Master Masashi Yamato at Knifewear Kelowna
When I first met Kevin Kent, Knifewear Kelowna owner and visionary it was by phone - to introduce him to The Field Guide. What ensued was an easily flowing and sparky TWO AND A HALF HOUR conversation on everything from Japanese knives, beard keeping, cookbooks and publications likeFOOL Magazine to Kevin Kossowan, Mad Symposium and his time in life in England as Fergus Henderson's Sous Chef, when I knew I found one of the national treasures of Canada's culinary world. Of course it's fitting that the japanese-knife-importing-chef-entrepreneur brought in a japanese treasure… Master Masashi Yamamoto for a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Kelowna and Okanagan cooks and foodies.
Last Friday, on September 6, Masashi san made his 3 hour appearance to hand engrave customer's knives at Knifewear Kelowna on his 3-knifewear (also Calgary and Edmonton stores) location tour. ***Understand, for the devout cook or knife nerd this is a lifetime event ( I did witness tears that afternoon). Kevin Kent has a collection of around 75 exceptional knives, a history of trips to Japan and he only possesses three of these sacredly inscribed tools.
I did a little research to learn about Masashi san and despite my understanding that he is a very young japanese master blacksmith I was surprised and delighted yet honoured and moved by the youthful glint in his eye and easy-going smile (by a japanese-speaking only mouth). That ease was not indifference but mastery. I saw how he loves each personally handmade knife that walked in (after years apart from the objects) with the Masashi Knife owning customers, and with each knife in the store's precious inventory. He knows the knives, like anyone knows "their own".
I hadn't yet purchased a Masashi Yamamoto knife, so I had the pleasure that day to choose one for myself… and also one for my beloved… who does not yet possess the knife or know of its blessing coming to his kitchen (so sshhh, keep it quiet). For myself and him I moved through the options. The factors to consider in this extraordinary knife purchase are 3-fold (or more):
- I have a "Chef Knife" sized blade of incredible quality in my collection.
- "My Beloved" does not have a "Chef Knife" of this quality in his kitchen yet.
- Masashi's knives as you will see are a near mirror finish, so a lot of blade shows off this design feature.
The decisions were clear, "mirror clear". I selected the 165mm Nakiri Knife for my collection, a traditional japanese knife style designed for vegetable chopping which I did not yet possess, to have hand engraved with my name by Masashi san. For "beloved", I chose a "western chef knife" style of knife 180mm in blade length. Both the knives are made with gorgeous traditional japanese handles fashioned from hand selected and carved japanese pagoda wood with a water buffalo cuff. Each of the blades has slightly different composition for it's use, for example the Nakiri is 62:64 and the "chef knife" is 60:62in hardness with an SLD core (for real knife nerds). Learn more by visiting Knifewear in Kelowna, Edmonton, Calgary or Ottawa. The notes that come inside the knifebox describe your knife as a Ferrari, to be taken care of with equal care you would to any precious tool/machinery. My particular knife, the veggie chopper, comes with an onion soup recipe… a joke and exercise from Kevin Kent, who knows the new owner will come to love their new Nakiri knife once they've chopped a few pounds of onions nice and fine (recipe attached in a photo below (Kevin said that actually the soups not that good :D!!). Many are the joys of a cook.
I share the rest of the story through this photo series below
By Tarynn Liv Parker
Leah, Knife Lover of the ages, and a young age :) Tears welled for her engraving of this pocket knife gifted by Masashi san to this Knifewear team member.
There they are, up on the guitar, Masashi Knives, Knifewear style
Mark Puttick, Manager of Knifewear Kelowna, an always friendly - and bearded face - helps a fellow knife nerd
Finally, the knife pad rolls out for me to handle the Masashi knives
My chosen Nakiri knife by Masashi, being engraved by Master Masashi… Whaaaat???!!!
And the knife I am gifting, the 180mm blade, gets its ultra special Kanji mark - combined our two name's characters in the japanese language are: Shiny Relationship, Sail Keep, I say, it sounds good!
Here he is! Master Masashi Yamoto, Japanese Master Blacksmith and knifemaker… and the knives. And a euphoric me.
And here he is… Kevin Kent! He who brings it all to us.
The final triptych portrait of Kevin Kent, Master Masashi Yamamoto, and Japanese negociant Keisuke Kazama