Your home. Original artwork. Canadian Prime dry-aged steak. These are all “investments,” wherein the satisfaction and value you derive over time make the initial costs worthwhile.
As a practical person, I would add to this list: handmade Japanese knives. I’m not kidding.
If you cook, you probably cut, peel, slice, chop, mince, dice on a regular basis. If you appreciate beauty, these unique Japanese hand-forged knives are works of art. Mine changed my life (while turning me into a massive knife snob).
Recently, I attended Knifewear‘s Cut Like a Chef class. For $60, this 2 to 2.5 hour class teaches participants how to wield a knife confidently, along with providing hands-on practice cutting produce like potatoes, carrots, peppers and oranges.
These are the areas covered:
- parts of a knife
- knife basics
- how to hone a knife
- how to hold a knife
- knife motion
- types of cuts (baton/dice, julienne/brunoise), paysanne, oblique, tourne
- choosing a knife
The class is taught by Knifewear owner Kevin Kent and Rob Stillborn. Both are chefs with extensive kitchen experience who have had to find shortcuts (ed note: bad pun but it stays) in their techniques. They’re quite entertaining and accessible as well. These are people you want to learn from.
For me, the highlights of the class included:
- learning to cut a green pepper and dice an onion the fast and “right” way
- interesting banter about all things cooking-related (like Kent’s method for making fries and roast beef)
- test “driving” gorgeous knives that I can’t afford to buy (yet)
- hearing julienne cuts described as “flaccid”
My classmates and I walked away knowing how to impress our friends by fluting a mushroom, making orange supremes and peeling pineapples the proper way. It kills me how many people do the pineapple incorrectly. So much pineapple wastage!
If you walk into this store, you’ll covet these high performance knives. Luckily, if you need to sharpen your kitchen knives, Knifewear is donating 50% of proceeds from knife sharpening to Red Cross’ Japan Relief Fund for the rest of 2011. To date, Knifewear has donated $8,500 to the disaster and hopes to raise $20,000. As a result of this initiative, Knifewear will continue to donate 50% of all sharpening to a different charity each year.
Knifewear is the only shop in Canada to sell these exclusive Japanese knives. You’ll also find accoutrements like cutting boards, sharpening tools, honing rods and selected food-related literature like David Chang’s Lucky Peach and local author/illustrator Pierre Lamielle’s Kitchen Scraps, among others.
I highly recommend taking this class if you’re looking to improve your kitchen prep skills and speed.