tested steel from around the world and found we preferred German steel, which is very hard but very maintainable.” Although the steel from Japan is extremely hard, it is more prone to nick and chip, and the narrow angle of the edge makes it hard to maintain and sharpen. The German steel is treated with a unique heat process that keeps the edge sharp and the knife strong without being brittle. “This is especially appropriate for something like a filet knife, which needs to be flexible,” says David.

After an intensive R&D process, the Executive Chef line of knives was created, featuring a triple-tang handle design. This means that the blade’s steel is set all the way down to the bottom of the wood handle, making it exceptionally strong and secure. David also developed the ProCut collection, which features versatile knives with antibacterial handles.

In addition to their cutlery lines, Günter Wilhelm manufactures cast aluminum cookware developed in collaboration with the German National Culinary team. The products are handmade in Germany from heavy-duty aluminum, which is perfect for heat distribution, offering unsurpassed non-stick performance and easy cleaning. The non-stick coating is water-based and free of solvents. When you visit the showroom, check out the video in which the military tank runs over various brands of pots. Guess which pot holds up in the end? (I won’t give it away!)

Günter Wilhelm’s showroom features the full product line, including modular, reversible knife block sets. They also offer a unique laser engraving service which is perfect for gifting (think: housewarming, wedding, and foodservice related gifts).

Günter Wilhelm is the Official Cutlery and Cookware of The White House Chef Tour (2010 to present), and the Official Cutlery of the World Food Championships (2014 to 2017). It has been awarded multiple recognitions and endorsements from executive, professional, and celebrity chefs, top-ranked restaurants, and numerous home cooks and chefs.

David shares a story of one particular chef who befriended the company online and consistently provided excellent reviews. While at the International Restaurant and Food Service Show, the chef approached the Günter Wilhelm table and introduced himself. “When I shook his hand, I could see that his uniform indicated that he was a White House chef,” says David. “That was pretty amazing. We still work together—he loves our cookware too.”

“We’ve been at shows and competitions where we’ve won in almost every category, including ‘best in show,'” says David. “It’s an amazing feeling. I was at an event in Seattle, and I had a couple of knives with me. Someone was demonstrating a hog butchering class, and he asked to borrow a knife. Later, he took a picture together with me. Unbeknownst to me, it was Mark Lambert, six-time barbecue world champion. He is an icon in the barbecue community. Today, Mark sells Günter Wilhelm knives.

Günter Wilhelm also received outstanding reviews from Barbecue Hall of Famer, Meathead, who recommended Günther Wilhelm on his website and recognized the line as one of the best products of 2020. “The barbecue and grilling world is filled with wonderful people,” says David. “It is awesome to work with them. These BBQ champions and professional chefs see so many pieces of equipment throughout the year. It’s a huge honor to be the cutlery and cookware of choice for those guys. It’s really great.”

 

Download the Northwest Bergen Magazine PDF – Jul. 2022

Article by Kris Pepper
Photography by Sarah Flannery
Originally published in Northwest Bergen Lifestyle

Guide to Buying Kitchen Knife

Gunter Wilhelm Expert Guide to Buying Kitchen Knife or Knife Set

Types of Kitchen Knives

This article aims to introduce the most popular types of kitchen knives and the tasks they're designed to handle. You will learn what to include and what not to include in your knife set. There are more than a dozen different kitchen knives. Some are versatile, while others are dedicated for a specific use.

The 14 knives in this list are the most popular ones for daily cooking and food-serving jobs. They make up the core of all professional as well as home cook knife sets. Perhaps you've recently purchased a knife set and realized you don't know what each is meant for. Maybe you've had a knife set for a while and are starting to wonder how the ones you never use might make your life easier. Either way, understanding the different types of kitchen knives and how to use them can open up a whole new world. Grab a knife and cutting board, and let's get cutting!

Chef's Knife

A chef's knife is a must-have for any chef, cook or kitchen enthusiast. It is typically 8 to 10 inches long, and the blade rounds at the tip. It is the ultimate all-purpose kitchen knife, though there are a few tasks for which it isn't the best choice. For instance, don't use it to peel small produce as it is too large to be precise. Also avoid using it to carve cooked meat.

While you can handle most cutting tasks in the kitchen with a good chef's knife, a blade designed specifically for a purpose can bring more ease and precision to the cut. The right knives will encourage you to prep food with confidence and creativity: you'll be free of worries about how best to approach a cut.

Santoku Knife

The Santoku knife is a Japanese version of the Western-style chef's knife. The main difference is that it's slightly shorter and thinner. Some cooks use it in place of the chef's knife when they need a smaller, lighter blade. With more of a straight blade, the Santoku knife has small indentations that make it easier for food to slide off. This knife is very versatile, great for chopping, dicing and mincing ingredients, or for slicing cheese. You can use it for just about anything you'd use a chef's knife for; both are great all-purpose knives.

The Santoku is sometimes made with a hollow edge. The dimples along the blade allow it to cut through meat, fish and other soft and tough materials without the food sticking to the knife and reducing the speed and precision of the cut. Because it has a flat blade, it doesn't rock on the cutting board. This makes it less suited for mincing herbs but a better choice for cutting skinny slices of veggies.

Carving Knife

The carving knife is a little more niche than the chef's or Santoku knife. Its primary purpose is slicing and carving dense meats. If you're cooking a large cut of meat like beef, pork or roasted turkey, a carving knife will come in handy. Compared to the more general-purpose knives, the carving knife is narrower, giving it more precision, and can be longer, which helps it slice through wider pieces. It might have a hollow blade edge to make it easier to release each slice.

While perhaps not an everyday knife, the carving knife is useful to have on hand whenever you are bringing a large roast to the table.

