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Sharpening Seminar at Manhattan Beach Post

Many thanks to Manhattan Beach Post for allowing us the privilege of hosting our Japanese Knife and Sharpening Seminar!
Located in beautiful ocean-side Manhattan Beach, M.B. Post specializes in seasonal farm-to-table American upscale eats.

Knife-Master Bruce went over fundamentals of Japanese Knives and taught them about how to sharpen using our Japanese whetstones.
The importance of sharpening your knife is a crucial skill for any chef and we suggest all of you to check out some of our sharpening videos and blog posts listed below:

🔪 What Whetstone Should I Get?

🔪 Sharpening Single-Edged Knives

🔪 Sharpening Double-Edged Knives

🔪 Chip Repair

🔪 Nagura Conditioning Stone

🔪 Stone Fixer


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Larry Monaco

An Orange County, CA native, Chef Larry Monaco has over two decades of culinary experience cooking for a multitude of high-end, reputable kitchens. Most recently the Executive Chef/Task Force Chef for the Viceroy Hotel Group, Monaco also served as the chef consultant for Neal Fraser and Cedd Moses opening the new Fritzi DTLA and Arts District Brewing Company, and has captained the kitchens at Nordstrom in Seattle, Hotel MdR in Marina del Rey and Hotel Erwin in Venice.

Additionally, he has spent time cooking in Seattle at Boka Restaurant & Bar, Hotel 1000 and Veil, The Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica, Blue Palms Lounge in Hollywood and at Chef Danny Meyer’s renowned Gramercy Tavern in New York.

An advocate of volunteer work in his field, Monaco designed the curriculum for the culinary job training program, Farestart in Seattle.

Chef Larry’s Mission & Philoshopy


To make each and every experience unforgettable. To offer exquisite service, to create a memorable atmosphere and to stimulate the senses. To use the freshest, local ingredients and technique to develop flavor while keeping costs in line.

To cultivate an atmosphere of hands on learning and curiosity to inspire my team and colleagues to be proud of our food and accomplishments.

To take pride in attention to detail and leaving a lasting impression to delight each customer.

He also appeared in these shows


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Brendan Collins

At the age of 15, Brendan Collins quit secondary school to follow his dream and enroll in culinary school, where he was classically trained in French technique. By 17, the talented Nottingham native had his first job at London’s Le Gavroche, a Michelin two-star restaurant. He continued to hone his skills at several of London’s finest gastronomic temples, including The Café Royal, The Heights, and Pied et Terre. Collins took on his first executive chef position at The Calls Grill in Leeds. Under his leadership, the fledgling dining room received the prestigious Michelin Bib Gourmand in 1999. Shortly thereafter, Collins returned to London to serve as sous chef at Oxo Tower Restaurant before accepting the position as sous for celebrity chef Marco Pierre White at Quo Vadis where Collins would garner one Michelin Star and earn a reputation as one of London’s rising culinary stars. In 2002, at the behest of celebrated chef Josiah Citrin, Collins moved to Los Angeles to work as chef de cuisine at Citrin’s Melisse Restaurant. Collins spent four years at Melisse in Santa Monica, which earned the Mobile Four Star Rating each year and became one of California’s first Michenlin two-star rated dining destinations during his tenure. Collins left Melisse to open and serve as executive chef at Mesa in Orange County. The restaurant enjoyed great critical and popular success with him at the helm. Collins then returned to Santa Monica to open Anisette with Alain Giraud, but soon after, he was lured away by an offer to become executive chef of The Hall at Palihouse, where he would solidify his unique culinary style, gain a fan following, and win critical acclaim. Today, Collins is the Executive Chef and Proprietor at Waterloo & City in Culver City, California. Drawing on his training in butchery and belief in using the whole animal, Collins is dedicated to using only the best ingredients and cooking food that he likes to eat. He combines impeccable French He combines impeccable French technique, seasonal California ingredients, and his inimitable”British lad” attitude to create a cuisine that is at once comforting and exciting, while maintaining a relaxed, English pub atmosphere.

On Japanese Knives

I think the beauty of Japanese knives is quite appealing.There is so much rich history behind the art of Japanese knife making and they do it far better than anybody else. The way the knives are designed, the hardness of the steel, and the general balance and beauty makes them the perfect knives for professional chefs. The fact that in general Japanese knives have great edge retention and are quite easy to maintain is something I can appreciate as a chef. When I first started cooking German knives were very popular. It wasn’t till later on in my career that I was first exposed to Japanese knives. Moving to America and specifically to Los Angeles gave me a lot more access to Japanese knives. My love of Japanese knives began when I bought my first Japanese knife and the great experience I had using them. I became hooked on them from that moment and I bought several ever since. In fact my entire knife kit is Japanese knives. Starting out my knives were always double-edged but as soon as I learned the beauty of single edged knives, I even started turning my double edged knives into single edged knives. I generally go towards western style Japanese knives because I prefer the handles, there is something about the comfortability of the handles that I still prefer to this day. I’m not a big fan of having a kit full of knives. I tend to have four Japanese knives I use consistently, a 12” chef’s knife, an excellent boning knife, a phenomenally sharp slicing knife, and just to finish it all off I have a paring knife. With those four knives you can pretty much take care of any dish or preparation that you need to do. If you are able to invest in the top quality of those four different knives in your knife kit, whether you’re doing fine dining or café food you will be able to execute any preparation with ease and precision. I think in general there is a technique that has to be adhered to in any cooking whether you cooking gastro pub food or fine dining cuisine. The fact of the matter is that if you want profitability and you want an exceptionally good cut whether it is meat, vegetables, or fish then you must have an excellent quality knife. With the amount of experience I have and the profound love I have for this industry, knives play a huge role and Japanese knives happen to be my knife of choice.

