How to Buy and Sharpen a Quality Knife

James Beard award-winning chef Michael Solomonov shows you how to choose the right kitchen knife and keep it extra sharp.

How to Buy and Sharpen a Quality Knife

Israeli-born chef Michael Solomonov spends his time outside the kitchen working up a sweat in the squared circle. Inside the kitchen, he’s a culinary heavyweight. A recipient of multiple James Beard awards (including 2017’s Outstanding Chef), the no-nonsense chef and restaurateur put Israeli cuisine on the map in the U.S. thanks to his Philadelphia restaurant Zahav, where he produces a modern yet soulful take on Israeli dishes.

And just as boxers rely on high-end gloves for their craft, Solomonov notes the importance of high-quality knives when it comes to whipping up solid cuisine. To help sharpen your knife skills, Solomonov lays out what types of blades you need and how to best take care of them.


“I look for a multipurpose knife that can be easily sharpened on a whetstone,” he explains. And while you’ll probably have to shell out some dough for a top-notch chef’s knife, not every slice-and-dice apparatus you own needs to cost a fortune. “I never buy fancy paring knives,” he says. “Inexpensive ones work just fine.”


For most of your kitchen work, you need only three knives, says Solomonov: “a good slicing knife, a good boning knife, and a good chef’s knife.” Whether you’re carving a juicy sirloin, chopping onions, or deboning a pork shoulder, this trio will have you covered.


“My Kramer knife is the jam,” Solomonov says. Made in America, “Kramer knives have supersturdy blades, hold an edge well, and have the perfect balance of grip and weight.” ($400;

The Sword and the Stone

title 2017 Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend

You got the knife—now you need to keep it sharp. Solomonov’s three tips for using a whetstone:

  1. Meet Your Match: “Do the research about which type of whetstone is the best fit for your particular knife,” Solomonov says. Generally, lower-grit stones are best for forming a hard edge; finer-grit stones are ideal for polishing.
  2. Take the Plunge: “I soak the whetstone in cold water until there are no more air bubbles and it has absorbed enough water—but not too much—about five to 10 minutes.”
  3. Find the Right Angle: More delicate knives are best sharpened close to the stone (10 to 14 degrees); workhorse knives can be sharpened higher (20 to 22 degrees). For an even edge, “always hold the same angle.”

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