Sabatier Knife Set: Don’t Be Confused by Cheap Imitations

You have mastered many culinary skills. You’re to the point when you have decided to equip your kitchen with appliances and utensils to match — and maybe even enhance — those skills.

A Sabatier knife set would complement your cooking workspace quite nicely! They have a reputation as the best hand-forged chef-quality knives in the world, and you deserve a set.

You go online looking for a distributor in the United States and much to your surprise, not only can you find them on Amazon. They’re selling for a ridiculously low price!

You’ve found this gorgeous, hand-crafted, world-renown French cutlery all over the internet, sold for rock-bottom prices.

How can they do this? How can they sell a complete 12-piece set of the best cutlery in existence, including 6 steak knives and a knife block, for less than $6 per item? It says “Sabatier” in the title and under the seller’s name.

How can this be? You thought Sabatier cutlery went for between $100 and $200 per knife. Well, truth be told, they can’t, and they don’t.

First a Little Background History

As you may already know, if you’re looking for a Sabatier knife set in the first place, culinary experts consider them the best in the world. The region of Thiers, France, has been synonymous with cutlery since the Middle Ages.

In 19th-century Thiers, two families lived there who both made knives. These families, not related by blood or marriage, had nothing in common except for their names and chosen professions.

Years later, when the concept of trademarks came into existence, both of these families started using the trademark name of Sabatier on their knives.

Both Jean Sabatier, who lived in the Lower Thiers area, and Phillipe Sabatier, who lived in upper Thiers, each claimed to have registered the “Sabatier” trademark first. And evidence exists that indicates a certain amount of credibility for each claim.

Both lines of cutlery bore the name “Sabatier.” As other knife makers in the region began marketing their cutlery, they began to call their knives “Sabatier“ as well. Naturally, this caused plenty of confusion, as some even forged the Sabatier maker’s mark on their products.

Defining “Sabatier”

Eventually, the law tried sorting out this confusing situation. Because these companies all were in business prior to the inception of the law, authorities decreed that they could all call themselves Sabatier knives.

However, they were compelled to add a letter, a symbol, or a word to the Sabatier name in order to separate themselves in the eyes of the public.

Fast forward to today: At the time of writing, there are over 30 cutlery manufacturers around the world that use the Sabatier name with only slight variations or additions.

If you’re looking for a specific maker of a particular Sabatier knife, you have to perform an exact search for it, or you could accidentally end up purchasing it from another manufacturer.

How Good Are Sabatier Knives?

The only accurate answer depends on which brand you purchase. Some brands, such as Sabatier-K and Star Elephant Theirs-Issard, go back to the beginning and remain faithful to the tradition of hand-forged, genuine Sabatier Knives.

Numerous other brands are merely knock-offs, counterfeits, and pretenders. Some of these knives even come from Japan and Germany.

What Is a Genuine French Sabatier Knife Set?

A genuine Sabatier knife comes from the Their region of France. Not Germany, China, or Japan. One easy way to tell, assuming the information does not appear in the product description, is the design of the knife itself.

Sometimes, counterfeiters don’t even bother to design them in the French style accurately.

The feel

French-style knives are thinner, pointier, and a bit shorter than typical non-French knives. They have less curve in their blades and a shorter distance between the handle and the cutting surface.

They feel faster and more precise in your hand than their heavier and bulkier counterparts from other countries.

You can find tips and techniques on how to use quality knives in the following video.

The steel

Genuine Sabatier knives use a carbon and stainless steel blend called Z50C13. It has the property of being softer and easier to sharpen to a keen edge than most knives. Ideally, you will need to hone these knives to a greater angle than harder steel knives.

Grinding them to a razor edge is not necessary, and such a small angle edge will not hold long.

However, this also means that you can easily sharpen these knives with virtually any variety of knife sharpener, file, whetstone or sharpening steel.

Also, genuine Sabatier knives will not tarnish, rust or corrode with normal use, even if you are using them on highly acidic food.

