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Thread: Relationship with your knives

  1. #1
    Senior Member Cadillac J's Avatar
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    Relationship with your knives

    Was just thinking about this subject. All of this is directed mostly to home cooks or anyone who doesn't make their living in a kitchen. Since most of us have many more knives than we actually need, not to mention the impulse to continue buying, do we ever get enough quality time cutting with one particular blade to truly know it well?

    Quick back story which I promise is somewhat relevant: back in college I worked in a kitchen as a prep cook and used a 10-inch Forschner for everything. We had a service come by and replace the house knives with sharpened ones every two weeks, but that was never good enough for me, so each shift I would take out the electric sharpener for a few slow swipes to start the day. I would then find one of the very few steels the kitchen had, and it would stay next to my cutting board all day and get regular use---no one else seemed to ever need a sharp knife. (this was the actual starting point of my knife/sharpness addiction...just hadn't come all to the forefront yet). At the time, it was the best-feeling knife I have ever used and truly was an extension of my hand. I don't think I've ever felt so 'comfortable' with a blade before, but then again, I spent so much time with it on a daily basis that it forced itself to grow on me.

    Nowadays when I need to cut something, I'm always grabbing for something different than I used the previous time, in order to switch it up and get more use out of everything I have. And as great as it is to have a variety of options and choices, it really seems to limit the face-time needed for a knife to reach that level of intuitiveness, especially when I'm really only cutting a few things for dinner each night.

    I love all my knives, still have favorites, and are comfortable with each of them...but I just don't get that same feeling with limited use from always changing up. You see the videos of the Japanese guys who are using a gyuto that has been ground down from so much use that it looks like a suji, and you can just sense the relationship they must have with that blade...I kind of miss that.

    Anyone else ever feel similar, or is it just a slow day on the forum and its got me thinking of something new to talk about? Or maybe its because today is my last day at work in 2011 and I'm in la-la land vacation mode...who knows.

  2. #2
    Senior Member stevenStefano's Avatar
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    I can't say I've ever really felt a relationship with one particular knife, apart from maybe an old Victorinox I bought about 8 years ago when I started working. It is totally beat up but funnily enough one of the trainees where I work, this is the only knife he ever uses for some reason. No idea why. It was the first knife I ever bought so its funny to see it still being used. I think though this forum and the sort of people who use it, everyone is a knife fanatic of sorts so it is natural everyone will use many different knives. I bet there are many Chefs though who have one or 2 knives and have used them for many years, but they probably aren't the sort of people who buy as many as everyone here does

  3. #3
    Well I can honestly say I know what you mean. When I was working my first kitchen job, one of the chefs there was selling a wa handled knife and somehow he convinced me to buy it. I have no idea how... for reals. Anyway it ended up being a inox wa honyaki 240 and I liked the knife, I sharpened it everyday, concluded a coticule edge was the best balance for it for my needs at that place. Thinned it out and even went the estra mile to make a mock hamon it was a sick knife. By about 2 months later the knife was noticeably shorter, thinner and looked like it went to hell and back.

    That knife although not my favorite was the best knife in terms of feeling like it was an extension of my arm, I could do anything with it, and funny enough people who grabbed it didn't like it, we was dialed in is what I concluded. I am kinda forming that relationship with another knife right now but not quite there.

  4. #4
    I know what you mean about getting to know a knife so well it becomes an extension of you. It's something beyond just comfort. It's about knowing the knife - establishing a link or relationship, as it were - so well that you're faster with it than anything else while still doing top-notch quality.

    For those of us who don't cook in a professional kitchen, putting in that kind of time on a particular knife is hard. All the more so when we own so many.

    This realization and feeling hasn't been strong enough to curtail my knife purchasing though I am, however, getting to the "saturation point" for other reasons.
    Len

  5. #5
    I'm conscious of that feeling -- always grabbing for something new. And I think I need to cap the number of knives I have at any one time. I just sold a knife to make room for one I ordered. I think if I can keep this up, even as my tastes keep evolving, then it will keep a lid on the problem. My set is basically one of everything (maybe 2 large gyutos) I have occasion to use on a regular basis. And this I think keeps me honest. Would I like a yanigiba? Sure, but I can't see that fitting my skills and what I cook to justify what ever it would cost. But I think you raise a great point.

