When, why, and how to sharpen your kitchen knives
It can be a challenge to get knives sharpened in NYC if you're an amateur cook. Some cookware stores advocate doing it yourself but it's a skill to be learned and you can ruin your knives if you don't yet know what you're doing. Restaurants and butchers either sharpen their own or else have someone who makes the rounds of the kitchens.
Depending how much you cook you may need to sharpen your knives once or twice a year but keep in mind that with each sharpening a bit of the blade is trimmed off and this reduces the life of the knife. Instead of frequent sharpening, restore and keep the edge by using a honing steel every three to five times you cook, and you will be amazed how much a few quick swipes on a steel can give you back a blazing blade.
Tip: Do not attempt to sharpen a knife with a serrated blade. Only sharpen non-serrated knives.
Here are the sources I know of:
- Broadway Panhandler
65 East 8th Street between Broadway and University
This store prides itself on its knife expertise and sharpening is part of its cutlery resource. They charge about $5.00 per knife and you must leave the knives for about a day and a half. This store is also probably the best source for buying knives in the city. I've had my knives sharpened here and they do a very good job.
- Henry Westpfal & Co.
115 West 25th Street at 6th Avenue
These cutlery experts service the garment industry, barbers and hair stylists, manicurists, and cooks both professional and amateur. They use a water method which they insist is the best way to both protect the knife and get the best result. Prices range from about $4.00 to about $10, depending on the size of the knife and you usually must leave the knives for 48 hours. Open only M-F, 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
4 Lupi Court
This 4th generation cutlery company services many of New York's top chefs, butchers, fish mongers -- and home cooks. They make make it easy to ship your knives to them using pre-paid UPS packages, make daily visits to the city from their Hudson Valley facility and for large orders will arrange for pick-ups and deliveries (call first for details). For smaller orders you can mail your knives to them and they'll be back in about a week. Prices are about $5.00 to $8.00 per knife depending on the size of the blade.
Sur La Table
75 Spring Street at Crosby
This upscale kitchenware store requires a 48-hour turnaround and charges about $1.00 per inch per knife.
- Bowery Kitchen Supplies
460 West 16th Street
On Wednesdays and Saturdays a woman sets up a stand outside the store and sharpens your knives while you wait. The price is about $5.00 a knife. Hours: 12 noon to 6:00 p.m.
ABC Knife Grinding Corp.
2954 Fulton Street
Open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., this company works with local industrial companies as well as anyone who is willing to bring in their knives and other sharp objects. Cost is "a few dollars" each and they'll do it while you wait.
- Other New York cookware stores that offer knife sharpening services are The Brooklyn Kitchen, Whisk, and Korin.
Itinerant Cutlery Grinders
Upper West Side: Mike Pallotta and his green truck
- Upper West Side, Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope: Dominic Del Re and his red truck
If you're lucky to live in a certain New York neighborhood, you have another, very local choice. Calling themselves grinders, they cruise neighborhood streets in trucks that are equipped with all the tools needed (except water) to sharpen knives, scissors and anything else with a blade. Announcing themselves with a bell like an ice cream truck, they pull to the side of the street and look for you to bring your knives which they sharpen while you wait. Prices can be better than that charged by the store-based sharpeners, but talk with your neighbors to first get a review. They sharpen knives plus scissors and anything else with a blade
If you prefer to do your own, invest in a knife stone and have someone who knows what they're doing teach you. I've never had any luck with the electric sharpeners, although I know cooks who happily use them. If you've been cooking with dull knives, you will be amazed in the difference a sharp knife can make.
Become a Fan
of The City Cook