We don’t often cover the goings on up on Bush Street as it really is too far up the hill on the edge of Tenderloin Heights. But with the closing of Razor Sharp down on Polk (pictured above) once the Culinary Academy moved, Town Cutler is really our closest full service knife shop, and an awesome one at that.
This is a knife sales and service shop that was opened about two months ago by former chef Galen Garretson. Naturally, you’re probably thinking, “Whatever, I pick up my knifes at Le marché or maybe even Sur la Table down at the Westfield mall.” Sure, you may enjoy doing that, which is fine if you want basic knives. But, when you want something more serious that’s going to keep on cuttin’, you’ll probably want to head up to Galen’s shop.
Galen is an even-spoken guy who has been a knife geek since his early teens and maybe that’s why he became a professional chef (he’s worked at Wayfare Tavern and Quince). One day he realized he was on his way to burning out of the 15 hour/six days a week kitchen schedule so he made the pretty natural shift into being a knife man.
Sure, he’s got your basic Wüsthof line and those are good (we got a few of them at The Tender HQ), but he’s also got crazy fancy things from Japan and in fact he makes a heavy point to specialize in Japanese knives which he contends are some of the finest being produced these days. They’re light, incredibly true, hold an edge like no one’s business, and some use a metal called VG10 steel which sounds more like an energy drink you’d buy at 24 Hour Fitness, but I’ll go along with it being awesome. Yes, they’re pricey, but you do indeed get what you pay for and if you happen to want to pay even a bit more, Town Cutler stocks Wilburn Forge (pardon the string version of Metallica on the site) knives. These… are not at all cheap, like $900 a knife not at all cheap. Despite this, Galen says that he’s actually already sold a few of them already and truth be told, if I had the money, I’d love to buy one and run that baby all over a raw steak.
But, part of the charm of Town Cutler is that Galen was a chef. He knows what you need in the industry which is why he also sells spoons. Yeah, spoons. They’re not just to eat soup and apparently you need them for a lot of shaping elements in professional kitchens. He’s the guy to go to for them too, as well as several other highly specialized kitchen tools such as herb tweezers. And some of those spoons, tools and even knifes are vintage pieces that he finds through various collectors.
If you happen to have a good set of knives and just want them sharpened, that’s also Galen’s specialty. In fact, he’s a bit fanatical about it. My dad showed my brother and I how to properly sharpen knives when we were growing up (a dull knife is always more dangerous than sharp), but it was light years away from what Galen does. He has this six pass whetstone method that goes through finer and finer sanding grits: 1,000 – 6,000 – 8,000 – 16,000 – 30,000 – 160,000. That last one isn’t actually a grit, but a liquid diamond solution that he uses to hone the edge insanely well. He showed us the process from a previous knife with his high powered microscope and it was impressive. The cost for this? $1.50 per inch of blade, which is pretty damned competitive.
And if all of this got you excited, in a little bit more time once he gets settled, Galen is going to be having knife sharpening classes so you too can learn the secrets of the sharp blade. In the meantime, you can just check out some knife porn on the Town Cutler’s Facebook page.