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Knife skills and self development

Discussion in 'The Off Topic Room' started by roaduck, Nov 9, 2023.

  1. When I was seven or eight years old I was only allowed into the family kitchen if I was a good, sensible lad and not playing / fighting with my younger brother or getting in the way of hot pans and knives doing food prep.
    My Mother was an excellent cook (as we all say) but she really was - doing Russian, Polish, Ukrainian,English, French,German, Italian, Indian, Bulgarian, Romanian and Middle Eastern dishes and some Chinese and Japanese cooking.
    The reason for the World Cuisine was my Mother travelled extensively for her career and she had an excellent imagination.My Mum had a few cookbooks (which she got inspiration from) and just got tips from the television chefs in England in the late sixties/early seventies onwards.
    The celebrity chefs Mum watched included Graham Kerr - "The Galloping Gourmet" , Keith Floyd, The Roux Brothers, Ken Hom, Fanny Craddock and Delia Smith which gave her a good spectrum of styles building on the knowledge passed on from My Polish/Ukrainian Grandparents who did a lot of traditional eastern European dishes.
    My whole family didn`t fellow recipes - it was just whatever was in the cupboard on the day - we didn`t always go to the deli or market or butcher, grocer, fishmongers because my family knew farmers and fisherman and grew veggies and herbs in the back garden.
    The knife I used as a kid was a 1970`s Tramontina stamped bendy five inch and an eight inch cheapie stamped breadknife plus a traditional NW England Lancashire veggie peeler.
    I picked up loads of priceless ideas from my little family which stood me in good stead when I went to my College of Further Education, Polytechnic and two Uni`s in South Manchester, Blackburn and Preston in NW England and Exeter, Devon in SW England.

    In my late teens eventually I could do wedding feasts for hundreds (because I helped family and friends - pushed into the deep-end - back against the wall etc)

    Then I went to Hong Kong And Macau as an international Hi-Fi rep in my twenties after doing various sales jobs that weren`t my cup of tea.
    Over there I learnt a bit of Mecanese, Cantonese and Mandarin - but nowhere near fluently and just watched the locals doing everything with one or two Asian cleavers - one thin light one for veggies and produce called a Caidao and for going through bones using a heavier gaidao.I just practiced practiced practiced at night and weekend till I got the hang of it.
    After a couple of years in Hong Kong I met an old Japanese blacksmith and he eventually taught me how to make steel from iron sand and fold the carbon steel plus hammer yellow, white and blue steel Hitachi billets into utilitarian Asian knives which I gave away as presents complete with chopping boards.That lovely hobby destressed me and saved me from getting "burn out" I was doing two or three knives a week after watching and labouring in a 100 year old forge with side blast and no steam hammers for over five years.Then I progressed a bit more until My reject rate went from 35-40% to 5-7% in roughly 15 years.
    I had already worked with a village blacksmith whilst at high school in Yorkshire in `79-80. I also read blacksmithing and metallurgy books voraciously and still do today although poor health stopped me forging, driving and travelling in my forties.I still do a bit of charity work feeding the homeless when my arthritis is kind to me.
    That is why I love cheapie Chinese and Asian knives and try to be broad-minded but I am forever learning - every day.
    Oh yeah I forgot to mention my Cousin has a Chinese wife In Guangzhou and two delightful, bright, funny little ones so I have Chinese in the family.He and his wife are English language translators and teachers.
    I also have an Alibaba and Aliexpress account plus have connections In Manchester Chamber of Commerce in our big Chinatown and have lots of friends in Mainland China, Macau and Hong Kong - so that explains the mega budget knife bargains and electronics etc.
  2. Wagner the Wehrwolf

    Wagner the Wehrwolf Founding Member

    Nice story!

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