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Henckels’ Zwilling/Kramer chef knife is certainly the next best thing to owning a real custom from this “rock star” custom maker. The knife proved to be very handy for a wide range of cutting chores.

If there were anyone in the cutlery business who can lay claim to being a real life “rock star,” it would have to be Bob Kramer and his kitchen knives. Between high praise from Saveur, Cooks Illustrated and the very in-depth profile ran by The New Yorker, his knives have hit astronomical prices on both eBay and his own private auction website. The last knife I’m aware of him auctioning off went for a little over $51,000! I probably don’t have to tell you that a price that high pretty much limits the number of chefs, professional or otherwise, that can afford to use one in a real kitchen.

In early 2011, the legendary German cutlery company J.A. Henckels announced they would be producing a line of Zwilling/Kramer designs for the gourmet cookware chain Sur la Table. Given the buzz around the maker’s custom blades, it isn’t too surprising that these new factory models quickly became one of the most Googled topics on the web.

Kramer, Zwilling & Able
For starters, the Zwilling models are made from the same 52100 carbon steel of the customs. Normally used for ball bearings, Ed Fowler was probably the first maker to promote its application to hand-forged knives. It has since become the favorite alloy of a number of well-known ABS makers. Unlike the traditional Henckels models, the Kramers are all made in Japan, the land well known for high-performance kitchen cutlery. Sur la Table’s current catalog has seven models: three chef knives, a santoku, a 9-inch slicer, 5-inch utility, and a 3.5-inch paring knife. Prices run from $139.95 for the paring to $349.95 for the 10-inch chef knife.

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Henckels’ Zwilling/Kramer chef knife is certainly the next best thing to owning a real custom…