"Only my Japanese knives can be both artistic and functional."
Lionel Giraud is the son of onetime 2-star Michelin chef Claude Giraud. As a kid his favourite playground was his dad’s kitchen. After a diligent training at the Crillon, the Ritz and some time spent with Michel Guerard, he took off for Bucharest where he opened his restaurant La Villa Bucarest. In 2003, back in Narbonne, Lionel took over from his father at La Table Saint Crescent. The Gault Millau guide 2006 named him one of six “Tomorrow’s Great Chefs”, a welldeserved reward for this very talented young chef.
What does your knife mean to you?
It’s much more than just a tool. It’s like a link between the food ingredients and myself. It has something to do with the respect I have for the product. A good product can only be cut with a proper knife.
What are the superior qualities of your Japanese knives?
Their quality is exceptional. Only my Japanese knives can be both artistic and functional. I work better with Japanese knives. They are very efficient. From Korin, I already own a Masamoto Yanagi, a Glestain Gyutou, some Misono and Brieto. My latest acquisition is also my favourite: a Masanobu VG10 Santoku; so comfortable to hold and so sharp!
"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.
"That’s why I get Mr. Sugai to come over and show them how to sharpen the knives, show them how easy it is"
Julian Alonzo had the rare experience of working full-time for Chef David Bouley at Montrachet in NYC when he was sixteen. After high school, he spent his days studying at the French Culinary Institute and his nights working for Chef Ruggerio at New York’s famed La Caravelle. After cooking around the world, Alonzo returned to NYC where he continues to shine as the Executive Chef of Brasserie 81⁄2.
What do your knives mean to you?
I think you definitely have to be very disciplined as a chef to sharpen all your knives. A lot of my chefs come here with sharp knives, and then by week two they are dull. That’s why I get Mr. Sugai to come over and show them how to sharpen the knives, show them how easy it is. For me, I think that’s the most important thing as a chef: to have a very sharp knife.
What do you like about Japanese knives?
Japanese knives are so unbelievably sharp. If you maintain them, you could use them for 30 years. The knife that I use the most is the Korin Nenox slicer. I use it every day; it’s a knife I can’t work without…..and it’s absolutely beautiful! Another one of my favorite knives that I got at Korin is a Glestain petty. That knife rocks; it’s unbelievable. Another one that I use a lot is the Suisin Inox Wa-Gyutou. It’s a very easy knife to use, very sharp.