Tradecraft takes Scout readers into the workshops, kitchens, and toolkits of Vancouver’s most talented crafts-people. From trusty pencils and custom-built machines to good luck charms and bespoke chef’s knives, this new column aims to get to the bottom of every creative attachment. No laptops or cellphones allowed!
Today we hear from Keith Allison, the talented chef de cuisine at Gastown’s Kozakura, the new Kappo-style Japanese restaurant at 280 Carrall Street. Allison’s knife skills are no secret to Vancouver food-lovers (he worked previously at Sea Monstr Sushi and West Broadway’s celebrated Dan restaurant), so a peek into his toolbox is something of a privilege. Here are three prized items that are essential to each and every one of his shifts.
1. Deba Bocho | “This is a fish cutting knife. I’ve probably use it everyday since I bought 10 years ago from Aritsugu knives in Kyoto (my chef at Dan helped find the right one). It was the benchmark day — I had decided to become a professional chef. It’s a left handed Deba (in which they don’t make much of and they cost more). It’s my favourite knife as it’s been right beside me through four different restaurants.”
2. Fish Scaler | “Every time I go to the Tsukiji market I always end up buying fish scalers. I can’t get enough of them, I go through at least two a year. If I leave my mark at restaurants I’ve worked at it’s because I’ve left one of my scalers behind.”
3. Sharpening Stones | “I wouldn’t get anywhere if my knives weren’t sharpened with these stones. My dad bought me my first stone as a birthday present when I turned 21. It’s kind of weird but it’s probably one of the best presents I’ve ever received from him. I’m still using the same King 1200 he gave me. There’s something therapeutic for me when I sharpen knives on this stone. I love it.”