Mont Blanc Dessert + Kikusumi Chef Knife Black Ceramic Knife Collection

Kikusumi Knives + Autumn Dessert Festival

Mont Blanc Dessert + Kikusumi Chef Knife

One of the all-time great desserts of Autumn is the Mont Blanc.  Chestnuts – or Marron in French – can be sourced from 7 growing areas across the world.  The chestnut are unique in the food world for they grow within a prickly armor which makes it difficult to access their sweet nut meat.  Beyond the shell they also have a tannic “fuzz” that must be cooked and scraped away before one can begin to create a dessert or other culinary treasure.  Dried they can be ground to a powder and used in pastry or pasta dough.  The whole chestnut can be roasted or confit slowly in a sugar-water base until they become candied.  The difficult preparations are more than rewarded with one of the great taste and texture delicacies one will find.  The Mont Blanc uses chestnuts in an impressive number of ways then combines them together in a layered cake that often resembles a mountain.  Chestnut paste, chestnut cream and chestnut confit are present in the Mont Blanc dessert pictured here.

Autumn Apple Tart + Kikusumi Santoku Knife Black Ceramic Knife Collection

Autumn Apple Tart + Kikusumi Santoku Knife Black Ceramic Knife Collection

Apples are perhaps the most representative fruit of Autumn.  Yellow, red, green and all variations in between appear in farmer’s markets beginning late September.  There are an incredible variety of apples although you may not know that if only shopping in a supermarket.  More and more, farmers are stepping beyond the usual varietals and offering ancient heirloom and new hybrid types that generally taste better.  For cooking apples, crisp and tart are the two characteristics to look for as they hold their shape and taste better after cooking.  Granny Smith, Sun Fuji and Orange Cox Pippin are but a few of the better cooking apples.  Pictured is a Sun Fuji apple poached slowly in spices that sits above and almond cream tart along with chocolate rolled to resemble an apple stem.  The taste of autumn is released with each bite.

Citrus Cream Tart + Kikusumi Paring Knife Black Ceramic Knife Collection

Citrus Cream Tart + Kikusumi Paring Knife Black Ceramic Knife Collection

Late Autumn begins the citrus season in the Northern Hemisphere.  Citrus offers a ready-made textural delight of sweet & juicy segments.  Something this good on its own only needs a simple preparation to highlight its strengths.  Here a vanilla custard baked into a flaky feuillantine dough gives the juicy citrus just the right counterpoint of richness.  The delicate pastry that crumbles with each bite is a beautiful paring for the the creamy custard and juicy orange segments.

Celebrate fall with these tasty Autumn desserts!

 

BLACK CERAMIC COLLECTION

3 KNIFE SET 

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BREAD KNIFE 

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DIAMOND KNIFE SHARPENER

DIAMOND KNIFE SHARPENER  Coming 2017

15 Recipes Inspired by Cooking Across Japan

15 Recipes Inspired by Cooking Across Japan by Del Cook

15 RECIPES: Inspired by Cooking Across Japan

15 Recipes Inspired by Cooking Across Japan is an introduction to the forthcoming series of books by Del Cook. The book offers multiple recipes covering several cooking methods that gives a glimpse into an approach to cooking that elevates both flavors and textures while at the same time reduces fat and calories.  Cooking for 25 years in top tier kitchens across the globe including 14 in Japan has given him great insight into the best ways to learn to cook well.   The basic principal visible throughout the series is that it is better to learn one skill and practice it over and over than to attempt a variety of new skills all at once.  It is for this reason that the each book in the series will focus on one specific cooking method and teach variations of it throughout the book.  In this way the cook will master the method and can then apply that skill expertly to the ingredients they have available locally.   In essence it mirrors the way top kitchens operate but applies in ways that are practical for the busy home cook.
A secondary benefit of this method is that it encourages the cook to adapt the skill to their environment and season.  Contrast this to many books that offer a snapshot of a time and place that probably doesn’t apply to most buyers of the book.  Rather than insist on using hard to find ingredients that make recipes difficult to challenging to replicate, our series will encourage the cook to learn a technique well and apply it to ingredients of their choosing.  It is a highly workable method that encourages engagement and ultimately will allow the cook to express their creative passions through cooking.
In the 15 Recipes cookbook recipes for home dining like steamed Rice, Soups, Stews, Burgers, Salads and Dessert are introduced.  The planned series will cover an even broader range of cooking methods to be released over the coming years.  We think offering these books by single cooking method help the cook focus on improving specific cooking skills in a manageable way just as a professional cook would do.  The best part will be the delicious food that will add daily pleasures and the satisfaction that comes with leading a healthy lifestyle.
To highlight what to expect let’s take soup as an example.  The book will begin with an introduction to the importance of how and where you should source ingredients, good storage practices and important equipment that will be used in the book.  Next, the book will detail the method of cooking great soups, laying out each step logically with a series of photos and.  This will be the blueprint for each book to be referred back to in all of the recipes.  In the case of soup there will be 3 basic methods to learn: clear soups like consommé , chunky soups like minestrone and smooth or pureé soups.  Naturally the cook can choose a method to learn and then follow the links to the recipe they want to do.  The reverse will also hold true and in this way take advantage of the e-book technology to make the book more flexible to the reader’s choices.  That will form the front section of the book and be the reference point of all recipes.
The bulk of the book will be a series of recipes divided by season to encourage the cook to choose ingredients that are at their peak.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Del Cook has been a prominent figure on the global food scene since Kikusumi Founder Del Cook Portraitbecoming a chef in 1993.  He has extensive experience working in both urban and rural cooking environments across the world from Montreal to HongKong and Tokyo.   In 2002 he embarked on an eleven year project in rural Japan near Kyoto where his reputation for championing local farmers and artisans grew.  The Nosé Project was based around a French restaurant perched on a mountainside full of chestnut, persimmon and fig trees.  Gourmands from all across Japan were drawn to the terroir focused food served in one of a kind pottery.  Del was regularly featured in magazines and television shows across the country in recognition for both the unique qualities of his food and leadership in promoting local farmers and craftsman.  The restaurant’s use of produce from village farmers and artisans like the Tajima beef farmer, old-growth chestnut & shitake grower and stone-clay potter contributed positively to the growth of the local farmer’s market by drawing national attention to the quality of their work.

