Best Knife Sharpener (2010)

Gary's Knife Sharpening Service

Professional knife sharpener is a beautifully atavistic profession, not unlike being a cobbler or a Shaker chair maker. Gary Silverstein, who has operated Gary's Knife Sharpening Service for the last six years, came late to his calling, switching careers after he realized he enjoyed sharpening his wife's catering knives rather more than he enjoyed being a medical biller. Silverstein says he owes his current profession to an epiphany: He was daydreaming about playing stickball as a child in his native New York City. "I recognized the streets — we had a lot of street vendors in the Bronx — and we had to stop playing because the knife sharpener parked where we were playing." Taking this as a sign, Silverstein taught himself the profession and now sets up his stall in seven area farmers markets and, once a week, in the parking lot beside the oldest fabric store in the city. Dull knives bother him. Ginzu knives bother him. Silverstein sharpens the chefs' knives of dozens of restaurants and the scissors of many a fashion designer, but he'll also hone the long-unused contents of an elderly woman's knife drawer, and quietly give her a discount without commenting about either. It helps that he doesn't have much competition. As he said recently, above the loud whirring of his Japanese-made Carborundum-green sharpening stones, it keeps him out of the pool hall. Gary's Knife Sharpening Service: At various farmers markets. (310) 560-3258, garysknifesharpening.com. —Amy Scattergood