We’re absolutely thrilled to announce that Devon Cookery School is now a stockist for the incredible I.O. Shen knives. I’ve been using these knives ever since I started cheffing 8 years ago. We had them at my first cheffing job and I invested in a full set as I loved them. I use them at home and have also used them at my other jobs ever since: I’ve still got the set and they are the same quality as when I first bought them - sharp, reliable and fun to use.
One of the first things a chef’s training begins with is good knife practice. Understanding what type of blade is suitable for what kitchen task, how to use them properly, how to keep them clean, protected and sharp, is integral to professional kitchen management. Many chefs have their own knife set and will carry them across restaurants, jobs and throughout their career just like I have with my I.O. Shens.
Devon Cookery School is all about bringing professional cookery skills to everyone and anyone in the most enjoyable way. No chef whites, no stainless steel countertops, no impenetrable jargon. We want to help everyone embrace the joy of cooking and take home new skills and enthusiasm. And part of that is helping our fabulous community with choosing quality equipment.
One of the most frequent questions we get at the school is ‘what type of knife is this?’ - in fact it became such a popular question, followed up by ‘what knives should I use at home?’ and other choppy, slicey, dicey queries, that we figured we should stock some of our favourite cookery knives for you to take home.
And that’s where the I. O. Shen knives come in. When it came to choosing the best knives to bring to you, I figured I.O. Shen was the only option - personally they are the best knives I’ve ever used.
Why kitchen knives are important
So why is a good kitchen knife important? Surely if it gets through the thing you’re trying to get through, it’s pretty much done its only job? Well, maybe. But if you want to be efficient, or if you truly enjoy cooking and want an actually enjoyable experience, good kitchen knives are a must.
Perhaps surprisingly, quality cooking knives are safer. With a more reliable grip and sturdier, sharper blade, you’re less likely to slip and cut yourself or have the tip snap off. This happened to a member of the team many years ago. We were talking about the new I O Shen knives and she told me she’d been chopping veg with a cheap knife and the tip got stuck in the chopping board and snapped off. After freaking out about a tiny triangle of metal in her dinner she abandoned what she’d been chopping and started again.
Of course sharp kitchen knives also cut more efficiently, which apart from being essential for beautiful presentation, really matters in recipes that call for precision. Precision cutting can also mean less food waste because you’re not hacking irregular chunks of vegetable flesh or meat from the roots or sinews.
For many people, the real game changer for quality kitchen knives is how much they speed up your cooking. If you can imagine trying to write a birthday card with an old biro your dog chewed that’s running out of ink, and then cracking open a fresh pen, you might imagine the difference between a poor cooking knife and a quality one. When your knife slices through anything like butter - suddenly chopping onions, butternut squashes (ugh!) or meat is no longer a chore. Food preparation becomes kind of addictive.
Now, if you’re like my nan, one knife will do for everything. Bless her socks - I wish she’d known the joy of the right knife for the right job! The top kitchen knives that should be in your kitchen are:
The Paring Knife. This little fellow is the foot soldier of the kitchen. It does all your little jobs like peeling and coring fruit, trimming sprouts or seeding chillies.
Tomato knife. You might have seen these and thought they were a steak knife. Thin and serrated, these are excellent for slicing tomatoes as the teeth grip the slippy skin of the tomato. They can also be used for other vegetables.
Bread knife. Unmistakable, the bread knife is long and sedated, but with wider serrations like little waves. Just like the tomato knife, the teeth help it grip bread crusts and get through to that fluffy centre. If you’ve ever used a cleaver on a French baguette (and squashed it) you’ll appreciate a good bread knife.
Boning knife. As the name suggests, this is a butchery knife, shaped to cut through connective tissues and remove bone.
Filleting knife. These precision blades make filleting and skinning fish swift and efficient.
Santoku. If you saw one, you’d recognise it. Used often in Asian cuisine, but not limited to it, the santoku is perfect for fast slicing and dicing of vegetables. The little indented tear shapes in the blade help stop sliced food from sticking to the blade.
That sounds like a lot of knives! Isn’t there something I can get that will do all or most of that? You’re in luck! The fabled Chef’s Knife (or cook’s knife) is exactly that. The large, wide blade will conquer almost any kitchen task, taking you from finely chopping basil through to preparing butternut squash (yes, the butternut squash is my nemesis! But luckily no match for my I. O. Shen). These knives come in a range of sizes which depend on your hand size and kitchen experience. This is the knife we truly recommend investing in, if you invest in no other, and the I.O. Shen Cook’s Knife is the knife we have recently welcomed into the Devon Cookery School shop.
The IO Shen knives
I.O. Shen knives are hand crafted in Japan using Japanese steel, combined with handles designed in the UK that include a beautiful Tai Tang design. This stunning sweeping motif is not just an embellishment but an integral part of the handle, giving the knife weight and balance in your hand. The ‘tang’ of a knife is often hidden inside the handle, sandwiched on either side by a wooden grip, but I.O. Shen knives make it a unique part of the design.
What really differentiates I.O. Shen knives is the unique Triplex Steel Technology - and now for a little nerdy segue. The hardness of steel is measured on the Rockwell Scale - with 62 being the highest grade commercially available. The usual single layer Japanese knives often rate around 54 because much higher and steel becomes brittle and not ideal for the kitchen. I. O. Shen use a central layer of Rockwell 62 steel with a softer layer of Rockwell 10 either side to produce a sharp, strong, reliable cutting edge impossible to find in single layer steel. The soft layers create a shock absorbing effect, protecting the core of the knife, which is only visible at the very blade so that you benefit from the sharpest steel edge that can be made.
We think the I. O. Shen isn’t just a thing of beauty, but an efficient and enjoyable kitchen essential that we rely on time and time again. Whether for yourself or for someone you love, this kitchen knife makes an excellent addition to the kitchen and one that you’ll wish you’d bought sooner! It’s never too late to enjoy proper kitchen equipment and boost your cooking experience, so head over to our latest stock and add to basket!
You’ll want to look out too because later this month we’ll be hosting a giveaway on our Instagram of an I. O. Shen knife and full day cookery course voucher. The perfect treat.