Since arriving in Japan Del has spent time in the very best kitchens working alongside Japanese chefs just as he worked together with French chefs in Montreal & Toronto.  Through this process he has developed an extensive understanding of both the technical skills and kitchen tools needed to craft high quality food from both a Western and Japanese perspective.  By the late 2000’s, Del began writing about his food experiences in detail.  Seeking a broader understanding of the ways to cook food that is both highly flavorful and healthy he embarked on a lengthy study of the history of cooking across the globe.  The cumulation of this research along with extensive conversations with Japanese and French chefs and craftsmen lead Del to sketch out a series of kitchen knives and tools that would combine the artisan craftsmanship of the past with newly emerging technologies for the future.

MASTERING COOKING SERIES

Kikusumi Press Cookbooks Catalogue Del Cook Applewasabi15 Recipes is an introduction to a forthcoming series of books called Mastering Cooking by Del Cook.  One can think of it as an appetizer that precedes the main course yet to come.

Each book in the Mastering Cooking series will be centered on a single cooking method or ingredient.  The books begin with a discussion of how to source and shop for the best ingredients.  Next the central skill or technique to be utilized throughout the book is laid on in great detail with photos and videos employed to amplify the reader’s learning.  Following the learning of techniques are a defining set of recipes organized in 4 sections by season.  Learning in this way the reader will be able to master a single set of skills and then apply them to ingredients found in their community.  Regardless of the change of season or geographic location – the techniques can be applied successfully by every level of cook.

The Mastering Cooking series represents a departure from the standard “mixed bag” approach to cookbooks.  We feel it better reflects the focused way of learning that the most accomplished cooks across the world utilized in mastering their craft.  The ultimate reward for the reader will be an enhanced ability to cook better, healthier and faster with confidence

The Mastering Cooking series will be published by Kikusumi Press, a Tokyo-base publisher specializing in culinary arts and craft.

 

Kikusumi Black Ceramic 8" Bread Knife + Artisan Baguette

What the Evolution of Knife Design Means Today

L

ooking back in time is a great way to gain perspective on the evolution of knife design and reconsider how best to approach it going forward.  The primary focus of this essay will be on the kitchen knife although a general overview of the history of all knife types will be included.  The purpose is simply to provide some insight on how we arrived at contemporary knife design and what aspects are most important to focus on going forward.  Let’s begin with a trip back in time.

PURPOSE OF KNIVES

To our best knowledge knives were first used as tools 2.5 million years ago.  Archaeological finds point to the Oldowan as the oldest-known stone tool industry.  First discovered at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, Oldowan artifacts have now been recovered from multiple locations across Africa.  The oldest type of tool was known as a Chopper and was composed of stone cores that had flakes removed from part of the surface in order to create a sharp edge.  These choppers were thought to be used for cutting and scraping plants and butchering animals.  One can only imagine what this primitive kitchen scene looked like.  Over time these basic materials for tools would evolve beyond rock and include bone, flint and obsidian.

At its core, a knife was a tool utilized in three primary areas of human survival.  Food preparation, shelter construction and combat.  The discovery of fire opened the door to creating tools that were formed rather than chipped, scraped or carved.  Stone as a primary knife material would give way to metal as newly developed skills of melting and forging created new opportunities for improvement.  Knives from bronze did not provide durability over longer periods of time as they easily became dull and were susceptible to corrosion.  The primary advantage of bronze knives was sharpness as they could be formed into a long and thin shape.  Incidentally, the word knife is believed to have come from an old Norse word – knifr – which was used to describe a blade.

As centuries passed by bronze gave way to iron and then steel.  With each new material the durability and ease of maintenance of a knife improved.  During Medieval Europe, knife crafting advanced from small single or double-bladed edges to much larger sizes and saw newer forms emerge for combat including swords, spears and axes.   In the early 15th century those with wealth began carrying dual-use knives designed to be used for both eating and personal combat.  These knives had sharp blades and tips for piercing.  At banquets guests used their personal knives for cutting food.  The habit of using smaller knives at meals continued even as forks were regularly used in late 17th century Europe.

KNIFE & CULTURE

As the first tool designed and used by humans an elevated significance is attached to the knife by many.  Spiritual and religious ceremonies across the world often include a knife at some stage.  One example of this is the stone daggers fitted with wooden hilts decorated in animal skins and feathers.  More than a just a weapon, these early knife forms were visual symbols of pride for warriors and elders long before the arrival of Bronze Age.

With the mastery of metal came an improved ability to add nuanced visual applications like etching designs or a more ostentatious choice of embedding glittering jewels in knives for battle or ceremonies.  The details added to the knives beyond their primitive shape were symbols of wealth, power, honor and sophistication.  Both the highly esteemed warrior of medieval times -the knight – and his ruler king carried highly decorated forged knives and swords.   At the start of battle it was visual symbol of superiority.  In ceremony, the crafted knife was a sign of status and importance in society.

