Knifewear quietly opened in March (Hamono-ya) 2008 in Calgary, and has since added stores in Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto and Edmonton. Our knife stores have become a destination/hang-out for those who love Japanese steel and are addicted to sharp. We carry knives not found in any other shop in Canada. We like exclusive, scary sharp, high performance blades, and travel all over Japan to find them. We also aim to have awesome selection of chef quality tools for your kitchen, whether you are a professional working the line, or someone at home looking for tools to kick it up a notch.
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 six Knifewear stores in Toronto, 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. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @knifenerd and find out more about the stores at knifewear.com, and if you meet him in person, ask him to tell you his Lou Reed story.
Since early 2010 Kasumi has been bringing a bit of class to Knifewear. Though she insists she's not a knife nerd, we often catch her contemplating her next purchase. She makes bagels at home and ice cream too, how cool is that? Kasumi was the manager of the Calgary store and has move to Toronto to get setup in the Big TO! We often wonder how she ended up with a bunch of misfits like us.
Here's Robbie! A born and raised Torontonian, he literally put in blood, sweat and tears helping put together the new Toronto shop. After a decade working security at bars, clubs and concerts all across the city, he wanted to get back to his food loving roots. Raised by a career chef, this kid will eat just about anything you put in front of him. He wants to help people find the perfect tools to feed their families, and is diving deep into the Knifewear knowledge of all things sharp. Mom couldn't be more proud!
After nine years of building stages and setting up lighting for live events and concerts, Maddie finally decided to hang up her steel toes and find something more stable. Knifewear sounded like the perfect fit for someone raised by foodies. Years of building came in handy for helping to make the Toronto store come together from the ground up. Having been a customer of Knifewear for a long time she was excited to have the chance to help others to find the knives she’s been enjoying for so long. An artist, dead head, Trekkie and foodie - you can always find Maddie diving head first into a new project or adventure.
A new chapter. A new day. After 20 years working as a Chef, Binh An decided it was time to hang up the chef jacket and the daily grind of kitchen life to enjoy a different pace of life. He has refocused himself to hobbies like gardening, curing, fermentation, and other culinary science experiments. Self professed sneaker freak and t-shirt addict. Come talk to him about sharp and shiny stuff or anything related to food. He will probably tell you to go check out some random restaurant or grocery store.
With 15 years of experience in the music industry and a few years working in the baking space, Twigg was eager to embark on a fresh venture. Driven by an unwavering commitment to quality over quantity, he discovered a new calling at Knifewear. When not immersed in the world of knives, you'll often find Twigg indulging his passions for watches, medium format cameras, Berserk, and savouring a glass of peanut punch.
To quote his IMDB page: Brian J Graham was born in England and grew up in Canada. He has built a successful acting career as a strong character actor And is now selling Japanese knives at Knifewear Toronto. People have described him as a chameleon. He is able to go from cop to bad guy, drug dealer to dad - and now to knife nerd effortlessly. Being born in England he has a great ear and ability for accents.
He has lived in Japan and around the world, and believes every one deserves a good sharp knife.
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!
Samii is our expert ceramic artist in the shop. Having spent years in the food industry while attending art school she is a lover of art, good food and beautiful knives! Fanatic of all things funky, flashy and perhaps a little gaudy. You're guaranteed to spot Samii in the shop rocking some flamboyant bright hair and fashion, and she's a big ol’ ray of sunshine and spunk in or out of the shop. You might see Samii out in the world at her art studio in Inglewood, hustling at markets being a badass local maker for her own brand Fox Den Studio or enjoying beers, punk rock and trivia in the city.
If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain, you’re not the type of person for Connor, because he hates both of those things. He’d rather replace those rainy days and slushy drinks with Dungeons and Dragons, metal and punk, and comically bad puns. Connor comes from an industry background, graduating from the culinary program at SAIT, and busting out plates at local joints before making his way to the knife life. There’s good reason that we all refer to him as Sunshine, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone with a shinier personality and positive mindset. With Connor, we’ve always got Sunshine on a cloudy day.
Meet Kat! A born and raised Calgarian who joined the Knifewear team after they escaped their life as a manager at a grocery store. They are a lover of flavourful body-builder food who wanted to explore the world of cool kitchen knives. They can often be found attending local shows and throwing themself into the mosh pit. If you ever need advice on which local shows to attend or how to make your recipe allergy friendly then Kat is your person!
