Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Quality and Service

Going totally off topic now, I'm going to say some good things about a well-established company, Chicago Cutlery. In 1983, when my beautiful wife and I got married, someone gave us a set of Chicago Cutlery knives, with a knife block and steel included. I spent a dozen years in the restaurant business, and had plenty of good knives, such as Henckels and Forschner, that I worked with professionally, so I'd always thought when the Chicago Cutlery set wore out, I'd buy myself a set of professional grade tools.

Fast forward (or slow) thirty years. The Chicago Cutlery is still in fantastic shape, though it has been used hard, not just set out on the counter to admire. The only problem I've had is that a small crack appeared in the wooden handle of the 8" Chef knife about ten years after I got it, but the crack never really got any worse, mostly a cosmetic thing. But, what the heck, they're a working set of knives, and like me they're starting to show their age a bit, right?

So, a couple of months ago, I decided that the knives I had in my camp trailer up in the mountains were crap, and thought, "I'll just put the Chicago Cutlery stuff in the trailer, and buy myself some Henckels". The better half and I went out shopping one weekend, looking at various flavors of Henckels, and I just couldn't bring myself to spend the money on them, even with my 20% discount coupons at a noted housewares retailer. So, I took a look online at what Chicago Cutlery cost to replace my set, and it was about 1/3 of what the "pro" knives cost.

Sure, they perhaps don't have quite the "heft" and balance of the high end knives, and perhaps you have to work a little more often with the steel to keep a razor edge on them, but was it really worth the difference. While I was on CC's web site, I saw a comments/feedback area, and so I told my little story about how long I'd had the knife set and how pleased I was how it had held up thirty years (not many things do these days) aside from the minor crack in the handle of the chef's knife. Then, I decided to just order a small three knife set, with a chef, utility and paring knife, which was all I really need when we're camping (well, maybe a bread slicer).

The new set arrived quickly, and I took the old knives up to the mountains, put the new knives in the block at home, and have been generally pleased with the replacement knives, which seem a little lighter in construction than the old ones. I haven't decided yet if that's better or not, but the minor weight change hasn't thrown me off my stride.

Last week, out of the blue, and with no communication from Chicago Cutlery, I received in the mail a brand new 8" Chef knife. I'm assuming they read my comment and decided to apply their lifetime warranty. Wow! Great people, great knives, great customer service.

Now, I just have to retrieve the old knife from the mountains and put it in the box with the return merchandise authorization...might take me thirty years...

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