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eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Chad

  1. Thanks for the good thoughts and wishes. I really appreciate it. Another fun knife day. I recieved a package from JapaneseChefsKnife.com. I placed my order on Friday 3/31 and my knives were delivered Tuesday 4/4 -- from Japan. For $7.00. That's freaking amazing. I'm gathering knives to test drive for the book. In with today's shipment was a 210mm Tojiro DP series gyuto. What a jewel! The Tojiros are often described as "entry level" western style Japanese knives, but this thing is great. The fit and finish are excellent, the edge is screaming sharp out of the box and it's got really nice grind lines. Pricetag? $49.50. Granted, it's warikomi construction with a high carbon Swedish mystery steel core clad with softer stainless steel rather than being a solid carbon or stainless blade, but so what? The Tojiro actually looks and feels better than the nearly $200 Misono UX-10 I picked up a couple of days ago. The balance is a little off for me, with the balance point being right at the bolster rather than at the heel where I pinch grip, but I also prefer blade-heavy 270mm and 300mm knives anyway. Other than that, I may have a new winner in the "bang for the buck" category. Sorry, got carried away. There's your knife tip o' the day. Take care, Chad
  2. I'm thrilled to be able to answer questions on the Q&A. Ask away. As for my agent finding me on eGullet -- I can't believe more agents haven't been combing the eGCI for talent to develop. It is a veritable goldmine. I'm very fortunate to have been able to connect with someone who enjoyed and understood what I was going for and helped guide me in creating a proposal that major publishers were interested in. But the truth of the matter is that there is a wealth of talent here at eGullet. I have a knife skills section in the book, however I'm going to have to work damn hard to come close to Marsha's Basic Knife Skills class. If you haven't read it, you should. She's a pro. This is not some eGCI instructor love-in. I've invested a lot of time and effort in developing my knife skills. I've seen just about every book, VHS, DVD and website out there -- and paid good money for a variety of mediocre knife skills classes. Skip 'em. Go straight to hers (and then practice what you learn) and you'll be a lot better off. Take care, Chad
  3. Yup, my house . I haven't found anybody in town I'd trust with my knives, but I also haven't looked very hard. Finding someone to sharpen your knives is like finding the right person to cut your hair. You can go through several expensive mistakes before finding the right person. On a related note -- if you (this applies to anyone, really) are looking for a good sharpener, ask your hair stylist. Shears are even fussier than kitchen knives. Good ones run in the $800-$1000 range. A high end salon will have somebody who comes in to do their shears and you can be reasonably sure that person is an expert sharpener. Stylists make their living with their shears, and they will NOT put up with sloppy sharpening. If that person also does kitchen knives, you may have just found your new sharpener. I have a couple of folks that I recommend if you're willing to send your knives out. Bob Kramer at Bladesmiths Inc. is nearly a legend. People wait for years for one of his kitchen knives. Why he still does sharpening is an absolute mystery to me, but he does. And he's inexpensive, too. I don't get it, but I'd trust my knives to him without reservation. My real go-to guy is an eGullet member. Dave Martell at D&R Sharpening Solutions in Philadelphia is a true master of the craft. In fact, he has one of my problem children at the moment, an expensive usuba that develops a pernicious wire edge that crumbles when it hits the cutting board. Very frustrating. I've completely reworked the edge twice now without solving the problem. I sent it to Dave to diagnose what's going on. Take care, Chad
  4. Thanks, Brooks! Now to rehearse: 'Tis but a scratch. I've had worse. Chad