Kyle joined us all the way from Manila, Philippines with a prolific background in coffee and photography. He found Knifewear when he used to work at the coffee shop down the street, coming in on his breaks to see cool knives was foreshadowing, and now he's a fellow knifenerd like all of us. His culinary endeavors involve mixing his traditional Filipino food with other cuisines. Catch him on his days off taking incredible photos, looking for hidden local coffee shops and killing a filipino cosplay of Jacob Black 24/7.
Joining us from Manchester, UK, by way of Vancouver, Matt was introduced to Knifewear during the pandemic when West Coast Knife Nerd Ryan hooked up the kitchen with free sharpening (rewarded with a super sexy grilled cheese, of course). Since then, Matt has put his 10 years of kitchens behind him to get a grip (geddit?) on some awesome knives! Rocking some colourful tattoos, be sure to ask Matt about mid-west Punk, Pork Belly, and Pizza.
Meet Jacob! While bouncing around national parks and the west coast of Canada, one thing remained constant for him, his love of Barbecue. If you see him, feel free to ask him anything smoking related, because he loves a good brisket. Hailing from Calgary, Jacob came back from his adventures to be closer to family, and to go to marketing school. His love of food and sharp things eventually landed him a job at the Inglewood location, where they needed someone to reach stuff off the top shelf. If you see him, you’ll be greeted with a smile and wave, and he’s happy to help you find something that fits you perfectly!
After a few years in the world of rock climbing, Max returned to civilization and found their way to Knifewear. An affinity for knives kindled by a lifelong obsession with swords and fantasy literature, you can find them riding their bike around the city, at a local game store playing dungeons and dragons, moshing in the crowd of a nearby punk show or escaping the city for a weekend in the wilderness. Max's newest frontier is a culinary one, looking for new food to try or new recipies to hone their fledgling cooking skills.
Sam spent a decade exploring the many provinces of this lovely country before returning to his hometown of Calgary because he liked the weather. After finishing photography school, Sam found himself enamoured by the organized chaos of kitchen life, where he spent many early mornings and late late nights. If you see him in the shop, ask him about his affinity for extremely reactive carbon steel knives, old bicycles, titanium cookware and whether or not a pop tart can be considered a dumpling.
Kris / Manager
A veteran of many great kitchens, Kris spent over a decade chained to stoves cranking out fine dining. After easing back into civil society by cheese mongering he found his way to Knifewear in the summer of 2014. Kris has a soft spot for 210mm Gyutos and an affinity for the amazing Aogami Super. He believes that no kitchen is complete without at least one Koishi.
After a decade of being chained to the stove, Adam enrolled in the Knifewear Chef Rehab Program, meaning he's almost a normal person! Our resident axe nerd and outdoor enthusiast, he's also a Kiritsuke connoisseur. Stop by with any axe questions or ask him about that time he won third best Donair in Edmonton!
Steve came to us from the world of bartending but has quickly realized that awesome Japanese knives are where it’s at. As someone who loves to cook at home, his approach to knives and how to use them is so helpful for everyone who is not a professional chef. He started off with a Masakage Koishi Bunka, and is now adding a Kurosaki Shizuku Gyuto to his collection. It’s safe to say that if Steve can use a sharp knife and not cut himself to pieces, anyone can do it.
We’re very proud to have Ai Yamamoto from Kawaguchi-Ko on the team in Edmonton! She left Japan to come to Vancouver in 2004 and has called Edmonton home since 2007. She says getting used to our harsh winters was the biggest challenge to overcome, but she loves it here because of all the friendly Canucks! She fell in love with all our awesome Japanese knives through working at restaurants, both back in Japan and here in Canada. Come see her to exchange recipes for Udon and to share photos of kitty cats!
Hailing from the community of Camrose, Cole came to the city on a cookery quest. Soon to be a graduate of the NAIT Culinary Arts program, he has a hunger for all food-related knowledge. He’s always talking about what he made for dinner last night and planning out his perfect knife kit. When not immersed in the food world you can find him wearing one of his large collection of hoodies, playing video games, and surrounded by his army of plastic robots. The kid is dripping rizz, no cap.
