Product Review... MAC Knives
A few weeks ago, I was sent a set of MAC Knives along with a knife sharpener from the really generous folks at MAC Knives to test and review. The company produces a large variety of knives which include the Professional Series, Ultimate Series, Japanese Series, Original Series Superior Series and the Chef Series. They truly have all sorts of knives for various cooking tasks. The MAC knives are manufactured, sharpened, and assembled in Japan using high quality materials. For this review, I was able to test the 6 1/2 " Mighty Santoku (MSK-65) of the Professional series, the 4" Pairing Santoku (Sk-40) of the Superior series and the 10 1/2" Bread/Roast Slicer (SB-105) of the Superior Series. I looked forward to testing the knives, as I had never worked with Japanese knives before. The German knives I use daily were sharpened and used for the tests as a comparison to the MAC Knives. But, mostly I wanted to see how the MAC knives handled the various cutting procedures... Would it cut straight? Would it cut through cleanly? Would it require a great deal of effort to use? How would they be different from the ones I used?
Here is my review and tests performed:
A little bit of info about the MAC Knives:
- Manufactured in Japan
- Sharpened with up to 64 series of tests for precision
- Have thinner blades than most European knives
- Made of rust resist and high-carbon Molybdenum Vanadium Alloy( some models have Tungsten added for hardness)
- Knives have a hardness between 58-60 degrees Rockwell C( which helps the edge stay sharper much longer)
- Endorsed or used by Hubert Keller, Thomas Keller, Charles Trotter, Eric Ripert, and many others. (definitely some incredible chefs)
The Newspaper Test:
The newspaper test is used to determine the sharpness of a particular knife. In order to find out how sharp the MAC knives were, I conducted several tests including the newspaper test.
I cut through the newspaper by placing the knife on the edge of the newspaper and cutting strips at various intervals. I was able to achieve thin strips of newspaper with ease. At one point, I decided to see how thin a strip I could cut from the newspaper. It was so thin, the newspaper curled up! I could not duplicate that with my other knives. Just incredibly sharp...
What I noticed: The Mac knife easily caught on the edge of the newspaper and smoothly sliced through it with very little drag. The edges of the newspaper were straight and smooth. My other knives cut through, but with a lot more drag and ragged edges.
(close-up of the curled newspaper made with one single pass of the Mighty MAC!)
The Hardness and Softness Test:
I proceeded with my other tests...cutting through tomatoes, potatoes, meat, breads and herbs using the 6 1/2 " Mighty Santoku, the 4" pairing Santoku , and the 10 1/2" Bread/Roast slicer.
I decided to cut a few slices of meat. I never understood how some people describe cutting through food to be like cutting through butter. Well, I finally understood. Cutting through that meat felt like I was cutting through butter! The knife cut right through the meat... cleanly and without leaving any rough edges. It was just so smooth and the effort was minimal.
I diced and sliced some vegetables...The Mighty MAC and Pairing Santoku delivered. They slice and dice with ease. It was such a pleasure to use. I felt the knife was doing most of the work and I just had to steer it:). I didn't need to put so much pressure on the knife as I normally do with my other knives. The MAC knife feels solid in the hand and yet light. It glides through food without getting "wedged" and creates even slices. It cuts through tougher vegetables with less resistance than thicker blades. The granton edge(or dimples) performed well and helped with releasing the food slices from the knife.
The Tomato Test:
I decided to test the knife by cutting some tomato slices. Normally, I would cut the tomato in half and proceed to cut slices. But this time around, I wanted whole slices for a recipe I was making. They needed to be really thin. I tried the MAC Knife and my regular German knife.
This is what I observed: Though I was able to get some thin slices with my German forged knife, I noticed I needed to apply some pressure in order for the knife to "catch" so that I could cut through the tomato. The MAC knife had a razor sharp edge that effortlessly cut through the tomato with just a single pass. The slices were evenly cut from top to bottom.
Bread and Roast:
When using my regular bread slicer, I noticed the slices of bread were being "torn" or roughed up as I cut through, leaving quite a few crumbs behind. The knife "wedged" through the bread and as a result made for some uneven slices of bread. It also didn't have the same thickness from top to bottom. The MAC knives on the other hand cut through the bread cleanly, left the texture of the bread smooth, and produced almost no crumbs.
When cutting through a roast, the MAC knife exceeded my expectation. I got thin, smooth, and even slices. It was a pleasure to use. I ended up cutting the whole roast, which I wasn't planning to do...I just kept cutting because I loved using the knife:)
A few things I noticed about the MAC knives in general...
While doing a chiffonade of basil, I noticed the cut edges of the basil had a much cleaner cut and less bruising when using the MAC knife. My regular knife bruised the herbs a great deal. It was a big revelation to me. I finally realized how important it is to get a clean cut and eliminate as much of the bruising as possible. It is the bruising that can cause apples or potatoes to turn brown quicker. Also, when I cut through potatoes or apples, I tested the individual slices for smoothness. With the MAC knives, the slices felt smooth and even slippery to the touch. Whereas, the slices cut with my regular knives were rougher in texture and not as smooth.
Care and Handling of the MAC Knives:
Careful attention is needed when handling the MAC knives. Take care in how you store, wash, and use the MAC knives.
- always clean and dry knives thoroughly before storing.
- do not allow acidic residues to stay on the knife blade for long periods of time.
- never place the knives in the dishwasher
- never cut bones, frozen food, or any other hard items.
- sharpen knives at a 10-15 degree angle with MAC recommended sharpening tools
Overall impression of the MAC Knives:
I am not a knife specialist nor a professional, but I have come to fully appreciate the quality and performance of the Japanese MAC knives. The thin and sharp blades of MAC knives allow for some effortless gliding through fruits, vegetables, and meats. The knives cut cleanly without tearing or bruising foods. You can actually make cleaner cuts with less crushing of the food cells while other knives can drag and wedge. The MAC knives are incredibly sharp! They are lightweight, easy to control, and very precise. They have an even balance in the hand, making for a very pleasant cutting experience. It was a joy to handle the MAC knives...they just felt really comfortable in my hand when using them. I enjoyed seeing the superior results and felt like a professional immediately after using it. Now, I understand why chefs so fully rely on their knives to do the job. I have been spoiled with these knives. What an honor I was given... to be able try out some of the most amazing and remarkable knives I have ever owned. The MAC Knives far exceeded my expectation. Highly recommended. In my book, 5 stars.