  5. Thanks for the congratulations and kind words. I really appreciate it. This is going to be a hell of a lot of fun. I was out hunting Chinese cleavers today. Three asian markets and four restaurant supply places later and I still don't have what I'm looking for -- the elusive ChanChiKee cleaver from Hong Kong. Knife nuts love them. They're cheap, ugly as hell and cut like crazy. For about $30 bucks (and if you don't mind crappy fit & finish) these things are some of the best kitchen knives around -- serious ass-kicking performance. Ah well, the search continues. I'm particularly interested in the ChanChiKee 1101 (No. 1 Kitchen Slicer) thin veggie cleaver if anybody's got one lying around. That's kind of how things are going these days. I spend a lot of time on research, some time testing performance of various knives and basically trying to figure out how I feel about different knives and knife styles. I'm also lining up my interviews for the anecdotes/chef's quotes portions of the book, which is a lot of fun. The look on my wife's face was priceless yesterday when she handed me the phone and said, "Chef Morimoto's office wants to speak with you." I had trouble not giggling maniacally when I took the phone. Things get really surreal when I talk to the marketing folks -- they're talking Discovery Channel/PBS mini-series on the history of culinary knives, marketing deals with knife makers and all sorts of stuff that's really fun to think about but so hard to even imagine that I don't even bother trying. I did realize, however, that I'd need some sort of catch phrase. Emeril has "Bam!" Mine would probably be "Ow!" or "Medic!" Maybe I could get some sort of cooperative crossover going with the NexCare Sport Bandage folks. Those are my favorite bandaids. They're flexfoam and really bend with your fingers without working loose, stick well even when wet and are generally extremely comfortable. Anyway, thanks again for the kind words. I really appreciate it. As the euphoria of getting the book deal fades into the abject terror of actually having to produce this monster, good thoughts from friends mean more than ever. Take care, Chad
  6. Okay folks, the contracts have been signed and the checks have cleared -- I can now take a deep breath and crow a little bit. My book, "An Edge in the Kitchen" will be published by the William Morrow division of HarperCollins next fall -- 'bout Thanksgiving 2007. This will be the ultimate guide (I hope) to kitchen knives -- how to choose them, how to use them like a pro (better than most pros, actually), how to maintain them and some insight into the history and anthropology of kitchen knives. In many ways this is all thanks to eGullet. My agent found me after reading the eGCI Knife Maintenance Tutorial. I realize that I haven't been around much lately. I've been swamped working on the proposal, negotiations, etc. I do hope that some of y'all have benefited from the tutorial, though. This should be a really cool book. I've already got commitments from some heavy duty chefs for insightful/funny/bizarre knife stories. I've got a sharpening and maintenance section (the techniques will come as no surprise to you if you've read the eGullet Knife Sharpening & Maintenance Tutorial) that will blow every other knife book out of the water, and knife skills sections that are shaping up to be a lot of fun. I don't have firm commitments yet, but I'm working on Masaharu Morimoto and Murray Carter for asian knives, Martin Yan on cleaver technique, Eric Ripert for fish and seafood techniques, Sara Moulton for Julia Child info and quick'n'easy shortcuts, Russ Parsons (LA Times) and Michael Ruhlman ("The Making of a Chef") for literary insight and my own local master meat cutter for a week in a high-end butcher shop breaking down sides & primals into home cuts. I'm also working on getting Marcus Samuelson, Daniel Boulud, Tony Bourdain and several others for additional quotes & stories. I've lined up paleontologists, culinary anthropologists, metallurgists, physicists, chefs and bladesmiths who will help make sure I don't screw up too badly. All in all, this should be a hell of a book. All I've got to do is write it. Keep your fingers crossed. Anyway, I thought you guys would appreciate what I'm trying to do. Finally, the obsessive/compulsive knife nuts get a shot at the bigtime. Woohoo! Wish me luck, Chad edit: sleep deprivation