On Beginnings

I knew from a very young age, since I was 11years old that I was going to be a chef. My parents owned and operated pubs back in England and I always gravitated to the kitchens in the back. I knew from an early age how important good food and cooking was. My grandfather was as old school as old school gets, he had his own green house, orchard, and chickens and pigeons which helped me appreciate the difference in quality in ingredients. Food was always in my life and I always wanted to be in it. After graduating from cooking school at 17 I moved to straight to London, I began working at Michelin Star rated Restaurants, including Gavroche and Café Royale. My ten years of cooking in England were all at Michelin Star rated restaurants, after which I moved to Melisse in Santa Monica as the chef de Cuisine for 4 years. While I was there Michelin had decided to come to Los Angeles and Melisse was one of the first restaurants to be awarded 2 Michelin Stars on the West Coast. Michelin has always been my background but I wanted to cook food that had Michelin standards and was still affordable. My idea was to open up a gastro pub with a relaxed and joyous atmosphere where you can eat really excellent cuisine or you could just go and get a pint and a pot pie if that’s what you so choose.

On Inspiration

I look to past, present, and future when I’m cooking. A lot of is instinct, when you have enough experience a lot of food comes from instinct, and the majority of it comes from mother nature and the change of seasons, after which it is the result of a lot of refining and technique. We have had a dish, a peach and burrata salad that has been on the menu and every year it takes on a new form as it evolves from season to season. I have also started running my kitchens differently in that I utilize my team to collaborate on developing dishes. We will sit down and do tastings and decide on what’s working and what’s not working and in that way you bring the creativity of an entire team rather than the creativity of one person. I find that we can refine dishes more efficiently and achieve more consistency because everyone is involved and that also brings out the confidence of the entire team. I feel that some dishes are more of a team effort and I also like to put a European style into what I do because I am a European trained chef and thankfully it has all worked out very well.

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James Avery

On Japanese Knives

In Japanese cuisine each knife has a very specific purpose. Utilizing those specific knives gives you the means to execute and fulfill the intention and vision you have for a particular preparation. I may use 3 different knives on 1 ingredient to achieve the results that I am looking for. As a chef I am drawn to the minimalist aesthetic of Japanese cuisine and the emphasis they place on quality ingredients and mastery of technique. Japanese knives are really just an extension of that mindset. If I had to choose my favorite knife it would be my Inox 300mm Sujihiki because I do most of the butchering and portioningwith it. I couldn’t work without it but choosing one over the other is like asking a parent which child is their favorite. In my opinion it gets to a point when your knives and all your tools literally become part of you. The more I learn the more “souvenirs” I pick up. It sounds cheesy but my knives are a visual representation of my journey.

On Being a Chef


After cooking for over 15 years I don’t have a romantic or poetic story about how or why I became a chef. I just thought it was a cool job and that it would be fun, but there is always something to be learned in a kitchen. I learn something new every day, but I’m really surprised at the things I forget and have to learn all over again. The thrill and challenge of it all is actually what keeps me coming back every day.

My advice for people starting out is to get a job working as a dishwasher, a prep cook, or a line cook. Be sure it’s something you really want to do. It’s a lot of hard work and it’s important that you understand that before rushing off to culinary school.

On Cuisine


It’s important for me to pave my own path. I tend to favor lighter cooking techniques such as grillingand flavoring with lighter components, using vinaigrettes instead of heavy sauces. I can’t overemphasize the importance of seasoning, not just with salt, but with heat and acid. The hardest thing to do when creating a new dish is not over thinking it. It has to be delicious if anyone is going to love it.

I try to live a healthy life style because I want to live a long productive life. I exercise a lot and I try to eat healthy and that shows in my food. If I had to pick a favorite dish it would be roast chicken, I know it sounds cliché, but it’s so good when it’s done right.

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Sam Nutter & Victor Wagman


Bror is Danish for brother and the name of this restaurant in Copenhagen is embodied in the partnership of the two chefs who are at its helm. Sam Nutter and Victor Wagman started Bror after their years of friendship led them from the Vineyard at Stockross in England to being alums of Noma in Denmark. They continue to define themselves through the terroir of Scandinavia.

Japanese Knives

I love the respect that the Japanese have for their knives and the care they take in keeping them sharp. I think the rest of the world aspires to be like a Japanese chef when it comes to the respect they extend toward their knives. I use the Japanese knives that I received as a going away present from Noma.

Beginnings

I’m originally from England and when I was 13 years old I was chopping wood for a farmer in front of his wife’s café. When the waitress called in sick, I got asked to help in the kitchen and it all went from there. I worked in a couple of local pubs before I moved down south to work at the Vineyard at Stockross, which is where I met Victor. Victor went to Noma before I did,and because of the great experience that he was having there, he recommended that I do the same. We both worked at Noma for a number of years, He was a product Sous Chef and I was a Sous Chef in the test kitchen. I think it is definitely embedded in our style even as we try to cultivate something all our own. I would say that it became a part out of us and we became a part of it. Chef Rene Redzepi’s philosophy about food is amazing. He is constantly reinventing Noma all the time and he keeps coming up with these new amazing creations. I think Noma exemplifies simplicity which allows the ingredients to speak for themselves in a way that is natural and restrained. Chef Rene has been super helpful since we have opened, so I couldn’t ask or anymore

Creativity

I think creativity is a mix of everything. There is a lot of competition in Copenhagen and throughout the world, so it’s nice to be a little different and do things that you think are delicious. We believe in cooking food that we would enjoy eating and we try to please our guests. We want to have as much fun as possible when we are creating dishes. We want to come up with things that people will find interesting and sometimes challenging. I love working with seafood and I especially like squid, which is quite versatile. One of our philosophies is that we use everything from head to toe. If it’s a whole fish we are using everything from the heads to the cod sperm. We do a 3 course lamb’s head serving where we whip the brain, stuff the eyeballs, and wrap the tongue and cheeks in a pancake. Even though it can be quite a challenge for some people, I think most people have kind of enjoyed it so far.

Our Place

We want Bror to be a place that you can relax and feel comfortable. We have a 4 course menu and I think we need our customers to feel sated. We work with a lot of purveyors from Denmark and Sweden and we also try to forage with the small team we have. Our food is quite comforting in some traditional aspects and there is an emphasis on the richness of our food as opposed to it being very light. Over the last year we have been using weird and wonderful ingredients thatpeople may have never had before. In fact the most commonly chosen item to order on the menu has been the bull’s testicles.

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Steven Gebhardt

Humble Beginnings

Chef Steven Gebhardt’s introduction to the culinary world was a fluke. During a summer job as a dish washer in a restaurant, he fell in love with cooking. As he describes it “cooking became my life”. After Culinary School, Chef Gebhardt made his way around the North East developing his skills in various cuisines from French to Japanese, landing at the famed Tibute under Chef Don Yamauchi.