Lastly, the knife plays an important role in some initiation rites and rituals such as the ceremonial sacrifice of animals to a deity.  Literature references include a 1646 superstition of laying a knife across another piece of cutlery as a sign for witchcraft.

EARLY KNIFE TYPES

Early knife forms include a fixed blade knife – known as a sheath knife – that was typically stronger than other types due to the tang extending into the handle lasted longer thanks to a lack of moving parts.  Folding knives were another form and were characterized by the use a pivot at the point where the blade and the handle met.  Both styles of knives continue to be used today with the folding knife the preferred choice for outdoor activities like hunting and foraging.  The sheath knife is the now the standard for both professional and home kitchens.


JAPAN, THE SWORD AND CRAFTSMANSHIP

For some the sword represents the pinnacle Japanese craftsmanship.  There are a three processes that give Japanese knives their special quality.  The blade is first forged, then attached to wooden handles and finally sharpened.  Each step requires a different set of skills and according to tradition – must be done by hand.

Blades are single ground from chunks of molten steel by repeated hammering until the blade takes the desired shape. This is in stark contrast to modern steel blade manufacturing in which knives are simply cut from a steel sheet that was poured into a mold.  The labor involved in the craft of blade making is lengthy and very physical.  Surprisingly the price of knives does not always reflect this point.  After a cycle of heating then hammering and finally cooling the blade is repeated multiple times the steel becomes both hard and elastic.  This is what gives it its strength to hold its edge.  The skill involved is more than meets the eye.  The control over heat, hammer pressure and consistency takes a long time to master which is why it is called a craft.  Poor technique or control will result in a blade that is prone to chipping or cracking.

Within Japan traditional craft products that utilize a skill, method or manufacturing process that is older than 100 years can qualify for a very special designation.  Today there are 219 products designated by the Minister of Economy Trade and Industry (METI) as “Traditional Craft Products”.  One of those is Sakai Forged Knives.  There are currently 26 certified Master Craftsman in Sakai who are able to craft a knife with perfect sharpness in keeping with the tradition of knife manufacturing.

Japanese steel uses iron sand as its raw material which, through a series of steps is forged into a specific shape with a very finely honed.  In the past, iron sand with a high degree of purity could be excavated form the mountains in Tottori and Shimane prefectures.  Later it was refined to Tama Hagane using traditional processing – called Tatara.  Slowly, over decades and centuries the skilled craftsman improved the forging techniques of steel.  The three types of steel are called blue, white and yellow steel – listed in order of quality.  The color names are thought to be derived from the fact that blue and white papers were used to pack the finished steel for identification.

A final observation on the knife in Japan is the surprising variety of shapes available – each having been designed for a very specific cutting application.  There are three main types of knives : Usuba, Deba and Yanagiba.  We will save the detail of each blade type for another article as there is a lot to write and therefore would be better served in its own article.  For now, the basic differences

In conclusion, the main point to be made in looking at Japanese knife culture being the wider variety and meticulous refinement of blade designs that evolved in Japan versus other cultures.  For this reason a study of Japanese knife design and manufacture needs to be an important focus in knife design going forward.

MODERN KNIVES

Modern knives can now be found made of a wide range of materials including iron, steel, titanium, bronze and copper and more recently ceramics.  Most often they have either a folding or fixed-blade construction.  Knives have evolved in construction as technology has advanced with blade patterns and styles as varied as their makers and countries of origin.

One unique branch of knife making that has formed is that of the designers creating knives foremost for aesthetic purposes with function being of secondary importance.  This is best illustrated by the high design look that looks great in magazines yet is difficult to use or uncomfortable to hold in when using.  Radical proportions or unusual blade angles are obvious signs of this approach.  Architecture and other design fields went through similar phases of improper prioritizing of function relative to aesthetic.  Ultimately the main purpose of a knife continues to be as a tool for cutting food.  Logically this should be the starting point of design and also how it’s usefulness is judged.

LESSONS LEARNED

History has demonstrated an evolution of knives from a singular, unrefined and rather blunt object into a variety of specialized blade shapes that each do a particular job better than any others.  The question then arises as to why certain large manufacturers create knives that for the most part look alike outside of length and width.  The Japanese approach to knife making holds prominence in history for the refinements it contributed to blade shapes, strength and precision.  It does not mean this cannot or should not be done elsewhere.  Craft is about using the best available materials, applying a high degree of technical aptitude to the manufacturing and refining it over time.  Knives have evolved from a primitively shaped tool that barely functioned to a tool that can offer precision cutting, control, hygiene and inspiration through a refined aesthetic that connects with our history.

What all of this means is that knife designers and manufacturers should take the best aspects of history into account and apply them to future knife designs.  The key elements in knife design continue to be blade construction, blade sharpening, handle construction and the overall design as it relates to strength, balance, aesthetic and ergonomic feel.  The danger lies in treating any element in isolation without considering how it fits into the whole.  A final thought is that the best knife design for the professional user may not be the best for the home user for a variety of reasons which will be looked at in future articles.

Kikusumi Paring Knife is part of the 3 ceramic knife set

How Kikusumi Designed the Best Kitchen Knife Set

When we set about creating the best kitchen knife set our team at Kikusumi talked to both casual and professional users in Japan and the USA to get a sense of what mattered most.  We also conducted a study of knife sets being sold both today and in the past across the globe.  Our research suggested that 3 sizes of knives was ideal for an essential starter set of knives.

One key difference between Western and Japanese knife sets is the types of knives included.  Western knife sets tend to include several knives that are identical other than in length and often called Utility knives.  In many home kitchens only one utility knifes ends up being used regularly while the others are rarely used.  Japanese knives each have a specialized use with little or no overlap in function.  The Kikusumi team made note of this and were determined to offer 3 knives that each performed a specialized function so that no overlap occurred.  In doing so the team believed it would make the knife set of greater value to the home cook than what was currently offered on the market.

