Expert Review: Mercer Culinary Renaissance Forged Chef's Knife, 8 Inch
This review is my honest opinion of the knife, which I purchased with my own money in September of 2022.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the knife, which I purchased with my own money in September of 2022.
The Mercer Culinary Renaissance Forged Chef’s Knife is great for cooks who want to upgrade their main prep knife but don’t want to spend hundreds on a single blade. This knife represents approachability in every way: the weight, ergonomics, price, value, and aesthetics represent a trustworthy knife that can be a trusted blade for years.
About the gear
- Model: Renaissance
- Knife type: Chef
- Blade Length: 8-inch
- Handle Material: Composite
- Handle Shape: Traditional
- Experience: After spending a decade in the kitchen at a retreat center, I have now found myself working on a non-profit farm that focuses on providing organic/local veggies to individuals and families who are experiencing food scarcity. I am enthusiastic about taking time out of the day to cook for myself and whoever is nearby and looking to eat.
- When I bought it: September 2022
- Days tested: About six meals so far.
- What I’ve used it on: Corn, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and various herbs.
- Foods I’ve found it best for: Prepping larger vegetables and cuts of meat, but light enough to handle all tasks.
- Surfaces I’ve used it on: Wood and nylon.
- Sharpening/Honing routine: As with all my knives, I quickly hone the blade before each meal prep and sharpen the blade 2-3 times a month, depending on the frequency of use. I’m lazy, honestly.
How it performs
What I was looking for
I have had a Zwilling Pro 8-inch chef’s knife in my knife block for as long as I can remember, until my partner claimed the chef’s knife in the divorce. For two years now, I’ve had an IKEA 6-inch forged blade that I love, but I’ve missed the familiarity of the Zwilling Pro. As it turns out, this Mercer Renaissance is so similar I actually couldn’t say what’s really different about it. While I’ve certainly owned and loved higher-end blades, my current travel lifestyle doesn’t bode well for expensive things. So this chef’s knife that is way more than just “good enough” has me utterly thrilled, and the familiarity sends me back to childhood.
Why I chose this gear
Ultimately, I chose to keep this knife in my block because of the consistency it provides. The blade stays sharp throughout all of the meal prep, and I don’t have to worry about it knocking around in my kitchen set while traveling. It’s a knife that I don’t have to think twice about putting in the hands of a friend who’s joining me for dinner and wants to help with meal prep. It’s really sharp but not too sharp. Often, ultra-sharp knives are not good for inexperienced hands, and when my friends use techniques that I know for certain will dull the blade, I don’t have to worry or say anything. I just let them do their thing and enjoy the process of making a meal because, afterward, I can hone the blade in a few seconds. This knife loves frequent touch-ups.
What I love about it
- Durability: While I’ve used more expensive knives that stayed sharper and for longer, I am very happy with the durability of this blade as it takes well to frequently being honed.
- Versatility: Despite it being the longest prep blade that I feel comfortable using (I prefer 6-inch chef knives), this blade is lightweight, the right height for pinching the blade between my fingers, and mixing small and large vegetables.
- Weight: This knife is almost the perfect weight for me. It’s heavy enough that I don’t forget I’m holding it but not so heavy that it feels like a drag.
- Flexibility: This blade is rigid and is designed to have minimal flex. If there’s any sign that the blade is flexing, then this knife is being asked to perform outside of its intended use.
- Performance with Hard Vegetables: Because I find this blade comfortable to pinch between my fingers, I have excellent control with hard vegetables, and the rocking angle of the blade makes for quick and accurate slicing.
- Handle Profile: I love when a knife handle has some weight in the grip and a little hook on the end for my pinky to depend on. Because of this, I find the knife to be quite comfortable for my hand. (I have larger hands.)
- Blade Profile: This is a classic German blade profile with a predictable arc to the cutting surface. Once the angles have been learned, this blade feels incredibly natural and easy to use.
- Blade material: The forged material feels more premium than less expensive knives made of stamped steel.
- Quality of materials: For the price, this knife is made of everything that can withstand decades of use. The riveted handle and composite material will scratch and fade over the years, but this will be more like a patina to show the test of time and how it endures. By keeping it out of the dishwasher and the bottom of the sink, I expect to enjoy this knife for a long time.
- Warranty: This knife does have a “Limited Lifetime Warranty,” but I’m sure I will never need it.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Protein fabrication: For anyone who’s particularly skilled with a knife like this, I’m sure it could be done. But I wouldn’t recommend this knife for boning or doing much technical cutting around tricky meats. It does a great job of trimming fats.
- Applications: Because of its length, I don’t use a knife of this size for much other than getting chunky meats and vegetables into their portions. I will thinly slice cabbage, kale, onions, and garlic with it, but only because I’m too lazy to grab a more appropriate knife.
- Blade Length: I’ve already said that my preferences rest in a slightly shorter blade length. I have big hands; I just love a slightly shorter blade.
- Ergonomics: This handle's ergonomics are great for having around to be “good enough” for a ton of people. But I prefer a handle with more weight and a little more belly to give my fingers something to grip. That said, this handle is still great.
- Features: While I think it’s a good thing how traditional this knife is, it’s also a negative. There’s just not much about it that marks it as unique. From my memory, it’s so similar to the Zwilling Pro that I wonder if they’re made in the same factory.
Favorite moment with this gear
Earlier, I described how I feel so completely comfortable handing this knife to anyone who wants to help in the kitchen. I really love having a good tool that I don’t have to worry about because it’s durable and is easy to maintain.
Value for the money vs. other options
The Renaissance series is classic for anyone looking at knives that cost about $100 each and will produce consistent results for years. The most direct comparison would be the Zwilling Pro 8-inch Chef Knife. However, for those looking at less expensive knives made of stamped metal, I highly recommend spending more on the quality of steel provided with this blade.
The Mercer Culinary Renaissance is a great knife for anyone who’s committed in the kitchen, but if one’s really serious and has the budget, it’s worth looking at more refined blades that have endured a more intensive hardening process, resulting in prolonged durability and sharpness.