Food & Drink » Food Issue

Atlanta chefs and their knives

The stories behind the steel in some of the city's best kitchens



Page 3 of 7

Mihoko Obunai, Chef/Consultant/"Ramen Girl" with Miso Izakaya

My oldest knife is very special. It comes from Japan, from a family of knife makers there who I know, and I have been using their knife since I graduated from culinary school 17 years ago. My knife is one of a kind, the only one in the world. My hand is smaller than most chefs', so I really like small knives, and this one fits me so well. Other cooks in the kitchen can't even use this knife. This knife is not the type of knife you would use to hack up chicken bones or open a beer bottle. (I could, but I wouldn't!) It is sensitive but strong, almost like a sword.

Actually, my knife is in Japan right now to be sharpened and will be sent back to me, so I am missing it. I do worry a little bit that something could happen to it, but I trust the mail from Japan! But I also now have another very special knife from Japan, also from a small family of knife makers called Takamura Hamono. My ramen mentor, chef Nakamura of Ramen Lab, introduced me to these unique knives, and I feel very fortunate to have one. Many of the top chefs in the world are now using these knives from Japan.

As I get older, I appreciate my home country more, where I come from. The fact that my knife comes from a small Japanese family business, that they care about the person they make each knife for, that they know me — it's really special. Now that I'm focusing on ramen and Japanese cooking again, it helps me share the Japanese culture. I want other chefs to know the story of these great, small town knife makers.

Jordan Wakefield, Meehan's Public House

I have certain knives that I keep put away, hidden, because I don't trust anyone else to use them. I love my Wüsthof boning knife that I use to break down and clean whole animals, my CCK Big Rhino cleaver, and my 10-inch Hammer Stahl chef's knife.

My boning knife just lets me get all up inside the animal and clean around bones and cartilage and preserve the quality of the meat. The cleaver is my go-to for when I cook all my barbecue. And the Hammer Stahl chef's knife just has very good balance in the steel. Actually, I use my Hammer Stahl only on special occasions, like holiday meals or if I'm making a special dinner for the lady at the house. But other than that, those stay locked away.

My old Japanese-style cleaver was given to me while I was working at the Homestead Resort in Virginia. The chef gave it to me, and I remember thinking it was so cool, and so expensive. But about a year later, I looked it up and it was only worth about 10 bucks! But to this day I still use it like crazy, and it is a hell of a knife. It holds a great blade.

Add a comment