Church of the Knife



I’ve been wanting to blog about Hacher & Krain since I first stumbled upon the shop many months ago. The small space on Toronto’s Dupont Street is so beautifully designed I think it merits a post even if the product can’t really be considered decorative.

Owner Greg is a bit publicity shy and didn’t want his last name or photo used: “The store’s not about me, it’s about the knives,” he insists. What’s so impressive is that he designed the small shop and chose all the wood himself to lovingly show-off the knives he is so deeply passionate about.

Greg reveres the knife as the quintessential union of form and function. Displayed like jewellery in exquisite cases, Hacher & Krain’s knives represent the best in knife craft from around the world and not a Henkel in sight. Greg is a knife snob who says, “Henkel is not a knife company, it’s a marketing company.”

Greg opened Hacher & Krain in February 2012 following a first career in publishing and graphic design. A home chef who loves to cook, he knows the importance of having a good knife at the ready and his interest led him to research and seek out the best knives in the world. And while Hacher & Krain is certainly a specialty shop, its prices seemed eminently reasonable to me. Knives from Spain, France, Germany, Japan, Finland and Italy mostly fall in the $100 – $200 price range. “You don’t have to spend huge money to get a great knife,” says Greg.

Cutting boards, which Greg makes himself from beautiful maple, cherry and black walnut, range from $25 – $150: one of these beauties is definitely coming home with me on payday.

From the biggest, most intimidating clevers — apparently Greg sells a lot of them to vegetarians who find they make tidy work of a tough old squash — to the most precious pocket knives, Hacher & Krain has a knife for every purpose and occasion.

Of course, I asked Greg what kind of knife he uses at home and he expressed a preference for one of the world’s oldest and best knife makers, Sabatier-K from France. I also asked about knife sharpening, which Greg is happy to do for his customers, and he gave me a little primer on how to handle a honing steel (apparently I’ve been applying too much pressure).

I thoroughly enjoyed my time chatting with Greg about the arcane and fascinating world of the knife. What he doesn’t know on the subject isn’t worth knowing. If you’re in the market for a great knife I highly recommend a visit to Hacher & Krain.

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Sunday, June 30, 2013 by Chris
This post was written by - who has written 846 posts on styleNorth.

15 Comments For This Post

  1. Shelly Says:

    Nice shop and it’s wonderful that he’s following his passion but in my opinion (others will definitely disagree) this type of food/kitchen porn/fetishism only exists in cultures where people are very disconnected from good food, traditional cooking and the traditions of eating. This type of thing ($100-$200 is NOT a reasonable price for A knife unless you are a professional chef and even then I know a few who wouldn’t spend that), is akin to the William Sonoma style consumerism that just fills a void. It seems in this city lover of “good food” or “foodie” is a fairly hollow identity construct.
    The best food I’ve ever tasted – that of my Indian grandmother, my Roman mother in law, my Umbrian grand mother in law, in dives seating eight in Tokyo holes in the wall dominated by loud mama-sans, in the back alleys of Southall, on the streets of Delhi, none of it was prepared in a fully decked out kitchen complete with “reasonably priced” $100 knives. Most of these kitchens were old holes in the wall by Torontonian standards at least – small and without fancy fittings and accessories.
    In this city, the best restaurants are in the ‘burbs. That’s because the people who make that food have a connection to it and not the stuff they deem necessary to prepare it. I guess they leave that to the downtown hipsters.
    End of rant. Lol. This just gets my goat. And no offense to the I’m sure very nice man who owns this shop. Just my opinion after all.

  2. chefmk Says:

    I personally am excited to visit this shop….great design is great design whether a knife or chair. It’s also impressive to see someone so devoted to his passion and living his dream. Yes it doesn’t take an expensive knife to make great food but good knives sure do help, after nearly thirty years in the trade I know a thing or two…..

  3. FranklyDiscreet Says:

    I bet Granny would LOVE one of these knives …. !

