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Cutlery's siren call

Sun Mar 30, 2014 1:24 am

This is primarily toward our many members, which may even be a majority, who do not work in food. All of you are saturated with knife knowledge, more so than any kitchen in which I've worked. Most cooks view a knife as a somewhat respected tool at best and a screwdriver/hammer combination at worst. I certainly consider myself a student here.

What brought you into this big, incredible world of fine knives? Is it the artistry behind a beautiful knife, or the perfect cut, or a serious approach to home cooking gone expensive? Any other hobbies? How did you get started? Was there a "gateway" knife? And what's your day job to pay for costly knives? I'd love to hear from some makers and sharpeners here, too.

I of course care about my chefly siblings, but I can pretty safely assume that at some point you needed to brunoise onions faster and more cleanly, a great incentive to own a sharp knife. The angry Frenchman of legend makes it doubly important.

Re: Cutlery's siren call

Sun Mar 30, 2014 5:07 am

What brought you into this big, incredible world of fine knives?
Is it the artistry behind a beautiful knife, or the perfect cut,or a serious approach to home cooking gone expensive? Any other hobbies? How did you get started? Was there a "gateway" knife? And what's your day job to pay for costly knives?

Well for me it was wanting to get my knives sharp, so I actually started with a good set of stones. Then after getting all of the knives I had sharp to a point they had never been before, and seeing how much better they were to use and the performance difference and just the overall joy they brought to cooking....I thought, I wonder what it would be like with a nice J knife.

So after becoming comfortable with sharpening I decided to look into J knives. Did a bunch of reading and pulled the trigger. I'm glad I did. I couldn't be any happier. I'm just a home cook but I do 90% of the cooking, just because I enjoy it. Years ago it was hunting and fishing that provided the necessary stress relief, when I moved away it became cooking. Cooking for me allows me to relax, plus I love good food. When I cook I think of nothing else, just like when I used to hunt and fish. I have a small landscape business and I work a lot, so cooking for me is a release. Plus its rewarding to cook a good meal and have your wife go WOW that was great, or have a few friends over and have them rant and rave about the meal. I love when other people enjoy my cooking.

As to the artistry, yeah that matters to me. Japanese culture is fascinating to me. The skill of a good craftsman is something that I appreciate and admire. I have always worked with my hands so I can relate to a good craftsman, and nothing beats having a good tool for the job. I think it elevates your game so to speak. Back in my early days I used to shoot a lot of pool, always used the house sticks. I was pretty good too, but it wasn't until I invested in a good stick that I became even better. If you put your heart and soul into your cooking you get a great dish. I feel the makers of J knives put their heart and soul into their knives and you can feel it. When you use a tool like that it becomes one with you. Its more than a knife to me. Its special.

Other hobbies? Well I have a 75 gallon fish tank that I love. Its another way to relax. I can sit and watch my fish and be taken to another world, their world. My day job like I said earlier is a landscaper, always trying to keep the wolf from the door. Cooking is the distraction that keeps me sane.


Re: Cutlery's siren call

Sun Mar 30, 2014 1:48 pm

I'll play

What brought you into this big, incredible world of fine knives?

I have always taken the attitude of getting the best I can afford and keeping it forever. With regard to the world of knives, there has always been a collector mentality in me and knives are one of those interests. I started with tactical knives, drifted into hunting, camping and then realized that my kitchen knives were/are severely wanting. It was time to bring them up to speed. I love the simplicity, beauty and functionality of knives and in my humble opinion J knives best define that. I have always supported and looked for the more unique and custom versus big brand so here I am. Chef Knives To Go rocks in this regard, Mark please don't change your business plan too much.

Any other hobbies? Life is pretty much work and school, I am in the middle of a midlife career change, 20 plus years as a Corporate Controller now in Nursing School hoping to graduate this December with my BSN. In addition to cooking, I got to meet Alton Brown for the first time this year, I devote a fair portion of my free time to bicycling. If anyone on this forum attends RAGBRAI and wants to share a beer, let me know and we can meet up. If you don't know about RAGBRAI and bicycle, look it up www.ragbrai.com it is a surreal event. I am also still into things tactical and maintain my proficiency as well as always finding a way to spend time enjoying the outdoors. Poker is also a passion.

Was there a "gateway" knife? I would have to say the gateway knife for me was the Masakage Shimo Gyuto. Incredible knife and Shimo is a family name.

What's your day job to pay for costly knives? As discussed, I'm a student and work full time as a Nursing Assistant for experience. Thank you student loans.

Thanks for listening, lets here from others.


Re: Cutlery's siren call

Sun Mar 30, 2014 3:05 pm

I just started looking for a better way to sharpen my Victorinox Fibrox knives that I thought were so great. Next thing I know I several thousand dollars deep in stones and knives.

Re: Cutlery's siren call

Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:12 pm

What a thoughtful and insightful collection of posts above. I can identify with many of the points made.

