A Pilgrimage for Sharp Knives Leads to Korin

by Melody Kettle

Do you suffer from dull, lifeless blades? Do you squish umami from every garden fresh tomato? Do you brutalize your cucumbers, peppers and apples? Have you over applied a dull blade, only for it to skid into the meat of your palm? I did. And I was mad as hell, and I wasn't going to take it any more. I took my angst to social media and soon, I was on my way to resolving my cutlery issues.

Last week, Francesco Palmieri, chef and owner of the acclaimed The Orange Squirrel, and I headed to NYC on a mission for new knives. Our journey began on Facebook. In a fit of frustration I spewed pure poetry into my status bar: "All of my knives suck. And this doesn't make me happy."

Within minutes, friendly Facebook friends chimed in with sharpening suggestions, while others suggested that I go to Korin. I had never heard of Korin before.

Francesco Palmieri messaged me that if I was serious about getting new blades, I could join him for a trip, as he was heading into Korin to get an orange handled knife for his appearnce on Kathie Lee and Hoda this Friday.* Suddenly I was Korin bound.

I soon learned that Korin is home to the most extensive Japanese chef knife collection in the world. It scores a 29 on Zagat. Located next door to the infamous Raccoon Lodge, which Francesco used to frequent after service when he worked at Windows on the World, Korin is a narrow space, lined with great Japanese cooking and dining acutraman. From plates to chopsticks, to cooking vessels, big, small, metal, or bamboo, Korin is nothing short of Mecca for those seeking Japanese gastronomy swag. And of course, they have knives. Many, many, glistening blades; long, short, thin, fat, and all, very, very sharp! The walls practically radiate with the sound of cold steel slicing, dicing and chopping.

Among the most interesting of items was a $5,900 "real rock." Apparently, a sharpening stone of immense possibilities.

During our blade quest, Gonzalo, our helpful, patient assistant, locked and unlocked the knife case multiple times, allowing us to play out our Here's Johnny/Samurai fantasies. Finally, we purchaed our desired blades. I became the proud new owner of a Glestain 5.5" off set petty knife.

Francesco Palmieri & Saori Kawano While our blades were being sharpened on the in-house wet stone, Francesco spotted the president of Korin, Saori Kawano, a virtual culinary demi-god. Charming, energetic, and remarkably genuine, Saori told us that orange is the color of happiness. Francesco was pleased.

*Make sure to catch Francesco on Kathie Lee & Hoda this Friday, August 17 on NBC, Channel 4. Francesco will appear near the end of the show which runs from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. Don't forget to look for his orange Korin knife!

A successful pilgrimage!