Buying a Knife at Toronto’s Hacher & Krain

“It’s better to buy something you’ll use every time you step into the kitchen rather than something you’ll look at once and keep in a box for years.” This is Greg, owner of Hacher & Krain, Toronto’s newest knife shop. His Spadina and Dupont store looks more like an art gallery than a culinary store: knives are displayed elegantly in steel cases, blades against wood and leather.

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Hacher & Krain deals in forged knives from all traditions. Greg refuses to sell stamped steel — and as advocates of all things bespoke, how can we blame him? His knives are sourced from respected craftsmen  (like France’s storied Sabatier family) from all over the world: Germany, France, Spain, Canada, Japan, Portugal, Italy, Finland, Sweden are all represented in his store.

the shop from the front window part of the Japanese collection in the tall vertical case

Whilst he respects all the traditions he sells, Greg is a passionate advocate of using the correct knife for the correct application. “A Japanese knife can’t do everything a Western knife can,” he explains. “Japanese knives are elegant and extremely hard. They aren’t rough and tumble. If you use one to carve meat off a bone, it’ll chip or break. You need a flexible knife for that.”

Aside from culinary knives, Hacher & Krain sells bespoke cutting (and serving) boards of black walnut, maple, and cherry (though it’s worth calling ahead and seeing what is available on any given day), antique knives, pocket knives, and steak knives.

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Buying a knife at Hacher & Krain isn’t a simple matter of pointing out what you want and then paying — at least, it doesn’t have to be. Tell Greg your budget (their wares range in price from $40 to over $1,000) and what you regularly cook, and he’ll start narrowing down your choices. He’ll explain where each knife comes from, how it’s used, and how to take care of it. He’ll show you how to sharpen your knife. He won’t choose for you and he won’t sell you a set — as he says, “Knives are meant to be collected” — and most importantly, he’ll make you hold it.

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“The way you use a knife should be a pleasure. If it isn’t, you shouldn’t buy it.”

Hacher & Krain is at 256 Dupont St., Toronto. If you buy a knife as a gift, Greg is happy to work out an exchange if the recipient would like to make a different choice. 

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