French Cuisine and Japanese Knives


Whether it’s French cuisine or Japanese cuisine, in the end you are still using the knife to cut food-be it a cucumber, filet of fish, a terrine, etc. There are some projects that I will only use my Japanese single edge knives on and there are some that I will only use my double edge. Raw fish will only see the shine of my Deba and Kiritsuke knives, while any meat will be seeing my double edge knives. It all depends on what you are comfortable using.

On Japanese Knives


I think the first thing is the sheer beauty that draws me to them. The way the blade curves, the shine of the steel, the simplicity of the handle all have me wanting more. The second thing is the strength of the steel. They are the most sharp knives out there. If you give them a bit of love every day, they will return it tenfold. I love single –edged Japanese knives. I have a Deba that I use to butcher whole fish. I also have a kiritsuke that I use on boneless fish, and I also have a usuba that I use for all vegetables.

On His Favorite Dish

Gołąbki. Hands down. It is a Polish dish that my Grandmother used to always make. It is cabbage leaves stuffed with beef, onions and rice stewed in tomatoes and bacon for a better part of the day. Comfort food at its finest.

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Betty Fraser

As Executive Chef and Co-owner of Grub in Los Angeles, Betty Fraser has established the Mecca of “California Comfort Food”, garnering praise since opening in 2001. Betty’s energy and enthusiasm might be best known from being a favorite on the second season of Bravo’s Top Chef and for her return appearances on Top Chef Masters.

On Japanese Knives

Japanese knives have a sleekness about them that really catches the eye. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they have a sharper edge that allows for cleaner cuts. They are made from old traditions that have transcended time. Japanese cuisine focuses on the simplicity and elegance of the ingredients themselves. Many other cuisines work on melding flavors and blending new ingredients to create something that is surprising and unique to your palate. Japanese cuisine celebrates the singularity of a gorgeous piece of toro or a simple enoki mushroom. That simplicity of functionality is reflected in their knives. It is their truth of substance that is the beauty of a wonderful piece of equipment that a chef has in their arsenal. Every day I go into my kitchen and the first thing I grab is my knife roll, I open it up and I examine my knives. I care for them and in turn they make my job a joy to perform. They make it possible for me to create.

On Being a Chef

It was the element of creativity that really drew me to beIng a chef. The act of creating something wonderful out of a few simple ingredients…it was magical and I loved it. I have been working in the restaurant business for over 30 years. I remember my first restaurant job, as I stood in the middle of the kitchen a voice inside me spoke, “this is home”. It’s not always an easy profession, but it is ALWAYS rewarding in countless ways. I feel very lucky to do what I do. In my life, if I’m not having a good time, I need to rethink my what I am doing because It is too short not to enjoy it. I love coming in and creating and I try to have fun as I stay focused. The excitement of feeding 500 people food that I made is truly thrilling.

The Culinary Landscape

As a woman I am very proud to be in this field. The landscape is changing and we are seeing more and more talented women becoming Executive Chefs. It truly is an amazing profession. It requires talent, focus, and drive, and when it is done right it is creative and sexy. This is a job that is a true extension of yourself.

I recently came back from Spain, Italy and France. I was on fire with inspiration to create the dishes and flavors I had experienced. I love all kinds of cuisines, especially “the how and why” that make a dish so instrumental to a particular country. Is it the ingredients and traditions that forge a cuisine, or is a part of religion or necessity? Every country has their very own “comfort food”. At Grub we do our version of Comfort Food from our lives. We love when our customers come in and enjoy what we have created, it is why I became a chef.

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Michael Costa

Michael Costa is Head Chef of Zaytinya, José Andrés’ award-winning restaurant in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, DC. Zaytinya specializes in mezze, “little dishes” that draw on the flavors of Greece, Turkey and Lebanon. Prior to joining José’s team, Michael was executive chef at Pazo, the Foreman Wolf Restaurant Group’s small plates restaurant in Baltimore. Under his direction, Pazo received a 3 ½ star review from the Baltimore Sun and earned a 3 Star rating the Mobile Travel Guide. With more than twelve years experience, Michael has cooked in several top kitchens, including turns at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Michel Rostang in Paris, France and Michel Richard’s Citronelle in Washington, DC where he served as private dining chef. In 2010 he was nominated “Chef of the Year” by the Maryland Restaurant Association for his work at Pazo. In 2009, he won “Best Wine Pairing” at the “A Taste of Elegance” event in Baltimore. Michael cooked at the James Beard House in 2009 presenting “An Exploration of Catalan Cooking, Traditional and Modern”. Costa holds an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science, Culinary Arts, from El Centro College in Dallas, Texas, where he studied under the culinary school’s Greek founder Costas “Gus” Katsigris. He began his career in Dallas working at Chef Kent Rathbun’s restaurant Abacus. Before devoting himself to the restaurant business, Costa attended the University of Virginia where he graduated with a degree in Government and Foreign Affairs.


The great knives compel you to use them. They feel like an extension of your hand. My favorite knife right now is a beautiful custom left-handed Hongasumi Takobiki from Yoshihiro. Many Japanese knife makers do not even make left handed knives, let alone make them well. I have often found myself spending hours correcting issues with uneven bevels. This knife was accurately ground and shaped right out of the box. The fit and finish are impeccable from the gorgeous handle to the beautifully rounded choil and spine. All of that is wonderful to look at and to feel but the reason that it is my favorite is how the food that I slice with it looks on the plate. It cuts and releases as cleanly as anything I have ever used.

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Maison Giraud

“In France eating out is like going out on an adventure, where people savor the chance to come together and eat and enjoy a bottle of wine”. -Chef Alain Giraud’s decades of experience in French cuisine, from the Michelin starred institutions of Paris to the bastions of California French are captured in the spirit of Maison Giraud of Pacific Palisades.

Japanese Knives

I was from a generation in France where you had the choice of either French knives or German knives. My first knife was a French paring knife. My dad was a chef and in his kitchen there was no shortage of knives of all varieties. I have a beautiful sushi knife that was given to me as a gift by Chef Michel Richard. I was his Chef de Cuisine for 8 years at Citrus. I staged for a couple of weeks before I accepted the job and I refused to let him pay me. He wanted to do something special for me and as a gift he bought a traditional Japanese sushi knife that I keep as a keepsake. Japanese knives are very well balanced. I think Japanese knives have such an aesthetic quality. They are excessively sharp and it is a pleasure to touch them.

