It’s amazing what you will find if you look in your junk drawer. Wooden skewers, yards of cheesecloth, egg slicers can openers and knives of all shapes and sizes. The other day I was rooting through our junk drawer and came across a CUTCO knife. Not sure how or when this knife fell into the junk drawer, but there it was, snug in a cardboard sheath next to some kitchen shears and cookie cutters.
I have a pretty extensive knife collection from my days working in high-end kitchens. Most of the knives are from the big European manufacturers, Wustof, Henckel, Victorinox, Laguiole and so on, but this is the only CUTCO knife I have, a gift from my American friend Christa Seychew. Christa is the food editor at Buffalo Spree Magazine and the woman behind Nickel City Chef, one of the best competitive food series in the States. She gave me the CUTCO knife as a thank you for judging one of the Nickel City Chef competitions last year.
I had been anxious to use this knife and was wondering what happened to it until I discovered it in the junk drawer. Somehow it had been assimilated by this drawer, our own island of misfit toys, and there it had remained, unused and unloved.
The knife is really well built, beautiful to look at, comfortable to work with, solid, sturdy and very sharp. “They are really, perhaps surprisingly, popular everywhere in the States with the home cooking set,” Christa tells me. “They stay sharp forever and their guarantee is no joke.”
The trademark on the knife indicates that is manufactured in Olean, New York, about forty minutes south of Buffalo, which is probably the reason that CUTCO knives are hugely popular in The Nickel City. The largest and last manufacturer of high-end knives in North America, they are immensely popular with our friends south of the border. There’s a reason you can’t find these knives in stores in Canada. Says Christa, “ You do have to get them from a sales rep (or from the store outside of their factory) but interestingly, if people buy them at a garage sale or even on eBay they can send them to the factory for free reconditioning/replacement. Unlike other similar sounding offers they don’t require you to prove purchase or original ownership.”
So the only way you can buy them new here is by having a sales rep show up at your door. Think vacuum or Encyclopedia salesmen, enterprising students or the Avon Lady. Cutco knives are distributed by something called “Vector Marketing”, and the knives have been sold door to door in Canada since 1990. The eager salesperson is trained to enter your home and dazzle you with a presentation that would put Ron Popeil to shame
The knives themselves are really good, but there is a fair amount of literature posted by employees concerning questionable marketing practices that may or may not be part of the experience. As with many marketing schemes, Caveat venditor. That being said, Christa tells me they are a really great company. “I personally wish they were more widely available since I am unlikely to buy something from a sales person, but they have had great success with their business model, so who am I to say?”
The knife itself is a superior instrument with a superior price tag. A nine-inch chef’s knife, for example, will set you back about $155.00. And our found object resurrected from the junk drawer, a six-inch serrated knife passed the slice-a-mushy-tomato test with flying colours. And it’s also guaranteed to last forever, which seems like a long time.
If you have any experience as an owner of a CUTCO knife, please let us know in the comments, we would be interested to hear!