Northwestern Cutlery sharpens skills, knives

October 13, 2012 (CHICAGO)

"As the neighborhood grew and changed, people started bringing in their knives for home use. Restaurant row on Randolph Street popped up, so we get a lot of the chefs and the cooks from there coming in to get their knives sharpened," said Marty Petlicki, the owner of Northwestern Cutlery.

When they refer to the "daily grind" here, they're more likely referring to their massive grindstone in the back.

"The grindstone we used for our commercial accounts. They tend to get abused more, so there's a lot more grinding involved," Petlicki said.

Then there's a water-treated, thick sharpening belt up front, which can be changed, depending on how coarse or fine customers want their knives.

"That's more for home knives, more expensive knives, knives just require a new edge. We try to restore the edge the manufacturer puts on there," he said.

Finally, there's a stone, which requires a lot more manual labor.

"Those are for the high-end Japanese knives mostly. There's always a burr - a wire edge - on the knife and we use the stones or steel, to take the burr off and to finish up and fine-tune the edge," said Petlicki.

Over the years, they've added cookware, plus plenty of gadgets for the casual or professional cook. But after one look at their front case, you'll see why it's knives they know best. Petlicki says don't buy just any knife that looks good.

"What matters is that the knife is made by a good reputable knife manufacturer. Any good company guarantees their knives," he said.

There are several dozen types of knives here at Northwestern Cutlery, and the range is impressive: everything from a general, Victorinox, stainless steel, $33, entry-level knife - same company that makes Swiss Army knives by the way. To a super-impressive, $1,500 Japanese tuna knife, in case you have the urge to slice open any giant fish at your house next weekend.

Northwestern Cutlery
810 W. Lake St.

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