Hey Calgary – Monday, Oct. 20th is your chance to catch #Springhammer – a documentary about the art of Japanese knives by our friends @knifewear and @kevinkossowan – Art Installation #8 (also cool thing #26)

Congratulations to my friend Kevin Kent and all the staff at Knifewear on the release of Springhammer – a documentary about eight Japanese blacksmiths and their dedication to the art of creating handcrafted culinary knives. Here’s the trailer.

If you’re in Calgary and want to see this beautiful film by Edmonton’s Kevin Kossowan here’s what you’ll need to know as follows (from the Knifewear press release):

The Calgary debut of the film will take place on Monday, Oct. 20 at 7 pm at the Plaza Theatre (1133 Kensington Rd. N.W., Calgary.) Tickets are $10 apiece – in advance at Knifewear in Inglewood or at the door as long as they last.

Read on for more info about the documentary and a little bit about my own experience with these knives…

Knifewear owner Kevin Kent teaching my Calgary Food Tours' guests a few knife skills - photo - Karen Anderson
Knifewear owner Kevin Kent teaching my Calgary Food Tours’ guests a few knife skills – photo – Karen Anderson

More info from Knifewear’s press release about the October 20th event…

At the Plaza Theatre screening – Top Chef Canada finalist and Charcut chef Connie Desousa will moderate a Q and A with Kevin Kossowan, Kevin Kent and Naoto Fujimoto after the show. There will also be a pop-up Knifewear shop, featuring specially priced knives from featured blacksmiths.

A second screening, our special “chefs’ screening,” will take place on Oct. 20 at 11:30 pm, also at the Plaza. Tickets are $5 apiece. (No, you don’t have to be a chef to attend.)

Edmonton’s Kevin Kossowan has written, filmed, directed, edited and scored the film, which follows the current state of blacksmithing in Japan. Springhammer explores both “the making of knives, and where blacksmithing has ended up (and is headed), having started from a culture around samurai swords and agricultural tools,” says Kevin Kossowan.

Kossowan interviewed and filmed eight blacksmiths at work, as well as Master Knife Sharpener Shibata San from Masakage. The film had its premiere at the Edmonton International Film Festival and will be screened in Kelowna, B.C. on Nov. 20, and in Ottawa, Ontario in early December.

My Japanese knives are amongst my favourite things in my kitchen - photo credit - Geoff Lilge
My Japanese knives are amongst my favourite things in my kitchen – photo credit – Geoff Lilge

I love my Japanese knife collection. I own three the three you see in the photo above. It took many visits at Knifewear for me to make my purchases. Japanese knives represent many hours of labour and are not inexpensive. I had to play with them and see which felt right for my hand. If you’ve never tried a hand-forged Japanese knife you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. There’s a few reasons why they are superior to North American and European knives.

Japanese knives are made of harder steel. It is carbon steel or Aogami Super Steel sometimes. These steel types stay sharper longer and therefore hold an edge longer. Japanese knives are thinner and lighter. Japanese knives are artful. Japanese blacksmith families have for generations been Samurai sword-makers and knife-makers.

If you look at the photo of my knives, the long one you see is a 270mm Sujihiki (slicer). It is my carving knife and it’s made of Aogami Super Steel which allows it to be both delicate and highly resilient. It was hand forged by the great Takeda san.

The middle knife is my day-in, day-out, 210mm gyuto (chef’s knife) from Masakage Knives handmade by Kato san and designed by Kevin Kent, the owner of Knifewear. I love it that he designed his line of knives at a very affordable price point.

The 75mm petty (paring) knife made by Asai san is my favourite.

My friend Rob Stillborn, a former chef and employee at Knifewear, has this knife in his collection (see below) and it’s his favourite too. Rob put me onto it and I’ll be forever grateful. Thanks Robbie! The most important thing I’ve learned from Kent is that a well-designed and hand forged knife makes a cook’s job unbelievably easier and more joyful.

Chef Rob Stillborn's knife collection - photo - Rob Stillborn
Chef Rob Stillborn’s knife collection – photo – Rob Stillborn

I’ve had a lot of fun working with and visiting the staff at Knifewear in Calgary and Kelowna since they opened. Here’s a photo gallery that I hope shows how they help me savour it all. Cheers to them on this great occasion where they get the chance to tell the world how great Japanese knives are.

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