Beginnings

I was born into the restaurant business. My parents ran an Inn in the center of France, and I passed most of my time with my 2 grandmothers. I had one grandmother from Provence who lived in the city and my other grandmother was from the countryside of central France. I think the food that my grandmothers cooked was the real three star cuisine. Their cooking was about bringing a sense of pleasure and tradition to the table. My grandmother from the country had a farmhouse where they had chickens, rabbits, and pigs. When I was young I had the best time fishing and catching crayfish. It was truly a gift from nature to be able to go back home with all that fresh food and make a meal. I used to pick berries and eat them for dessert. The connection with the ingredients really made you appreciate and love the food you were cooking.

French Cuisine

French food in its essence comes from the terroir of France. The size of France and the different regions it encompasses accentuates the diversity of French food. In France eating out is like going out on an adventure, where the people savor the chance to come together and eat and enjoy a bottle of wine. That is what I try to bring to Maison Giraud. In California we have our own terroir and that is why I always bring a bounty of fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market in Santa Monica. I believe that If you serve something comforting like a duck confit, you have do it right. When you make the skin crisp, balance it with a tangy sauce, and garnish it with fresh vegetables it is really a good achievement in its simplicity. When I was working with Michel Richard at Citrus the emphasis was on bringing out the true taste of the ingredient. If you made a parsley sauce than the sauce should really taste like parsley. Oftentimes I come back to focusing on the simplicity of cooking. It is easy to lose the essence of flavor if you are adding too many things. If you want to maximize and really accentuate the flavor of an ingredient, I think 2 or 3 elements are perfect, but when you are mixing together over 20 flavors in a dish it can result in cacophony. When the chefs of Spain came to prominence a lot of French chefs scoffed, but it woke them up and now we are coming back. I believe that because French cooking is so fundamentally based on terroir and tradition that it will survive any trend or cuisine of the moment.

There has to be a balance between the modernist cuisine of today and the fundamental techniques that are based on time tested traditions. The innovations that were introduced by Ferran Adria were a result of the new tools and chemicals that were developed and introduced into the kitchen. The new technology allows us to do things much easier than we used to. Can you imagine cooking without the new generation of high powered blenders? I think it’s good to incorporate new techniques. For instance look at the amazing things that can be done with sous vide. When foam started popping up everywhere as the new trend it was considered so modern. But we were already doing foam at the the Hotel De Crillon in the 80’s. It was considered a really big thing back then. Every station had a hand blender and we would blend the cream sauce to make a light and bubbly foam. If you take a beautiful pistachio sauce and blend it so that it becomes lighter, there is something rather interesting about it. However, if you are just making a foam to make a foam, that is where I think we have to be very careful when the technique starts to overpower the essence of the flavor. The flavor is the key. When a painter or a musician has mastered the basics, they can branch off into more abstract directions. Nevertheless, without a solid foundation the modern techniques can become a shortcut. At the end of the day if it is good than it is good. Maybe it’s my age but I’m a big believer in taste. When I was a young cook nouvelle cuisine was the new big thing in France. It comes down to the new experiences that every generation will encounter as times change. It is nice to see new things and new movements, when it’s too classic it can become boring.

Advice

My advice to people who are starting out in the industry is that the shows on television can be beautiful and inspiring, but the reality is long hours of hard work. Only a few can be lucky enough to have a restaurant. When I interview a young cook and ask them why they are getting into the industry, it’s rarely because they love to cook. It can be frustrating when you are first starting out. There is a lot of stress and repetition, but slowly you are building up your skill set and when you look back on what you have done there is a great sense of achievement. It is important for a young cook to understand that fame and fortune is not what this life is about. The reality is that you are working weekends and holidays, getting off of work late and coming back the next day early in the morning.

After I graduated from culinary school my dad insisted that I work at the best restaurant possible. Where I was from there was a restaurant that had 2 Michelin stars. I was lucky to have someone like him to advise me because I would have missed out on an amazing formation of my knife skills, butchering, and understanding of all the aspects of the business..

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Ei Hiroshi

Profile

Ei Hiroyoshi is a head chef at the Beverly Hills location of Sasabune. Before taking up this post, he spent over a dozen years developing his craft under the famed Sushi Chef Nobi Kusuhara, the founder of Sasabune. In Los Angeles the number of sushi bars is in the range of hundreds, but Sasabune is counted among the select few that LA residents would speak of when discussing restaurants where sushi could be experienced as an art form. The words an artist uses when talking about the instruments that they create with are infused with personality, character, and life. We talked to Ei Hiroyoshi, a veteran sushi chef with over a dozen years of experience working countless days with his instrument. A craftsman forged the piece of metal that became the knife that Chef Hiroyoshi uses at his sushi counter. Chef Hiroyoshi continues the forging process, but not of the kind that requires a furnace. His is of a symbiotic relationship that comes to shape over a long period of time. The craftsmen have elevated a piece of metal to a knife. Chef Hiroyoshi has further elevated it to an instrument of creativity.

Passion on the Art of Knives

In my opinion, the passion and heart of the chef is reflected in every cut that he makes. It’s about the thrill of the moment. You don’t get to take back a cut once it is made. You only get one chance to cut the ingredient in such a way that best makes use of it, or else it is ruined. This is especially true in sushi. It is challenging but also satisfying. For example, when fileting halibut you aim exactly in between the center bone and the flesh and it’s quite hard to get it right every time, but when you get it exactly right you can hear the sound of the blade gliding over the bone and for me it’s thrilling to hear and feel that through the knife.

Chef Knife Maintainance

I believe that the way in which a chef goes about taking care of his knives is a reflection of his character. The love a chef displays toward his knives is a measure of the love he feels for his cuisine. I’m a believer in sharpening your own knives. It’ll take some time and effort to learn the skill but I find a lot of value in the process. I myself encourage my own staff to do the same. One other thing I do is to rotate my knives in order to minimize the wear and tear that each knife receives over a period of time.

