Some chefs trace their cooking histories through restaurant reviews, passing food trends, or the chef bosses whose abuse they suffered over the years. Chef Ed Cotton of Sotto 13 in New York City sees his past in the knives he's kept over time. Here, he shares the five most special knives that remain with him still:
In 1997, I got my F. Dick boning knife in the original knife kit that was issued when I arrived at the Culinary Institute of America. I still remember the day when I picked up my new knife set; I thought I was in heaven. The handle is made out of hard plastic, and now the blade is thin and frail and tired looking, but it was once a thick, full size blade that I used in meat fabricating class to cut through sides of beef and to cube beef chuck for stews. It was never a very good knife, but when you're 18 years old and the CIA gives you something like this, you think it's the best. From $15; madcowcutlery.com.
I received my Forschner knife during my employment at the Bellagio Hotel in 1998, a special time in my career, cooking for celebrities and the “who’s who” in the entertainment world. I was young and starstruck, and it was my very first sous chef job, working for Todd English, right out of college. The knife has a large brown wooden handle, and it’s pretty clunky and long; it almost reminds me of a sword. When I got this knife it thought it was the best knife ever, and I used it for everything, including slicing through ribeyes and chickens for people like Siegfried & Roy and Tom Jones. From $20; swissknifeshop.com.