We had 5 minutos to catch up with Señor Victor, Head Chef at Super Loco Robertson Quay. Here's what he had to say about his love for Japanese handcrafted knives and his humbling experiences in Japan.
When did you start your passion for culinary knives?
I think my love for knives started here in Singapore 5 years ago, just right after I bought my first Hattori Santoku followed by the Takeda Hamono Deba, I was so impressed and pleased with their performance that I started researching my next knife. At that point in time, I didn’t know anyone whom I could share my passion, particularly with respect to signature Japanese knives.
This was until I met my best friend, Julius de Sagon who started working with us as Sous Chef. I’ve never met anyone in my life so knowledgeable about knives. He shared his personal insights and experiences and we both started our own collections.
How many knives do you currently own?
About 30, and I still have the first knife that I bought with my first salary working in the kitchen.
What’s the most unique knife that you own?
If I had to choose one, I would pick the one that was hand-made in Japan when I visited Yoshimi Kato, one of my most respected blacksmiths. This is a unique piece for me as I had the wonderful opportunity to be involved in the manufacturing process and to see first-hand - metal being casted and transformed into a timeless and beautiful knife. Just like an Alchemist!
Which is the knife that is most sentimental to you?
The Mochi Kiri knife - given to me by the Fujisaki family when I was in Utsunomiya, Japan.
Fujisaki Tadao is the 3rdgeneration of sushi makers and he was my Sensei when I joined the Tokyo Sushi Academy where I got a certificate in basic Japanese cuisine and sushi making. We became friends but he had to go back to Japan last year to run his family business as his father passed away. His father was also a renowned sushi chef and owner of a few restaurants.
It was when I visited him and his family and spent some time with them. During the last night of my trip, his mother showed me her husband’s knives. It was such an honour! Right after breakfast the next morning, Fujisaki’s mother presented me with a “Mochi Kiri Knife” that belonged to her husband for many years. She told me, “I know you love knives and I know you will take care of this one.” I couldn’t believe it!
I still recall leaving the beautiful and traditional Japanese house filled with so much emotion. The knife was wrapped in newspapers and was sticking out of my backpack. I took the train back to Tokyo, and looked out the window thinking about life, and how grateful I was for such a meaningful and sentimental gift.
Which of your knives is the sharpest?
Mazakage Zero could be my sharpest, Aogami Super is the king of knife steel. Based on my experience, I‘d say that the sharpness of Aogami Super is unbelievably hard, thin and sharp.
Which country makes the best knives? Japan? Germany? Spain?
For me, I’ll choose Japan as their knives have really captivated me. To put it simply, it was “LOVE AT FIRST CUT”. There are many different types of stainless steels out there, but to me, the most important aspect of knife collecting is to know how to sharpen and take care of your knives to always keep them in good condition. A great knife is timeless and will last for generations.
For a beginner, what knives should one consider?
I believe in quality, and spending money on your knife is the best investment for a chef or anyone who loves cooking. Masakage Koishi knives are excellent and offer great value for money. They are thin, light and extremely sharp. Every chef in my kitchen owns one, that pretty much sums it all!