Expert Review: Mercer ZUM 8-in Chef's Knife

Published on 10/27/2022 · 6 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the knife, which I received as a sample in September of 2022.
Jacob Lewis, Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Jacob Lewis

All photos courtesy of Jacob Cummings

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the knife, which I received as a sample in September of 2022.

My take

I’m pretty sure it’s pronounced “zoom,” but the Mercer ZUM 8in Chef’s Knife feels slower to chop than my other 8in knives. That’s because the knife is balanced at the bolster, making the handle weight feel heavier in the handle. However, it’s not exactly a problem either because that balance makes the knife seem lighter to hold. The easy-rocking edge makes this blade one of the more frictionless chopping knives I’ve held onto. It’s a subtle change in balance compared to the Mercer Renaissance, which has the same blade.

About the knife

  • Model: Mercer Culinary ZUM Chef’s Knife
  • Knife type: Full-Tang, forged, high-carbon German steel
  • Blade Length: 8in
  • Handle Material: Composite resin
  • Handle Shape: Japanese straight

About me

  • Experience: I have worked in professional and family kitchens for over 15 years with a passion for hearty vegetarian salads. I have used many knives of all ranges of quality and have been able to find things to appreciate about each one of them.

Test conditions

  • When I received it: I received this as a sample in September 2022.
  • Days tested: Approximately one week.
  • What I’ve used it on: Hearty vegetables, tomatoes, cabbage
  • Foods I’ve found it best for: Light-weight or easy-chopping veggies
  • Surfaces I’ve used it on: Wood cutting board
  • Sharpening/Honing routine: Honing touch-up with every meal prep and sharpening as needed, approximately once or twice a month.

How it performs


What I was looking for

This knife arrived as a sample, and I was curious to check it out because it’s very similar in blade profile to some of my favorite knives, but the handle has more of a Japanese look. I love pretty much any knife that can hold an edge, both European and Japanese blades have a place in my heart. So having a blade that combines aesthetics and durability caught my eye.

Why I chose this knife

I’m familiar with the dependability of Mercer’s forged steel and have a lot of comfort and experience with the edge profile. It’s a very accessible knife to use for cooks of all skill levels. I have other very similar options, including the Mercer Renaissance Chef’s Knife, which has the same blade but with a different handle and balance. It was nice to use these two side-by-side and observe the differences. I’ll go more into those details below.

What I love about it

  • Versatility: This is a versatile knife. I love it and would feel confident in using it for just about any task in the kitchen. However, since it is not a specialty knife, there are many nuanced tasks that this blade will not be the very best option for.
  • Balance: The handle is larger and heavier than a traditional European riveted chef's knife. Because of this, the weight is centered more in the bolster, giving the knife an even balance.
  • Weight: It feels heavy compared to stamped steel and heavier than some high-end Japanese knives. But I like the weight of this blade.
  • Flexibility: This knife does not flex, so don’t force things with this knife. Knives should be rigid.
  • Performance with Hard Vegetables: I love cutting hard vegetables with this knife. It is simply approachable.
  • Protein fabrication: I would use this knife for protein fabrication, but I would not use it to remove bones or fillets. There are knives for that task. However, if I were in a pinch, it would do a passable but unrefined job.
  • Applications: The blade works fine for slicing, but it’s most suited for rolling chop motions, where the blade is relaxed and rested on the surface of the cutting board. I would first use this with lightweight vegetables, like onions and parsley, and it would be fine with carrots or potatoes, as well.
  • Blade Profile: The European blade profile is tall and traditional. I love the blade on this knife, and it’s one of the reasons why I would still consider using it. Personally, I prefer the sheep’s foot design of a Santoku knife for my chef’s knives.
  • Blade Length: The 8in blade is perfect for small and large vegetables. It’s easy to choke up on the handle, which effectively makes the blade only 6 inches long and is great for small things. But if I need to cut squash, I can back up on the handle and press down with the top of my guiding hand.
  • Blade material: The high-carbon forged German steel is overall durable and easy to maintain. It’s rigid and heavier than stamped steel and holds an edge pretty well. But it does require frequent sharpening, which I accept is necessary with a mid-quality chef’s knife.
  • Quality of materials: For its price, the materials will last for a long time and will keep an edge nicely with proper maintenance. It’s a great knife.
  • Warranty: Mercer provides a limited lifetime warranty.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Durability: Overall, this is a durable knife. But it does require frequent honing and sharpening as the steel seems to lose the edge fairly quickly. The edge sharpens easily and, if maintained properly, will be good for a very long time.
  • Handle Profile: The handle profile is wider than traditional European chef knife handles, so there’s more material to hold onto. But because it is straight, it also feels like there’s less to hold onto. This knife does well with a relaxed hand that depends on letting the blade do the work versus muscling through the ingredients.

Favorite moment with this knife

My favorite moment was my first impression of noticing the subtle differences in the balance, which translated to a more confident handling experience. In addition, I enjoyed observing myself breeze through vegetable prep. The Mercer Zum is a fun knife.

Value for the money vs. other options

This knife is absolutely worth its money because the durability is exceptional overall, and the value and performance match. The main question is if it’s the right aesthetic and comfort for any cook’s personal needs. I love it, but it’s not my first choice. However, I completely understand that some people might prefer this design. The Mercer Renaissance 8-inch Chef’s Knife has the same blade and material, but the handle uses a traditional European shape.

Final verdict

The Mercer Zum is a lot of fun and wants to be moved in spontaneous motions because the balance is so even. The forged steel is a big step up from stamped metal. It’s high-quality and great for anyone who’s up for the required extra maintenance to keep it sharp. If those steps are taken, it will last a long time without disappointment.

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