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Handmade Knives

Since every kitchen knife cuts food, what is different about a handmade knife?

The knife is the oldest tool in a chef's armoury - older even than the management of fire, by somewhere between a million and two million years. Cutting with one tool or another is the most basic way of processing food. Even at the earliest stages of human tool making, man was not randomly slashing at his food, but making careful decisions about which cuts to make with which tools.

The knife is our primary interaction point between us and our food. It is cooking at its most basic level. Before heat is applied, before a pot is involved, we manipulate food with this simple tool.

There is a peculiar joy in holding a knife which feels just right for your hand, and marvelling as it dices onions, slices beef and joints chicken with almost no effort. The way a knife rolls on a chopping board as you are dicing mint and then without missing a beat deftly slices through a watermelon is just part of the magic of what makes a great knife.

Beyond that, there are the tiny details that come out of a bespoke handmade knife: choices of wood, the type of mosaic pin, and the handsanding of the blade.

There is a narrative to a great handmade knife. They are something we pass on, something with history so we can say, 'my father gave this to me and his father gave it to him and now I'm giving it to you'. In this way we don't ever own a truly great knife - we just take care of it for the next generation.

In a world of increasingly disposable, valueless items, where homes and garage sales and superstores are packed with mediocre pieces that are bought, used, and ignored, what could be more important than learning once again to value what we buy, and feel a connection to the people who create around us?

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