Graduates of every major cooking school in the country have come through Bob Kramer's shop, and he's reached this conclusion: The students are taught a lot more about using their knives than about caring for them. To keep your knives in good condition, Kramer suggests a few basic rules:
SHARPENING Have your knives professionally sharpened once a year. Sharpening devices made for the home too often take the profile out of the knife, leaving you with a chef's knife that can't be used correctly.
MAINTENANCE Invest in a ceramic stick and hone the edge of your blade by steeling it between sharpenings. To steel, anchor the tip of the stick on a cutting board and place one side of the knife's edge against the stick at a 20° angle. Keeping that angle and making an even motion, draw the edge across the stick from the base of the blade to the tip. Repeat with opposite side.
STORAGE Keep your knives in a wooden block or in plastic edge guards. This will protect the blade and prevent it from being bent or chipped by other utensils.
USINGAlways cut on a board made of wood. Marble, metal, glass, and even plastic surfaces can dull the knife's edge.