Since the 1700s, one of the biggest knife manufacturers in the world has been Zwilling J.A. Henckels. It’s crucial to know what model you’re purchasing because they offer over 24 distinct knife lines (if you count Henckels Classic and other brands).
The Professional S is produced in Solingen, Germany, where Zwilling’s primary factories are based, along with the majority of their premium product lines. Additionally, Zwilling/Henckels operates plants in Spain and, more recently, Japan. One of their most recent achievements is a pair of knives made in Japan that were created by American bladesmith Bob Kramer, who has raised the bar for kitchen knife excellence.
The Professional S is made from a single piece of steel and is as traditional as they come with a bolster, full-tang, and three-rivet grip. The handle may appear and feel like wood, but it is not. Although they are making a comeback, wood handles are no longer the standard, and most manufacturers presume that consumers would prefer the longevity that a synthetic material offers. (Above: a close-up of the Professional S handle)
A Professional S chef knife that I received from my mother has been a staple in our kitchen. For the record, I don’t spend hours preparing, but I’ve always appreciated the feel—nicely balanced with a little heaviness, but nothing that wears out my hand. I had it professionally honed years ago, and with consistent honing, the edge has remained. It can still slice tomatoes, believe it or not. This is evidence that the steel was properly heat-treated even if it is not the toughest steel available.
I closely examined a brand-new Professional S to contrast with my previous one in order to be current for my review. It’s hardly surprising that Zwilling has improved in the interim, changing the handle’s glossy surface to matte (much hipper), and making the blade slightly narrower (to combat with the Japanese invasion). Everything else appears to be the same, including the handle, blade form, and wonderful feel.
The Professional S comes in two sizes, an 8-inch and 10. (There’s also a 6-inch, but that’s too small for an all-purpose blade.)
Please be aware that Zwilling/Henckels produces a chef knife that is incredibly similar to the Professional S called the Henckels Classic. This model is made in Spain and costs less than half as much as the Professional S. (To further cause confusion, it was formerly known as the Henckels International.) Despite being a respectable forged knife, it wasn’t made in Soligen, Germany, through a different heat treatment, and wasn’t as expertly finished. (See Henckels Classic chef knife below; in a picture, it resembles Professional S.)