The best chef’s knives in the world come either from Germany or Japan. Giselheid Herder, with some 30 years of experience in the business and director of the world-famous German knife manufacturer Robert Herder, has combined the best of both countries in her Seaknives collection. ‘The knives with the most variants are fish knives,’ she says. ‘This is because of the huge variety of fish in different countries, the specific cuisines, and the varied methods of preparing fish for cooking.’

The German firm Robert Herder has been making knives in Solingen for more than 150 years. Famed for its popular Windmill paring knives, the company also makes other outstanding kitchen knives, chef’s knives and carving knives, as well as collector’s items such as the Lignum. With years of experience and the greatest care, every day Robert Herder’s knife makers produce razor-sharp knives that are renowned the world over.

In Solingen, official training courses have disappeared, but Robert Herder trains its own apprentices to become to become master grinders. Expertise handed down from generation to generation is therefore still producing old-fashioned quality.

You wouldn’t describe Windmühlenmesser as a factory, but more of a craft workshop, as the knives are still made by hand. They’re not only sharpened by hand, but are also assembled manually. To manufacture a Windmill knife, for example, 60 to 70 processes are involved. Each wooden handle is sanded and finished by hand according to feeling.

This traditional company makes carbon steel and stainless steel knives, both of which undergo a special method of sharpening (Dünnschliff, or ‘dry-fine grinding’) and polishing (Blaupließten, or ‘blue-glazing’). This make them thinner and sharper than an average knife. The carbon steel blades are harder than stainless steel blades due to their higher carbon content. The stainless steel knives are in turn hardened with ice to produce a sharpness equivalent to that of carbon steel knives. However, carbon steel blades stay sharp much longer than stainless steel ones as long as they are properly maintained. 

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