2018 was a great year. We saw our first full year at our new location, 803 Dundas St West. We saw three new staff members, new neighbours, some of the most gorgeous cast iron in the world, and made some great new friends.
It was a year of growth. It was a year of change. It was a year of firsts. It was a year of evolution for KNIFE.
It was the first year of being able to host great events (with lots of beer). It was also the first time in almost 10 years that we felt like KNIFE had found its home.
In the next few pages we're going to take a moment and remember all of the great things that happened here at 803 Dundas.
After an incredibly busy Christmas season and after a much deserved few days off, Marcus and I walked into the shop with no running water due to some frozen pipes. Not a great start for a place that uses so much water for sharpening. We did however learn how to improperly thaw pipes with a blowtorch (don't try this at home), but it worked and we were back at it with our usual mountain of New Year sharpening.
January also saw the start of 50% of our current crew. Olivia and Graeme started in the same week and have been crushing it ever since. Thankfully there was a record amount of sharpening to get the newbies trained up.
April is a huge month at the shop. It's the start of spring, the best time of year for local ingredients and fresh ideas. Something about the warmth always inspires people's inner culińare, which means lots of sharpening for us. It's also our anniversary, which meant for the ninth year in a row, sale! People have come to know and love our annual customer appreciation sale - 25% off never hurt anybody. This was also the first year in our history where we had our sale online. Our gift-wrapping prodigy and fairly new staff member, Olivia, was in charge of the online orders, and man was she surprised at how fast that email notification bell rung.
Oigen. We're still amazed by the beauty of this cast iron.
It was a long 18 months of back and forth, Skype and vetting to finally get this incredible product to Toronto and we couldn't be happier.
It's been less than a year, but the feedback has been nothing but glowing. The staff and I have even taken pieces home and now we can't get enough.
This was the view of the basement after unpacking Oigen.
Thank god we have the space.
We got a shipment in June from our good friend Shiba and were excited to see that master blacksmith Katsushige Anryu had changed the design of his boxes. It may not seem like much, but in a shop where most of the knife boxes look identical it was a welcome change.
July was a fun month for us. Our friend Shiba, along with blacksmiths Takumi Ikeda and Yoshimi Kato, came to visit and joined us for a pretty great party here at the shop. We've always had small shops; straight and to the point, functioning but small. Our move to a bigger location was impart due to being able to host events such as these. Aside for our grand opening party in 2017, this was the first true use of our new space. We were set up with a truck load of beer, more ice than any party would ever need (thanks Baker), and a ton of friendly and familiar faces coming out to meet these great, talented blacksmiths.
We were treated to a sharpening demo by none other than Shiba himself.
It's safe to say that when one of Japan's most recognized knife sharpeners is sharpening in front of you, you stop and observe.
The night continued at Assembly Chef's Hall with the rest of the KNIFE crew and someones nosy sister.
No one night in Toronto is complete without a stop at one of our favourite spots, Cocktail Bar on Dundas West.
This was the first time in our history where we had the space and facilities to hold a proper knife skills class. It was a no-brainer to welcome our good friend and the incredibly talented chef Felicia Alberti to the team to teach our skills classes.
August also saw the news section of our site go live. We'd always been toying with the idea of having some kind of blog to document our ideas and news from the shop. It only took nine years but hey, here it is.
Big thanks to G&G - super team.
The reason we're able to post on the blog.
As much as we are a retail shop, KNIFE has always existed in order to educate the city's young cooks, be it home or professional, meaning we love classes. Not only do we offer them in-house, we make it a point to visit the city's top restaurants, and impart our little bit of knife knowledge. 2018 was a busy year for classes.
We were approached by Centennial College to do a little demo/pop-up. Great turn out, super fun. We'll be back in 2019.
Tomo! Our good friend Tomohiro Hasegawa, president of Mcusta, came by for our first annual Zanmai Day. It was a blast. Tomo tends to visit us yearly but had missed the last two years. We were more than excited to host him in our new digs. We also launched our first, but probably not last, custom line with Mcusta. Dark for KNIFE was a collaboration between Tomo and I over a two-year span. We were elated to finally have them in our hands to use and abuse. We'll be posting a review shortly.
We decided to have a party for Tomo and launch of the new knives. Surprisingly, Tomo also brought in a bunch of limited edition pocket knives and custom pieces to display, to the delight of many of our Mcusta fans. We were treated to a short video and a sharpening demo from a master at his craft.
December is always our busiest month. Who doesn't love receiving a handmade knife for Christmas? This year, with the addition of our Konro's and cast iron, saw a new group of customers. It was the first time in our many years that we had people come to KNIFE who weren't actually looking to buy a knife. We carry some of the worlds most gorgeous cookware and word is spreading.
As we do every December, we ran our annual toy drive. This year saw the greatest turnout to date. We managed to collect and donate 168 toys to the Toronto Fire Fighter's Toy Drive.
This year also saw three separate winners in our raffle, and very fittingly, the top three donations won. Congratulations guys.
I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came through our doors in 2018. We wouldn't exist without the love and support of our community, new and old. To our regulars who we've known for years, we love having those long conversations about anything under the sun, and to our new customers, thanks for putting up with our horrible music selection. It is with your continued support that we are able to grow and expand. We're working on some new projects for 2019 and hope you'll continue to follow us on this journey.
Thanks for reading.
All the best,