Warren Kitchen & Cutlery, A Cut Above
Kitchen supply stores in malls or on Main Streets are likely to have something for everyone—items that dazzle those who like to cook, those who like to entertain, and those in the market for something a little different to taste. Warren Kitchen & Cutlery in Rhinebeck is not like that. Situated on a stretch of Route 9 that gets no foot traffic, it is a destination. Its customer base includes enthusiastic home cooks, students at the Culinary Institute of America (just down the road in Hyde Park), and chefs from throughout the region and beyond. Warren’s carries a comprehensive (some would say, exhaustive) range of baking equipment, high-end cookware, coffee and tea-making equipment, and a wide selection of mixers and food processors. But it’s knives that give Warren’s “The Edge,” as their slogan boasts; they carry over 1,000 different styles. “If we had more space, we’d have more knives,” says Richard Von Husen, who co-owns the store with a partner, Jim Zitz.
Selling knives for Zitz’s uncle, whose business they bought in the early ‘90s, was how the partners got their start, and they still consider Warren Cutlery their primary business. “We are wholesale dealers in small hand tools, with a specialty in industrial blades—woodcarving tools, blades for cutting leather to make shoes, a specialty blade similar to an Exacto knife that we manufacture,” says Von Husen. From the start, they also carried some kitchen knives. At about the same time they bought the wholesale blade business, they took the space around the corner on Route 9 formerly occupied by the restaurant Chez Marcel and opened a retail store. “We expanded the product line and moved the kitchen knife part of the business to that building.”
“If people are going to make the effort to come to our store—we’re sort of out of the way—we’ve got to have what they’re looking for,” says Von Husen. This creed, plus a sales team that really knows its stuff (CIA student: “I need a chef’s jacket that doesn’t show stains.” Saleswoman: “You can try black, but I hear that Tide mixed with Cascade will get the stains out of the white ones.”), seem to be the partners’ sole stabs at the modern art of merchandising. Don’t look for seductive displays here. “I have my hands full keeping the place clean and organized,” says Von Husen.
At Warren’s, the sizzle is all in the steak. They carry Le Creuset enameled cast iron from France, but that doesn’t stop them from also carrying two other French brands, Staub and Emile Henry. They get their knives from all over—the U.S. (Dexter and Lamson, both from Massachusetts), Germany (Henckels, Wusthof, Messermeister, as well as their own Warren house brand—“they’re forged like a Henckels but at a lower price point”), Switzerland (Victorinox, “the people who make the Swiss army knife”), and Japan (Kikuichi, Tojiro, Global, Mac). “Japanese knives have become nearly half of our knife business,” says Von Husen. “Chefs are the ones who are driving it. They’re lighter, with a thinner blade than a German knife.” And they are sharp, which is another house specialty. Warren’s sharpens—superbly. (Best $8.11 this reporter ever spent—for 5 dull, old, then suddenly razor-sharp knives.) Asked about home sharpeners, Von Husen replies dryly, “They don’t do any harm. But they won’t get your knives very sharp.”
Warren Kitchen & Cutlery
6934 Route 9
Rhinebeck, NY 845.876.6208