Further research determined that for home kitchens knives larger than 7″ were less useful.  Extra large knives are made for chopping the large volumes of food processed in hotels and restaurants – not the amounts found in the home.  Long blade knives are also more awkward to control for non-professionals which makes them unnecessary given the smaller volume of food normally prepared in the home.  With that in mind the team at Kikusumi set about to choose 3 knives that offered a unique combination of precision, balance and comfort for the Kikusumi kitchen knife set.


3 UNIQUE KNIVES

When choosing 3 knife sizes for the best kitchen knife set the Kikusumi team looked to the wisdom of both Japanese and Western chefs and drew on that extensive experience.  We wanted to offer a set that would be complete in itself for all levels of cooks from beginners to experienced cooks.  The first selection was a 7″ (17.5 cm) Chef knife chosen for its ability to handle a variety of large cutting jobs.  Second, a 3″ (7.5 cm) Paring knife for its amazing dexterity when working in small and tight areas.  The final choice was a 5″ (4.8 cm) Santoku knife, an all-purpose knife with a deeper blade for controlled peeling, slicing, dicing and mincing of round or cylindrical fruits and vegetables.


BLADE MATERIAL

The choice of knife blade material is a very important and an often debated point for knives.  Steel may be the most common material used for knives but it is not always the best.  With the exception of boning meat or poultry and filleting fish – tasks that require a flexible blade – blades really benefit from being made of a more rigid material.  A rigid blade flexes less which means it is more consistent and easier to cut straight.

Ceramics is a relatively new material choice and one that offers several advantages over steel.  Zirconium Oxide registers second on the hardness scale only to diamond.  It is 50% harder than steel which makes it an ideal choice for a bread knife because it is more rigid and requires less frequent sharpening.  Kikusumi chose to use zirconium oxide #4 which is the highest grade and the most expensive to make its knife blades.  Kikusumi blades hold their sharpness longer and are easy to cut straight with.  Chemically inert,  Kikusumi ceramic blades will never rust or cause food to brown and do not hold onto odors like other materials.


HANDLE SHAPE

Along with the blade, the handle quality of a knife determines how well it functions.  Great knife handles are very easy to hold – the technical term for how a handle fits the hand is called ‘ergonomics’.  An ergonomic handle fits the natural curves of the hand and is supportive at the points where the most pressure is applied.  When designed correctly the handle helps facilitate the cutting motion while reducing hand fatigue.  Kikusumi chose an oval shaped handle which in Japan is traditionally one of the three best knife handle shapes with the added advantage of being ambidextrous .

A palm swell in the middle of the handle provides a relaxed and comfortable handhold.  It keeps your hand in the same place on the handle and provides a natural pivot point  The simple reason this handle shape is a superior choice is that its flowing contours hug the curves of your hand which is enhanced by the butt end of the handle slightly dipping as it tapers.  You feel it the first time you pick it up.  It retains its comfort even after hours of use.  The human hand should be the starting point for knife design and that is how Kikusumi designed its knives.


3 Black Kikusumi Ceramic Best Kitchen Knife Set


HANDLE MATERIAL

The material chosen for the handle effects the grip and hand feel.  A slippery grip can lead to injuries.  Hard, non-porous materials like steel are difficult to hold because they become slippery when wet.  This happens when the hand perspires in warm weather or when ingredients are wet like freshly washed vegetables.  Steel also feels cold and less personal.  Designers who don’t cook sometimes choose steel as a handle material because it can used to create a “new” shape that looks good in magazines.  We disagree with this approach to knife design.  Knife design ought to consider its functional performance above all else.  Kikusumi chose to make a handle that gives a firm yet comfortable grip.  The handle consists of an inner core of ABS plastic for resistance and toughness combined with a thinner outer layer of TPR which gives it a soft and tactile grip to prevent slipping even when wet.


WHERE HANDLE MEETS BLADE

Where the handle meets the blade is a critical consideration in the design of a knife and one that is surprisingly often done wrong.  In our research we found many knives that have a handle that covers and extends past the heel of the blade.  Kikusumi considers this a serious flaw because it prevents the knife from making a clean cut through food.  Sushi chefs use knives with considerable clearance from the bottom of the blade heel to the bottom of the handle for precisely this reason.  No matter what you cut if your knife blade cannot reach the cutting board then it cannot make a clean cut.  There needs to be adequate space between the bottom of the blade and the handle.  All Kikusumi knives have that built into their design.


Kikusumi Black Ceramic Knives Designed by Del Cook


AESTHETIC

Kikusumi knives are inspired by traditional craftsmanship and emblazoned with artisanal luxury design.  A simple minimalist design begins with a curvaceous handle and matte black blade marked on one side with laser engraving and on the other with a sintered Kikusumi logo.  The dramatic fiery red Kikusumi logo is a reminder of the the artisan craft the stands behind the knife and acts as a spark for the cook’s creativity.  Kikusumi’s best kitchen knife set is packaged in a unique box that tells the Kikusumi story both graphically and in words its beauty is sure to create a uniquely memorable unboxing experience.

PROCESS

Available in a limited edition quantity the Kikusumi ceramic bread knife is minimalist and elegant.  It takes incredible heat to transform this zirconium oxide into a beautiful knife blade.  A 45 day process involves careful molding of zirconia powder that transforms under intense pressure and then heat to emerge from the kiln in its final form.  Like pottery raw zirconia is baked at a temperature of 1500ºC until the ceramic reaches an exceptional quality.  After cooling and settling for days, three polishing treatments are applied for an immaculate, smooth finish. The surface, bezels, and details of the ceramic are repeatedly treated to achieve an incomparable look.  Before the ceramic knives are packaged they are subject to rigorous quality inspections, ensuring that if you’re holding one in your hands, it should be free from imperfections.


