Cut the crap: it’s not you, it’s your knife
While many of us may underestimate the importance of decent equipment in the home kitchen, the Aussie duo behind specialist Japanese knife retailer Chef’s Armoury, do not. In fact, the pair knows all too well that your choice of knife can make all the difference when it comes to the quality of food you put on the table. To help Australia’s budding home cooks to start to cut the crap, Leigh and Stephanie Hudson have shared a list of the blades Australia’s top chefs are loving right now, and what they recommend for you at home.
The two Chef’s Armoury founders are well known among Australia’s hospitality scene because they were the trailblazers who were the first to introduce Japanese knives to Australian chefs 15 years ago. One of their main motivations to start importing these world-class blades was the well-known fact within professional kitchens that inferior knives can take the joy out of cooking. In addition, inferior blades can also affect the taste and texture of your food.
“Your choice of knife can affect the quality of your produce. The taste and texture of fruit and vegetables in particular, are impacted by the knife you are using to prepare them.” Leigh Hudson explains.
If you’re ready to up your cooking game and cut the crap about why your dish didn’t turn out quite as well as you’d hoped, here are the knives that top chef’s are using right now and what Australia’s leading knife experts recommend.
Alex Prichard, Head Chef of Icebergs’ favourite knife is the Saji Ironwood 240mm Gyuto, but says the knife everyone should own themselves is a Takamura Sujihiki or ‘Slicer’. “You haven’t experienced seamless slicing until you have used this. Light, razor-sharp and perfect for so many things. Nothing slices overripe heirloom tomatoes and delicate fatty Imperador flesh quite like this knife.” Prichard said.
Executive Chef, Jarrod Walsh from Irene’s and The Old Clare Hotel loves using his bespoke Fukui forged Sujihiki with a Gidgee Australian hardwood handle. For the home chef, he recommends the Fukui Black Forged 155mm Honesuki. “You can choose what the knife is made from, size of the handle and what the handle is made from. It is typically used as a boning knife for poultry; however, I have found it is very versatile for breaking down fish and is a great knife to use all around during service.” Walsh said.
Benjamin Cooper from Chin Chin recommends everyone invest in a Mcusta Zanmai or Kaiden knife, but he has his own eyes set on a Nenox Custom Green Gyuto 240. “The Nenox has long been my dream knife. From my early days as a sou chef at Nobu in London, watching the sushi chefs wield their amazing Nenox blades, I have always wanted to add one to my collection.” Cooper said.
Red Lantern’s Mark Jensen’s absolute favourite knife is his Mcusta VG10 210 Gyuto, which has long since been discontinued. Instead, Stephanie Hudson recommends the Mcusta Zanmai Hexagon VG10, which is the closest in terms of blade. “I’ve owned my knife for at least 10 years. I love the weight, balance and feel. Mcusta knives are beautifully crafted and an all-round chef or home enthusiast knife”. Hudson said.
Jesse Warkentin from Odd Culture loves his Nenox knife and whilst he recommends it for the home cook, he also thinks every home cook should get their hands on a sharpening stone. Warkentin uses the Kaiden Stones to keep his knife in tip top condition. “They feel like carbon in the way they are easy on the stones ad their edge retention is amazing. What no one talks about is that the handles are insanely well-shaped. They’re so ergonomically comfortable for those long jobs at the board.” Warkentin said.
Jose Silva from Bibo Wine Bar loves his rare Saji Bunka, but when it comes to the home cook, he recommends everyone have the Nenox 150cm and 240cm. “They are the ultimate must-haves in the kitchen.” Silva said.
Using a world-class knife isn’t for the faint hearted though, so be sure to check out tips on how to correctly use your new behemoth of a blade before you get slicing and dicing. And if you’re still getting a grip on using a world-class knife in the kitchen at home, or paying the premium price at which they come, there are also other options.
EATIVITY’s knife recommendations include blades from two local Aussie knifemakers Aidan Mackinnon of Melbourne’s Cut Throat Knives and Phil Astley of Adelaide’s Astley Wright Knives. Another locally-made option is Dog Boy Knives which produces artisan knives hand forged from recycled materials. So with all of those suggestions, isn’t it time to cut the crap and start slicing and dicing with style and ease?