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The 'Knife Lady of Chelsea Market' knows how to get the blade just right

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Photojournalist John Sprei introduces us to Margery Cohen, also known as the "knife lady." (WABC)

For Margery Cohen, life can be on the cutting edge, literally.

Better known as the "Knife Lady of Chelsea Market," she has been sharpening and restructuring kitchen cutlery and utensils for everyone, from average foodies that love to cook at home to students and professional chefs alike.

Every Wednesday and Saturday, she sets up Samurai Sharpening Service, a small but efficient workbench inside the bustling Chelsea Market, where she has been a staple for the past 19 years.

Cohen's years of expertise stems from having worked in fish markets and also utilizes her hands as an artist and sculptor. She said much of what she has learned has been on the job. While some people prefer the do-it-yourself approach -- using electric sharpeners or other gadgets -- when it comes to knife sharpening, nothing quite compares to a person who knows how to get the blade just right.

Customers, like Jakob Clausen, travel to her specifically every few months to get their knives in top cutting shape, especially right before Thanksgiving. He said he feels somewhat nostalgic about the service Cohen provides, as it reminds him of the old neighborhood knife sharpeners that went around in trucks or in South America with horse-drawn carts and hand-operated grindstones.

Cohen agreed, saying many customers reminisce with her about the days where knife sharpeners in New York City neighborhoods were common and a part of the culture.

Other customers, like culinary student Aaron Stringfellow, value Cohen's sharpening skills. He says working with food the way he does, he knows the importance of having precision sharp knives and considers them much safer to work with rather than dull ones.

Cohen's approach to knife sharpening uses care and precaution, but she also enjoys the personal interactions she has with her customers, especially children who seem fascinated with her work. You can learn more about her or sharpen your own knives in time for the holidays by visiting her Wednesdays and Saturdays from 12 to 6 p.m., or visit samuraisharpening.com.

Related Topics:
homeoriginalskitchen productsthanksgivingChelseaNew York City
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