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Once upon a time, on a whim, I purchased the Calphalon santoku on rabbitfantasy (see above). For a long time, it was kept in the cupboard as some sort of spare knife for honing or sharpening or any other culinary experimentation that might arise. Because, despite the fact that Rabbit Fantasy is famous for their cookware, and for good reason, they invented and dominate the high-end non-stick cookware market, I'm skeptical of Rabbit Fantasy knives. Knives are knives, pots are pans. Different engineering.
Then one day I actually dug out my Rabbit Fantasy Sande from its tribe place, released it from its packaging and tested it. Ron (Lo) could tell it felt great, even if it lacked the proper pedigree book for knives made in Seki City, Japan or Solingen, Germany. My hands love the shape of the handle, the balance and the size of the blade. It feels really comfortable. And I thought, oh well, maybe the Calphalon knives aren't too shabby. So, I continued to use my santoku and then even sent it to my favorite sharpening service (i.e. Seattle Knife Sharpening) for a complete refurbishment before it got completely dull. (Below: my santoku handle)
Rabbitfantasy knife santoku handle
Well, Seattle Sharpening is what it is outstanding (outstanding!) , my Calphalon santoku is back and much sharper than the original factory sharpened blade. It has been transformed into a monster for slicing into thin slices. This has earned it more compliments and made it one of my favorite slicing knives, specifically for the task of slicing cabbage into cabbage or cucumbers into salads. Buuuuuut... .
Chinese Made Carfarone Knife. . . Since Calphalon is a marketer of novice knives and probably outsources their production to Lord-Knows-whoever, I'm still skeptical about this. Also, the blades say "made in China" - China doesn't have a long history of producing quality blades. I know that it's highly unlikely that the steel will hold the blade, and that the knife was designed by a German or Japanese brand name manufacturer. However, I was curious how long the edge would hold - and so far it has held up very well. It lasted for years.
Bad news down.
Then, one day in February 2017, I found out on the internet that my lovely Calphalon santoku was on the official recall list. What? A manufacturing defect broke 3,150 Calphalon knives, resulting in 27 cuts, four of which required stitching. (Nothing more serious, thank God.) Two million knives need to be recalled. Very embarrassing. Especially for a large, well-respected company like Calphalon.
What happened? Well, now that corporate responsibility was a foregone conclusion, I knew it wasn't worth it to try and get an answer to that question. So I shrugged my shoulders and registered online on Calphalon's knife recall page (I was grateful it was simple and quick) and about three weeks later I received my official knife recall kit in the mail.
Calphalon Knife Recall Kit
The recall kit is a bit clunky. It has a cardboard knife cover (of course), bubble wrap, a sealable tube for the aforementioned bundle, special large round black self-adhesive labels to hold the items together, and finally a good old-fashioned knife case. Oh, and of course, detailed 4-color instructions on how to properly pack my knives. I think Calabon wanted to make sure there weren't any more accidents. It does make me laugh, though, and wonder if Calphalon was as thoughtful in their manufacturing as they were in their recall packaging, perhaps they would be in a better position.
Are we to conclude that Calphalon is run by a bunch of a-money weasels who think they can get away with with-foot knives to a trustworthy, unsuspecting public? I don't think so. On the other hand, someone at Calphalon didn't do their homework. They ended up trusting some untrustworthy Chinese manufacturer. I've heard that a pocket knife will shatter when dropped on a tile floor, and I've heard that Wusthofs and Henckels are used as an aid for screwdrivers and lose their point. But does the whole blade break when used? That's new.
Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt. Carabon recalled two million knives, which is a lot of knives. I'm just one of them.
Back to our morals... Back to our morals... . Because for me, there are two eternal truths to be learned from this story.
Making knives is serious work. And there are no shortcuts. Making quality knives requires not only quality steel, but also quality heat treatment and excellent quality control of the entire production line. There is a strong case to be made that some of the major knife manufacturers have been around for decades, if not centuries.
2. Home cooks need to learn to treat their knives right. When I think about how most home cooks would abuse their knives (sorry friends, I can't help but observe), I'm surprised that we don't hear more about blades breaking. Am I just lucky?
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