Originally from San Jose in the Golden State of California, Brandon came to Knife Life looking for a way out of the trades. His obsession with pocket knives led him down the obvious path when he started experimenting in the kitchen at home. He is always down to discuss the finer points of slow-cooked pork, carnitas in particular. He loves a good IPA. He has not however had his own burger restaurant despite what you might think when you see his moustache.
We rescued Francis from brunch service. Now that he's out of the professional kitchen he can better enjoy cooking at home and visiting all the best Korean joints in town. Be sure to ask him about the joys of gochujang or his homemade Chipotle bowls. I don't think anyone gets more excited for new knife day. Beware he'll convince you you need a Masashi Kokuen, and he isn't wrong.
Chris is a relocated Maritimer that can be found slinking in and out the back doors of Ottawa's restaurants, often with his daughter in tow. Chris has been a fixture in the Ottawa food scene for the past 10 years and has recently laid down his apron to learn the ways of Knifewear. Chris loves cooking big pieces of meat over a live fire and spends his summer feeding wood into his BBQ, Lemmy Smoke-mister.
Familiar story with this fella, a decade spent in the kitchen led him to Knifewear. Since joining the “Knifewear Restaurant Workers Rehabilitation ProgramTM” he’s back to enjoying actually cooking at home with his wife, who’s really the one in charge in the kitchen. With a fierce love of all things food, particularly pasta, he’s a natural fit with the rest of the crew at the Ottawa shop. Make sure to wave hello when you’re walking down Bank Street and he’s eating lunch on a bench in the sun.
Jessie is Knifewear Ottawa’s resident croc-wearing vegetarian. They’re passionate about cooking, gardening and community food security. Jessie has been working in hospitality and kitchens in both Ottawa and Toronto for over 12 years. In their spare time, you can catch them cycling around the city, drinking way too much coffee or having a picnic with friends in the park. Ask them about their favourite Keanu Reeves movie or tips on how to best take care of your house plants!
Colleen has spent the last 12 years cooking professionally, but has loved being in the kitchen since she was 4 (which is when she learned how to make the stellar pancakes she still whips up today). Colleen takes great pride in using all the odd scraps in the fridge to make something beautiful and damn tasty. Colleen spends most of her free time walking her cool rescue dog Wilma, devouring pastries, and counting down the days until she can skate on the canal.
Owen is another ex-chef among our ranks. he has been Chef-ing in Edmonton for around 12 years but gave it up to be a human being again! An avid music lover, he plays guitar, loves Radiohead, and has probably been to about 500 concerts. Oh, and he can most definitely beat you in a game of Street Fighter. come chat with him about football, and steel!
Francis started his Culinary journey under a decade ago. He was always bashed around the kitchen for having the dullest knives and was only good for one purpose, cutting cake. He knew at some point he had to give up his chef whites to see what it was like outside the culinary world. It was only recently that his love for knives began thanks to a certain knife loving cyclist. Now he's all about being sharp.
Hailing from Chiba (also home to Teruyasu Fujiwara) Ayumi moved to Vancouver for a holiday and never went back. When she was 18 she began a cooking career but eventually found her way out of the kitchen and behind the counter at Knifewear Vancouver. Aside from her love of Japanese blades, she's also into fermentation cooking, snowboarding, sewing, and being incredibly pleasant. If you're really nice to her, she may let you try some of her delicious home-brewed Sake!
Liam "Work Milk" Duplantis is named after one of the Gallagher Brothers and is a huge fan of dairy products in general. He also makes horseradish and kimchi and is generally a pretty pleasant person. He knows a lot about whisk(e)y and thinks knives are neat-o. He has read "The Silmarillion", but is kind enough to keep his mouth shut about it. Hi Liam!
Jordan Siu is a “Siurious” fan of food, cooking, knives, sharpening, and METAL! Not only has he got a badass set of pipes in that neck, he’s also a gigantic knife and sharpening stone nerd. Swing by and pick his brain about the practical uses of Autosol, and the somewhat more impractical uses of a mirror polished Higo knife. Also, grab some good headphones and check out his band “Inpathos” on almost any streaming service.
David used to be beer people, but now he’s knife people and loving every razor-sharp minute of it. His culinary goal is to cook like a mom or any matriarchal figure really. David is a simple man and thusly enjoys simple man activities: going for long walks, drinking good beer with good friends and watching The Mummy (the Brendan Fraser masterpiece, obviously). Come to the shop and talk with him about restaurants, music, life or even about your problems, he’s a good listener!
