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Bernal Cutlery’s Josh Donald Wrote the Definitive Book on Knives

Sharp is part memoir, part historical deep dive, part guide for home cooks. 


Josh Donald was born with a knife in his hand. Or practically so, anyway, as the owner of Bernal Cutlery recounts in Sharp, the guide to all things knife-related that he cowrote with food writer Molly Gore. “I can’t remember what I cut or, for that matter, cutting myself,” he writes about an early memory of cutting vegetables with his dad as a six-year-old. “But the heady feeling of being entrusted with a knife? I remember that like it happened yesterday.”

It makes sense, then, that a person who can lovingly recall, by name, the knives that were a part of his life when he was in grade school would grow up to open a knife shop—and that he’d be the perfect person to write the definitive primer on the topic.

Released in June by Chronicle Books, Sharp is part memoir, part deep history dive (extending from the Stone Age, when humans first used cutting tools to prepare food, to the evolution of chef’s knives in both Europe and Japan), and part practical guide for home-cooking enthusiasts who want to know the difference between a gyuto and a honesuki maru and how best to keep their blades sharp.

The photos alone, by Molly DeCoudreaux, make it a pretty great coffee-table book—especially the action shots of local chefs such as Traci Des Jardins, Jesse Koide, and Melissa Perello, who offer recipes that give readers a chance to practice, say, trimming an artichoke or cutting beef into a roulade.


Originally published in the July issue of San Francisco 

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