Choosing high-carbon stainless steel rather than ordinary carbon steel makes your knives easier to work with and require far less maintenance.

The quality is real

Genuine Sabatier knives from Their, France, come fully forged. This means that everything except the handle is forged and crafted from one a piece of steel.

They then mold this single piece of steel into the blade, the bolster, and the tang. They then rivet on the wooden handles.

The shaping and the sharpening are all done by hand. If your knives have plastic handles, no rivets, or handles that are only attached to the knife blade, and are not part of it, you do not have an authentic French Sabatier knife.

We should also note that authentic Sabatier knives come with a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects.

Additionally, they feature handles of real olive wood, white or red stamina (an epoxy-infused wood handle), blackwood, or white micarta (linen infused with epoxy).

You’ll find that a real Sabatier knife set isn’t dishwasher safe. In addition to keeping them from soaking in soapy water, you must occasionally rub the wood handles with olive oil to maintain their structural integrity and intrinsic beauty.

The Price of a Sabatier Knife Set Is a Big Deal

Quality such as this does not come cheap. Not only are these knives very expensive, for the most part, but it can also be challenging even to locate a genuine Sabatier knife from France.

In some cases, a single 10-inch, one-piece forged Sabatier chef’s knife can sell for upwards of $500 to $600. A set of knives can cost from $350 to $1,000.

This is not to say that all “Sabatier” knives are not worth your time or money. Some are, some are not. But, you should know going in that if you find an entire set of “Sabatier” knives for under $100, chances are, it’s a knockoff, or at least a bandwagon imitation.

They are associated more with the style of knife, that the original process. Kind of like all tissues are sometimes called “Kleenex,” all petroleum jelly is called “Vaseline,” and all adhesive bandage strips are called “Band-Aids.”

Finding a Genuine Sabatier Knife Set

Finding a genuine Their, Sabatier knife can be difficult in the United States. The only ones we located come from The Best Things, Great French Knives, and K-Sabatier Shop.

Let’s take a look at a superior and genuine Their Sabatier Knife Set.

5-piece Sabatier Knife Set from Great French Knives

This ****Elephant Sabatier Knives set comes highly recommended by the Bon Vivant School of Cooking to their students.

It also represents a knife set that has components chosen to accommodate most of the most commonly used knives in a well-stocked kitchen.

Prices listed are from the Great French Knives website and reflect prices of each individual knife in the set, depending on the type of handle desired. You’ll find the entire set priced from $360 to $450, again, depending on the wood chosen for the handles.

This well-considered Sabatier knife set includes:

A 4-inch (10 cm) paring knife

Perfect for those times when you need that smaller cutting blade. This 4-inch blade, perfect for paring, will cut large potatoes, fruits, meats, or berries.

This small, all-purpose knife fits comfortably in your hand and is just the right size for those intricate cutting and scoring jobs where a larger knife would prove awkward.

You’ll also see it sold separately on Great French Knives at a price from $54.00 to $59.00.

A 6- inch (15 cm) wide “Bon Vivant” chef’s knife

This custom-made 6-inch blade is usually not offered in a Sabatier knife set. This is a traditional favorite with both culinary professionals and cutlery enthusiasts.

You’ll find it listed separately at a price between $82 and $92, based, again, on the handle choice.

A traditional 8-inch (20 cm) chef’s knife

Always the choice of famous and aspiring chefs worldwide, chef’s knives are among the most essential tools to be found in any kitchen. You can use this knife to cut vegetables, meat, or fish.

If you desire to become a top-of-the-line cook, you will need to be proficient with a chef’s knife. This model, both comfortable and well balanced, gives you more control and allows you to spend less time chopping and more time creating your dishes.

It also sells individually on this site at a price between $89 and $109.

A 10-inch (25 cm) chef’s knife

With a perfect balance and feel, this knife allows you to sweep it across a cutting board easily. Because of the feel and comfort of the handle, you will not find yourself getting a tired hand as your food preparation time ticks on.

