Wusthof has been manufacturing fine cutlery since 1814. Wusthof is one of the few knife manufacturers that still do all their many steps of the forging process from beginning to end. Each step along the way is performed to exacting standards by skilled workers aided by the most modern, computer guided equipment and powerful robots. Currently the company produces knives under several model names including: Classic, Le Cordon Bleu, Culinar, Grand Prix II and Gourmet. While this is a little confusing to the customer all of these lines (with the exception of Gourmet) are great forged blades that offer a variety of different handle designs for a variety of tastes and preferences. Their attention to detail and meticulous hand finishing gained a reputation that has become legendary in the cookware industry. We have tested these knives and would like to give you our opinion on which Wusthof line will work the best for you.
Wusthof Ikon Knives are a newly developed and designed line for 2007. This line has several improvements over some of their older lines including better performance characteristics as well as better aesthetic design. The first big improvement is they offer a tapered bolster. The bolster is meant to protect your finger from the blade edge which is a good thing. The problem with most bolsters is they tend to get in the way of sharpening. On a full bolstered knife, after years of sharpening, the bolster sticks out beyond the blade and is both unsightly and makes it difficult to chop with the blade flat on the cutting board. A tapered bolster allows for easy use and sharpening and all kitchen knives should have them. The new Ikon knives do. Next, the handle design has been updated and improved. It offers a nice ergonomic black resin handle with 3 rivets which feels good in the hand and also is well balanced. We also like the polished edge and the sharp edge of the spine has been ground down a little which is a nice touch. Overall the fit and finish of these knives is excellent. We give this line a score of 9.5
Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu:
The old adage that competition makes you stronger is born out in these knives. The line was designed in response to the growing popularity of Japanese knives in the US market so they adopted many of the design features of Japanese knives such as a bolsterless design, thinner blades and steep sharp edges. Unfortunately they did not go all the way and simply stuck their traditional Classic, three rivet handle on the knife which works and feels fine but has the unfortunate result of confusing the average consumer since it looks almost identical to the Classic on first impression. We give this line a score of 9.
These knives are another attempt to stay up with the times. After Global burst on the scene, Wusthof came out with the Culinar line which features an all stainless steel handle. The blade is identical to the Classic and Grand Prix II lines so this line is all about the handle. We actually prefer these knives both aesthetically and in terms of fit and finish. They are a bit heavy in the hand and the clunky bolster makes long term sharpening a problem but some people like the weight of the knives and associate the weight with quality. Recently Wusthof has reduced the price so we think these are a solid runner up to the Le Cordon Bleu and Ikon lines. We score this line 8.5
The best selling line in Wusthof's stable of knives is the Classic which features a 3 rivet handle design. These knives are high quality and Wusthof has done very well over the years with it. If it ain't broke don't fix it should be the modo for this line since there have been no changes to it in decades. These are great knives but and are indeed classic in blade design and traditional handle fit and feel. The balance of the knife is good in the 8" Chef Knife that we tested. We wish they would sharpen these knives without a bevel and many professionals will have the bevel removed by a sharpening service as soon as they purchase them. Overall a solid choice but we do prefer the updated blade design of the Le Cordon Bleu as well as the updated handle design of the Culinar. We score this line 8.0
Wusthof Grand Prix II:
This line has struggled for an identity. When first introduced the line had a bulbous base that Wusthof subsequently changed a couple years ago which is why they renamed the line the Grand Prix II. The improved handle design was a good choice but we still think it is inferior to the other lines since the handle has a cheap plastic feel in your hand. We score this line 7.5
This is their only stamped line. Stamped knives differ from Forged knives in that the blades are literally stipend from a thin sheet of steel. They tend to be significantly less money than the forged knives and are ½ the weight. For those on a budget these knives perform reasonably well but not as good as those above. For this reason we do not recommend these knives. Score 6
This line needs to be filed under the term "what were they thinking"? Wusthof has made a truly terrible line of knives. The stamped blades are super thin and they chose cheap plastic handles all to apparently satisfy some marketing persons insistence that the knives be cheap to appeal to the largest number of people that watch Emeril's show. Well they succeeded in making them cheap. Stay away. Score 2.5