  7. I believe DerekW hit the nail on the head. Your knives were hand sharpened to a thinner than factory edge. They should cut like crazy. The core of the Shun knives is VG-10, one of my favorite kitchen steels. I like it because even at high polish levels it has a toothy feel when you're slicing. I'd suspect that the factory edge is finished on some sort of buffing wheel to give it more store appeal. Or the polished edge might just be the result of the final buff & polish that the knives get before being boxed up. Either way, I don't think the polished edge you had on the original set was due to a higher level of sharpening. I suspect it was mainly asthetic. So the slightly coarser looking edge should not only be fine but will probably outcut the standard factory edge. This is all just speculation on my part -- there's no way to tell for sure without handling the knives and feeling the edge -- but I'm pretty confident that this is the case. The level of polish on the bevel is dependent on the fineness of the final abrasive you use to sharpen the knives. A coarser abrasive will leave a coarser scratch pattern. A finer abrasive will leave a finer scratch pattern. If you do indeed use the Spyderco Sharpmaker, the preset 15 degree angle will be just about perfect, I believe. You'll need to use the Magic Marker Trick to be sure. The gray stones will re-establish the edge if you need to and the white stones will put a nicely polished finish on the edge. Hope this helps. Chad
  8. I'm not sure about the geography, but Dave Martell at D&R Sharpening is a true master of the craft. He's mobile and caters primarily to professional chefs and hair stylists, but you might give him a call to see if he can fix you up. Don't forget that eGullet has a pretty good Knife Maintenance & Sharpening tutorial. It's worth looking into. But if you'd prefer not to do it yourself, I can definitely recommend D&R. Take care, Chad
  9. Full article here: Is Whole Foods Wholesome: The dark secrets of the organic-food movement from Slate. In truth, though, the article is more an indictment of "organic" foods and their marketing than it is about Whole Foods. All in all, I find the author's arguments weak. What do you think? Chad
  10. Yup, it happens. The coarser stones will dish a lot faster than the finer ones. You probably don't need a new stone, though. I only replace mine when they become really, really thin. Did your EdgePro come with a small bag of sand? I've heard that the new kits don't anymore. I'll have to check my notes to see if it is a particular kind of sand. I don't recall at the moment. The idea, though, is to put a small pile of sand on a flat surface (a garage floor, for example) and, applying even pressure on the stone, rub in circles to flatten out the stone. The sand will pulverize and leave a powdery coat on the bottom of the stone. The distribution of the powder shows you where you still have low spots. The low spots will be darker than the flat areas. I just grind until the surface is uniformly coated. That should flatten out your stone and get it back into shape. I did this to my coarse & medium coarse stones a couple of times before they needed to be replaced. And, heck, replacement stones are only $14. If you do order new stones, be sure to get either the 8" travel ceramic "steel" or the 10" home model if you don't already have one. They're 1200 grit and are better than just about anything else for keeping edges aligned and honed between sharpening. Take care, Chad
  11. Chad

    Caul Fat

    From Michael Ruhlman's "Charcuterie" "Caul fat, the veil-like connective membrane that lines the stomach and other viscera of sheep and pigs, called the omentum, can also be used as a kind of casing. Essentially a layer of collagen and fat that melts away during cooking, caul fat is an extraordinarily useful kitchen tool...." Looks like Niman Ranch carries caul fat. Take care, Chad
  12. Quick question for you sausage makers: I'm doing the basic garlic sausage but I don't plan to stuff it into casings. I'd like to use it loose. If I'm not stuffing, do I still do the "primary bind" paddle mixing step? By the way, the basic garlic sausage has mutated into Chad's X-Treme Garlic Pepper Sausage. It was a mistake, but a darn tasty one. I'll fill you in shortly. In the meantime, mix or no mix? Thanks! Chad
  13. Rascal, despite having several timer/thermometers (whose probes seem to keep dying), I haven't found one that has a 10 minute button, though I agree that having to press 'n' hold for anything less than an hour is a PITA. Be that as it may, welcome to eGullet, if no one has mentioned it so far. And that is a very nice scroll you're sporting in your avatar. If I had to guess, I'd say an early teens to mid 1920s F4. And if I were really to go out on a limb, I might guess it's from a mandola. Am I close? Take care, Chad
