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Porthos

Um, I Brought a Hone.

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I've been pondering something that occurred a couple of months ago and find that I still feel mildly irritated so I want to bounce it off of my friends here at eGullet.

 

As most of you know, I supply the knives for my ren faire kitchens, and that includes supplying a "steel." This year I purchased a ceramic steel from EdgePro and am very happy with it; I feel it does a better job of finishing and keeping an edge. There is someone who I really appreciate who comes in after the feast is over to make soup out of the leftovers. The soup is put out after faire closes to give the reenactors something to eat to tide them over until they can get a proper dinner. I noticed a coarsely-grooved steel show up and, after commenting on it to my friend who is essentially my sous chef said that the soup maker had brought it because he wasn't keen on the ceramic steel. Since we are all volunteers and I am grateful for the soup maker coming in and preparing the soups I said nothing. However, it bothered me that he didn't even ask about using something different on my knives. I feel like I am being petty, yet this is the equipment I supply. Am I really that petty, or should he have shown me the courtesy of at least asking me about the hone or telling me he had brought another?

 

As an aside I work diligently to provide sharp, well maintained knives. Each time someone who comes into my kitchen who had been in the kitchens prior to my taking over they comment on how nice it it to have sharp knives.

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What would The Ethicist say? First tell him how grateful you are that he makes the soup and how much the re-enacters appreciate a bowl of warm barley mash after a hard day of lute playing and rug beating and axe throwing or whatever you do at a renfair.

 

Why is it so hard to simply tell people in a pleasant way how we really feel? But, yea, so it be. Tell him you are very finicky about your knifes and prefer them to be honed on your own tool, if he wouldn't mind. You might even explain what it is about the ceramic steel that makes for better maintenance in your opinion. If he objects, offer to sharpen the knives for him before he starts chopping. Or tell him he is welcome to use the device of his choice if he brings his own knives. If he doesn't know how particular chefs are about their knives this should be a growth opportunity. If he remains obstructionist tell him you will skewer him like a kabob, throw him on the embers and eat him between two bannocks.   

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Pretend that I am asking you that question.  Of course you would support me. 

 

There are some people who have no sense of propriety...not just lacking in a sense of ownership which some might argue is less than...well...whatever they might argue it's less than....but also no filter that tells them when they are stepping over the line.   We all know them...and lock up our precious things when they are around.  

 

And don't ever touch a jigsaw puzzle that I am working on.......

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I think I’d ask the question that married people must sometimes ask themselves:

 

Am I better off with my partner or without my partner?  

 

Do my knives mean more to me than my soup maker?

 

There is no doubt in my mind that he should not have done this but moving forward you have to ask what matters most? Only you can answer that question. 

 

And I suspect there is a very good reason why you have not raised the issue directly with your soup maker.  You already suspect the conversation will not likely end well. :)

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1 hour ago, Anna N said:

And I suspect there is a very good reason why you have not raised the issue directly with your soup maker.  You already suspect the conversation will not likely end well. :)

Wisdom is being dispensed here...

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Gosh, I'd just tell him he's free to use his steel on his own knives, not yours.  Why is it more complicated than that?

 

BTW, I recently bought one of the Big Stick style (1" diameter) ceramic rods.  I was initially disappointed to find that it is coarser than my other ceramic.  But after using it awhile, I really like it.  When an edge starts to go, it gets a swipe or two on this, and then a pass on the finer one to polish.  Have you tried a Big Stick?


Edited by boilsover (log)
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At the very least, it seems you could explain why you decided to outfit the kitchen with a ceramic steel and ask him not to leave the coarse steel in the kitchen where others might use it on your knives.  That might get the message across in the context of "other people" and not him. 

If the soup maker values sharp knives enough to bring in his own steel, then perhaps there's sufficient common ground to have a discussion about it.  Or perhaps he thinks he knows more than you do and will feel attacked. 

 

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52 minutes ago, boilsover said:

Gosh, I'd just tell him he's free to use his steel on his own knives, not yours.  Why is it more complicated than that?

 

 

 

Yes. 

 

3 hours ago, Katie Meadow said:

What would The Ethicist say? First tell him how grateful you are that he makes the soup and how much the re-enacters appreciate a bowl of warm barley mash after a hard day of lute playing and rug beating and axe throwing or whatever you do at a renfair.

 

Why is it so hard to simply tell people in a pleasant way how we really feel? But, yea, so it be. Tell him you are very finicky about your knifes and prefer them to be honed on your own tool, if he wouldn't mind.   

 

Yes.

 

Sous would've been told a long time ago.  Same as I'd tell my wife.

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But why not have a knife or two that are for the "help," and keep the knives you cherish, and the tools you use on them, private.

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If the soup maker has brought their own steel, then the soup make can bring their own knives. 

 

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At some point, next year maybe, you could force everyone to attend a training meeting where you explain your equipment rules. Maybe even publish a small handbook, or post guidelines in the kitchen. Some people need it spelled out.

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I'm afraid that I would have been more vocal and more demonstrative...  in fact I have in the past been much more vocal when someone used my knives without permission.

I am very fussy about my knives I keep them in the best condition I can.

No one sharpens my knives but me and no one uses my knives on a hone but me.  I too use a ceramic "steel" and have for the past 35+ years since Dexter first offered one.

 

I agree with Toliver.  Soup guy can bring his own knife if he can bring his own steel. 


Edited by andiesenji (log)
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Forgive the ignorance, but can a "coarse-grooved steel" actually do any damage to your knives?  Have you observed blatant misuse of the offending steel in such a way that damage to the blades is inevitable? If having this thing around your knives can actually degrade them, then hell yes, tell him to take it home and not bring it back.  Otherwise, your ceramic is harder than his steel... you can finish what he's started after he's done.

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I've been thinking along the lines of @cdh. Not only, is he damaging the knives by using his steel? But also, what was he (and everyone else) using before you bought the ceramic steel? Did that hurt the knives? What if he continued to use that steel? Why would the knives suddenly be "in danger" if they hadn't been previously? 

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the origin sin in this "problem" is providing such high quality knives that the hone will make such a difference.

 

I've used a grooved OEM Wuesthof steel on my set for pushing 40 years.  it has not ruined anything.

 

the whole debate has so many issues it does not fit in a tweet.  diamond / ceramic / grooved / smooth / pebbled are not "identical" in what they are, nor what they do, nor how they do it and how they "affect" a knife edge.

 

and then there is the rather not slight problem of the user.  the big ape with the knife point dug into the stainless counter, grunting as he girds his loins pushing the hone down on the knife to sharpen it . . . is a problem.


Edited by AlaMoi (log)

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