Published on March 7th, 2014 | by Greg0
Sharp Steel: A Mean Half-Dozen Knives From Chroma
If you’re in the market for a new knife, or set, there are some critical questions that you need to answer before choosing the right blade for you. Of course, one of the most important is use case- a chef’s knife is different from a paring knife, and different folks need different tools. But the fact is that most manufacturers make a wide variety of knives in a series, and unless you’re planning on finding a local artisan to make yours, you will probably see the same few names again and again as you check brands and prices and weigh different options. One name you might not have seen, and might not know, is Chroma.
Chroma is an umbrella family of kitchen knife-makers based in Georgia, which has gathered over a dozen brands and trademarks together in the past 25 years. They’ve won a lot of awards over the years, and we’ve been testing out six wholly different lovely pieces from their line. We’ll start with perhaps their sleekest design, from F.A. Porsche- the Type301 8-inch Chef’s Knife.
The packaging immediately sets this one apart- the box is hefty, and the blade secure, requiring unwrapping it like a present. Lift the blade, and the first impression is surprise- it’s exceptionally well-balanced, and looks futuristic and a little dangerous without seeming like it would require alien knowledge to use. Made completely of metal- the blade of Japanese 301 steel and the handle 18/10 stainless steel, it’s visually seamless and a tactile experience. A little nub- they call it a pearl- helps serve as a focal point for your thumb when wrapping your hand around, and these curves are ideal of making quick work of any chopping job. Unfortunately, there are some downsides to beauty- it’s not dishwasher safe, but more than that, they suggest using only a special sharpener on this blade as well. Finally, for several of our testers, they found it a bit uncomfortable to use, as it had no grip and slightly wet hands slip all over with no traction. The Type301 feels truly sturdy and everyone will want to hold it, use it, and test it thanks to the minimalist profile- and it’s a perfect gift at only $120. It looks like it should cost twice that.
The same goes for the surprisingly value-oriented, American-made Pro Chef 8-inch Chef’s Knife. It looks and feels pretty traditional- a nice black resin handle, a solid stainless steel metal blade. Ours was a non-final sample without packaging and needed some attention before use, and this one does not yet appear available (the Chroma website also could use an update, but it’s clear their focus is on cutlery). Final pricing was unavailable at press time, but it will certainly be a sub-$70 price point, and we appreciated the local credentials even if our eyes kept drifting back to the Porsche. Keep an eye out for one of the few USA-manufactured kitchen knife lines.
Or consider eyeing one of the homes of quality blades- Japan. Many of Chroma’s knives are manufactured there, and we’d be lying if we didn’t say that about half of our favorite blades were Japanese and the other half German. The Chroma Kasumi Titanium 7-Inch Santoku is probably our favorite of the trio presented today (reviews on the other three are coming shortly). It’s the lightest of the bunch, by far, and feels almost featherweight in comparison to most other knives you’re likely to pick up, of any size. At first, it seemed like this could be a downside, but the sharpness of this blade and it’s excellent coating have us turning to it more than most others. The blade itself is made from Molybdenum Vanadium steel, and the titanium layer prevents oxidation, doesn’t leave a metallic taste on food, and is stain and corrosion resistant so the blade looks nicer and lasts longer. We found it easy to clean and care for, and the handle impressively comfortable, even during long sessions of slicing. This is a precision tool, not the best for hacking potatoes, but can dice and slice tomatoes without destroying them and handles fish especially with aplomb. Available now, online and in stores, for around $180.