  14. Ray, welcome to eGullet. The EdgePro may seem like another overly complicated kitchen gadget, but in this case it does do something that freehanding alone can't -- give you a consistent, repeatable angle without years of practice. I'm one of the first to deplore gadgetitis -- the unnecessary accumulation of stuff that is supposed to make life easier in the kitchen by replacing skill with pseudo-technology. And nowhere is gadgetitis more rampant than in the multitude of knife sharpneners available. There's an old saying among kitchen gadget salesmen: if it doesn't sell, call it a knife sharpener and you won't be able to keep 'em in stock. Everyone is looking for that silver bullet. Well, me too. I've spent the last several years researching this stuff. I have every knife sharpening tool and gadget on the market and each has been used, abused and thoroughly tested. I also have hand-hewn Japanese waterstones that I use when I have the free time and a need to meditatively sharpen my knives. The art of freehand sharpening is dying. And even when it was prevalent, there were very few people who were really adept at it. It was just all we had at the time. And as much respect as I have for Jacques Pepin (and I have everything he has ever written), his knife sharpening advice is just plain wrong. It is outdated, outmoded and even when it was current was only applicable to a select few people who had truly mastered the art of sharpening. And, no, most chefs of the day hadn't. Their knives were as dull as those in most professional kitchens today. Because of that sad state of affairs, most amateur cooks are intimidated by their knives. They are afraid of them when they are sharp and annoyed with them when they're dull. They're more comfortable with dull because freehand sharpening is held up as some sort of black art. Cooking schools, gourmet magazines and Food Network shows all parrot the same garbage -- sharpening knives is too hard and home cooks should send their knives out to "professionals" to be sharpened once a year. That is why I wrote the Knife Sharpening & Maintenance tutorial for eGullet -- to clear up some of the misconceptions and give folks a solid understanding of what happens when you sharpen knives. It's not perfect, but its a start. In the meantime, the EdgePro gives even a novice sharpener a fighting chance at achieving a good edge -- better than most "professional" knife sharpeners deliver -- with a moderate investment and some practice. Is it perfect? No. But its better than anything else out there. And for 99% of the population, better and much easier than freehand. Take care, Chad
  15. The one thing that I like about the smooth steel (I have both a smooth steel and an ultrafine grit ceramic) is that you can use the smooth steel without worrying that you might screw something up. So it's nice for when you just want to give the knife a few casual passes on the steel without thinking about it too much. ← You make a good point, Sam. There are times when I use my smooth steel for about the same reason. I revert to the smooth steel when the ceramic isn't doing the trick. It seems that the smooth steel is a little more forgiving, so if I'm in a hurry (which in my case translates to an inconsistent angle, inconsistent pressure or just sloppy technique) the smooth steel works better. When I can take a little more time and focus a little better, the ceramic leaves a longer lasting touch-up edge. Take care, Chad
  16. Chad

    Cutting Boards

    I'm with Janet on this one. I have one of the Epicurean boards. I don't use it much because it does tend to slide around a bit, even with a damp paper towel under it. But I certainly haven't noticed any dulling or rolling of my knife edges from using it, and I'm pretty particular about my knives. As hard as Richlite may be, I don't believe it's anywhere near 55-56 on the Rockwell C scale, which is about where the average kitchen knife scores. With that said, I still prefer my big end grain block from Michigan Maple, one of the best bargains out there. Take care, Chad
  17. See Not Just for Lattes Anymore for the rest of the story. Dunno if they can pull this off, but a breakfast sandwich with "eggs Florentine, baby spinach and havarti," and "herbed sausage and egg with aged sharp cheddar" sound pretty darn tasty to me. The real trick, it seems, is to be able to offer breakfast without increasing the wait times. The sandwiches are delivered each morning and reheated in a small oven, which takes about three minutes. If the breakfast sandwiches are good, they may just succeed in driving the Egg McMuffin crowd upscale. It does occur to me, however, that now that Starbucks is selling sandwiches they might start eying the Starwich name a little more closely. Whatcha think? Chad
