[RECESS] is when we get to hear the stories of the good people behind the pop-up. It's our favourite time and we're happy to share the conversations with you.
@thisopenspace: Hey Kevin, if I were looking to buy my first knife from Knifewear, which one would be a good to start my collection with?
Kevin Kent: You’d want to find a place where they have lots of knives available, with more than just one maker and more than just one style of knife. At Knifewear we carry 40-45 different lines of knives. So we’ve got knives from 30+ blacksmiths and different makers. We’re at least one of the biggest, if not the biggest, selection of Japanese knives outside of Japan.
Japanese people come into our shop all the time and they’re blown away. You don’t see as much selection in Japan in one spot. My idea of the shop is when you come in you’re like, woah.. knives. It’s like Baskin-Robbins. You go in there and you have too many ice cream choices. We’re kind of like that. So we need to help you settle down and figure out where your knife is because too much choice is actually not fun if you don’t know what you’re doing. Our job is to guide you through. Put yourself in our hands and we’ll take care of you. Our goal is to find you the right knife because we want you to be as happy as possible when you get home.
When choosing your first Japanese knife, or your first kitchen knife, you would probably go for something that is commonly called a chefs knife or the Japanese will call it a gyuto or a santoku. Theses two knives are what we can commonly call chefs knives, they’re multi-purpose knives. They’re the one knife for your desert island or the one knife that can do everything. Maybe not perfect for every job but you can cut an onion, carve a turkey, thinly slice a garlic, cut the core out of an apple. So thats where you start your collection and then you fill in the other gaps with specialty knives as you want.
So you start with a chefs knife and then we try to figure out what size is best for you. A lot of it comes down to stature. I’m 6’3, so I’m a bigger guy, and bigger knives don’t feel so big to me. My wife is a lot smaller, and my big knife in her hand looks ridiculous. Stature and confidence level, or skill level, are the two considerations that go into what size to choose. Once we find out what size is comfortable for you we’ll bring a bunch of knives out that fit that size.
There are other choices to make. Like, is it your first knife? Yes. Well two things, there are lots of different steel choices and each one has pros and cons. Stainless steel is great because it won’t rust. Thats awesome because theres no maintenance involved. But then there are carbon steels. Carbon steels are better in a lot of ways because they stay sharper longer, its easier to keep them sharp, and they cut more smoothly. This is great. But, they can rust. So if you’re the kind of person that cuts something, like a tomato, and leaves the knife on the cutting board with the tomato juice on it, your carbon steel knife will rust when you come back to it. Usually when people are getting their first knife we say don’t go for those because it will just frustrate you. Little steps first. Lets get you a really outstanding stainless steel knife.
One nice compromise between the stainless steel and carbon steel is that Japanese knives are made like a sandwich. They put a very hard piece of steel down the centre and a very soft piece of steel on the outside. Think about it like a baloney sandwich. The important part of a baloney sandwich is the baloney. Thats the steel down the middle. A lot of the knives we carry now have a carbon steel core, like baloney, and then they wrap stainless steel around it. Stainless steel is the best thing you can do to protect the blade from rusting and then the carbon steel is actually the part you’re cutting with and gives us a really great cutting edge. It only has a little bit of carbon steel sticking out at the very edge of the knife. So you have a lot less surface area to worry about for the maintenance.
When you’re buying a knife I also think it needs to look really cool. Style is important. If you have a really cool looking knife you’re going to use it more just because you want to. Then you’re going to cook more and you’ll be happier.
I always thought that knife buying day should be the best day of the year. It really should. You should have lots of selection, intelligent fun people to talk with, you should be able to try the knives (we have sample knives from every line we carry as well as tomatoes and potatoes for your cutting enjoyment) and you should utterly enjoy the experience. We strive to all of that. Test driving the knife is really important. I wouldn’t buy shoes if I couldn’t try them on. [end]
#Knifewear's Vancouver Pop-Up is open July 22-27 daily from 11am - 7pm