If only knives could talk. And according to John Hiscock, they can, sort of. There’s not a lot about knives he doesn’t know these days, and like the peddlers of old, he takes his business out to the marketplace. Chefs’ knives. Old-fashioned idea, old-fashioned service, but state of the art, high tech delivery.
What does a man do when he’s been at the top of the corporate tree but still has a lot left in the tank? For John, he looked around at retirement, summed up the lie of the land, and went for something he enjoyed doing. Sharpening knives. His 14 years on King Island as General Manager of Kelp Industries, answering to a board of directors, running a multi-million dollar company, was great training.
Hold on! Great training? I had to chuckle. I haven’t heard that before – but it’s so true isn’t it? No experience in life is wasted if you’re prepared to learn from it. And running a big corporation would have to give John an edge when it came to running his own business – in his so-called twilight years. Twilight years? Rubbish. He’s head first into a new business that is storming across the landscape and cutting a swathe through the hospitality industry. This is no sea change – this is a me change.
I’ve had a few itinerant knife sharpeners in my time – the long hours in a restaurant, taken up with a million things on a daily basis, leave little time for tool maintenance. And the chef’s tool he can’t do without? His knife of course. Or his chefs’ knives, to be precise. They need to be as sharp as the brain and hands that wield them, so a drop-in knife sharpener, with a hands down super delivery is a God send. Straight up.
John contacted me last April, having read the blog, and thought he might be of service. Well, you know how it is. I’m not going to knock back a knife sharpen, but I’m going to see if it lasts, and if it genuinely, deservedly, should get some promotion. Happy to say, I was amazed. And since then, John has been scouring the state, serving the industry, and taking just one big job off the shoulders of many chefs and cooks, making their lives just that bit easier.
My knives are the best they’ve been in years, and kept their edge, which is why he called the business “Best Edge” I guess. It takes minimum metal from the knife, and gives it an apple-seed edge, which gives the blade strength so it doesn’t roll as easily. And it’s a wet process, because apparently heat and sparks actually ruin the edge. The chefs he services are really impressed, and that’s become a two way street.
With a daughter hitting some high notes as a chef up at Saffire in Freycinet, John has had fresh insight into kitchens and the industry.
He says, “I really have a new appreciation of the work and care that goes into preparing hundreds of meals day in day out in most kitchens. So much happens behind the scenes that customers have no idea about – the sheer work and effort that produces superb dishes.
Some of the kitchens are so small for what they produce – it’s an incredible feat, and every kitchen is different. It’s such an undervalued trade. The professionalism and dedication that I see on a daily basis is testament to the passion and love of their art that cooks have. I like to think I can make their lives just a little bit easier and more enjoyable.”
John muses on the knives’ stories themselves. Chefs’ knives must have many tales to tell, and he can also tell if they’ve been looked after or abused. Some chefs have a favourite knife they’ve treasured and used for many years, others like to keep up with the latest trends.
So what’s the latest knife trends, John? “I carry the German F. Dick brand, which are such high quality steel and beautifully balanced. Everything about them is quality. Then if you really want to spend some money, the hand forged Japanese knives are becoming popular. It’s all a matter of personal choice I guess, and knives reflect the different personalities of the chefs.”
My first cook’s knife was an F. Dick (yes, unfortunate name for you plebs reading this!), and I loved it. I used it for 25 years until the handle finally fell off. I think I wept. And then John’s gone! He has other chefs to visit. Each knife takes just 2 minutes to come back razor sharp, and hold the edge. For me, it’s a kind of magic, and once you get that edge that will cut through anything, there’s no going back.
He also sharpens pretty much anything that needs to cut, so if you’re on the look out for some help, you won’t do better. John Hiscock knows business, and service, and what customers want and expect. He definitely has the Best Edge. And if that sounds corny, well, tough. Because it’s true.
Call him on 0488 008 001 – he’ll come to you. It’s that easy.