  18. Yup, if the edge has rolled far enough it can indeed feel like a burr. Slight rolling is a little trickier to detect, but the effect is exactly the same. I'm eager to hear your results. I suspect that after hard use your edge had just rolled a little and is now back in shape, especially if you used the Paper Airplane Trick to keep your angle steady. In order of preference -- ceramic steel, smooth steel, and a very distant third the grooved steel that comes with most knife blocks. If you have a ceramic steel, by all means use it. My reasoning is open to debate, but here's how I see it: when an edge rolls, the metal can become weak from flexing, being too thin or being weakened by the general hard use that caused it to roll in the first place. This is absolutely natural. Knife edges are designed to concentrate tremendous force into a very narrow area. That's why they work. A ceramic steel, by nature of its very fine abrasive, will remove the weakest bits of metal while realigning the edge. This is really a very mild sharpening pass, creating what is in effect a fresh micro-edge. A smooth steel will push the edge back into shape without removing the weak spots, resulting in a sharp, albeit slightly weaker edge. A grooved steel, unless used with an extremely light touch, is significantly more aggressive than either of the other types of steel. It will chip off the weaker metal and jam the rest of the edge back into a semblance of alignment -- resulting in what is essentially a serrated edge. I'm exaggerating a bit for effect, but not by much. So if you have a fine grit ceramic steel use it. If you have a glass smooth steel from Hand America, use it -- just be aware that your edge may be slightly weaker and require a little fussier maintenance schedule. If you have a grooved steel that came with your knife block . . . well, if you have the means to obtain either of the other two, give it to your neighbor or brother-in-law. If not, use it very, very lightly, paying strict attention to maintaining a consistent angle and smooth draw stroke. In the meantime, I'm in contact with an engineering/metallurgy professor who has studied these sorts of things under a scanning electron microscope. I'm hoping he can either confirm my theories or provide another avenue of exploration to follow. Given my own testing (sans microscope, of course), I'm pretty confident. Take care, Chad
  19. The Hattori HD (actually made by Ryusen) is the current favorite in my rack. The VG10 steel has a toothy edge that makes it a real performer in the kitchen. I like it a lot. And if you buy from a place like JapaneseChefsKnife.com, they're reasonably priced. As for your knife not holding its edge, it could just be that the edge is rolled. A freshly sharpened edge will last a lot longer than a week -- unless, of course, you have a wire edge that wasn't properly removed during sharpening. That will actually crumble in very short order. Anyway, many times you still have a sharp edge, it just isn't pointing straight down. That's where your steel comes into play. Use the steeling technique in the tutorial and see if that doesn't realign your edge. Take care, Chad
  20. Glad you like it! The EdgePro is a pretty nifty piece of hardware. It still takes some practice, but as you've discovered, it is possible to get your knives significantly sharper than the factory edge with just a little effort. It doesn't hurt that Ben Dale, the inventor of the EdgePro is a good guy -- very easy to deal with and willing to answer any questions you might have. Take care, Chad
  21. Bwahahaha! This sort of writing is exactly why I've been such a fan of Fire&Knives. Welcome to eGullet, Tim. Chad
  22. By the way, welcome to eGullet! We're glad you found us. Chad
  23. Add me to the Magnum evangelist list. I've had the regular for several years now and it is amazing. I have no idea what I'd do with the large. I really like being able to adjust the coarseness of the grind, though the Magnum really doesn't get down to a superfine grind, which is okay because I've never needed to. And the grind screw does work itself loose, so I've gotten in the habit of snugging it up a little every time I use the grinder. I have no doubt, though, that this thing would happily grind my Christmas tree into compost with just a few twists of the wrist if I could figure out how to get it in there. Chad
  24. Very nice report from MSNBC's Jon Bonne: Iron Chef America Trades Spectacle for Serious Cooking Looks like Iron Chef America has hit its stride. I know I've enjoyed some of the newer shows. Chad
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