SASABUNE BEVERLY HILLS 9162 W Olympic Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90212 (310) 859-3878

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Sharpening Seminar at Viceroy Santa Monica

Yoshihiro Cutlery was honored and privileged to demonstrate Japanese water stone sharpening in the kitchens of Viceroy Santa Monica. The team at Yoshihiro demonstrated different techniques of professional Japanese water stone sharpening along with the history of Japanese knives and proper knife care. In addition, a lively presentation on the history and craftsmanship of Japanese knives, along with an instructional presentation on knife care have been held.

We had a great experience offering an up-close and detailed seminar on the proper technique of sharpening a Japanese blade. Viceroy Santa Monica was a great host and we were honored to help their friendly and talented chefs.

For more information
Executive Chef of Viceroy Santa Monica, Larry Monaco
https://www.facebook.com/Chef-Larry-Monaco-110707482340987/ https://www.instagram.com/cheflarrymonaco/

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Sharpening Seminar at Ink – West Hollywood

At Yoshihiro We continually strive to cultivate a symbiotic relationship with local chefs and restaurants in the greater Los Angeles area. Holding a sharpening seminar is one way that we cultivate these lasting relationships. Scenes from our sharpening seminar in Ink – West Hollywood on July 1st, we held a sharpening seminar for the chefs at the distinguished Los Angeles eatery INK in West Hollywood, CA. The seminar was a fantastic opportunity to have an exchange with the chefs and to help develop a better understanding of caring and maintaining their Japanese knives. Topics included the different strengths of Japanese/ German knives, sharpening single edged knives/ double-edged knives, and additional tips on maximizing the performance and longevity of various types of knives. As shown in the pictures, the chefs of INK were all fantastic participants! Our deepest thanks to Chef Michael Voltaggio and Cole Dickinson for the opportunity to share our knowledge and experience of sharpening Japanese knives to their wonderful team. INK Website: https:// www.mvink.com

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What whetstones should I get?

What whetstones should I get?

There are many different grades of whetstones but the sheer amount of information may dissuade some people from ever sharpening knives themselves. But for the average chef we’d recommend 3 basic whetstones. The 3 types of whetstones you should have is 1000, 3000, and 8000 grit stones. Ideally, we suggest using a 1000 grit first and then finishing with the 3000 grit and then the 8000 grit finish. The 1000 grit stone is a must-have stone and if you don’t have a large budget, it would still work. However if you are only using a 1000 grit stone, your knife’s edge may be a bit rough but your knife would still be usable. A 400 grit stone is also recommended if you need to repair your knife. A 400 grit stone excels at grinding off metal material which is what you want if repairing a chip, broken tip, or resetting the edge on a super dull knife. Then after using a 400 grit to reset the knife, you would want to move to 1000 grit and then 3000 and then finishing up with 8000. For chefs who desire an extremely sharp knife, we suggest using a 10000 grit stone. A 10000 grit stone can be used for an extremely fine edges and mirror polishing but is recommended for individuals who are highly skilled with whetstone sharpening.

 

An important accessory for whetstones is the Nagura Stone. The Nagura Stone is used on finishing stones only (3000-10000 grit). The purpose of a Nagura Stone is to clean metal debris or small scratches on your whetstone surface. In addition to this usage, you can also use the Nagura Stone to make a slurry on the finishing stone which results in a better sharpening and polish.

 

Once you have used your whetstone 2-3 times you may notice your stone becoming hollow in the center. If you continue using the stone for sharpening, your knives may not touch evenly and will result in an uneven knife. The reason why is because you tend to use the center of the stone much more than the surrounding edges. This means that your knife needs to be cut in order to make your stone perfectly flat again. This sounds scary but there is an easy trick we like to use when flattening our whetstones.

 

Scratch your whetstone surface with a pencil and then use our Stone Fixer to grind off the uneven portions of the stone until all of the pencil markings are gone and that means the whetstone is perfectly flat. We have an example of this technique in our Stone Fixer Video.

There is a reason why whetstones is literally pronounced “wet stone” and is a clue on how you should keep your whetstones at all times. Keep your whetstones in very wet or damp conditions. Do not store your whetstone nearby heat sources (ovens or stoves) or in direct sunlight. If you do not store your stone in wet or damp conditions, your stone will become dry and you may see cracks appearing in the stone. We store our stones underwater, and is what we recommend as well but a wet towel wrapped around your stone works just as well.

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SG-2 and R-2

SG-2 and R-2

SG-2 and R-2

SG-2 and R-2

SG-2 stands for Super Gold 2 and was developed by Takefu Special Steel Co. based in Echizen, Japan. Originally, Takefu Special Steel developed the Super Gold steel but further developed and enhanced their powdered steel metallurgy to develop Super Gold 2. The Super Gold series is based on a modern cutting-edge powdered steel metallurgy that allows for the production of unique materials impossible to get from melting or forming in other ways. SG-2 contains the following amounts of the elements: Carbon: 1.25 – 1.45%, Vanadium: 1.80 – 2.20%, Chromium: 14.00 – 16.00%, Molybdenum: 2.30 – 3.30%. The SG-2 is very similar to ZDP-189 metal and has very high edge retention but has less wear resistance which makes it easier to sharpen.

SG-2 and R-2

R2 steel also refers to SG-2 steel. The reason why SG-2 steel is also called R2 is because Echizen blacksmiths initially referred to the SG-2 steel as R2. Over time, due to this confusion, R2 and SG2 are both established steel types but they are the same material.

SG-2 and R-2

SG2 Semi-Stainless Steel is forged with traditional methods of craftsmanship blended with modern metallurgy at extremely high temperatures to create a steel composition that is durable enough to be used in industrial machinery and power tools. With a HRC Scale of 64-65, these selection of knives will make and keep its superior edge for an extreme period of time. SG2 Semi-Stainless Steel is a high carbon steel that sits at the pinnacle of maximizing cutting performance and edge retention like no other before it. In addition to the excellent edge retention, the Stainless Steel aspect results in a high level of durability and ease of care. It is perfect for those professionals who have daily high-volume prep work for extended hours.

SG-2 and R-2

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The Types of Steel Used for Making Knives: An Overview

A knife is only as strong as its steel. While steel, in general, is an alloy of iron and carbon, it can take many different forms depending on what else the iron and carbon is combined with — along with how the steel is forged and what type of deoxidization process is employed. At the basic level, steel that is used for forging knives falls into three main categories: high carbon steel, stainless steel, and semi-stainless steel. Below you will learn more about how each is classified, and what benefits as well as drawbacks each might have.

