Fascinating, This is the search term that was used to find my blog. In a the professional kitchens that I have worked in I have never seen an electric sharpener used. 2 way and 3 way whetstones and of course the steel are about all that I have seen in terms of self sharpening. A few chefs have those cheap draw through sharpeners but anyone with an expensive set of blades would avoid using that type as it takes off metal in an uneven way. Several of the kitchens do use a knife service that comes by once a week and swaps out their knives with a freshly sharpened batch. Most chefs own and use their own knives but some use the knives provided by the service.
One of the challenges of owning a good knife is keeping a good edge on the knife. I have mentioned here that a knife for home use really needs to be sharpened once every 6 months or a year, but should be put on a steel every day. Electric knife sharpener’s are probably a good thing if you are unsure of how to use a whetstone, but I would be very reluctant to take an expensive blade and grind it down a couple of millimeters while trying to get an edge on it. If you want to an electric knife sharpener look for the type that have a guide that will keep the knife at the proper angle as you draw it through. I just spoke to a lady who uses the type that are attached to an electric can opener… ack please avoid this type of sharpener if you want to have a blade in a couple of years from now. The problem is that an electric knife sharpener will quickly take off much more of the edge than you want and do so in an uneven way. You can quickly loose the center curvature of the blade on a chef’s knife and actually have a hollow spot where the blade doesn’t even touch the cutting board.
Learning to use a basic sharpening stone is probably the best way to go. It is not that difficult. Rather than repeat what has already been said about the subject simply go to this site: http://users.ameritech.net/knives/ward.htm and spend some time you will learn a lot. Also Michael Chu at cookingforengineers.comhas an excellent article with boatloads of comments which is quite educational.