This knife lets you make short work of a bunch of celery, quickly and precisely slice meat, or just perfectly cut squash or melons in half.

If you take your cooking seriously, you will need a quality 10-inch chef’s knife. Prices on the Great French Knives site range from $109 to $150.

A 10-inch (25 cm) sharpening steel

No high-quality Sabatier knife set is complete without a quality sharpening steel to go along with it.

While professional-grade cutlery deserves professional sharpening, this sharpening steel is perfect for honing your blades back to razor sharpness between sessions with your professional grinder.

Prices go from between $88 and $114 on this site, also based on handle preference.

It is important to note that, if purchased individually, these knives would cost from $442 to $524. So, let’s compare it to the type typically available on internet retail stores in America from a less authentic Sabatier name.

Sabatier Self-Sharpening Edgekeeper Pro

An excellent example of one of the 25 or so Sabatier brands that do not quite measure up to the genuine article, let’s take a look at the Sabatier Self-Sharpening Edgekeeper Pro offered online as an example. It costs from $60 to $100 and has an Amazon rating of 3.9 out of 5.0 stars.

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While a full 12-piece set of “high-carbon stainless” steel knives in a wooden block may be handy, it still manages to appear cheap.

While not terrible for the price, it’s still nowhere near as high-quality as the ****Elephant Sabatier or Theirs-Issard offerings.

Avoid gimmicks

It’s an offer by what seems to be a genetic “Sabatier” brand that appears on numerous sets and can originate from Japan to Germany.

This particular set has added the show-stopping gimmick of a knife sharpener in every holding slot in this knife block.

Every time you return these knives to their slots, a set of ceramic rods guide the knife and sharpen them in the process.

We’re sure you have seen similar sharpening tools on the backs of electric can openers and hand-held plastic sharpening tools.

However, if you understand even the basic mechanics of knife sharpening and honing technique, you soon realize that this is nothing but a gimmick. It will keep your knives sharp.

However, the problem is that if you somehow do any damage to your fine edge, even through regular use over time, the fine grit ceramic rods included with your block will do virtually nothing to correct the issue. You still have to re-sharpen your knives with a sharpening steel, strop, or another manual use tool.

The quality isn’t there

Granted, for some users, this auto-sharpening system does work admirably. It does replace the need for occasional edge-perfecting honing, but you’ll need to send even the best knives out for attention by professionals every year or so to maintain a perfect edge.

One problem with this set, beyond the knives themselves, has to be the block. While most knife blocks are an appealing woodgrain affair that looks good in any décor, this one, painted a matte finish flat black, will only fit in certain types of kitchens.

In fairness to whichever “Sabatier” wannabe we are dealing with here, the problems we have noted do not specifically apply to this knife set alone.

Manufacturers design, market, and sell these so-called Sabatier knife sets as quality, professional-grade chef’s tools.

You’ll soon discover that these are merely run-of-the-mill knife sets. They may include a few tricks and gadgets to make them seem better and worth a few bucks more of your money.

Avoid Buying an Imitation Sabatier Knife Set

So, do we think you should buy the Sabatier Self-Sharpening Edgekeeper Pro block set? Well, if you are looking for a set of quality kitchen knives to enhance your skills and will serve you for a lifetime, probably not.

Priced for between $37 and $60 from various online retailers, for just about the same cost, the casual cook can purchase a very nice set like the J.A. Henckels International 13550-005 Statement knife block set, priced between $92 to $130.

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You’ll find they are a much better set of kitchen knives. But of course, you’ll have to give up the self-sharpening slots and the steak knife set.

And that’s only if you want to settle for less than the absolute best in your kitchen. Maybe, you shouldn’t buy a “pretty good” set of knives.

Instead, you might save up a while longer and invest in a genuine Sabatier knife set from one of the importers listed above.

Last update on 2022-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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