Our quest for the ultimate knife continues and the addition in February 2009 of the Zanmai Elite Collection is amongst our proudest acquisition of that particular journey. One of our steel suppliers, during a discussion on how traditional Japanese blade making methods were being influenced by modern technology and recent innovations in steel production, mentioned a blacksmith called Yasuhisa Hasegawa. Now in his mid-sixties, it seemed here was a blacksmith who made some of the finest sporting and recreational knives being produced in Japan, using traditional methods in total harmony with modern technology and materials. Based in one of the 4 cornerstones of Japanese knife making – the city of Seki in Gifu Prefecture renowned for the purity of its water and pine charcoal the 2 qualities essential in fine knife making. So together with another 2 knife dealers – one from the USA and another from Japan we commissioned him to produce a modern kitchen knife but with the aesthetics and uber qualities of a traditional Japanese knife.
The result is our Zanmai Elite Collection. These 33 layers of Damascus blades have a very thin specially forged VG10 steel central core protected by the 16 layers of alternating High Nickel, Low Nickel soft steel on each side.
These blades are totally handmade; they are continuously pounded creating a wider and longer mass, which is then cut away by laser. This process is repeated several times resulting in a very light and thin blade with exceptional strength as a result of the multiple hammering, heating and cooling process. This very expensive process requires a large quantity of the material to be discarded resulting in a lighter blade with a thinner central core and an edge that is thereby keener and substantially easier to re-hone.
The handles of the Zanmai Elite Collection are composed of hardwood using a rounded base for a comfortable grip and Hexagonal top part for a secure purchase. The full tang and mid bolster give outstanding balance and comfort.GYUTO (Gyu – cow & To – sword): This is the Japanese interpretation of a Western Chef’s knife. It is flat from the handle end for about 1/3rd of the edge and then curves to the tip. It is ideal for the Western style of roll cutting. Function – Multipurpose chef knife. For Slicing, Dicing, Mincing, Filleting and Chopping of meat, fish and vegetables. Normal length – 180mm to 300mm. Tip: With the edge flat for about 1/3rd of the blade – 210 mm or longer the knife-edge profile is the same as a 180mm Santoku from the handle to tip and the same as a 180mm Gyuto from the tip to handle – so essentially a 180mm Gyuto & 180mm Santoku in one knife. The 210mm is the most favoured size for most chefs.
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