When shopping for a carving knife, look for a blade that is at least 8 inches long, although we find 10 inches the most efficient size. If the blade is too short, it will be difficult to slice larger cuts of meat.

Bread Knife

The bread knife is used for cutting bread, cakes and sometimes seafood. It is long, featuring serrated edges. Its design allows you to saw through bread without squishing it by pushing too hard on the knife. Made to cut not just bread but also other large chunks of food, the bread knife belongs to the longer spectrum of kitchen knives. It can be between 7 and 10 inches long. Its blade is always serrated, with big "teeth" along it, and it is narrow and straight, meaning it has no belly.

Utility Knife

The utility knife is smaller than the chef's knife but not quite as petite as the paring knife. It is usually used for cutting food too small for a chef's knife, such as small to midsized vegetables and cuts of meat. A serrated utility knife comes in handy for slicing sandwiches, while a straight-blade utility knife is helpful when peeling produce, though sometimes that's better left to the paring knife. Measuring between 4 and 7 inches in length, the utility knife is not the best choice for chopping or slicing large items. However, its narrow blade and small tip allow it to handle tasks such as thinner slicing, trimming and filleting even better than a chef's knife.

Boning Knife

The boning knife, as its name suggests, is used for separating meat from the bone, filleting fish and cutting up meat. A smaller boning knife can also be used in place of a paring knife for peeling and trimming veggies. Typically 6 to 10 inches long, a boning knife has an narrow, flexible blade that tapers to a pointed tip. It can cut through tough connective tissues and joints that other knives struggle with. Just remember, cut around bones, not through them. The boning knife is also very effective at removing skin from fish.

Paring Knife

The paring knife is proof that you should never judge a knife by its size. This little piece of cutlery has a very thin but very sharp blade. It expertly peels, chops, slices, minces and removes seeds. It's my go-to for slicing fruit or cutting up hot peppers. Though you don't want to cut large pieces of meat or produce with it, you can use it for just about everything else, and you'll find yourself reaching for it a lot. It's available in either a straight or serrated edge. If you love making garnishes for your food and drinks, the paring knife is a must-have. It usually comes with a thin 3 to 4-inch blade with a pointed tip. You can use it for cutting and peeling fruits and veggies and for trimming excess fat with great precision.

The paring knife is proof that you should never judge a knife by its size. This little piece of cutlery has a very thin but very sharp blade. It expertly peels, chops, slices, minces and removes seeds. It's my go-to for slicing fruit or cutting up hot peppers. Though you don't want to cut large pieces of meat or produce with it, you can use it for just about everything else, and you'll find yourself reaching for it a lot. It's available in either a straight or serrated edge. If you love making garnishes for your food and drinks, the paring knife is a must-have. It usually comes with a thin 3 to 4-inch blade with a pointed tip. You can use it for cutting and peeling fruits and veggies and for trimming excess fat with great precision.

Steak Knife

Also called a table knife, the steak knife is less for cooking and more for eating. It should always be set at the table with any good steak dinner. Sturdy and sharp, it cuts through expensive steaks like butter, allowing you to enjoy your meal with no fuss. A steak knife can come with a serrated, half-serrated or non-serrated edge. Serrated steak knives stay sharp longer without honing or sharpening. Non-serrated knives become dull faster, but they're easier to sharpen. Steak knives are ideal for cutting steak, chicken and fish.

Kitchen Shears

More like scissors than a knife, kitchen shears are used to cut herbs off vines, chop salad greens and open up the packing on processed foods. You can also use them to cut bacon into small pieces if you're adding it to pasta or a Cobb salad. Try using shears to cut canned and jarred goods — think canned whole tomatoes or jarred chiles. You can also use shears to cut pieces of meat into bite-size chunks, such as when making a stir-fry with chicken.

Sharpener

Every good knife collection needs a knife sharpener, and there are a few different types. You can buy sharpening stones, which are like little metal bricks with coarse to fine grit. The blade edge is held at an angle and used to draw down the stone until it becomes sharper. It gives the home cook more control over the sharpening process, allowing more knives to be sharpened, such as a chef's knife, meat cleaver, paring knife and even kitchen shears.

A popular type of sharpening stone is the whetstone. It requires skill and practice but yields extremely sharp edges. If you're looking for the most affordable option, consider a manual sharpener. These feature little slits that you run your knife through. Electric knife sharpeners are also an option, though manual ones do the job just fine.

Honing Steel

A honing steel is like a long metal rod used to correct a blade's edge before and after each use. It doesn't technically sharpen or remove any metal; it essentially aligns and repositions the edge of the knife to make it more effective. Do not confuse it with sharpening steel rods that do in fact sharpen your blade.

Birds Beak Knife

This type of paring knife has a short blade that is curved like a bird's beak. Its use might not be obvious at first, but its shape is advantageous for round ingredients or creating round shapes. I use it to remove citrus peels when making desserts or drinks. It's also effective at removing the skin from onions and ginger root.

Meat Cleaver

Usually the bulkiest and heaviest knife in the kitchen, the meat cleaver has many functions. It is large and features a rectangular blade, allowing it to cut through bones, meat, and hard and thick materials such as squash or pumpkin in a chopping motion. With a wide and heavy blade, the cleaver is also ideal for beating and pulverizing meat, poultry and fish, and for crushing garlic. You can also use it like a chef's knife to chop vegetables or slice meat for stir-fries. In other words, it's good for pretty much everything. The big blade can be intimidating and a little dangerous if not used correctly.

Nakiri Knife

The Nakiri knife is a Japanese style knife mostly used for cutting vegetables. Its straight blade that is both long and wide allows it to cut long vegetables, such as eggplants or carrots, in half with ease. Use the Nakiri knife when you want to make thin slices out of cucumber, bitter gourd or tomatoes.