Exclusive Kikusumi Black Ceramic 3 Kitchen Knife Gift Set Packaging


PACKAGING THE BEST KITCHEN KNIFE SET

Once we had the right mix of knives we went to work on packaging it in a way that would tell the compelling story of the Kikusumi brand.  The result is 3-knife set gift box whose story unfolds as it is opened – the memorable unwrapping experience is sure to enhance those important moments in life we choose to celebrate.  We took extra time to design the hidden details with the hope that it will inspire your cooking creativity to ever greater heights.

The Kikusumi black ceramic bread knife set includes a perforated blade sheath to protect its sharpness when not in use.  It is ideal for the home kitchen whether it be a gift for a mother or starting set for a university student or first-time workers in urban cities.  It also makes an excellent knife for those wanting sharpness and precision that requires less time and effort to mainten.  For those who love design the minimalist and elegant Kikusumi design style will fit seamlessly with any kitchen decor.  With the best kitchen knife set you can express your passion for cooking.  This is your bread knife.

Kikusumi Black Ceramic 8" Bread Knife + Artisan Baguette

How Kikusumi Designed the Best Bread Knife

When we set about researching the best bread knife design the team at Kikusumi surveyed both casual and professional users to get a sense of what details mattered most. We also studied many of the bread knives being sold today and in the past, all across the globe.  Important details to consider included the shape, length and and materials.  Our research suggested that each component of the knife needed to be designed right individually as well as seamlessly fit together so that the overall balance and feel was ideal.  Bread knives are an essential tool for any home kitchen and are often used on a daily basis which makes them an important knife to design right.  The easier a knife is to use and the better it performs – the more it people will want to use it.  A knife that is precise, balanced, comfortable and inspiring was the goal we set for the Kikusumi bread knife.


SERRATED BLADE

A bread knife is unique in that it has a serrated blade edge whereas most knives are smooth.  Serrated blades are designed to cut through harder surfaces like artisan bread crust.  They are also better at cutting through delicately just-baked bread, soft cakes or delicate pastries as the blade teeth help grip the surface as the blade cuts.  This results in less compression and a better final shape of the slice.  The keys to designing the best bread knife blade is the width and spacing of the serrated teeth on the blade.

Kikusumi Bread Knife is ideal for all types of breads and pastries whether soft and airy or hard and dense.  It can also be used to remove the rind on fruit and vegetables with tough or waxy skins that smooth edge blades struggle with.


Bread KnifeBLADE LENGTH

Determining the best bread knife length takes into consideration what size of bread will be cut most often.  Keeping in mind the longer the blade the more difficult it is to use.  The ideal length of a blade for a bakery or restaurant that routinely cuts loaves of bread over 1 pound (500 grams + ) is different from that of someone cutting in a home kitchen.  Kikusumi set out to design a bread knife for the home kitchen user and through its research concluded 8″ (20 cm) to be the ideal balance between performance and ease of use for most uses in a home kitchen.


BLADE MATERIAL

The choice of knife blade material is a very important and often debated point for knives.  Steel may be the most common material used for knives but it is not always the best.  Bread knives have longer blades than most other knives and really benefit from being made of a more rigid material.  A rigid blade flexes less which means it is easier to cut straight.  Serrated knives also have teeth with makes them more difficult to sharpen.  A harder material needs to be sharpened less often than a softer one which translates into a better user experience.

Ceramics is a relatively new material choice and one that offers several advantages over steel.  Zirconium Oxide registers second on the hardness scale only to diamond.  It is 50% harder than steel which makes it an ideal choice for a bread knife because it is more rigid and requires less frequent sharpening.  Kikusumi chose to use zirconium oxide #4 which is the highest grade and the most expensive to make its knife blades.  Kikusumi blades hold their sharpness longer and are easy to cut straight with.  Chemically inert,  Kikusumi ceramic blades will never rust or cause food to brown and do not hold onto odors like other materials.


Kikusumi Black Ceramic 8" Bread Knife + Artisan Baguette

Kikusumi Bread Knife + Artisan Baguette

HANDLE SHAPE

Along with the blade, the handle quality of a bread knife determines how well it functions.  Great knife handles are very easy to hold – the technical term for how a handle fits the hand is called ‘ergonomics’.  An ergonomic handle fits the natural curves of the hand and is supportive at the points where the most pressure is applied.  When designed correctly the handle helps facilitate the cutting motion while reducing hand fatigue. Each individual knife in the set is fitted with an ergonomic handle fits the natural curves of the hand and is supportive at the points where the most pressure is applied.  A palm swell in the middle of the handle provides a relaxed and comfortable handhold.  It keeps your hand in the same place on the handle and provides a natural pivot point.  It retains its comfort even after hours of use.  The human hand should be the starting point for knife design and that is how Kikusumi designed its knives.


HANDLE MATERIAL

The material chosen for the handle effects the grip and hand feel.  A slippery grip can lead to injuries.  Hard, non-porous materials like steel are difficult to hold because they become slippery when wet.  This happens when the hand perspires in warm weather or when ingredients are wet like freshly washed vegetables.  Steel also feels cold and less personal.  Designers who don’t cook sometimes choose steel as a handle material because it can used to create a “new” shape that looks good in magazines.  We disagree with this approach to knife design.  Knife design ought to consider its functional performance above all else.  Kikusumi chose to make a handle that gives a firm yet comfortable grip.  The handle consists of an inner core of ABS plastic for resistance and toughness combined with a thinner outer layer of TPR which gives it a soft and tactile grip to prevent slipping even when wet.


