Using my knife makes me feel invincible, there is really no other word to describe it. Much like a samurai and his sword, or a Jedi and his light saber, it's all I need. — Bradley Chance, sous chef, The Spence
To a chef, to a cook, to a butcher, the knife is everything. It is the universal tool of the trade, regardless of cuisine, regardless of ambition, regardless of status or celebrity. It is the physical manifestation of their ability to get it done in the kitchen.
The knife can be a fetish, an object of desire, an obsession. Or it can simply be a tool — an object that through years and years of use disappears from the realm of objectivity and becomes an extension of the hand, an appendage fused with the chef who wields it. There's a reason Bravo's "Top Chef" chose to dispatch losers with the phrase, "pack your knives and go." Nothing else could cut closer to the heart of a chef's cooking.
To ask a chef about his (or her) knives is to seek his outlook on his craft. Some are like proud fanboys at Dragon*Con, eager to show off their fanaticism and prove their merit, to demonstrate their dedication to the cult of the knife. Some are maintenance men, technicians, diligently sharpening, keeping things in order, and focused squarely on results. Regardless of outlook, just about every chef, cook, and butcher seems to have a story about their knives, some connection that goes beyond functionality and taps into their personal story. Here are a few of those stories.