Regann Leavitt (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor, and literary critic. Leavitt is best known for their poetry and short stories, particularly their tales of mystery and the macabre. They are widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States, and of American literature.
Upon further inspection, this appears to be the wikipedia entry for famed American writer Edgar Allen Poe. Thanks Regann!
Mike was a chef for 15 years and and has been a knife aficionado for most of them. His love of Japanese knives began, coincidentally, when Knifewear began. Mike decided that it was time to get out from behind the stoves and hanging out at Knifewear wasn’t paying the bills so he hired himself. We rehabilitated him into a life of knives and shaving in 2012. He loves to talk about food and cooking as well as knives. Mike is the General Manager of all our shops.
Ellie is a Shopify expert and tinker with with all types of software solutions. She started selling knives in the store, but saw how things could run more efficiently, and made it so. Ellie is passionate about products (just ask anyone she knows about quality canned seafood) and does her homework on every single item she purchased for herself and the store. In her free time you can find her arguing about mop buckets and planting the seeds of queer femme joy wherever she goes.
Naoto came to Canada several years ago and we aren't letting him go back. After getting angry with his roommate's dull knives, he started to dream of sharp Japanese knives. Naoto graduated from University of Calgary with a bachelor degree of art, majoring International Relations and finds that selling Japanese knives is his own way of doing international relations. Naoto is our Head of Shipping and receiving. You can also see him in SpringHammer looking cool and holding it all together.
What can we say about Tiffany. One day she bought an axe from us, and then another one, and then she decided she wanted to work with sharp stuff all day long! Now she's crushing it running the warehouse, making sure that your packages get out in a timely manner. Tiffany has no problem getting her hands dirty out and about with axes, knives, and here in the shop sharpening. When you need insight on your next outdoor excursion, give Tiffany a call.
Nathan started at Knifewear in 2013, when he left the restaurant industry to slang knives. Nowadays, he handles our communications, social media, and YouTube channel. If you're reading words on this website or watching one of our videos, Nathan was involved. He spends his spare time growing food, cooking, fermenting food and booze, and enjoying the great outdoors.
Mason's job is to make Knifewear and Kent of Inglewood look cool. Which is an easier job than it looks (don't tell Kevin) since both are much cooler than Mason. He enjoys owning knives that make him feel like a much better cook than he actually is, and looking at razors that make him wish he shaved more than once every five years.
Brenda’s first passion in life is pizza. She also loves dinosaurs, Ninja Turtles, crocheting and cycling. She is wildly talented at customer service, and is the fastest in the West at quick draw telephone pick-up. She’s usually the one you talk to when you call the warehouse, she is amazing at solving a shipping problem, and sometimes she brings cookies to work which makes her team happy.
With a background as a professional photographer, Skye has done more than a few light tests with the shiniest knives she can find. Her big passions are food and photography, but ask her anything about cicadas, obscure church plays, or sharp things if you want her to seriously nerd out. Other interests include cozy video game nights in, wild day trips out, and cooking with obscene amounts of really good confit garlic olive oil.
Nolan was a chef with an extensive knife, spoon, and maybe every other kitchen utensil collection. As his collection grew, he became aware that the only path forward for him was to come to the source of his addiction! He’s brought his extensive collections and ample cooking knowledge to the warehouse where he truly shines as an ace customer service rep, shipper, receiver and bringer of treats.
On top of being awesome for advice on tools, cooking and camping, Nolan has amazing tattoos with great stories behind many of them– you should ask him about the greatest prank ever pulled sometime!
Tiago is an international man of mystery! He reveals himself to be funnier, more hardworking and a better problem solver every day. He keeps us on our toes in the warehouse and can move a pallet of charcoal with only his mind! (we think-- we haven't tested this). Tiago's favourite activities are waiting for the bus on super cold days and writing lists.
Quinn comes to us from the misty hills of Virginia. Drawn to bustling big city life by his musical career with CACTUS ORANGE, he found love and now can never leave. Working hard to provide for their cats, Quinn now spends his days in the ever challenging environs of the Knifewear Warehouse. He’s the fastest shipper in the West; delivering your orders with precision and passion.