When I was 25 and in culinary school, I was gifted the most beautiful damascus Kikuichi knife. At the time I was attending school in the evenings and working unpaid for a food start up accelerator during the day. I worked for the accelerator for four months before I decided that my teachings from school would be better honed if I started working in a kitchen. The Kikuichi knife was my prized parting gift, their token of thanks for my time with them.
For a while, I would only look at it as it sat in its box. At $350 a pop, that knife was the most expensive tool in my kitchen and I was afraid of using it. I had just learned the basics of knife sharpening and was intimidated by its Japanese blade. Finally after working at a two Michelin star restaurant for several months, I decided it was time and I started using it. I eventually became accustomed to my knife but still treated it delicately. No one else could use it. No one else could clean it. It was my special chef’s knife.
Flash forward a few years. I quit my job at the restaurant and started working as a private chef, food writer and culinary consultant. While checking my favorite industry Facebook group, Toklas Society for Women in Food & Hospitality, I came across a post about a new kind of chef’s knife.
Their rep described it as “a beautiful, incredible chef’s knife for an honest price.” I was intrigued. A chef’s knife priced at $65? I was expecting something a notch above Ikea quality.
When we met a week later and she showed me the knife, I was impressed. It had a good weight and balance. Seemed pretty comfortable. Ok, I thought, it’s worth a try. If anything, it’s always good to have an extra “work horse” knife in the kitchen. For $65, why not?
A few weeks later my knife arrived in the mail. At first I’d take turns, using my Kikuichi and then Misen. Just like shoes, knives can take a little while to break in and get used to. But soon I found myself instinctively reaching for the Misen. It had a better weight than my Kikuichi and held its edge longer. Note that I hate sharpening knives and so the longer I can go without doing it the better. My Kikiuchi would irritate my finger if I used it for prolonged periods of time. With my Misen I felt as though I could chop forever.
Today my Kikiuchi snugly sits in my knife block and only sees sunlight if I have a friend come over to cook. My Misen barely makes it back in, as it’s usually atop my cutting board. As my friends begin to get married and set up their homes, it’s the number one tool I recommend for their kitchen. Because even if they can afford to splurge on a $300+ knife, why bother? I tell them to save it for a nice blender or stand mixer. The Misen chef’s knife (and pairing and bread knife) is all they will need. Because at the end of the day, you want your kitchen and its components to reflect you. And with its lack of fuss and pretense, its user-friendlyness and reliability, the Misen knife is 100% me.