Garage sale is a super fun week at Knifewear. Over the years the event has grown to be legendary amongst Chefs and Knife aficionados.
The items at the Garage Sale are all the items that Kevin pick's up on his trips to Japan. He buys prototypes (new products that blacksmiths are experimenting with), One of a kind knives (like all of the Takeda knives in this sale); retired sample knives (and some repaired knives), scratch/dent items, and unique things Kevin finds.
It's our favourite way to bring great knives at great prices to chefs. It's also a nice thank you to our best customers. And it's a great way to introduce new customers to our knives and shop!
Follow Kevin's trip to Japan through his twitter @knifenerd and let him know if you are looking for anything particular! Knifewear social accounts on instagram, twitter, and Facebook will be posting pics of knives before the big day!You'll want to arrive early to check out these exciting, one of a kind knives!
Kevin Kent, CEO and owner of Knifewear, is currently on a business trip to Japan. He wanted to tell you about some of his experiences while he's there. This is the first we’ve seen him blog about work, so we’re going to assume this is the first work he’s done since getting there.
Takayuki Shibata is the President of Masakage Knives, Haruyuki, and Kotetsu knife companies. He is a busy guy and his shop has a lot of plates in the air. At his factory in Hiroshima area his team sharpens knives, engrave blades, grind knife blanks, attach handles, straighten blades, do final quality checks, box the knives, and ship out orders.
He runs a slick machine. And he has enough coffee on tap to keep even me happy. I certainly learned a ton about knife sharpening here. Shibata-san is seen as one of the best knife sharpeners in Japan. I’m merely adequate in the big picture.
Kevin Kent, CEO and owner of Knifewear, is currently on a business trip to Japan. He wanted to tell you about some of his experiences while he's there. Prepare yourself for a little bit of farmers’ market envy.
When I think of the great food markets of the world my mind immediately goes to Burrough Market in London, the big market in Barcelona, and Nishiki market. Salted fish, traditional pickles, nihonshu (sake), grilled fish, fresh fish, perfectly spherical melons, huge grapes, chopsticks of every description, tea, everything a Japanese kitchen might need, really.
My fave shops are the togarashi shichimi (a Japanese spice primarily made with chilis and sesame, plus other spices) joint where you can mix your own personal blend, the sake shop with tons of delicious, locally made, crazy juice, and all of the tsukemono (Japanese pickle) makers, who make the best tsukemono in the world.
I think Japanese food is one of the top cuisines of the world and the food in Kyoto is the tops in Japan. Nishiki market is proof of that.
Kevin Kent, CEO and owner of Knifewear, is currently on a business trip to Japan. He wanted to tell you about some of his experiences while he’s there. This one is brief because when things move fast you don’t have much time... or something.
Ok, the Shinkansen (bullet train) in Japan is beyond cool. It really is. I love traveling on a comfortable train at 300km per hour. Who wouldn't? I especially love answering emails on pocket wifi and eating a delicious train station bento box at 300km per hour. Every 20-40 minutes a lady in a perfect uniform pushes a little cart up the aisle to sell us scary fish snacks, beer, coffee, phone cards, or anything you need. Did I mention they travel up to 300km per hour? I don’t know what that is in miles per hour but it’s quick, matey. Shinkansens are the best.
Kevin Kent, CEO and owner of Knifewear, is currently on a business trip to Japan. He wanted to tell you about some of his experiences while he's there. Here's his first entry.
I once read a book by an American author, Richard Brautigan, called Trout Fishing in America. It was strange and funny and eye opening. It wasn’t really about trout fishing so much. I am going Squid Fishing in Japan with Shibata-san of Masakage Knives later today. Ika sashimi here I come.
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We caught nothing but a sunburn and lots of laughs. We did get a chance to shake the strawberries out of our heads though and that's something. We don't know much about Squid Fishing in Japan.
A squid lure:
Back in 2014 Kevin was asked to participate a project called Chefly Screenshots a collaboration between City Palate Magazine, Six Degrees Music and Sound, and Nur Films, celebrating 20 years of City Palate magazine. You can see Kevin's piece of the project below.
Calgary music scene veteran Chris Vail, along with other musicians at Six Degrees, wrote songs to accompany short films shot by Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdin of Nur Films, which showcase members of the Calgary food community
Here's a short making-of, showing how this cool project came about.
As you may know we have long been knife sharpening nerds. We have opinions and experience. After considerable efforts we are pleased finally announce Knifewear brand waterstones. We are extremely happy about how these have turned out, and can’t wait for you to try them.
These are made by Naniwa and have been hand selected by Kevin Kent. The selection is a mixture of reworked stones from Naniwa’s current line up, stones normally only available in Japan, and products from the back catalogue. We believe these stones are the best selection for sharpening anything you have. All of the stones work well with Japanese or European knives as well as carbon and stainless steel.
