Recently, I had the chance to have lunch with American expatriate Kevin Wilkins at the Nuremburg, Germany IWA outdoor trade show. While discussing his various projects, he mentioned he had added a semi-custom chef’s knife to his line of cutlery. Naturally, I quickly cut a deal for him to loan me a sample for this column. Not long after that two versions of the same knife showed up in the mail straight from Berlin.
His cooking knives are blanked from German Becut stainless, an alloy that is mostly used in industrial food-processing machines. Becut is a very fine grained, extremely tough steel that tends to deform before it will chip. Needless to say, blade chipping is a highly undesirable trait in a factory food-processing machine. All of his blades are heat treated to a hardness of Rc 58-59 for good edge retention. Once the blades are blanked and heat treated, they are ground on semi-automatic grinders made by the German company Siepmann under Wilkins’ direct supervision. As with most traditional German-made professional grade food-prep blades, the Wilkins are left a bit thicker (0.3-.04mm) at the edge than the current trendy Japanese knives. This increases the lateral strength of the edge under hard commercial kitchen use.