Kikusumi Black Ceramic Bread Knife with Artisan BreadWHERE HANDLE MEETS BLADE

Where the handle meets the blade is a critical consideration in the design of a knife and one that is surprisingly often done wrong.  In our research we found many knives that have a handle that covers and extends past the heel of the blade.  Kikusumi considers this a serious flaw because it prevents the knife from making a clean cut through food.  Sushi chefs use knives with considerable clearance from the bottom of the blade heel to the bottom of the handle for precisely this reason.  No matter what you cut if your knife blade cannot reach the cutting board then it cannot make a clean cut.  There needs to be adequate space between the bottom of the blade and the handle.  All Kikusumi knives have that built into their design.


AESTHETIC

The handle width and length should be designed to fit the human hand.  Kikusumi knives are inspired by traditional craftsmanship and emblazoned with artisanal luxury design.  With a simple minimalist design marked with a fiery red Kikusumi logo that acts as a spark for your creativity.  Packaged in a unique box that tells the Kikusumi story both graphically and in words its beauty is sure to create a memorable unboxing experience.

Bread Knife


PROCESS

Available in a limited edition quantity the Kikusumi ceramic bread knife is minimalist and elegant.  It takes incredible heat to transform this zirconium oxide into a beautiful knife blade.   A 45 day process involves careful molding of zirconia powder that transforms under intense pressure and then heat to emerge from the kiln in its final form.  Like pottery raw zirconia is baked at a temperature of 1500ºC until the ceramic reaches an exceptional quality.  After cooling and settling for days, three polishing treatments are applied for an immaculate, smooth finish. The surface, bezels, and details of the ceramic are repeatedly treated to achieve an incomparable look.  Before the ceramic knives are packaged they are subject to rigorous quality inspections, ensuring that if you’re holding one in your hands, it should be free from imperfections.

Kikusumi Designer Black Ceramic Bread Knife Gift Set

Kikusumi bread knife


THE BEST BREAD KNIFE

The Kikusumi black ceramic bread knife set includes a perforated blade sheath to protect its sharpness when not in use.  It is ideal for the home kitchen whether it be a gift for a mother or starting set for a university student or first-time workers in urban cities.  It also makes an excellent knife for those wanting sharpness and precision that requires less time and effort to maintain.  For those who love design the minimalist and elegant Kikusumi design style will fit seamlessly with any kitchen decor.  With the right knife you can express your passion for cooking a.  This is your bread knife.

Kikusumi Santoku Knife is part of the 3 ceramic knife set

Modern Design of Kikusumi Ceramic Knife Sets

Kikusumi ceramic knife sets are about to launch in the USA and feature a modern design that will fit beautifully in any kitchen.  Designed for the home kitchen chef they are lighter and sharper than steel knives making them ideally suited to women and men preferring a more comfortable cutting tool.  Two sets will be launched at the end of summer making them available for gifts and special occasions leading up to Black Friday and Christmas shopping seasons.

The first Kikusumi ceramic knife set contains 3 unique knives – 7″ Chef knife + 5″ Santoku knife + 3″ Paring knife + 3 protective sheaths.  Each knife works well in specific kitchen cutting jobs so that taken together they cover most types of cutting and chopping situations.  Packaged in a uniquely designed luxury gift box that tells the Kikusumi story in a series of steps.  This makes for a beautiful gift box opening experience that will impress the gift receiver.  They make a perfect first knife set for the home, cottage, camper, bbq, new urban worker, college or university student and of course mothers who cook meals at home.

The second Kikusumi ceramic knife set contains an 8″ bread knife + protective sheath.  The bread knife is at its best in slicing soft or hard crust breads and cutting thick skinned vegetable and fruit.  Packaged in a uniquely designed luxury gift box that tells the Kikusumi story in a calculated series of steps.  This makes for a memorable gift box opening experience.  It is the perfect first knife set for the home, cottage, camper, bbq, urban dweller, student and of course mothers.  Many people like to present their food on the cutting board at the table and this is what makes the Kikusumi bread knife especially unique is it looks great on the dinner table.

Kikusumi is the kitchen tool brand of Tokyo design firm Applewasabi which began as an exploration into the relationship between culture and food.  The design takes its inspiration from the ancient craft of charcoal making called kikusumi which translates to chrysanthemum charcoal.  The charcoal is made from kunugi tree branches which are cut and then fired slowly over 12 days in an oven made from mounded soil.  It is a painstaking process that results in a unique cross section patter that resembles the kiku or chrysanthemum flower.   Kikusumi was chosen to represent the precise hand craftsmanship of the brands products.  It also symbolizes the inspirational relationship the designs have with nature.

Sumi black color is representative of the firing process involved in making Kikusumi ceramic knives as well as other metal products like peelers and graters.  In terms of design it provides the backdrop that allows the sophisticated yet minimalist details to shine.  Red that glows like fire is used for the logo and is symbolic of a cook’s creativity and passion.  Its presence on each Kikusumi product is a reminder to the cook to tap into their creativity and express themselves with their cutting tools.  Kikusumi aims to be more than just a functional object or tool – it aims to inspire a passion for cooking and through its design.

 

Knife Technology

The Complete Process of How to Make a Ceramic Knife

The process of making a Kikusumi ceramic knife involves 9 key stages before the finished knife emerges complete.  Along the way there are multiple quality inspections made to ensure each knife meets the high standards we expect.

