Know the Tools

Attention to tools and habit of treating them with care

The way you handle your tools shows your personality

In my line of work, I see various knives used by different people every day. Some are well-cared for, while others are in terrible condition, making me wonder how they got that way.

One can get a glimpse of a person’s character by looking at how they sharpen and maintain the cleanliness of their knives.

Even among chefs, some bring in greasy, rusty knives or ones with moldy handles for sharpening. Frankly, it’s unhygienic, and I wouldn’t want to eat food prepared with such knives. Customers may not know which knives are used, and as long as the food is tasty, they won’t complain. Although I cannot discern everything, would anyone want to eat food prepared with dirty knives?

Customers may not see the kitchen, but cleanliness should be prioritized over taste since we’re handling food. It’s too late once food poisoning occurs, so at least clean knives should be used in establishments that serve raw food.

If your knife falls into the category described above, try treating it as an extension of your hand. This mindset will lead to cleaning the knife like washing your hands and maintaining it like caring for your nails.

What is a good tool?

A good tool isn’t necessarily the most expensive one.

Price is determined by various factors, including rarity, material cost, and production time. While price and quality generally correlate, there are also many knives with higher prices due to design and decoration rather than performance.

My definition of a good tool is something I genuinely desire without considering the price. It can be something used by a revered chef or something I feel would improve my cooking quality.

There are many fantastic tools in terms of functionality, but their quality depends on compatibility with the user. It’s often necessary to try various tools to gain experience.

In that case, using tools you genuinely like is the quickest path to growth. If you’re dedicated to your work and always striving for improvement, you’ll actively seek the “right tools” for your level, and eventually, you’ll find the optimal tools for yourself.

Use the best tools to do the best job

This is not a sales pitch to push expensive products, but something I’ve believed since I worked as a chef.

While there’s some truth to the idea that there’s no point in buying expensive tools without the skill to use them, I personally think that beginners should have good tools.

Using tools used by people you admire or ones that you genuinely think are cool and desirable can increase your motivation at work, and you’ll strive to perform work that matches the quality of the tools.

Also, when you use the same tools as those you look up to, you can’t blame the tools for your shortcomings. This creates more opportunities to think about how to cut as cleanly and quickly as your seniors, prompting you to reflect on your skills.

Many tools used by top chefs are expensive, so you have to work hard and save money to buy them. By putting in the effort to acquire good tools, you’ll treat your knives more carefully than before, leading to more meticulous work in every task.

Through this careful treatment, you’ll actively study knife maintenance and sharpening techniques. I believe that, rather than carelessly using cheap knives, investing in good knives, treating them with love, and using them for a long time will lead to growth.

The importance of having persistence

I believe it is very important to have your own unique commitment to both tools and cooking.

In other words, commitment is your own personal aesthetic and unwavering aspect.

To have a commitment, you cannot simply perform your daily work mechanically; it gradually comes to life as you think about each task and make improvements.

No matter how trivial the task, having your own reasons and being able to explain them to others means you truly understand the task.

When I study something, I always start by imitating others and try to follow their advice within my capabilities.

To perfectly imitate someone, you need to carefully observe their body movements and timing of actions down to the smallest detail.

As you imitate, you question each action, asking why a certain step is necessary and whether it’s scientifically correct. By pushing these inquiries, you form your own reasons, and become able to explain them to others.

If you cannot verbalize these things, you are likely to be so desperate to do what you have been taught to do every day that you have stopped thinking.

Sometimes, taking a breath and reflecting on your work can reveal things you didn’t see before.

Developing a habit of thinking for yourself may help you discover unnecessary steps or tasks that negatively impact quality. Conversely, you may find that something you thought was bad can actually improve efficiency and quality.

I believe that true commitment can be conveyed to others only when it can be expressed in words.

I can listen to people with strong commitments for hours, and most importantly, I learn a lot from them.

One thing I’ve noticed while talking to various people is that there can be opposing opinions on the same matter.

Some people find answers based on scientific evidence, while others adhere to conclusions drawn from their personal experiences.

In other words, what I’m trying to say is that everyone has their own perspective on things, and the ultimate “commitment” is determined by you, with the correct answer always lying ahead on the path you believe in.

Let’s start by having confidence in the answers you’ve arrived at after careful thought.

This is also a message to myself.