Beware of sharp objects: my visit to Knifewear

Two things on my food bucket list have been to 1. take a class on proper knife techniques and 2. buy myself a good quality, wickedly sharp knife.

I have been eyeing the sharp and pointy goods at Calgary’s Knifewear ever since I heard about them way back when they first opened inside Bite Grocerteria. They have since moved into their own location and – if the crowd of people I saw in the store was any indication – are successfully growing their business.

Knifewear display case

Knifewear display case

Knifewear, founded by Chef Kevin Kent, specializes in high quality Japanese chef knives. They regularly hold classes on knife sharpening with waterstones, as well as a basic knife cutting class.

I happened to be in Calgary over the Family Day long weekend and took advantage of my visit by signing up for Knifewear’s Cut Like a Chef class. For about two and a half hours, we learned how to slice, dice and not cut our fingers off. Kevin and Rob, another talented knife artiste, tag teamed the class. We covered varied techniques such as dice, julienne and brunoise, as well as some more “exotic” cuts like tourne. Other useful things that we learned included the proper way to use a honing rod, cut up an onion, and slice up a pineapple.

Cut Like a Chef class

Cut Like a Chef class

Taking this class also gives you the chance to try out a selection of their knives. I started out using a Shun knife, and eventually ended up with two more knives on my cutting board. At the end of the class, all the attendees are offered a 10% discount on any knives in the store if they were bought that day.

You can test out knives before you buy them.

You can test out knives before you buy them.

I had good intentions of only buying one knife and of sticking to a pre-set budget. But the knives seduced me, and I couldn’t stop myself. A gift card from some friends helped to defray some of the costs (I have the bestest friends ever!!) but I left the shop much poorer and spent way more than I had originally planned.

The shop, filled with partly people from my class but also with many walk-ins.

The shop, filled with partly people from my class but also with many walk-ins.

There were many, many knives to choose from. Hand forged knives, factory forged knives, long knives, short knives – the choices were overwhelming. I was especially drawn to the Fujiwara knives, which have a finger notch in the blade that makes holding these knives especially comfortable, and the Konosuke knives, which have these gorgeous cherry blossoms polished onto each blade and also felt very comfortable in my hand.

A bunch of the knives I was considering.

A bunch of the knives I was considering.

There were some other knives that I liked as well, and in the end my decision was based on either buying one knife out of the two I mentioned, or buying two knives at a lower price point. In the end I felt that it made more sense for me to buy two different knives than to blow all my money on one knife.

Here are the sexy beasts that I came home with:

My new sharp and pointy toys!

My new sharp and pointy toys!

From left to right: one ceramic honing rod (smooth), one Masakage Kumo Gyuto 180 mm knife, and one Masakage Asai Masami VG10 Petty 120 mm. Both knives are hand forged from VG10 stainless steel and laminated with layered nickel Damascus stainless steel.

From the Knifewear website:

“Asai Masami, born in 1948, works in Takefu Village, Echizen in Fukui Prefecture. His blades are known for a refined and long lived edge. In 1980, Echizen was the first production centre for forged blades to be awarded the nationally recognized Traditional Craft Product accolade. Blades have been hand forged here since Muromachi period (1392-1573).”

“[The Kumo knife] series is named Kumo (cloud) because the blades look like clouds on a really cool day. The Damascus steel is manipulated by hand to give this great dreamy look. The rosewood and pakka wood octagon handle give the blades a nice light feel and forward balance. Katsushige Anryu san is a 70 year old blacksmith with 52 years experience who works in Takefu Village.”

My knives will get their first sharpening for free. I haven’t cut myself yet, but I have to admit that I have thought about stocking up on bandages. I’ll let you know if I nick any major arteries.

1316-9 Ave SE, Calgary


13 thoughts on “Beware of sharp objects: my visit to Knifewear

  1. I really really want to visit this store, but I feel like I shouldn’t. I already have a Global chef knife and a Miyabi santoku knife, and do I really need another?! But I suppose I feel like I’m a kitchen samurai when poring over knives. They’re just gorgeous AND functional. I am shocked and dismayed when I notice friends don’t have a “proper” chef’s knife and make do with some dull bargain bin blade or worse, trying to chop things with a paring knife (!). I think ONE good knife is a must-have for every kitchen.

  2. I would so love to take a class like that! Although I’d probably over spend like you afterwards. Hey, at least now you’ve got good inspiration to make yourself many many delicious home cooked meals. Yes, please stay away from major arteries, well, any artery. Have fun with your new toys 😀

  3. bert says:

    Kevin is great – very personable, patient, and friendly.

    Once upon a time during our housewarming a beloved Blazen purchased from Knifewear met some Chinese BBQ Pork. This was because one of our relatives couldn’t find the cleaver. The Blazen came away chipped and I left it with Kevin for a weekend and he restored the original edge, decreasing the height of the blade by a small amount.

    Made it as good as new. Don’t think I can ever thank him enough for that.. other than buying more knives.

    Have fun with your new knives!

  4. Vanja and I actually went to go to this store, then I couldn’t find it. I didn’t have the name and the address – but we missed it. We were right there, too.
    We will hit it again, and it will be really hard to get any budget for a new knife as I have so many beautiful ones… but, I am sure I have room for one more. How much did you spend? Oh, never mind. Too much, I understand!

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