Okay, I'll admit it. I was the girl who was using only her serrated knife to cut everything up until about 3 weeks ago when I made my first pilgrimage to Ambrosi Brothers. I am proud of the knives I have, but you couldn't tell it because of the level of absolute dullness I had let them lapse into. Embarrassing, really, that I let it get as bad as it did before I did something about it.
I own a set of Thiers-Issard 4 star Elephant Sabatier knives from France that I inherited from my Grandmother Betty mixed with what I have purchased, which is mostly Wusthof knives from Germany. (I just could not justify the cost of a set of Global knives I coveted for everyday use in my kitchen home.)
And when I thought I could take it no longer, I purchased one of those horrid "pretend" knife sharpeners that you open like a clamshell and run your knife over the teeth which supposedly sharpens your knife blades like new again. Guess again, my friend. It never returned my knives to a "like new" sharpened state . . .never ever.
So, a few weeks ago I decided to spend a Saturday afternoon meeting the nice folks behind the AIWF - American Institute of Wine & Food Kansas City Chapter as they all gathered together at Ambrosi Brothers for a cutlery class.
I received the information from Chef Jasper Mirabile Jr. who was nice enough to forward the invitation to me, even though I am not a member. It read:
Ambrosi Bros. Cutlery Co.
3023 Main Street, Kansas City, Missouri
Saturday, April 18, 2009
3:00 pm Reception & 3:30pm Seminar (approx. 1 hr)
$10 AIWF Member Discount $17.50 Non-Member
Join us and “hone” your kitchen cutlery knowledge and sharpening skills. Listen to Alfred Ambrosi guide us through our cutlery seminar. You’ll be much “keener” after this class. We know it’s going to “whet” your appetite for culinary creativity. Your “acute” sense of curiosity will demand that you be with us, because you’re so “astute”. Be on the “cutting” “edge” and be there. In addition, included in your cost, you can bring one knife to be sharpened by Ambrosi. It’s a deal you can’t let slip by. Be there and be sharp! Space is limited to 20. Make your reservation NOW!
Aside from the "punny" humor, this was a class I had longed to take and I honestly couldn't think of a better place than Ambrosi Brothers to take it. The company that serves as the official knife sharpeners to every Chef in Kansas City . . .and with my bad case of "Chefetish" I have been known to stalk the Ambrosi knife truck all over the city as it picks up and drops off knives at all of the best restaurants. A dream job in my book, but then I am a little weird that way.
The funny thing was, I knew they sharpened knives for Chefs (By the way, most KC Chefs do not keep a nice set of knives in their restaurant for fear of theft or having them "walk off" with someone else, so they use rented ones from Ambrosi. If they do keep a nice set at work, they typically have them engraved with a letter or marking to indicate ownership.), but it never occurred to me that they sharpened knives for regular folks like me. So, when I realized I could get one knife sharpened for free as part of this class, I signed myself and Eatie up, right away.
When I got ready to select "a" knife to bring to the class to have them sharpen it, I was perplexed. I wanted all of them sharpened. I needed all of them sharpened. My boning or utility knife also had it's tip broken off. I assumed there was nothing that could be done for it, but thought I would stick it in with the others and buy a replacement for it at Ambrosi's. I had about 10 knives that needed to get from my house to Ambrosi's on Main Street, but how was I gonna transport them and not get arrested for weapon concealment?
I did the best I could . . . I laid down tea towels and spaced my knives down the towel, then topped those with another thicker towel and began at one end rolling the knives inside the towels into a nice little bundle. Then I took plastic wrap and wrapped them over and over end to end with plastic wrap, taking care to bunch up the extra fabric around the sharp knife tips. Then I packed them in the car and thought to myself I would purchase a cheap knife bag from them to transport them back and forth easily and professionally. The nice man at Ambrosi Brother's did not laugh when I handed him my wad of tea towels and plastic wrap, he smiled a knowing smile and went to work sharpening them in the back.
After a lovely glass of wine and some of Chef Jasper's delicious sausage as a snack it was time to get down to the business of learning more about our knives and how to keep them sharp. The short answer is keep it simple and pay Ambosi $3 per knife to keep them in the best condition, just like the professional Chefs in this town do. Then you need to purchase a steel and learn the right way to keep your knives sharpened, once they are professionally done. Your knives should be professionally sharpened about every 6 months or so, then you can use a steel on it at home to keep them in their best condition. Here is Spencer Lutz again from Ambrosi showing us how to use a steel at home in between sharpenings.
When I went to pay the bill for my sharpened knives at the end of class, I purchased just enough of a knife bag to be able to transport my knives in safety and style. I also bought a Chinese meat and veggie cleaver for Eatie for his birthday which is another nice addition to our collection of knives. But it was only when I got home and realized that Ambrosi was able to re-work my utility knife to give it a new tip that I gain a new appreciation for what a professional knife sharpener can really do for you and your knives. I can tell you I've had to be a whole lot more careful around my knives. They are completely sharp which makes them weapons I had not had in my kitchen in a long time. The experience is one of those that will keep you wondering why you didn't start living on the cutting edge a whole lot sooner.