Former chef Corey Richards is now dedicating his time to making sure other cooks' tools stay primed for use

CravePhilly is a video and story series by Hope Cohen about the people who create food, restaurants, and agriculture in the Philadelphia region. 

You’ve probably been there: you’re trying to cut through a delicious, ripe tomato, when you realize your knife just isn’t as sharp as it used to be. Not only is it frustrating, but trying to use a dull knife can also be dangerous.

Ask a chef, and they’ll often say a properly sharp knife is their favorite kitchen tool. However, mastering the art of sharpening is not easy.

Enter Steel & Stone, the new knife-sharpening service based in South Philly’s Pennsport neighborhood near 4th and Morris streets. No more hassles dropping off knives at a Center City kitchen store, or learning the on-again, off-again schedule for the knife sharpener at the farmers market. And no more waiting a whole week for pickup.

Steel & Stone founder Corey Richards, a former line cook and chef at restaurants like R2L, Tredici Enotca, and for Kimpton Hotels, decided during lockdown to shift to operating his own business.

Having always enjoyed the art of working with sharpening stones, he decided to bring his skills to other industry friends by offering a 24-hour-turn around service to sharpen their knives. When word of mouth began to spread in the chef community, he realized he could also offer his services to home cooks.

Richards’ process uses a series of natural and synthetic whetstones. The water stones range from 250 to 12,000 grit (the lower the number the coarser the stone), with each level sharpening a particular edge differently.

He proclaims respect for all types of knives, serrated, pocket, kitchen — whatever you bring him, even scissors and shears. From expensive Japanese knives to inexpensive every-day workhorses, no knife is turned away. He’s even sharpened a WWII British Army machete, which he believes dates back to the 1920s.

It can take up to 20 minutes to properly sharpen a knife, but Steel & Stone delivers on its promise of a 24-hour turn-around. You can request a quote via an online form, then have a conversation to discuss your knives, schedule a time and go. Drop off and pick up happens at Corey’s home kitchen, which doubles as his work studio.

Learn more in the video below, and get your mise en place in order.

YouTube video

Hope Cohen is a cookbook author, chef, consultant, and video host on a mission to expand viewers’ palates for global food and culture through storytelling. She has appeared on Rachel Ray, Dr. Oz, and...