The home of Sweaty Spice, the 'other' Spice Girl

I was in the doldrums a week or so ago, and I was wondering what would cheer me up. I realized that it had been a long time since I splurged on something for the kitchen.

As many of my friends know, I worked my way through college as a chef, in various restaurants, and the cooking bug still lived on within me. Part of that professional experience taught me that tools are important, and investing in quality is money well spent.

Back when I cooked for 10 - 12 hours, 6 days a week, I had a knife roll that was loaded with German steel from Solingen. The majority of my knives were Wustof Trident’s with the full tang blade, made of chromium-vanadium steel. These workhorses are built to last (and they have indeed been in my kitchen for almost 40 years!) but aren’t the best knives out there.

The CrVa steel is stainless (good) very hard (and durable), but they are a bitch to get a good edge on. But once you have an edge, it will last a long time.

One of my colleagues who I used to work with would go to estate sales, and flea markets and buy these nasty looking carbon steel knives. He often needed to get their handles replaced, and they looked ugly with a capital U. But they were super easy to put a razor-like edge on, and they cut like a dream. Of course, the edge didn’t stay sharp long, but a few swipes on a steel would get it back to prime form.

This was in the back of my mind for a long time and in 2009 or so, I ventured out to get some good high carbon steel knives, preferably from Japan.

Japan is noted for their cutlery, with a lot of high end ($$$$) blades to be had, but not all knives are made equal, and many of the better marketed brands are of so-so quality, yet command high prices

I found this small maker, a blacksmith who fabricated his knives, and at that time sold them from a rather primitive web site. The maker was Shinichi Watanabe, and I bought a set of 5 knives, 165mm Santuko an Nikkiri, a 100mm paring knife, a sashimi knife, and a very heavy blade for cutting through fish bones.

This set has served me very well for probably 13 years. These blades are made with a very hard carbon steel that is flanked with a softer iron outside that provides support and dampening so that the knife is a joy to use, and very durable.

I think I paid about $200 for the set, with frankly is about the same as 2 Heinkle or Wustof knives. Alas, when I began looking for a new knife to augment my collection, I quickly realized that Mr. Watanabe has figured out that he could charge more. Good for him!

What I bought

I dove into their “Professional” section, and noted that they have their 165mm Santuko in stock, and available to order. Fired off an email inquiry, and closed the deal. It is now on its way here. I will be sure to enjoy the use of my new knife.

I can hardly wait for it to arrive!

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