Wusthof is arguably the best knife ever made.
Some master chefs would advertise certain brands and even allow their names to be printed on those knives but you will see them have at least one Wusthof piece in their kits or rolls.
TV cooking personalities like Ina Garten, Ree Drummond, Jamie Oliver, and the great Gordon Ramsay all heavily rely on their Wusthofs.
The company currently has ten series which include favorites such as Ikon, Gourmet, and Epicure.
They have created more than that but nearly a dozen have been discontinued like Pro and Culinar. Don’t be surprised if you still see those in Amazon or other online shops, though.
Let’s focus on two popular variants: Classic which happens to be everyone’s favorite and its closest relative albeit discontinued Le Cordon Bleu.
A Quick Comparative Table
|Classic||Le Cordon Bleu|
|Blade Form||Conventional profiles, Polished by hand||Conventional profiles, Polished by hand|
|Edges||20 degrees per side||15 degrees per side|
|Tang||Full, exposed||Full, exposed|
|Handle||Polypropylene, triple-riveted||Polypropylene, triple-riveted|
|Weight and Balance||Balanced, heavier||Balanced, 30% lighter|
Wusthof only uses on steel blend for all their knives: X50CrMoV15.
This has a good mix of metal ores which makes it one of the most flawless blends: hard, stain resistant, has incredible edge retention, and is pretty easy to re-sharpen.
Each letter and number in the designation stands for the following:
• X = Stainless steel
• 50 = 0.5% Carbon for hardness and sharpness
• CR = Chromium for stain resistance
• MO = Molybdenum also for stain resistance
• V = Vanadium for corrosion resistance and edge retention
• 15 = percentage of Chromium in this alloy
The two variants have the same HRC 56-58.
Out of the current series that the brand offers, six are forged including Classic and four are stamped. Le Cordon Bleu (aka LBC) is also forged.
Like many cutlery companies, Wusthof has taken advantage of automation as this makes the process quicker and more efficient. But they have mostly adhered to traditional methods.
For instance, they still forge individual steel pieces into shape but they use those large drop hammering machines instead of manually battering the heated metal with a mallet.
They also grind the blades to their incredibly sharp edges by hand but they use rolling grinders.
Laser-assisted machines are also utilized for quality assurance.
Blade Shape and Form
The Classic and the Le Cordon Bleu share the same geometry in terms of profile.
If you put similar knife styles of each variant side by side, you will see how very similar they are.
Let’s take the 8-inch Chef’s knife from each collection as an example:
The spine of the two is quite straight three-quarters of the way from the top of the bolster until it gently curves down towards the tip. The belly is also a bit horizontal from the heel, curving up in the conventional convex to meet the tip.
Some do say that the spine of the LCB is slightly thinner than the Classic. This does make sense because the other features of the former (which will be explained later) require that extra mass at the top.
Edge Angles and Finishing
Here is one feature where the two differ – and one of the reasons why the spines, as mentioned above, slightly differs: Classic’s is sharpened to 20 degrees on each side while Le Cordon Bleu’s is at 15 degrees per side.
The honing of the edge is done manually but is helped by PEtec, their laser-controlled sharpening process.
The final buffing of the whole blade is completely by hand.
The bolster is an important part of the knife as it adds heft and provides much-needed balance to the piece.
Forged knives have bolsters so expect to see this on these Wusthofs.
However, Classics have a completely different bolster style from Le Cordon Bleus – another very obvious disparity between the two.
Classic has a full ax-shaped bolster: thick from the spine and tapers in a slight slant down to the heel.
The extra bit near the heel works as a finger guard, preventing accidental nicks from the edge.
LCB has a partial trapezoidal bolster.
Because this doesn’t have a finger guard, the heel is curved in a concave so it’s slightly far from the hand that grips the handle.
It also has a slightly recessed choil, a very small notch at the end of the heel which signals the end of the sharp edge.
Tang Length and Composition
Both have full tangs, sandwiched in between two pieces of the handle material so the tang is exposed and then riveted thrice.
Compared to other brands, the tangs of all Wusthofs are made of the same material as the blade.
Handle Material and Form
The two variants are made of the same handle material and have the same shape:
They used two black polypropylene pieces, fused to the tang and bolster, and then triple-riveted for additional durability.
The top part is slightly straight until it curves down to the rounded heel. It is also given a comma-shaped handguard at the end of the handle to prevent slipping. The bottom is out-curved – added for that ergonomic grip – until it ends in the aforementioned comma.
Overall Weight and Balance
The bolster is what gives a knife a good balance (when you lift it in the middle, it doesn’t tilt to just one side). Both these Wusthofs have a good balance.
But with all the features of the Classic added up – the thicker spine, the finger guard on the bolster, higher edge angles, and so on – it is slightly heavier than Le Cordon Bleu.
Which is the Better Buy?
The Classic, whether it’s put up against another Wusthof variant or some other series from another brand, is almost always the better option.
Top chefs and connoisseurs will agree with this assessment.
Many people would base their decisions on the price of the item; which isn’t such a bad thing to do because the cost of any purchase should always be taken into consideration.
When it was still a part of the company’s product line, LCB was $30 to $50 cheaper than its contemporary.
But it’s hard to base your choice on the price factor because LCB is discontinued.
You might get lucky to find a set that’s half off its original cost but there’s a bigger chance that it’s even more expensive now since there are fewer of these beautifully tailored knives out there.
The thing is, these two are practically the same so either one will be a great addition to your kitchen.
Last Updated on July 21, 2021 by Andy Wang