20 Cooks, 20 Knives: This month, we're taking a close look at a chef's most important tool: her knife. We asked 20 cooks, amateurs and professionals, to share their favorite knives and the stories behind them. While chef's knives are featured prominently, no two are exactly alike, and there are also a few surprises.
Chef Paul Sussman is a veteran of the Boston food scene. His former restaurant, Daddy-O's in Cambridge's Inman Square, charmed the neighborhood in the 1990s with its unique, affordable take on comfort classics. His current restaurant, Back Deck, brings charcoal grilling to the heart of Boston's Downtown Crossing. There he cooks up barbecue favorites on his three grills, which he has named Big Red, Monty, and Nelly. Paul's favorite knife still doesn't have a name.
What is your go-to knife? An eight-inch chef's knife, made by the oldest knife maker in the U.S., Lamson-Goodnow, in Shelburne Falls, MA.
How long have you had it? About 10 years.
Why did you choose it? I bought it when I cooked at the James Beard House. James Beard's books were inspirational when I started cooking, so I wanted something to celebrate the thrill of cooking in his kitchen in Greenwich Village.
Where did you buy it? I went to Stoddard's [Cutlery] and picked it out. I liked it, and still do, because it just feels right in my hand. I also love the way it looks with the rosewood handle.
Do you sharpen it yourself or pay to get it sharpened? I sharpen it myself. Oddly, although I am a chef, I was never good at sharpening knives; then Bruce Frankel, a former chef (Panache in Cambridge), who owns Spitjack, told me about Apex EdgePro, which is a great sharpener.
Where do you keep it? In a rack, in my kitchen.
Are you possessive about your knife? Is anyone else allowed to use it? I have no problem with others use it. I am not one of those perfectionists who needs their knives as sharp as possible and is constantly honing them. I am also too lazy to keep my knives that sharp.
Does your knife have a name? No, should it?
What's the last thing that you made really well using your knife? Arroz con pollo, I think. It's the knife I always go to for cutting up chickens.