High Carbon Steel:

High Carbon Single Edged | High Carbon Double Edged

High carbon steel is defined as steel that has 0.6% to 1.7% carbon by weight (totalmateria.com). Increasing the carbon content of a knife improves the strength of the steel as well as the hardness (totalmateria.com). The hardness of the steel allows for a sharper cutting edge and better edge retention. However, while having a higher carbon content can enhance the strength of a knife, it can have adverse affects on the corrosion resistance and overall durability of the metal (wordstainless.org).

Types of High Carbon Steel Used to Forge Knives:

  • White, High-Carbon Steel
  • Blue, High-Carbon Steel
  • Super Blue, High-Carbon Steel

Stainless Steel:

Stainless Steel Single Edged | Stainless Steel Double Edged

Stainless steel is defined as steel that contains more than 12% chromium. Chromium is the element that helps to create a protective layer over the steel’s surface. This means that knives made with higher chromium levels are more resistant to corrosion and acidity. They are also easier to care for and to clean. Stainless steel knives are sometimes also referred to as inox steel knives, which has a French etymology (wordstainless.org).

Types of Stainless Steel Used to Forge Knives:

  • • VG-10 Steel (Or V Gold 10 Steel)
  • • Inox Steel
  • • Daisu Powered Steel

 


Semi-Stainless Steel:

Semi-Stainless Single Edged | Semi-Stainless Double Edged

Semi-stainless steel is defined as steel that contains chromium levels anywhere between 3% and 12%. This steel can also be referred to as “stain resistant,” “rust free,” rust-resistant,” “semi-stainless,” and “stain free” (cheftalk.com). Though semi-stainless steel does not contain as much of the protective element, chromium, it does allow for higher carbon content, and therefor a sharper edge that has better corrosion resistance.

Types of Semi-Stainless Steel Used to Forge Knives:

  • Ginsanko
  • ZDP-189
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Don’t ever hone your knife, treat it like a lady

 Often times our customers ask us a question, “Can I use a honing rod to sharpen my Yoshihiro Knife?” The answer is No, a resounding No. Let me explain why.

A honing rod is commonly used in Western kitchens, to maintain the sharpness of a knife by scraping its blade edge against the honing steel. This is because the blade steel used in Western knives is soft, making the edges curl easily and requires daily maintenance to realign. The softness of the steel derives from the alchemy developed in old-time Europe, and knives such as German inherit this feature. This is not true when it comes to a Japanese knife. There are many types of Japanese knives, but fundamentally its steel is much harder than their German counterparts. Their edges do not curl easily and do not require daily honing.

The history of knife making in Japan goes back to the time of war in 14th century. At that time, the Capital was not Tokyo unlike our fascination to Harajuku nowadays, it was Kyoto in the west. Kyoto has always been a city that attracts a lot of people from all over, but back then it was not because there were inspirational temples, but it was to become a feudal lord who possesses one state and one castle. What would they do to achieve that? Of course not by negotiating over a cup of green tea, but by fighting with swords.

Sakai city, Osaka prefecture, is the place that warrior leaders chose to gather their master craftsmen to supply swords they use. The city was relatively close to Kyoto, and it was the place where people and supplies would pass through when transporting across the country, so basically it was like LA, while Tokyo was NY. The developmental emphasis on these swords were their sharpness and their ability to slice through objects with ease. I would choose not to mention what the usual object was, as you can imagine the reality was not so romantic.

In 16th century, the power moved to the East again and the demand for swords started to decrease. The final stroke was the arrival of firearms from Portugal, when Japan was opening up trade to the world. The craftsmen then switched to gun making, and later knife making, which I think was the smart choice. The knife making technique developed exclusively in Sakai city and in Shikoku area, and those still are where a lot of high quality Japanese knives are manufactured.

Because the Japanese knives is a product of the sword making technique, we still can see these traits in a traditionally crafted knife. In particular knives such as the Honyaki knife, which is like a bottle of Château Margaux 17871, is intricately made and nothing surpasses it in quality and performance. The blade is very hard like Samurai sword, but because it is made to be used on food, it is a lot thinner, and as a result more delicate. What happens if you hit a material so delicate? It could break. The same logic can be used when considering honing a Japanese knife. The honing rod is too aggressive on the blade edge and may result in chipping. So, please don’t.

Then what do I need to do to maintain the sharpness of my Yoshihiro knife? The answer is a water whetstone (it is not wetstone, yes, it is whetstone). This is because the whetstone and Japanese knives developed together and have a symbiotic relationship. A whetstone is the best surface for maintaining a Japanese knife. There are various combinations of whetstones that may be used for sharpening a Japanese knife. The most common procedure starts with a whetstone #1000 grit to roughly arrange the angle of the edge to your preference, and then switching to a finishing stone (#3000 – #10,000 grit). By using multiple whetstones, the blade edge can be nicely maintained with less force to a varying degree of sharpness and refinement. Lastly, using a whetstone takes off far less steel than using a honing rod. Taking off less steel means a longer lasting knife.

As for a more detailed sharpening tutorial, please watch the videos, or if you are not so sure please contact us for sharpening service.


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High Carbon Steel Explained: White Steel, Blue Steel, and Super Blue

High Carbon Steel Explained: White Steel, Blue Steel, and Super Blue

high carbon steel

high carbon steel




Steel is a compound of iron and carbon. Yet to be classified as high-carbon steel, it needs to have anywhere from 0.6% to 1.7% carbon by weight. For premium cutlery and knives, the higher carbon content is typically better. For one, higher carbon allows for a sharper cutting edge. To be considered stainless steel, the steel must have a chromium content of more than 12%. While all steel contains carbon, typically steels that do not contain chromium are referred to as carbon steels.
high carbon steel
The differences between high carbon steel can be subtle, but they all work to create a specific knife experience. Below we explain the differences between white steel, blue steel, as well as the different types of each.

