Keeping cooks sharp
Adam Sweet is using his kitchen experience in handcrafted knife business
A Charlottetown businessman is trying to help chefs and home cooks stay sharp in the kitchen.
Adam Sweet, 36, was looking for a new challenge after spending several years as a chef.
Sweet, a native of Fredericton, N.B., thinks he’s found his niche selling handcrafted Japanese knives out of a boutique shop called The Cook’s Edge. It supplies high-end products to professional chefs and home cooks looking to outfit their workspace with the highest quality kitchen tools available.
“I needed a new challenge,’’ Sweet says. “A lot of these knife shops have been popping up around North America so I thought ‘Why not try one here in Charlottetown’? We don’t have any place where you can get good knives on the Island. No one is sharpening them in town by hand, so I thought I would give it a try.’’
Japanese knives are crafted using centuries old technique and tradition. The high quality of these products make the knives the favourable choice among chefs to withstand the demands of a professional kitchen setting.
Sweet started out in the restaurant business as a cook when he was 19 years old, moving when a friend offered him a job at a steakhouse in Calgary.
“I realized that cooking was something that came naturally to me.’’
So, he enrolled in an apprenticeship program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. That led to another job working with a chef who used handcrafted Japanese knives.
“He taught me how to sharpen knives and how to care for them.’’
Three years later Sweet moved on, working at a Calgary hotel for the next five years before opening a restaurant with another businessman.
Sweet spent 14 years in the restaurant business before moving back to P.E.I., lending a hand in launching Terre Rouge Bistro Marche on Queen Street in Charlottetown.
Two years later, Sweet said it was time for a change and decided to go into the knives business, opening The Cook’s Edge in November.
Mike Clarke, the head chef at Terre Rouge, is one of his customers.
“It is instrumental to have someone be so close and so knowledgeable about knives,’’ Clarke says. “I bought a couple of knives from Adam and I use them. It totally changes everything in the kitchen. A lot of it has to do with his knife sharpening skills as well.’’
Clarke said a sharp knife is vital in the kitchen, explaining that food won’t taste as good if the chef uses a dull knife.
“It’s damaging to cut with a dull knife.’’
Sweet’s knives retail anywhere from $89 to $500, per knife. His inventory includes Shun, Kikuichi, Takeda, Tojiro and Fujimoto. All knives are sharpened in the shop using whetstones and leather strops. The shop also offers kitchen apparel, tools, carrying cases and sharpening equipment like ceramic rods and stone holders.
“A sharp knife will retain texture, taste and visual appeal. Dull knives can also slip and lead to injury and smash your food apart,’’ Sweet said.
The Cook’s Edge is a one-man operation now, but Sweet hopes to expand if things go well. His vision includes a storefront location and maybe some employees.
Clarke says being able to drop knives off to get sharpened and pick them up or simply hold a new knife as opposed to looking at pictures online is a big plus.
“You can’t really put a price on how valuable that is,’’ Clarke said.
Sweet hopes that by first sharpening his skills in the kitchen, he’s now ready to help cooks find their own edge.
Adam Sweet opened The Cook’s Edge on Sydney Street in Charlottetown, near the corner of Sydney and Pownal Streets, in November. After spending the first 14 years of his career cooking in the kitchen, Sweet decided to go into business for himself and opened the boutique.