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Quick Bites: Anyway you slice it good cooking requires good knives
This knife sharpener has a niche and an edge
This story is part of a special series.

Vivian Goodman
Kevin Noon brings his knife sharpening equipment to many of the region's farmers' markets.
Courtesy of Vivian Goodman
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In The Region:
Any talk of good food preparation has to include things that aren't food, but are nearly as important to taste and presentation. In this week's Quick Bites, we take a sharper look at ... kitchen knives.
A cut above

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Many aspiring gourmets have discovered they just can’t cut it without the help of one very sharp guy. We met Kevin Noon at a farmer’s market. He is a professional knife-sharpener.

 “This is my living, yes. I work at farmers’ markets. I work out of the back of my van. You name it I work there. I work at the farmers’ market in Kent during the summer and also in the wintertime.  And these winter markets here at Countryside.”  

We found Noon at the Old Trail School in Bath Township at a farmers’ market sponsored by the Countryside Conservancy. He is one of the regulars at the market, lugging in his equipment to put a fine edge on lots of steel.  He says kitchen knives and food processor blades are his bread and butter, but that’s not all.

 “Scissors, axes, chisels, lawnmower blades. Pretty much everything that was sharp and is now dull, I sharpen back.  There are 5 of us left that do it for a living. I started when I was five. Dad gave us all sharpening stones when we hit five years old and I’ve been doing it ever since.

His customers include professional chefs as well as home cooks.

“They both need sharp knives. Without them it’s a struggle in the kitchen after that, but with sharp knife things go much easier. They’re much safer. “  

Catherine St. John, owner of Hudson’s Western Reserve Cooking School couldn’t agree more.

 “ You will do more damage to yourself cutting yourself with a dull knife than with a sharp knife because the pounds of pressure that you have to put on that knife increase dramatically when your knife is dull. It is a lot like buying a car. You have to sort of test drive it. What feels good in my hand may not feel good in your hand.”   

St John sells knives and other kitchen supplies at the Cookery, the shop right in front of her school’s kitchen classroom:

 “We carry  Wusthof, and we carry Henkel. Everything we have is primarily a forged blade. We get a lot of people in, well, ‘Your knife is $109. I can get the same knife at a big box store for $49.’ But it’s a different quality knife.  The ones they’re seeing in the big box stores are a stamped blade; they’re not a forged blade. The handle’s different. It might not be a full tang knife which means that from the tip of the knife all the way through the handle it’s one piece of steel. So there are different quality things that you need to look for.”  

And then you need to look for Kevin Noon to keep those knives nice and sharp.

Shuns. Japanese made. Or Chicago Cutlery which is my favorite. Opposite ends of the spectrum for price. But if they’re dull neither one is worth it. But when they’re sharp they’re great.

That’s Kevin Noon, the knife sharpener. Next Friday on Quick Bites, it’s a taste of honey.

Related Links & Resources
Kevin Noon profile

Listener Comments:

Thank you for a wonderful segment! I hope others found it as pointed and edgy as I do. I enjoy what I do, meeting and helping folks at the various Farmers Markets. It was a bit busy the day we spoke but I hope you can return.

Thanks again,

Kevin, The Environmentally Friendly Sharpener

Posted by: Kevin Noon (Northfield) on January 21, 2012 5:01AM
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