  1. Dry Pressing
  2. Cold Isostatic Pressing
  3. High Temperature Sintering
  4. Low Temperature Sintering for Kikusumi Logo
  5. Handle Injection
  6. Blade Grinding
  7. Blade Sharpening
  8. Blade Polishing
  9. Cleaning
  10. Luxury Gift Packaging

CERAMIC KNIFE PROCESS


1. DRY PRESSING

The process of making a Kikusumi Ceramic Knife begins with the selection of sub-nanometer zirconium oxide powder #4 which is 30% finer than the #2 powder inferior ceramic knives are made of.  Zirconium is an advanced, high-tech ceramic material that is second only to diamond in hardness. The first step in making Kikusumi knives is to first put the Zirconia powder into a mould.   Next, about 200 tons of pressure is applied to the moulded powder with hi-tech forging machines.  Kikusumi uses no adhesives during this lengthy process and this results in 30% lower blade porosity.  Once complete, the basic shape of the ceramic blade has been formed.


2. COLD ISOSTATIC PRESSING

During the second-stage process the pressed blades are inserted into a tied PVC vacuum bag and then placed into a closed container.  An oil and water mixture is added and then over 200 mpa of pressure is applied for a lengthy period of time.  The process is called Cold Isostatic Pressing and makes the blades both denser and more durable.  After this process the blade size is 10% smaller and very dense.


3. HIGH TEMPERATURE SINTERING

For the third stage, one of the most high-tech sintering machine with Intelligent temperature control system which can keep the temperature controlled at +-1°C. It can make the blades been more heat evenly, Blades made this way have higher density, lower porosity and lower deformation.


4. LOW TEMPERATURE SINTERING

For the fourth stage, the iconic Kikusumi logo is applied to the blades and a lower temperature sintering is applied,   The extra firing has a two-fold effect – the blade gains extra durability and the warm glow of the Kikusumi design comes to life.


5. HANDLE INJECTION

Kikusumi knife handles are attached to each ceramic blade by using and advanced injection molding process which is both stronger and more sanitary than using the glue and thermal bonding that many manufacturers use.  The result is a knife with a stronger structure and superior hygienic properties.




6. BLADE GRINDING

The process of grinding and polishing the surface of the ceramic blade is composed of three steps.  Blades are first flat grinded on both sides of the blade with a diamond wheel.  Two kinds of flat grinding: coarse grinding, accurate grinding. The former is speedy and high efficiency. The latter, after the coarse grinding is finished, can gloss surface of ceramic blade. B.Around Grinding: Grinding the edges of the blades. C.Open Edge: Produce the edge preliminarily.


7. BLADE SHARPENING

Depending on the knife model, the blade edge is sharpened to a 11°-13° angle and the tip edge within a range of 35°-42°.


8. BLADE POLISHING

Every KIikusumi ceramic knife blade is polished by hand to achieve maximum sharpness.  There are three steps to the polishing process:
  1.  Coarse Flat Grinding consists of polishing both sides of each ceramic blade with a diamond-dust This is a relatively fast and time-efficient process.
  2.  Precision Flat Grinding the edges of the blades comes after the coarse grinding is finished.  This is a slow and time-consuming process that results in a high-gloss surface on each ceramic blade.
  3.  Open Edge Polishing  produces the final refinement to the blade’s edge that is complete when the ideal sharpness is achieved.


9. CLEANING

At the final stage every knife is sanitized with vegetable detergent and a final inspection of the entire knife is conducted to ensure Kikusumi Knife standards of quality are met.


10. LUXURY GIFT PACKAGING

Great thought and meticulous planning lies behind our gift boxes. As each gift box that is opened we wanted to make that singular moment of discovery as exciting as possible.  The unique story of Kikusumi knives is revealed in several stages throughout the process that is intended to add emotion and convey the passion we put into our products.  A black and white graphic representing actual Kikusumi charcoal provides the backdrop to the gift box top.  Above it in shimmering “sumi” black is an outline of our ceramic knives along with a glowing red “kiku” flower.

Kikusumi Ceramic Knife Hardness

Knife Set

Introducing the Kikusumi Kitchen Knife Set

Combining the wisdom of traditional craft design with today’s technology is what gives the new Kikusumi kitchen knife set its performance flexibility along with superior craftmanship.  Kikusumi design can be characterised by its focus on function first with the final form an expression that includes just the essentials.  We know cook’s want a combination of precision, comfort and dexterity when preparing a meal.  Kikusumi delivers that plus beautiful aethetics in a 3-knife set carefully chosen to give the cook the necessary tools to create the meal they want.



CHOOSING THE RIGHT SIZES FOR A KITCHEN KNIFE SET

When selecting the knives for the Kiksumi 3 kitchen knife set we looked to the wisdom of both Japanese and Western chefs.  We wanted to offer a set that would be complete in itself for all levels of cooks.  We noted the differences between professional kitchen requirements and the needs of a home cook.  Our first selection was a 7″ (17.5 cm) Chef knife for its ability to handle a variety of large cutting jobs.  Second, we chose a 3″ (7.5 cm) Paring knife for its amazing dexterity when working in small and tight areas.  The final choice was a 5″ (4.8 cm) Santoku knife, an all-purpose knife with a deeper blade for slicing, dicing and mincing round or cylindrical fruits and vegetables.

Once we had the right mix of knives we went to work on packaging it in a way that would tell the compelling story of the Kikusumi brand.  The result is 3-knife set gift box whose story unfolds as it is opened – the memorable unwrapping experience is sure to enhance those important moments in life we choose to celebrate.  We took extra time to design the hidden details with the hope that it will inspire your cooking creativity to ever greater heights.



SHARP.  LIGHT.  PRECISE.

