Monday, November 8, 2010

Katana To Kitchen Knife: The Samurai Origins Of Japan's Unparalleled Cutlery

Japanese knives: cuts above the rest. Via.

The Japanese sword, or katana, was considered an inseparable accessory of the samurai warrior class. Today the sword is almost never used for its intended purpose, but the design and composition that made samurai’s katana so feared on the battlefield is now being used to give chefs extremely high quality knives in kitchens across the world.

Why the shift from katana to kitchen knife? According to the professionals at New York's Gohan Society, after World War II General MacArthur banned Japanese sword making, forcing the skilled artisans who had honed this craft for centuries to look towards the world of professional cooking for clientele. Japanese cuisine is often marked by clean flavors and preciosity. The sword makers sought to elevate their craft to help Japanese chefs achieve an extraordinary level in their cooking. Their work has paid off as Japanese knives and Japanese cuisine are highly regarded across the world.

On November 9, Japan Society partners with the Gohan Society to host Chef Says: Japanese Knives are the BEST, in which James Beard Award-winning chef and avid collector of Japanese knives, Michael Romano discusses his love for Japanese cutlery. Romano, from the multiple award-winning Union Square CafĂ© in New York City and Tokyo (check out his great essay "Diary of an American Chef in Tokyo"), advocates Japanese knives for their strength, durability and sharpness. He also talks about how Japanese cuisine has influenced his own cooking style and how that influence is currently reflected by his restaurant’s menu where there are a number of selections tailored for the Japanese palette.

The discussion at 6:30 pm, and concludes with a knife-sharpening demonstration and reception. Tickets are $12 for the general public and $8 for Japan Society members, seniors, and students.


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