a sharp knife is your friend or how i fell in love with knives (part 2)

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Last time I wrote about how I fell in love with knives and my “first loves.” I’m hoping that you all found it to be a moving story and some insight in to how bottle&flame came to be.

After falling in love with cooking and quality knives I have continued to dabble in trying out new knives with the hope of finding a “true love.” There have been dalliances with Wusthof, with JA Henckels, Cutco, and a number of other knives of which I cannot remember the names.

Why is that?

Why can’t I remember the names?

These other knives have not had the impact on me that a special few have over my time in the kitchen. There the knives in Food Tech Prep, the knives with Chef Bob, my roommates Wusthof knife and they all got me started.

My own personal collection of knives (that I’ll proudly share) started with a Wusthof classic chefs knife that I received as a present. The magnificent steel blade encased in the simplistic black handle was a revelation. This was my first real knife and I was responsible for taking care of it and keeping it sharp and clean and free of rust.

And with being responsible for my first knife I learned some very valuable lessons. By learning these myself I hope I can save you from learning these somewhat expensive lessons…

1. DO NOT put your knives in the dishwasher – this can be very damaging to the handle as water can get forced in between the handle and the blade/tang and cause it to rust or corrode or disintegrate
2. Do not trust your roommates with your knives – see point 1
3. Keep your knife sharp – use a steel once a week or so. I should really follow this rule more often, but I can blame my failure to do so on having twins – right?
4. Protect your knife – this should be right in line with number 3 because this will help you keep your knife sharp by prevention nicks and dings in the kitchen drawer
5. Avoid the wood butcher blocks – some will say blasphemy, but I know very few chefs who are careful enough to dry their knives thoroughly enough to stick them in a dark wood hole. That hole turns in to a mold or mildew factory me thinks quite quickly
6. Use your knives – by using them you get comfortable with them and then take better care of them and can be more confident in their use and thus less likely to hurt yourself (more to come on that later)

After learning these lessons it was a while until I upgraded my knives, since we packed up and moved to London for a few years and I lived on curries, pub grub, and hotel food on business trips. We cooked occasionally with the tools we had in our furnished apartment and whatever knives we packed for our trip. After returning home I started to get back in the kitchen after we bought our house and then I slowly ratcheted up my collection of kitchen goodies…

Then the moment of moments happened – I got “bored” with the Wusthof and wanted to try something new after watching umpteen episodes of Top Chef, Iron Chef and nearly anything on the Food Network. I had heard about and seen all of these chefs using a style of knife I had never seen – a santoku. I was unleashed – a man on a mission – as I hunted for one of these great tools.

I scouted stores like Williams Sonoma, Crate and Barrel, Sur la Table, and others that elude me. I tried numerous knives to find the right feel. I wanted the handle to feel like an extension of my arm and hand. I didn’t want it to fee like I was fighting it each step of the way. If you end up with a knife like that then you are bound to hurt yourself.

After trying out knives from Wusthof, JA Henckels, Global, and others I read a review online about Shun knives and I wanted to give one a shot. I had seen them at Williams Sonoma and other places, but thought them out of my price range. But the catalog bug bit me after I saw them online again and went down to try one out – I think I ended up trying it at Sur la Table in the Bravern – and fell head over heels in love. The handle felt right and the blade would cut through almost anything – mind you I’ll never try to cut through something like bone or metal.

After playing with the knife I settled on officially drooling over a Shun premier santoku knife. But could never pull the trigger on spending that much money on something for myself – that is why I’ve never tried a Bob Kramer. I am afraid of falling in love and never being able to live without.

Then one magical Christmas or my birthday – I forget which one and that is probably due to lack of sleep – my awesome wife surprised me with my dream knife and it was a match made in heaven. Well… For the first few days at least until I ended up in the Northwest Hospital ER nursing a sliced off fingertip. Mind you I still love the knife and now that it has taken a part of me I give it great respect. I get it sharpened, I keep it in a knife sheath and I really only let my wife use it as she takes as good of care of it as I.

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After falling so hard for the santoku we added a Shun premier Chefs knife to the family not long ago and I continue to be impressed. Now I need to stop drooling over the Shun Blue knife series and keep learning how to make the best use of my babies.

Next time I’ll let you in on some knife safety tips that I’ve learned along the way… Mainly because I’ve suffered through them and don’t want you to have to do the same.

Up next – rather amazing white wines to enjoy on a summer evening…

One comment

  • They’re not Premiere, but our knives are Shun as well and I love them more than anything else we got for our wedding. I’m very proud to say I scouted them out and put them on the registry.

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