These L.A. Chefs Reveal Their Favorite Knives And Why They Love Them

It’s more than a blade
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A knife is more than a blade with great edge geometry. In restaurant kitchens, knives are extensions of cooks’ hands, instruments of precision. They’re also symbols of mentorship and milestones. Japanese or Western, stainless or carbon, in the high 50s or low 60s on the Rockwell hardness scale—these factors may sometimes be beside the point (though the staffs at Anzen Hardware and Ross Cutlery might disagree). Never mind the faux wootz steel (see the whorled pattern on trendy knives). What makes a knife a cherished tool? Four local chefs tell us.

 

1. Shunji Nakao

Shunji

Nenohi 8-inch deba filleting knife: “A deba is made for cutting huge fish like yellowtail and cutting through the bones.Another deba was a present from my father about 32 years ago, around the time I came to the United States to be a chef. It was originally quite big, but [with use and sharpening] it has become petite. I always carry it in my bag for my memory.”

 

2. Ludo Lefebvre

Trois Mec, Petit Trois, and Trois Familia

Global 8-inch Ukon knife: “I remember when I came to the U.S. and finally started to make more than 12 cents a day, I really, really wanted a Global knife. As a young cook, I dreamed of getting a Global knife. When I finally got one, I used it all the time. Now it’s the oldest knife in my kit, showing the wear and tear of around 20 years.”

 

Jeremy Fox

Rustic Canyon

Photo by Joseph Shin

TramontiNa 4-inch bird’s beak paring knife: “I never pay a lot for fancy knives—I’ve probably lost most of my knives over the years—but the bird’s beak is my favorite; I use it more than any other. It’s perfect for fine details like cleaning, scraping, and trimming vegetables because it’s so
maneuverable.”

 

Nancy Silverton

Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, and Chi Spacca

Photo by Joseph Shin

Jean-Louis Palladin MAC limited-edition 9-INCH bread slicer: “This knife was gifted to me by the chef Jean-Louis Palladin. Many young people don’t know him anymore, but he was one of the true greats of his day. He signed it and passed away within a year of giving it to me, so it’s very special to me.”

 

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