  6. #6
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    I feel some sort of strange bond with my A-type. It came to me jacked up and the handle is not great. It has a large deformation, too. It's softer than it's supposed to be but I spent so much time figuring out how to make that knife awesome and learning how to use it to it's greatest effect that it is just special-feeling. I don't think I'll ever rehandle it or anything. Next would be my Rottman 220 suji/petty. After that, I appreciate the knives and love using them but somehow, I still like that A-type.

  7. #7
    Senior Member DwarvenChef's Avatar
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    Haveing been on both sides of the fence, working kitchens and now home cook, I feel differently about both worlds. As for home cooking I seem to toss out the idea of efficiency, as I'm cooking for fun and I don't veiw my "Home" knives as machines. Not that the work sets are beaters but just a different mind set. I find I want a knife that is a pleasure to hold and cut with, something that I can feel good about using, savoring the feeling of my connection with it. That feeling tends to diminish on production run knives, not alot but when I work with one of my handmade or custom knives I feel good about weilding it. Sure I love the Hiromoto AS knives I still have and will never let them go, but given the choice of the H AS or the Carter nakiri or LR Harner, I tend to go with the handmade knife

    Maybe because I use a different skill set and knives based on that skill set that when at home I feel the difference more aquitely. Now at work I just use scimitars af various sizes... no joy

  8. #8
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    sachem allison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DwarvenChef View Post
    Haveing been on both sides of the fence, working kitchens and now home cook, I feel differently about both worlds. As for home cooking I seem to toss out the idea of efficiency, as I'm cooking for fun and I don't veiw my "Home" knives as machines. Not that the work sets are beaters but just a different mind set. I find I want a knife that is a pleasure to hold and cut with, something that I can feel good about using, savoring the feeling of my connection with it. That feeling tends to diminish on production run knives, not alot but when I work with one of my handmade or custom knives I feel good about weilding it. Sure I love the Hiromoto AS knives I still have and will never let them go, but given the choice of the H AS or the Carter nakiri or LR Harner, I tend to go with the handmade knife

    Maybe because I use a different skill set and knives based on that skill set that when at home I feel the difference more aquitely. Now at work I just use scimitars af various sizes... no joy
    Use the weird one yet?

  9. #9
    Senior Member NO ChoP!'s Avatar
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    I used German knives for years, and always appreciated sharp knives. My first introduction to Japanese was with a coworkers Mac. I immediately purchased a Mac santoku, and used it for many years, hours a day, for sixty hour weeks in the kitchens... I kept it sharp; it was my boy, my homie. It took five years before I started to explore purchasing other Japanese Knives....

    Now I will pull down something I haven't used in a while, and am reminded how special it is... I hadn't used my Takeda for a while and when I pulled it down the other week, I was quickly reminded how awesome it really is.
    The difference between try and triumph is a little "umph"! NO EXCUSES!!!!!!!
    chefchristophermiller@yahoo.com

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by tk59 View Post
    I feel some sort of strange bond with my A-type. It came to me jacked up and the handle is not great. It has a large deformation, too. It's softer than it's supposed to be but I spent so much time figuring out how to make that knife awesome and learning how to use it to it's greatest effect that it is just special-feeling. I don't think I'll ever rehandle it or anything. Next would be my Rottman 220 suji/petty. After that, I appreciate the knives and love using them but somehow, I still like that A-type.
    A types when bought from zero have that peculiarity, you work on them so much and YOU HAVE TO dial them in to what you consider acceptable you kinda form a special relationship with them. Before I had my Inox I had two A types, they were the first knives I could chop with like nothing and they are also responsable for the two scars in the first knuckle of my first and second finger. I miss having an A type, they are fun knives, and aggressive like a pitbull on steroids.

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