From works of art, to utilitarian tools, knives are as essential in the kitchen as a chef's hands. Eater spoke with three Portland chefs to learn about their favorite knives and why they love ‘em.
"Yanagiba is a style of knife that's particularly good for slicing. It's my main fish-slicing knife and the only knife I've ever made a significant—well, significant to me—investment on. I purchase knives rarely, and I usually look for something that is good quality but not outrageously expensive. Knives are utilitarian to me because they are tools to do a job. I don't have ornamental knives or trophy knives, and I try to keep it simple and have what I need. I bought it online from a Japanese purveyor."
"I have an 8" Kiritsuke Slicer I bought in Kyoto, Japan, on my last trip there. It was an amazing food-focused research trip that was really rounded out by my ride out of town to this knife shop, where I even got to ask the knife maker if he could customize the handle.
"Watching him change out the handle was extra cool, because it reminded me of being a kid hanging out with my dad—who was a goldsmith—in his jewelry store. Some parts of the process were similar and had some familiarity to them—yet they were foreign. I bought my chef de cuisine Jake Stevens the same knife, only longer since his hands are so much bigger than mine.
"Even though it's technically a slicer, I use it for a lot of different utility projects in the kitchen."
"My Dad owns a blade company that specializes in surgical tools, mostly for ophthalmology, and I grew up with a lot of very sharp things around. Throughout my career I have alway purchased knives from a variety of Japanese makers, and as I became more skilled with sharpening and other knife care, I started trusting myself to make higher-end purchases, knowing I probably wouldn't screw them up and would be able to take care of them.
"I first heard of Fujiwara Teruyasu through knifeforums.com, and the first knife I purchased from Teruyasu was a Petty knife from his higher-end White #1 line, as at the time the White #1, a high-carbon steel, was my favorite steel. I loved the knife and still do. Then, I started getting into Super Blue Steels, and now those are my favorite to use.
"I was in the market for a new Gyuto and settled on the 240mm Gyuto Denka from Teruyasu. When I picked up the knife, I knew I loved it. Teruyasu is famous for his steel tempering, and Super Blue Steel is arguably the best steel. This knife takes an amazing edge very easily and holds the edge for a very long time under lots of use. I also love the aesthetics of the knife. I bought it on knifewear.com."