“These are the stones I travel with for off site sharpening classes/demos and Guerilla Sharpening events. I can do anything with this collection from simple sharpening to repairs to straight razors and axes.” — Kevin Kent
220 Grit Oni
This 220 Grit waterstone is the fastest coarse stones we’ve found. It removes steel efficiently and dishes slowly. You will still need to use a truing stone after every 2-4 knives sharpened, but that’s minimal maintenance compared to other stones on the market. This stone requires a 20-30 minute soak before use.
The box designed by Mason Hastie features an Oni, a devil-like figure from Japanese mythology. It was chosen because in some settings it can be seen as a symbol of strength, and of becoming stronger by using a strong tool. The 220 stone definitely is a strong tool.
1000 Grit Ramen and Gyoza
This is your Everything Stone. The one stone to rule them all. Every knife you sharpen will touch this stone. Either this is your starting point or it is used after repairs on the 220 grit stone. We recommend finishing most non-Japanese knives with this stone, but if you are the kind that wants to get an extra 20% of performance out of everything, you’ll want to take those Henckels to 4000 or 8000 and really have them sing. Please soak for 20-30 minutes before use.
Ramen and gyoza are depicted on this box. This is an every day stone, and let’s face it ramen and gyoza should be everyday food. Well, maybe not, but it is a staple of the Japanese diet, and we felt the analogy was appropriate.
4000 Grit Sake
This is a fast, hard waterstone that leaves a silky edge. Not many 4000 grit stones will raise a burr but this one does, it’s a race car of a stone. With this stone you start hitting the sharpness potential of your Japanese knife and make your European knives smooooth. Please do not soak, just splash water on it when it’s time to use.
Mason made a 70’s Japanese sake dream. Sake is a lovely drink that (to steal a phrase from Mike, our Operations Manager) “takes the edges off the world and makes me feel like I'm in a 1970’s album cover”. The 4000 stone takes the burr off your knives, and makes the edge that much smoother, just like sake.
8000 Grit Maguro (Tuna)
This is the first Naniwa waterstone Kevin ever bought. It changed everything. After using this stone for a day he claims he smashed his American made Norton 4000/8000 combination stone in the back lane out of frustration. He says that old Norton waterstone held him back and kept him from getting the results he wanted. Use our 8000 stone on any Japanese kitchen knife, hunting knife, woodworking chisel or straight razor. The mirror edge it leaves will impress. Enjoy smooth cutting. Do not soak this stone, just splash water on when it’s time to use.
From the moment we decided we were going to have our own waterstones, we felt one of the packages would have a fishing scene on it. Fishing and seafood have a huge role in Japanese culture. This packaging depicts fishing boats on a rough sea, along with giant blue fin tuna. (yum)
All our stones are a standard 210mm x 70mm x 20mm for easy storage and fit easily without modification into the waterstone holders we sell.
We are very proud to offer our customers this set of spectacular waterstones and have plans to add to it soon. Look for a Knifewear truing stone, nagura stone, rust eraser, and combination stones (220/1000 and 4000/8000).
We’ve always tries to destroy the classic retail mould and do things differently. We try to maintain a customer focus at all times. Our aim is to make people happier after they have visited us than when they arrived. We do this with our engaging staff and their willingness to engage, entertain and educate. Shopping with us should be a genuine experience.
We believe that retail can be a career. To make this a reality we offer living wages (not minimum wage), profit sharing, bespoke health care, Champagne Saturdays, paid sick leave, long service leave (3 month paid sabbatical after 10 years of service), great parties, staff enrichment funds and basically make our staff happy to be at work. Treating staff well is not a hardship, it is a one of the keys to our success.
Which brings us to Tooting Our Own Horn. 2016 was a great year for awards and acknowledgements. We are proud to prove that you can pay proper wages and succeed in the competitive retail environment.
#18 on Fast Growth 50
For the third year running we are in the Alberta Venture Fast Growth 50. The Fast Growth 50 tracks the fastest growing businesses in Alberta. This year Knifewear Group placed at number 18 on the list. How exciting!
#123 on Profit 500
Knifewear Group has also landed at number 123 on the Profit 500, the list of the top 500 fastest growing businesses in Canada. Another way to look at it we were the #12 for retail in Canada, #5 in Calgary.
Foreign Minister’s Award from the Japanese Consul General
Kevin Kent was awarded this commendation for promoting Japanese culture outside of Japan. Generally, fewer than one hundred of these are awarded each year and rarely is it awarded to a non-Japanese citizen. The Consul General, Tamura-san, was impressed by the Springhammer films, the selection in our Knifewear shops and of course our staff’s impressive knowledge of traditional blacksmithing and Japanese culture in general.
Business in Calgary Leaders Award
Kevin Kent was recognized this year as an influential business leader in Calgary. This award goes to leaders in the business community who display leadership, not just within their company, but within the larger community of Calgary. Of special interest was Knifewear Group's modern vision of retail and the fund raising initiative of OffCuts 2016.
