The first item I’d like to talk about in my series of favourite things, is my Wusthof 8-inch cook’s knife. The most basic necessity for really enjoying yourself in the kitchen is a good knife. This is the prefect knife for any enthusiastic home cook. In fact I’d say it’s perfect for anyone who even just dabbles in the kitchen. There are a few reasons why this ‘thing’ falls into my favourite possessions category. I’ll do my best to explain them.
During my years at TAFE and photography school, I worked more or less full time at a small but busy pizza shop, Mojo’s Pizza. Towards the end of my seven year stint, a woman named Jennie Wu had been brought in to run the place. Now, different people have different opinions of Jennie, but I file her under ‘I’ for ‘inspirational’. She was extremely dedicated to her job, and despite being pretty hard on people sometimes, myself included, she was always fair. I now realise how much she actually taught me about work ethic, how to enjoy my work, and about life in general.
When the time came to leave Mojo’s, Jennie had organised to get me a going away gift. The Wusthof 8-inch cook’s knife was that gift. I can’t recall the exact moment when I received it, but I’m sure I played it down as a formality to some degree. As it turns out I have a knack for realising and appreciating things long after they happen. What I didn’t see then but do see now is that this was not a token gift, it was a gift intended to last a lifetime. I don’t often think about this knife’s sentimentality, but when I do, I appreciate it more and more.
Some (probably most) people would say a knife like this is expensive, but I guess it depends on how you look at it. As a general rule, if I can afford to I will pay more for higher-quality. In a knife, this means superior performance, and longevity of the product. I’ve had this knife for a good 7–8 years, and since I’ve learned how to sharpen and repair knives, I expect to have this knife for the rest of my life. As such, I don’t see it as expensive, I see it as an investment.
The design of this knife is simple and straight-forward. It has been designed to be a great all-purpose kitchen knife, and that’s exactly what it is. Comparing my Wusthof knife to the ‘Classic’ model Wusthof knives available today, I can say that I much prefer the design I have. In comparison, the current model looks to have a bit more of a personality, i.e. It looks a bit more fancy. The bolster/heel of the knife (where the blade meets the handle) has a curve. Mine is straight. The back of the handle looks to have a slight kink in it, my version is straighter. In short, mine looks utilitarian, as opposed to showy. A knife to get the job done.
The proportion of blade to handle in the 8-inch knife are pretty much perfect. I think a slightly shorter blade might look a little nicer to my eye, but I’m glad I have the full eight inches for real-world use. The weight distribution feels good — if you place your finger at the bolster and try to balance the knife, the blade and handle are almost equal (It tips towards the blade end). It feels very sturdy in my hand, and not at all delicate. It doesn’t feel like a tool I need to be careful of. I’m sure owning and using this knife for many years contributes significantly to this. I have other knives that require a bit more care. This knife is a workhorse. This is an item which gets better over time (with regular maintenance of course).
My 8-inch Wusthof cook’s knife is something I enjoy using every day. It deserves to be the subject of the first Things post, and I didn’t even pay for it. It has a story as well as the qualities I like in a material possession. In a way, it sort of sums up what Things category is all about.