high carbon steel

White High-Carbon Steel #1 & #2
White steel is made from finely grained carbon steel that lacks a lot of contaminates within the iron, meaning that knives made from white, high-carbon steel are able to sharpen into a razor-like edge. Many sashimi chefs love white steel knives because they can create very fine, exact cuts of fish, vegetables, and garnish. Very volatile and difficult to forge, white steel varies in its level on carbon content. #1 has the highest and will, therefore, hold its cutting edge the best. However, it’s also the most brittle, which is typically why #2 is the most commonly used by chefs.

high carbon steel

Blue High-Carbon Steel #1 & #2, and Super Blue High-Carbon

As stated above, steel consists of iron and carbon but different alloys can be added to create different types of steel. For example, stainless steel is created from added chromium. Blue steel has tungsten and chromium added to the iron and carbon to create an easier tempering process and also a knife that holds its edge longer than a white steel knife, however while not taking on such a fine cutting edge. Just like white steel #1 and white steel #2, blue, high-carbon steel #1 has more carbon content than its #2 companion and super blue high-carbon steel has added vanadium for wear resistance and has the longest edge life of the blue steels.

high carbon steel

Carbon Steel
White Steel, Blue Steel, and Super Blue
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The 3 Single-Edged Japanese Knives Every Chef Needs

When it comes to knife making, the Japanese have a long-standing belief of practicality. They value usability, meaning that traditionally the Japanese have made knives according to purpose. A specific knife would be made for every task.

While all of these knives have the same single-edged blade anatomy, they differ in areas of shape, size, and thickness of the blade — all for the purposes of their tasks at hand. Here are the three traditional Japanese knives we recommend that all chefs need for chopping vegetables, fileting and slicing fish:

Yanagi Knife

Sashimi Knife | Cutting and Slicing Fish

Yanagi knives are meant for slicing fish. The blade of the knife is long and very narrow and thin. This allows the knife to gently glide through the flesh of the fish in one long motion, which preserves the texture and taste. If the blade were wider, it would require the sashimi chef to use more force that could potentially bruise and damage the cell walls of the fish.


Deba Knife

Filet Knife | Breaking Down Fish

Deba knives are perfect for fileting fish and cutting through bones. The thick spine and weight of the knife allows the chef to cut through the head of the body, as well as other bones, with ease and precision. By contrast, the small point on the tip of the knife is great for separating the flesh from the bone.


Usuba Knife

Vegetable Knife | Slicing, Chopping, and Dicing Vegetables

Usuba knives are made to comfortably cut vegetables with efficiency and precision. Their tall blade protects the chef’s knuckles, which allows him to move quickly through the vegetable. Kama-usuba knives have a sharp, beak-like tip for more intricate work, as well as a blunt tip for tasks such as removing the eyes of potatoes. It’s heavy enough that it can easily cut through tough root vegetables, but sharp enough that it can also slice through delicate vegetables.

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The Anatomy of The Japanese Single-Bevel Knife

Anatomy Japanese Single Edged Knives

Anatomy Japanese Single Edged Knives

Anatomy Japanese Single Edged Knives
Traditionally, Japanese knives were single bevel, and featured the same grind with three key parts: the shinogi surface, the urasuki, and the uraoshi. It wasn’t until Japan began modernizing in the late 19th century and early 20th century — and when they began incorporating western culture in to theirs — that they started crafting double beveled knives. The Japanese have continued to forge beautiful, sharp, and strategically designed single-edged knives that make slicing and dicing more efficient for any chef. To better understand how this is done, let’s explain the anatomy of a single-edged knife:

Single-Bevel Grind Terms & Definitions

Shinogi Surface: The flat surface of the blade that runs to the blade’s edge
Anatomy Japanese Single Edged Knives
Urasuki: The concave surface on the backside of the blade

Uraoshi: The thin flat rim that surrounds the urasuki

Anatomy Japanese Single Edged Knives
Single-Bevel Knife Design and Functionality


Anatomy Japanese Single Edged Knives
The Japanese are known for their culinary expertise and skills with knives. The very art of sushi alone requires a skilled chef, but in order to achieve the correct cuts of vegetables and fish, the proper tool is required. Many single-edged knives are perfect for chopping vegetables thinly and quickly, making the chef’s job easier. Above we discussed the brief definitions of the different aspects that make a single-edged blade, but below we’ll discuss their importance and use.

Shinogi Surface

The shinogi surface is the flat surface of the blade that runs to the blade’s edge in a single-bevel knife. This flat surface allows for a narrow blade angle, resulting in a sharper knife. The second you add another bevel to the shinogi surface — which would essentially make it a double-edged blade — you also effectively make the blade not as sharp. The geometry of the shinogi surface allows for an almost razor-like edge.

Urasuki

The urasuki is the concave surface on the backside of the blade that creates an air pocket when the blade is slicing through food. This helps to reduce drag and creates a smoother surface, so you can make faster, nicer cuts. It also works to prevent the food from sticking to the knife. The image below shows the air pocket created by the urasuki while cutting. The combination of the urasuki and shinogi allow for the blade to cut food with very minimal damage to the surface and cells, therefore not spoiling the texture and taste.

Uraoshi

The uraoshi is the thin, flat rim that surrounds the urasuki. Its purpose is to enhance the strength of the blade at its otherwise vulnerable edges.

Anatomy Japanese Single Edged Knives

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Explaining Kitchen Knife Bevels and Edges

The bevel of a knife is one of the most important aspects that help to define its sharpness, strength, durability, and use. To put it simply, a bevel is the ground angle and shape of the blade’s edge, and depending on what it’s made of and how it’s ground, it can dictate the type of knife you have. Traditionally, the Japanese have knives that fall into two categories of bevels: a double bevel, or a single bevel. It’s common to also hear this referred to as a doubled-edged blade or a single-edged blade.

Double Bevels:

A double-bevel knife, or double-edged blade, means that it has a bevel on both sides. These knives are the most common, especially in Western style knives like those of the French and German. However, the Japanese have many double-edged knives as well, such as the gyuto knife, the sujihiki knife, and the honesuki knife.

When talking about double-edged knives, you can mainly assume the angle of the blade on either side is in a 50-50 ratio, meaning that if one side has been ground to 11 degrees then the other side has also been ground to 11 degrees, and the total angle of the blade is 22 degrees. Asian knives typically have a slightly smaller angle than other traditional western knives, and both sides are sharpened to roughly 8 degrees, making them much sharper.