The dense and smooth surface of the blade allows for precise cuts, the extreme hardness of the material ensures above-average edge retention, plus they are amazingly light, extremely flexible and corrosion-free.  They are the ideal tools for preparing food.

The minimalist design means the Kikusumi knives will look at home in both traditional and modern kitchens.  The understated elegance of the sumi black blades and subtle, glowing kikusumi logo make them the knife set to show when hosting guests for a dinner party or other special occasion.  The ergonomic feel and balance will have you reaching for your Kikusumi knife each time you cook.

This 3-piece chef set includes the most important knives for anyone needing to prepare delicious and healthy meals – whether it be for celebrations or every day. The uniquely minimalist design will add elegance and beauty to your kitchen while performing at a high level as your first choice kitchen knives.

Kikusumi 3 Ceramic Kitchen Knife Set



 

Bread Knife

What is a Bread Knife and Why Every Kitchen Needs One

A bread knife is a specialty knife designed to cut through the bread crust without compressing its soft interior in the process.  The key design point is the frequency and width of the serrations.  In some cases there is a straight blade section on either end of the bread knife with a longer serrated section in the middle.  Serrated bread knives are often ground on only one side – called a single-bevel blade.  Low-frequency serrations – lower number and wider spacing of teeth – help the blades glide through bread quickly and cleanly.  What is a bread knife good at cutting?  Basically anything with a hard skin or crust.



KNIFE BLADE SHAPE

A bread knife is shaped similar to the Santoku knife with 2 differences – it is serrated teeth and is much longer.  The idea behind the length of the blade is it allows the cook to cut large surfaces in long, smooth strokes – much like a saw in carpentry.  The serrated teeth help the knife grip the bread’s surface, keeping it straight and steady without having to apply downward pressure that might compress the loaf.



BREAD KNIFE SIZE

Bread knives come in length varying from 6″ to 14″ – the right size depends on what you will be cutting most frequently.  For the average home cook an 8″ (20 cm) blade is the right length as it is long enough to cut though most large breads yet short enough to control easily.  If the blade is too long it may flex while cutting – making cutting straight difficult for home cooks.



WHEN TO USE IT

Whether freshly baked or several days old the bread knife can handle cutting straight and smooth with ease.  Soft white bread or crusty artisan bread poses no problems for a Kikusumi bread knife.  Bread is not the only use for this knife – it is great for cutting through both soft cakes (sponge) and dense cakes (pound cakes) even when freshly baked.  Hard skin fruit like pineapple or vegetables like pumpkin can also be peeled with the bread knife so long as one is careful not to flex the blade.



BEST BREAD  KNIFE

In addition to slicing breads, bagels, and rolls, your bread knife can also slice through tough-skinned bell peppers and tomatoes.  The serrated blade will gently cut through a tougher skin without crushing the juicy interior.  It is also great for cutting away the rind of watermelons, honeydew. And it’s perfect for slicing other baked goods, such as cakes.

Kikusumi bread knife was designed with a straight blade section on the front and back end of the blade.  The idea behind it its that the straight edge easily cuts through hard crusts while the serrated center section grips and smoothly slices the bread.  The result is that the Kikusumi bread knife makes a very clean cut, creating beautifully thin slices with minimal crumbs.

CHEF KNIFE

What is a Chef Knife ?

The most versatile knife for a cook to own is unquestionably what is known in the west as the chef knife .  It can be used for jobs of all sizes including cutting, slicing, chopping, and mincing.  The blade has a long flowing curve that allows it to slide effortlessly through vegetables, fruit or meat.  It is a high-performance knife for everyday tasks like chopping herbs, dicing and slicing meats.  It will be the workhorse knife in your kitchen so it is important that it feels comfortable to use.



CHEF KNIFE SHAPE

A Chef knife has a long profile with a wide and slightly curved blade to allow it to rock forward as you slice.  It’s length allows for larger quantities of ingredients to be chopped at once.  The heel of the blade tends to be wider and thicker which makes it useful for cutting thicker vegetables because it allows the user to apply greater downward force while keeping the blade stable.



CHEF KNIFE SIZE

Chef’s knives normally are offered in blade lengths running from 6 to 12 inches.  The idea is the longer the blade the larger the job it can do.  It sounds great in theory but the reality is there comes a point at which the blade is too long to control effectively.  For most people the ideal chef knife is somewhere between 7 and 10 inches.



WHEN TO USE A CHEF  KNIFE

Some cooks use the chef knife for almost every cutting job in the kitchen except for very small produce or boning.  Due to its size it is ideal for mincing or chopping through larger quantities of ingredients.



ROOTS OF THE CHEF KNIFE

The roots of a chef knife can be traced through 3 main channels – German, French, and Japanese.  German knife design has a wide belly that narrows along its curved edge all the way to the blade tip.  The idea is that the knife can be used with a rocking motion during cutting.  A French chef knife has a much straighter edge at its base and only starts to curve near the knife tip.  French and German knife blades are heavier and made of softer stainless steel.  They will need to be sharpened frequently.

A traditional Japanese chef knife—called a gyuto—has a straight edge and curves slightly toward the tip like the French blade.  The difference is that qualty Japanese knives are made of harder steel and have a much thinner blade.  As a result it is precision sharp, agile, and requires less frequent sharpening. 



BEST CHEF KNIFE

Designed in Japan, the Kikusumi 7-inch Chef’s Knife is formed from zirconium which is second only to diamond on the hardness scale.  The blade is thin and precise like Japanese steel knives yet won’t dull quickly like the softer steel knives.  It is also lighter than steel blades which gives it an extra agile cutting ability.

 

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