Cutco Knives: High-end Or Not?

Eager salespeople, low quality materials and high costs combine for a disappointing combination. I was hard pressed to find many professional chefs who vouch for these knives.

Unique to Vector Marketing, Cutco Knives are admired and utilized by loyal consumers everywhere. These knives are the self-labeled "World's Finest Cutlery". Is this fact or rhetoric? Keep an open mind and continue reading to learn more.

Vector Marketing

Cutco's market penetration is predicated upon the sales program of Vector Marketing. It's door to door method, employing salespeople at conservative salaries and paying large commissions to top performers, is employed in the place of selling through culinary vendors such as Sur La Table. Vector's sales method focuses on the notion that salesmen who earn large incentives make motivated pitchmen.

But are these retail reps qualified to sell high-end knives? Are they able to tell you the reality about their knives, even if it means it might cost them a sale? That's where the subject becomes a little sketchy with any commission-based marketing force. Vector encourages retail employees to purchase their own set of knives. So Vector racks up an additional sale every time they add an associate. And since their wages are low, Vector benefits just by adding additional people into their retail force.

The next issue with this approach is that Vector company reps are simply untrained to sell high-dollar knives. Vector provides them instruction on how to sell knives and then off they go to sell to friends, family and colleagues. Since their clients are typically not knife connoisseurs either, the speech is persuasive enough and the transaction is made. All parties benefit, right?

Cutlery from Cutco is touted as the "World's Finest Cutlery", but they actually are, in my humble opinion, nothing special. And with the knives selling for upwards of eight hundred bucks for a set, these knives really don't shine when compared to their competitors.

Serrated Knives: The "Double D Edge"

In order to close the sale, Cutco sales associates may claim their super-sharp Cutco knives rarely require sharpening. Indeed, Cutco knives are sharp. However the claim that their knives rarely require sharpening is not completely accurate. What, then, is the issue?

Cutco knives are saw-toothed. Many people selling the knives may maintain that the blade of this product is a patented, high-tech "Double D" recessed blade. But, the truth is that it's really just a fancy serrated blade. Serrated edges are inappropriate for most home use slicing tasks. If one could look at the blade on a microscope, a good knife will appear as a scalpel – very sharp and created for precise cutting.

Cutting a tomato using a serrated blade's uneven edge is not a useful manner to preserve the vegetable's fragile shape. The serrations are intended to bull-doze, tear, and batter, their way through ingredients and results in a mess. It can be compared to utilizing a chainsaw on a marshmallow stick.

Since Cutco's knives have saw-toothed edges, they may say that their knives rarely have to be sharpened, which is misleading. Saw-toothed edges wear just as normal straight edges do, however, the damage is obscured by the serrated edges. Assuming that the teeth are to some extent intact, the knife will still be able to slice through food, albeit somewhat haphazardly. It is challenging to sharpen serrated blades which makes one think that, by "rarely needs sharpening," Cutco actually is implying, "should not be sharpened by the customer."

Cutco Cutlery Steel

An additional problem with Cutco Cutlery is the material. The knives' blades are constructed from 440A stainless steel. 440A is not exactly tin foil, however it's by no way a first-rate material. 440A is frequently utilized by blade makers in their "value" knives, when price is their greatest concern. Consumers should take pause in advance of selecting any knife that is made of 440A, let alone one that's as pricey as Cutco.

440A can be made razor-sharp, but as a result of its chemical makeup it can not hold a sharp blade very long. The majority of premium kitchenware is composed of one of an array of high carbon steels such as 440C, SG-2, and VG-10. Usually, these choices will be harder, sharper and retain an edge better than kitchenware composed of 440A.

With no known manufacturers of high-end culinary cutlery using 440A steel, one can assume that 440A is a poor choice for manufacturing premium knives.

Alternatives

If you're thinking about a collection of Cutco knives, you're about to spend a pretty penny on a collection of knives. This can be a grand event – owning a high-end set of cooking blades is a very satisfying occurrence. Owning great knives will make you want to cook more, can give you added self-assurance in the kitchen and can show the way to greater awareness of cooking components and cooking tools.

If you are going to spend a great deal of money for high-caliber cutlery, check out premium Japanese knives, such as Shun Classic knives, correspondingly priced to Cutco knives. The Classics are very sharp, carve easily through foods, and are beautiful pieces that any skilled chef could treasure. Shun knives are required to be maintained, however, so be prepared to have a professional sharpener do this for you, or to buy a sharpening device that assists in keeping your knives in their best form.

More Info

If you're one of several people that is searching for information about Cutco knives, it's very easy to find avid advocates and salesmen making questionable assertions. If you want to obtain impartial facts, though, seek out a qualified chef or culinary specialist. A superb place to look is at KnifeForum's kitchen forum or read various perspectives on Chow.com.

Users Reading this article are also interested in:
Top Searches on Cooking Utensils:
Cutlery Knives Cutlery Knife Set
About The Author, Greg K. Roy
G.K. Roy is a pro journalist and knife reviewer. He is a frequent contributor to OnlyKnives.com's kitchen knife pages. He has written about hundreds of blades during his career, including Cutco Knives.Read up on his thoughts on the best culinary knives on the market so you too can get a sharp edge in the kitchen.