Wait a minute. Isn't this vocabulary from my life #1 when I was defining value propositions for Personal Computers ? True, but I have discovered it is a key necessity in life #2 as well. What am I talking about ?
Last week, when each of us got a whole salmon to fillet, and chef Sebastien checked mine, he judged the result to be "rillette" (name for shreeded meat paste), which was a pretty insulting while teasing way of describing the missing smoothness in my cut. He took my knife with the intention to show me how to do a better, neater cut, but after taking my knife, became furious, dropped my knife on the bench and said "sorry, not possible with this knife" and walked away. Then to the whole class "Sorry guys, but if you don't get your knives sharpened by next Tuesday, you won't get any more fish to work with." Oooops....
Besides the demo in the first week for maintaining the knife with a steel, chef Sebastien had also given us a demo on how to sharpen a knife with a stone, which is quite tricky. Since a couple of years I do have such a stone, which I bought at the same time as my first Global knife. But actually had never really been able to use it successfully. So I thought, well this is something for Sunday night, when I have lots of time. But then I realized yesterday evening, sharpening eight knives with a stone was the last thing I wanted to do instead of watching the Sunday night prime time movie ("Bridget Jones Diary", the story of my life, almost). But I still needed a solution to turn my dull blades into cutting edge within one day...
Then I had a very sharp idea and looked in the yellow pages under affutage (sharpening), resulting in a list of coutelliers (knife/cutlery maker), I called the closest coutellier to my home and got a rendezvous at 3 pm today, to leave them there to be sharpened ("aiguisé / affuté") within an hour.
So I went after pastry class today, left my eight knives to Gerard le coutellier, then went to the brasserie next door for a café at returned at 4 p.m. just in time to take this picture when he finished my last knife. When he noticed me taking a picture and asking questions about his sharpening wheels he suddenly opened up and started to tell me all about digital cameras, using the right light, his machines, knives, sharpening technique, Brasilian Bossa, etc. So I ended up leaving at 5 p.m. instead of 4p.m., but with a good knowledge about when to use what sharpening tool, how to sharpen with the ear and not with the eye (the sound actually tells you whether you sharpen in the right angle), confirmation of Germans producing very good knives (Wuesthoff for example, I own 3 of them), a name of a new restaurant to try, and some more insider knowledge about the Paris haute gastronomie kitchen brigades.
The fun thing to learn was that I had by accident found one of the most recognized knife sharpeners in Paris. I figured this out, when he told me, I always need to call for a rendezvous, as very often he goes to restaurants after lunch and picks up all the cooks' knives in the kitchen, brings them to his shop, and returns them sharpened at 5 p.m. après la coupure (after the break) for the evening service. He does this for le Pre Catalan (soon 3 stars), Le Meurice (soon 3 stars), Ledoyen (3 stars), Ducasse's Plaza Athenee (3 stars). I was very impressed. Then he went on telling me all about the atmosphere in those famous kitchens, which was even more exciting for me (where do the chefs yell, where is it quiet, how is the kitchen organized, etc.). I also learned that the chef of Le Meurice uses two Japanese knifes, that get an extra treatment by Gerard with a 3rd sharpening wheel (instead of two for the ordinary knives). And I took note of a restaurant I didn't know yet, which is owned by Gerard Depardieu (the famous wine maker, or actor as you want), and as Gerard Depardieu seems to be often there himself, of course Gerard le coutellier and Gerard l'acteur know each other.
After a couple of more anecdotes from the Paris kitchens and about his wife's attempts to get an autograph from Gerard l'acteur, Gerard le coutellier asked me to bring my Global stone next time, and he would show me how to use it correctly. I left the store with a big smile on my face, not only was I now back in cutting edge technology, but even better I hade made one of those very special unexpected encounters with an extraordinary person, that was passionate about his profession, about life, and sharing a part of it with me.
Afutage & Reargenture
181 rue d'Alesia
01 45 42 39 67
(long blade 6€, small blade 4€)
call for rendezvous, he might be busy with 3-star brigade's knives....