Master Knife Sharpeners: Ambrosi Cutlery
The City Cook gets more questions about knives and knife sharpening than any other city kitchen equipment topic. We've done interviews with knife merchants and have published tips about the three most essential knives. (This isn't a trick question -- the three are a chef's, serrated and paring knife.)
Our advice about knives is pretty simple:
- Buy the best quality you can afford
- Buy a knife in person so you can hold and feel its heft and balance
- Take meticulous care of your knives (don't put them in the dishwasher!!)
- Keep them sharp
- Learn how to use a steel to hone the edge each time you use a knife
- Learn either how to sharpen your own knives or find an expert professional to sharpen them for you
Sharpening your own knives takes skill, practice and good equipment and many home cooks mistakenly think knives must be sharpened often when instead they just need to be honed.
The difference? Sharpening actually burnishes and shapes the edge whereas honing re-aligns the edge that is already there.
How often to sharpen? Once a year is probably fine for most active home cooks.
And what do professionals do? Chefs and butchers do their own daily (or several times a day) honing. Some do their own sharpening. But many New York top chefs and butchers just call Robert Ambrosi.
Based in New York's Hudson Valley, Ambrosi Cutlery is a fourth generation cutlery business that takes care of knives for professional chefs, butchers, other food merchants -- and home cooks. They come to New York almost daily to pick up knives and cutting equipment, then bring them back to their upstate facility where they do sharpening, polishing and repairs. Then the knives are re-delivered back to the customer.
For home cooks, single knives can be shipped to and from Ambrosi through the mail (wrap them carefully and pack in a box). For a bigger order, they will coordinate a city pick-up either at your home or by leaving them with one of Ambrosi's commercial customers. Plus they're working on a new system with UPS whereby you can order a pre-addressed shipping box in which you'll be able to just pack up your knives and drop the whole thing off at your nearest UPS store. Regardless how you get your knives to them, the actual sharpening costs between $5.00 and $8.00 per knife, depending on the size of the blade. The turnaround time is around one week.
Why go through aIl this trouble when you can use a local service or do it yourself? While there are indeed several other excellent New York City knife sharpening services, Ambrosi is one of the most respected professionals in the area. If you have invested in top quality Wusthof or Shun knives, how and who sharpens them is as important a decision as buying the knife itself.
For more information about how to get your city kitchen knives sharpened by Ambrosi Cutlery, visit their website or contact them directly at 212-247-0055.