LIVING SMART By Melissa Gignac On the Edge PAGE ONE PUBLISHING The materials and design elements may date back to the Crusades, but innovations in manufacturing and a swing to the East offer up a new crop of knives that are as easy on the eyes as they are in the hand. W hen it comes to knives, many of us spring for full-scale sets and fancy gadgets, completely overlooking what Chef Cosmo Meens and Cook Culture owner Jed Grieve say is the primary tool in the kitchen — the eight-inch chef’s knife. There are an intimidating number of styles, sizes, and purpose-specific knives on the market, but Grieve typically counsels customers to “spend more money on less knives.” A quality chef’s knife is a tool you’ll likely have in your hand every day for ten to 30 years, so it makes sense to invest in quality and not be seduced by a big set of knives that will inevitably languish, taking up valuable counter-top real estate. Think about your needs: if you’re a vegetarian, you don’t need a carving knife. If you buy pre-sliced bread, you really don’t need a bread knife. So what 24 YAM MAGAZINE should a savvy home chef look for when selecting his or her primary tool? East Versus West Western knives, which most cooks are familiar with, have been the kitchen standard for generations. But in recent years, the market has shifted. Henckels, the venerable German knife maker, has moved its loyalty to Japanese blades. “Japanese is really where the movement has gone,” explains Grieve who believes in Japanese blades so much that Cook Culture no longer stocks Western knives. What’s the difference? Fundamentally, it’s in how they are made. Western knives are usually formed from a pressed blank of one kind of material, and the blades are finished to a 22-degree angle. Japanese knives, Top to bottom: Miyabi Birchwood’s blade is composed of 101 layers of steel ($280, Cook Culture); Global Santoku features a Granton edge which allows food to slip off the blade ($115, Cook Culture); Shun Reserve Chef Knife combines Japanese blade design with a riveted Western-style handle ($375, Tuscan Kitchen). however, are mostly handmade from folded, hammered steel, which allows for many more layers and increased tensile strength in the blade. They are most commonly finished to a 15- or 16-degree angle, which results in a finer, sharper edge. Many of the blades are acid-etched with a Damascus finish that, as well as being cosmetically attractive, has the functional advantage of decreasing stick resistance — the suction that keeps your potato slices glued to your knife when you slice.
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