It feels good to have our hard work and the happiness of our customers culminate recognized by those organizations that track Alberta and Canadian business. It also feels good to be able to thank you, our customers, for the business that helped us get here. Here's to another excellent year together!
Your dream knife just became more affordable!
Knifewear holds one sale a year on our regular stock and this is it. For the month of February, while stocks last, all Masakage knives are 15% off. The Masakage sale is happening at all locations, and knifewear.com.
Kevin Kent, owner of Knifewear and an ex-chef himself, worked with the Masakage blacksmiths to refine the design of the knives so they would not only work well for chefs, but also be capable and easy to use in home kitchens as well. Every detail of Masakage knives has been carefully thought out, from the materials used in both the blades and handles, to the overall shape and ergonomics. All aspects were scrutinized to ensure they were suitable for Knifewear customers.
Masakage knives offer a wide range of price points and materials. Some lines like the Kiri and Yuki are perfect for those looking for their first blacksmith-made knives because of their durability and easy price point. Some lines like the Mizu and Koishi are perfect for the professional chef or experienced home cook because of the next level edge capability. Some lines are simply the epitome of craftsmanship and beauty, the Kujira and Zero lines being amazing examples of such.
The Japanese word Koishi means “pebbles”. This line of knives has the look of black pebbles that you might find in a stream. The aogami super steel core is possibly the best knife steel known to man. It retains an edge longer than any other carbon steel we know of and cuts like silk. Clad in stainless steel, owners of this knife enjoy the easier maintenance because the carbon steel is protected from rust. Suitable for the home chef, it is also a favourite of professional chefs and Knifewear staff.
This line is possibly Masakage’s most popular knife to give as a gift. The stunning suminagashi (Damascus) finish has a flashy, yet classy, look. Not to say the Kiri is just a pretty face. The VG10 stainless steel construction means that is both easy to maintain and will retain and edge longer than most Western made knives.
The Kumo (meaning cloud) has some of the sexiest Damascus steel we’ve ever seen in a handmade Japanese knife. The VG10 steel is easy to maintain and the thinness of these blades are something to behold. It has a rosewood and pakka handle which finishes the knife with a classic look. The perfect knife for those that are a combination of rustic and refined, because that’s exactly what the Kumo line is.
Designed by Kevin Kent to be his dream knife and beautifully crafted by Yu Kurosaki, the Shimo is a knife that takes a bit more effort to care for, because it is a carbon steel that can rust if neglected. For those that fall in love with this gorgeous knife it will reward you with a beautiful edge for years to come. The crisscross pattern on the blade is created using a specially made hammer and is meant to mimic the look of frost (Shimo) on a window. Lovely.
If you want bang for buck in regards to performance, the Mizu is the line for you. A full carbon blade, it takes extra care to make sure it remains rust free. For some the extra effort will feel entirely worth it every time they use it. For others the responsibility of a carbon knife is one best left to the pros. Mizus are especially great for those that enjoy sharpening their own knifes, this knife can attain an exceptional edge with minimal effort. It also looks gorgeous, with a blue black finish that looks like deep water, or Mizu, in Japanese.
The Yuki line is a chef favourite across Canada. The white carbon steel core offers a smooth, long lasting edge, the stainless steel cladding makes it easy to take care of in a busy environment. Its understated good looks are a bonus for those who are a bit more utilitarian minded. Not that the Yuki (meaning snow) isn’t gorgeous, it’s just more reserved than its cohorts.
The maker of the Kujira line, Kageura-san, is the real deal. He hand forges his own steel using whatever scraps he can find. This takes an extreme level of skill that he has painstakingly attained over the past 50 years. The unique cladding that protects the aogami super core offers a finish that is nothing like any other knives we’ve seen, you’d swear it shimmers. When asked why one could see the bevel lines on his knives, but not feel them, Kageura simply answered “Because I am a very good blacksmith.” Truer words have not been said.
If Masakage has one line that inspires knife lust it is the Zero line. The Western style ironwood handle is unlike anything else made by Masakage and is opulently finished with a rivet inset with a mosaic of a chrysanthemum. The aogami super carbon steel core lives up to the promise of the Zero’s good looks by giving you an edge that will last many times longer than even the best Western knives. This is the knife you want if you’re the type to show off just a little — or the type that wants the best in class.
Kris Armitage, the manager of our northern-most store, Knifewear Edmonton, did a segment on CTV Edmonton Morning this past Thursday. Watch as he drops some early morning knowledge... he doesn't even yawn into the camera! We're proud of you, Kris.
Meanwhile in Ottawa, we got featured in these fun gift guide at the 2:30 minute mark! Thanks Sharif!
Speaking of Ottawa, Chris Lord answers the question, "Is it alright if we just prefer a serrated knife because it's safer?" on CTV Ottawa.
And finally this blast from the past, from CTV Calgary.