Single Bevels:

In the case of some knives, there is no angle on the other side of the blade. These knives are referred to as a single-edged blade. However, in practice, we have found that the vast majority of Asian knives sold in the United States are not single bevel, but rather traditional knives with a bevel on both sides. If you’re not sure, it is generally safe to assume that your knife has a bevel on both sides.

For most chef’s, using a single-bevel blade involves learning new knife skills and techniques. It may also mean custom ordering a blade if you are left handed, so that you can correctly use the knife. However, once able to use it correctly, a single-edged blade can make thinner cuts, especially with vegetables, which is great for sushi chefs.

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A Comparison of Japanese vs German Chef’s Knives

Whether Japanese or German, each type of knife has been influenced by its culture. The Japanese believe in having a perfect tool for an explicit purpose, and as such have many specific knives for specific tasks. Meanwhile, Germans value versatility and durability in their culinary efforts and therefore have designed knives that are good at many different undertakings. In the end, each knife has its own strengths and weaknesses. It’s not that one style of knife is better than the other — it’s just a matter of use and preference.

The Blade’s Steel

Your typical Japanese knife is known for its sharpness. A direct descendant from the samurai sword, these knives only have to lightly graze an object in order to make a slice or incision. The main reason they are so sharp is due greatly to the hardness of the steel used in the blade’s core. Japanese knives are constructed with steel that has a high carbon content, giving it anywhere from a high 50s to mid 60s on the Rockwell scale. Because of this, they hold their sharp edge well and for longer. However, caring for a sword with high carbon steel means they are more likely to rust.

Meanwhile, a German knife is known for being able to take a beating. They want a sharp edge, but also want to know that their knives are durable and easy to care for. They use softer steel throughout the blade’s core and surrounding, making them less likely to chip, break, and rust. However, because of the softer steel, they will never be able to hold as sharp of an edge as a Japanese knife, and you will need to sharpen more often. Ease of care comes with the cost of edge retention, and vice versa.

The Cutting Edge

First, let’s explain what is meant when talking about knives and their cutting edge. The angle of the knife is also referred to as the “bevel.” Most knives have a bevel on both sides, but some traditional Japanese knives have a single bevel, or even differing bevel sizes. Typically, however, when talking about knives that have a traditional bevel and a 10 degree angle, it means on both sides, making the total angle 20 degrees.


The bevel of a Japanese knife is smaller than a German knife, again making the blade sharper. The Japanese make both double beveled knives and single beveled knives. In either case, the angle of a bevel in Japanese knives are smaller than that of German knives. In Japanese knives, the bevels are typically anywhere between 7 and 8 degrees, allowing it to nicely slice through food, such as raw fish, without damaging the cell walls and therefore preserving the taste and texture. Again, they’re able to create this angle thanks to the hardness of the steel used. The Japanese value precision, and the angle of their knives allow for that.

German blades, however, are typically sharpened to around 10 degrees, making them not as sharp as a typical Japanese knife. Yet with their wider bevel they are able to compensate for the sharpness by being versatile and weighted. They may not have the cutting edge to slice through tough objects, but they have the strength to.

The Weight of the Knife

Culturally, the Japanese are not known for their strength. In war, they relied on battle technique and the sharpness of their samurai swords to defeat their opponents. In cooking, their strategy is similar. By forging a sharp cutting edge on their knives, they can cut through objects without having to put force behind the blade.

Typically German knives are heavier, meaning that while they may not have the extremely sharp edge that Japanese cutlery is known for, they utilize the weight of the knife to do the work for them. This is the reason why chefs who are used to German knives prefer using knives that are heavier.

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A Brief History of Japanese Sword and Cutlery Knife Forging

In ancient Japan, it was said that the samurai’s sword was his soul. Today, the same could be said about a chef and his knife. The art of Japanese cutlery derived from the traditions of Japanese sword making. Many of the same techniques, designs, and skills have been passed on from generation to generation—from the minds of the Japanese masters to the artisan workers. In fact, the city that was once known as the capital of samurai swords is now a hub for Japanese knife making.

During the 1300s, a time of war and conflict for Japan, the government established Sakai City as the reigning capital for samurai sword making by calling all sword masters to settle there and produce weapons. The government would only allow tamahagane samurai swords—or swords made of coveted, Japanese steel—to be produced by the most skilled masters. One of these sword masters stood out as the best sword craftsman since 1550, and his name was Yoshihiro. His swords were widely desired and nearly impossible to find. In modern day, few swords exist that were made by Yoshihiro’s studio and bloodline. Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a Japanese general known for unifying Japan at the turn of the 16th century, stated that “Finding Yoshihiro’s sword is like finding ghost,” as it was so difficult to do.

When the shogunate lost its power and the Meiji Restoration period began, efforts were made to modernize Japan and the samurai class started losing their privileges and power. The demand for swords began to shrink, and many manufacturers—even those who were direct descendants from Yoshihiro himself—turned their efforts to knife making instead.

Today, the techniques used by Master Yoshihiro almost 500 years ago are still being used to handcraft quality cutlery and knives in Japan. While the forging techniques are similar across the board when it comes to knife making, the honyaki knife is the style most similar to a traditional Japanese sword. Crafted from a single piece of high-carbon, hard steel, a honyaki knife stays sharper for longer and is often heavier than a typical chef’s knife. It also contains a hamon, or a wavy line that is created through the tempering technique, which is traditionally seen in samurai swords.

Modern Day Yoshihiro

Yoshihiro Cutlery receives our name from Master Yoshihiro, as we hold our knives to his level of craftsmanship, standards, and authenticity. We value the Japanese traditions of sword and knife forging, and honor them with the quality of our blades. In fact, we are even in possession of an original tamahagane samurai sword. From time to time we like to display this historic sword at our showroom in Beverly Hills. Seeing the craftsmanship of the blade and how it directly influenced the forging of the knives in our collections is an experience any knife connoisseur will appreciate.

Japanese knife forging derived from master samurai sword makers with their traditions, techniques, and skills being passed on through generations. When a chef uses a traditionally made, Japanese, kitchen knife, they are not using a factory-grade, manufactured tool; they’re using a handcrafted knife that has been made with the same techniques as master swordsmen and artisans. They are choosing to value tradition, experience, and skill. After all, when a knife can be compared to a chef’s soul, why use anything less?

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