"I noticed the lightness and quickness of the Misono blade right away"
Michael Romano studied and flourished as a cook at the New York City Technical College, then became one of the first Americans in some of France’s most important restaurants. As the Executive Chef of Union Square Café, which he presently runs with partner Danny Meyer, Romano has helped the restaurant earn a glowing reputation; for the past seven years the New York City Zagat Survey has ranked it ‘Most Popular’.
What are the superior qualities of your Japanese knives?
Japanese knives are sharp, reliable and beautiful. With different shapes and characteristics for different tasks, Japanese knives are very clearly built for specific work. You can tell they are made for people who are deeply involved in their craft. They also demand more of the user. I bought my first traditional Japanese knives, an Aritsugu Kamagata Usuba, a Deba and a Yanagi at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo in 1982 and I quickly realized these were very different! The Usuba got stuck in cutting board a lot and I had to learn what the knife would and wouldn’t let me do.
I bought my first Misono in the late 1970’s when Japanese knives were still relatively unknown to most in the US. Now when I go into my kitchen it seems everyone has a Japanese knife! It’s amazing! You know the popularity of Japanese knives is a reality and not a fad when German makers start making a ‘Santoku’ knife. I noticed the lightness and quickness of the Misono blade right away; it started out sharper and took an edge faster than my other knives. I started with using Japanese knives there and never went back.
"My Deba from Masamoto and all my Glestain knives are very attractive to me."
Alexandre Couillon is the Chef and owner of La Marine, located just across the harbour in the fisherman’s town of L’Herbaudiere on Noirmoutier Island. Alexandre, a former student of Guerard and Thierr y Marx, has been recently awarded the “Hope Trophee”, a distinction among young chefs who should best serve French gastronomy’s future in the world.
What does your knife mean to you?
Time saving! A good, sharp knife means greater efficiency, a clean and easier job. My knives are also beautiful objects. My Deba from Masamoto and all my Glestain knives are very attractive to me. Efficient, time-saving and beautiful objects, that’s what they are.
What made you want to be a chef?
Like any kid, I loved putting my hands in dough. My mother was also a wonderful cook. I’ve always tried to do my best in everything I did. I love beautiful things and I love good food products. Cooking is an art that enables me to strive for perfection. Japanese knives are the best tools to help me reach this goal. Then, I believe in lucky meetings. Important encounters with those special persons who will help you go on with that path that you chose for yourself. The Japanese trainees I met during my career are very important to my work philosophy today.The job cannot be well done without rigor and discipline.
What is your advice for young chefs?
Be respectful of your position, of your jobs, of your colleagues, be honest and transparent, it makes things easier and time-saving. It will make other people want to help you. Well educated young persons will find it easy to work in a kitchen.