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The modern cooking market gets increasingly demanding with each passing year. Higher quality tools are dominating consumer minds, who wish for greater performance and efficiency. But as market demands increase, so do the efforts of the manufacturing industries.

One company who is setting the standard for high quality cooking tools is Kyocera, a ceramic product manufacturer. Kyocera designs and makes products for a wide-range of technical applications, from photovoltaic cells to semi-conductor parts. Kyocera also makes the Ming Tsai series of kitchen knives, which debuted in February of 1999 and were named for Esquire magazine’s 1998 Chef of the Year.

The Ming Tsai knives, like Kyocera’s other products, are manufactured from ceramic materials; in this case, the blades are made of zirconium oxide. Zirconium is sharp, wear-resistant and can hold its edge for years without the need for sharpening. As far as human knowledge goes, diamond is the only substance harder than zirconium. Even serrated steel blades need to be sharpened from time to time; only ceramic knives have been shown to go for five or more years without. Kyocera is so convinced of the superiority of their product that they guarantee that the knives will not dull or chip within five years of their purchase. The blades themselves are so sharp that they will slice through even the ripest tomatoes without resistance.

In addition to their incredible sharpness, Kyocera’s ceramic knives are resistant to chemical corrosion and are therefore impervious to food acids. No matter how frequently they are used, they will not become stained, discolored or corroded from the foods which they cut—not even stainless steel can boast of such permanent resistance. The zirconium also offers a naturally non-stick surface—cleaning the blades is greatly eased by this aspect of the ceramic.

Like other premium quality kitchen knives, Kyocera takes time to assure that the Ming Tsai knives are lightweight and perfectly balanced to increase usability and decrease injuries and slicing errors.

The only two disadvantages to these ceramic knives are cost (doesn’t everything nice come with a hefty price tag, though?) and their ‘brittleness.’ As with diamonds, the very hardness of zirconium oxide results in the possibility of chipping. When under significant stress, the ceramic will not flex to prevent breakage. Due to the risk of chipping, a ceramic knife should not be used on any meat with bones still in it. They are, however, excellent for slicing boneless meat.

With the Ming Tsai ceramic knife series, Kyocera is pushing the envelope of high quality knives. Because they do not need sharpening and will last a lifetime without chemical corrosion, they are an outstanding addition to any kitchen, be it professional or recreational.