I tend to be a serial hobbyist. I go all in and soak up everything I can on whatever my current passion happens to be. I do move on, but the equipment and knowledge that I gained continues to enhance my life. My more recent passions (spanning the past 15-20 years) have been HiFi, fine wine, handguns, photography, cooking which eventually led me to a Hiromoto AS Santoku that I read about on knifeforums. I believe it was originally a forum design knife that ended up taking off. I had it pre-sharpened by DM of one of the other boards fame and managed to cut myself each of the first few times using it and I was hooked. I went about a year without sharpening it because I knew my little hand held Heckles ceramic rod contraption wasn't appropriate and at some point stumbled on to this site. I don't recall how that happened specifically. My guess is it was when I was researching the Edge Pro as a Christmas gift to me from the mrs. This hobby is the least expensive of my interests and I'm happy for that.
I too enjoy purchasing quality and keeping it for a long time. I'm not a fan of not using things and it already bugs me that I've accumulated a growing collection of excellent knives that I don't use and have been relegated back to their boxes. My goal is to get a set that I'm happy and content with and simply enjoy them for what they were designed to do, which is helping make food that makes people happy.

Re: Cutlery's siren call

Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:30 pm

Excellent answers! More indeed than I had expected.

Mike: Alton Brown is fantastic. He's the only television host who actually teaches you how to cook holistically, not how to prepare a certain meal. Although not technically a chef, I'm amazed how often he's cited in pro kitchens. Helped me personally transition from a chemistry background into food because he treats it as a science.

snipes: With the price of a HiFi system, yeah, CKTG seems to be your budget hobby. If you have any great knives you want to unload...

Jeff B: The Fibrox line is still awesome.

I feel much the same as Dave about food in general and cutlery specifically. Personally, I got into cooking as a hobby while I was at university. At 19 I thought it was ridiculous that I could produce marvelous effects in a lab but the best of my efforts in a kitchen could produce macaroni and cheese. I was a skilled but unenthusiastic student, so I eventually dropped out, got a restaurant job, and went to culinary school where I learned some solid knife basics. For a long time I discounted Japanese knives because, frankly, I found Shun and Global knives to be overpriced compared to Forschner and Mercer- I still hold that particular point to be true. It wasn't until I ran into the Mac Chef series that I realized that yes, there is a lot to be gained from higher end Japanese knives.

There's something to it beyond it just being for work too, an intangible pleasure in caring for trustworthy tools. A well sharpened and used knife obtains, more than any other tool in the kitchen, a character. I could take a $40 chef knife to a guy with a grinder twice a month and have a decent edge at all times. When I sharpen and clean my own knives, I'm putting care into my work that others don't, and when I use that knife, I know it's going to enable me to do the best work I can.

Re: Cutlery's siren call

Mon Mar 31, 2014 11:51 am

Lepus wrote:...Jeff B: The Fibrox line is still awesome....

Oh they're still in the arsenal and see their share of use! Some of the best bang for the buck knives ever made.

Re: Cutlery's siren call

Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:52 pm

I agree with so many of the points above. I came here just looking for something better than the big box stores could offer. I would always see deals on Shun knives, but in my opinion, the "deals" still weren't very good yet plentiful. Like snipes said, I am also a serial hobbyist. I want to know the most about the subject at hand I possibly can. That research brought me to Japanese knives and my first purchase was an Artifex and idahone. I appreciate the craftsmanship and the style particular to individual pieces. There is also an aesthetic value to them. I could just get knives and not think about it, but something draws me to using good tools for the right job, and I respect anything that is hand made. There is a special feeling when using some of the knives I have purchased here (cck 1303 comes to mind :)).

To backtrack a little, I really started cooking in college (2005). It was a great release and I was still living at home. I learned most of my cooking skills from my mom growing up, but this is when it really hit me. I graduated in Computer Science in 2008, and found a job as a software developer shortly after. I bought a house in 2010 and renovated the whole house. after spending most of my budget in the kitchen, I wanted to take advantage of it more and luckily my girlfriend loves to cook too. We cook a lot because we take food for lunch as leftovers, and we have also found that most of the stuff we make ourselves is better and cheaper than if we went to a restaurant. Plus, I still feel like it is a good way to relax and spend time together.

Some of my other hobbies are dogs, bicycles, cars, guns, playing drums, reading... There is just something to be said about being able to maintain your own tools, no matter how much we really view them as tools. I was never one to buy the cheapest, nor the best. I try to get what will serve me best for the money I am willing to spend. That goes for any of my hobbies.

When it comes down to it, I just want to have nice, reliable, attractive "things". Knives might just be the most personal expression of it yet.

Re: Cutlery's siren call

Mon Mar 31, 2014 2:36 pm

What brought you into this big, incredible world of fine knives?

Oddly, although i love cooking, I hadn't really thought about upgrading my knives until i was researching stones for chisels, I kept my farberware that i had from college as sharp as any of my peers, it worked as well as their whustofs. Then i found the slipper slope and ordered my first j-knife. I keep learning more about sharpening, and have done well at limiting my acquisitions. But am still always on the hunt for the next knife.

Any other hobbies?
way to many hobbies. bicycling and making random things take up a lot of my free time, although a bit will be given up to motorcycling this year. I try to read a fair amount. Audio, and woodworking are 2 areas that i dont get to spend as much time with as i would like, but are always enjoyed
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