  4. My Love Wedding Ring Says:

    I get what Shelly is saying about the fetishising of food and the disconnect in many wealthy places. However, as a craftsperson, I do get the craftmanship of a well made tool and so from the opposite perspective, I completely get the price tag. And it is also so wonderful to find someone so enthused about their thing. I guess it is horses for courses and all that..! :)

  5. Mary Says:

    A good knife will last for decades, possibly the rest of your life. I think $150 for a tool like that is a bargain actually

  6. gayle Says:

    hello there I’m a Henkel snob…Gayle of I like marketing :)

  7. Taylor Says:

    Chris, thanks for posting. I love a tool that is both beautiful and functional. A well-made knife in the kitchen makes mundane weeknight cooking feel so much more luxurious!

  8. shezcomeundone Says:

    Dramatic post title. The subject however, makes me want to genuflect.

    Working at Hy’s, Yorkville in the late 70′s I learned a thing or two (about knives too ;) from a young sous chef. Over 3 decades later I can now admit to pinching a knife from their kitchen (sorry Mr. Aisenstat). Weight and shape of the handle is as important as the blade and the purloined knife in question is ergonomically perfect. Superbly counter balanced it has an integrated handle which is easy to clean making it supremely hygienic. So that sweet – oops, enough with the superlatives, piece of solingen steel is still in use in my kitchen today albeit only two thirds of it’s original size.

    For sure I will be visiting the shop Chris. On a design note, an authentic vintage Bertoia or brushed steel Emeco barstool with walnut seat would have elicited a few more compliments from the blog readers. Ah well, it would be a toss up for me to choose between a 300. blade and a 300. vintage chair. One would definitely fit in the drawer better.

  9. Fraser Says:

    Shelly would want the Gibson guitar company to stop making good guitars, since one does not need a good guitar to compose a song. The argument is flawed. One does not really need a good samurai sword to kill but the swords were still made, the quality is part of the ritual. Why run down a good product? Maybe they are expensive, so are diamonds and they serve no purpose at all. A good knife makes cutting more pleasurable.

  10. Shelly Says:

    I’m not anti-quality and actually do have a some very expensive Italian kitchenware given to us by our husband’s friends and family for our wedding. I also have a lot of Ikea knives and I cook everything from scratch (and I mean everything) due to a medical issue that my daughter has. The ikea knives work just fine.
    I’m from a culture where people still know how to cook without fetishizing food (ie. the terms “foodie” and “slow food” do not yet need to exist) and so is my husband. People in our cultures haven’t yet completely severed their relationship with food and so still know how to prepare it simply and well without all of the expensive bells and whistles.
    It’s not just food that’s fetishized here but also music, art etc. So you must have the “right” or “best” things to identify to youself and others that you are an insider, one who knows about and can enjoy “good things”. I do have a shitty guitar which I received as a gift when I was 16. I play it to my girls and we sing and have a good time. I don’t need a Gibson. If I were a professional I would need a fancy guitar. But I don’t need one to play and enjoy music. Perhaps my point is not able to be understood by some? Don’t know. Anyway, pretty cutting boards.

  11. Shelly Says:

    And actually, I can see quite a few of you are fans of modernism (not surprisingly). You understand that Eames et al and their world view was actually the antithesis of this? It was all about bringing good design to the masses – flat packed, cheap and mass produced but fully functional and perhaps (given your perspective) functional. I have an old set of Jacobsen chairs which we use at our kitchen table. They have been drawn on, are cracked and beaten up. They are far from perfect and we’ll use them until they last (which I assume will be for a good bit longer since they are from the early 1960s and have help up well despite clear abuse). I’m not even a modernist but I picked them up somewhere along the way and they’re comfortable so we keep them. I don’t want them to signify my knowledge of design, I don’t want them to indicate that I’m a certain type of person, I just want them to serve their purpose. That’s what they were designed to do. That’s what modernism was all about but again, it’s been twisted and fetishized by “hipster” connoisseurs of design.

  12. shescomeundone Says:

    TMI Shelly. A point tends to get lost after a few sentences.
    Live long and prosper.

  13. Patty Says:

    I can’t say enough about buying great knives. I have had my 4 good knives for over 25 years and expect to pass them on to my kids.
    Keep them sharp!

  14. Angel B. Says:

    in Spain the best knives are from Albacete

  15. Brian Says:

    Shelly, I’m sure you’re a lovely woman, but, to be frank, the main thing I take away from your posts is that you want the world to know that your brand of snobbery is superior to others. I wonder if you realize how condescending you sound?

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