At the cutting edge

When it comes to honing the perfect blade, Michael Bernard is as sharp as they come, but it appears the average domestic chef is rather dull.

“People are too hard on their knives. Use a wooden chopping board, never put a knife in the dishwasher and watch out for grit on salads and vegetables,” Michael says.

A chef for over thirty years, Michael spent time in the merchant marine, travelling the world and keeping the crew fed. He has worked in restaurants in Britain and New Zealand and says a chef without a sharp knife is at a distinct disadvantage. After owning his own restaurant Michael took over the blade-sharpening stall at the Matakana Markets, where he is literally inundated with blunt implements.

“I love it, my ethic is to create maximum sharpness using the minimum amount of the blade's steel. I also correct any imperfections in the blade. The angle is absolutely crucial and that’s very hard to maintain on a traditional sharpening stone, which is why most people can’t sharpen knives.”

Once the knives have received the master’s deft touch they should remain sharp for up to six months. The Honing Steel does not sharpen a blade, but corrects minor deformities and maintains the edge. The Germans, Swiss and French make great knives, but Japanese knives are ‘a work of art’.

“They are like razors with handles! It takes all of my concentration to sharpen them and they must be treated with care.” Matakana Village Farmers Market 2 Matakana Valley Road, Matakana