October 20, 2021 2 min read
Before Knifewear, I worked in the world of restaurants for years. While every cook and chef, myself included, will tell you that their knife is their most valued tool, there’s a less flashy but equally handy tool that’s near and dear to our hearts: the Microplane.
Chef or otherwise, you NEED a microplane in your kitchen.
Microplane got their start in the 90s, making high-quality woodworking tools, but once cooks and chefs got ahold of them, the world was shown how versatile and indispensable these tools could be in the kitchen. I remember a time before Microplanes were commonplace when we zested citrus like peasants, but now I can’t picture a kitchen or bar without at least one! I reach for mine regularly when mincing garlic by hand simply isn’t fast or fine enough, or when I want some zesty lemon goodness to finish off whatever I’m cooking.
Never seen a Microplane before? It’s a flat metal tool with lots of tiny blades punched into the surface. The classic Microplane has loads of uses: zesting citrus, grating ginger or garlic into the finest of pastes, grating hard spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, or shaving parmesan into a fluffy pile to perfectly melt into your pasta. The classic is a must-have for any cook. It does so many jobs quickly and easily, all while being lightweight and taking up little space in a drawer or knife roll. It’s what Andy Dufresne wishes he had to escape from prison in The Shawshank Redemption. Nowadays, it also comes in loads of fun colours with comfortable rubber grips!
Nowadays, microplanes come in a wide range of fun colours!
As much as the classic can do, sometimes you need something a little more specialized. Microplane now makes culinary graters with different degrees of coarseness; fine for things like zesting citrus, extra coarse to make julienne veggies for salads and stir-fries, and everything in between. Chocolate? Cheese? Spices? Garlic? Microplane has got your back! They even make a wicked sharp box grater so that you can whip up a killer mac & cheese without the arm workout. This thing could even grate triple-creme brie. What’s more, it comes apart so you can wash it easily! For the accident-prone, they even make a cut-resistant glove. It won’t make you invincible, but it will save your fingertips if you like to race in the kitchen.
The microplane box grater is like a paper shredder for cheese!
Whether you’re a professional chef or an amateur home cook, you need a Microplane in your life. I suggest grabbing the classic alongside the box grater for some versatility. And don’t forget that glove, butter-fingers!
Knifewear owner and president Kevin Kent’s fascination with handcrafted Japanese knives began while he was working as sous-chef for the legendary chef Fergus Henderson at St. John restaurant in London, England. Back in Canada in 2007 he began selling them out of a backpack from the back of his bicycle, while working as a chef in Calgary. He considers his chef years as the best education for being an entrepreneur. Being a chef takes long hours, involves hard work, both mentally and physically, and chefs must be able to put out fires, both literal and figurative, with extreme competence. Today, Kent is still just as obsessed with Japanese knives as the day he first held one. A couple times a year, he travels to Japan to meet with his blacksmith friends and drinks far too much sake. Each visit he learns more about the ancient art of knife-making. Through this obsession Knifewear has expanded to include five Knifewear stores in Calgary, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Edmonton. Plans are also underway to open a store in Kyoto, Japan. He refuses to confess how many Japanese knives he owns … but he admits the number is rather high
Back in the day Colin cooked at a couple restaurants in Edmonton, and he used to make knives too. He later moved to Toronto and was seduced by a career in music, though he continued sharpening knives for friends and family. By night, he DJ'd and produced beats as Ronin E-Ville, and by day he taught music at several universities, all while training to become a kung fu master. Colin eventually moved to Ireland, working as a music researcher for a couple years and learning to make shillelaghs. Since returning to Canada, Colin is stoked to be getting back to his roots with knives, happily nerding-out on steels, blacksmiths, and sharpening. If you want to know about Chinese-style cleavers (chuka bocho), Colin’s your guy! (Photo credit @davidmarionphotography)
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