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James Avery

On Japanese Knives

In Japanese cuisine each knife has a very specific purpose. Utilizing those specific knives gives you the means to execute and fulfill the intention and vision you have for a particular preparation. I may use 3 different knives on 1 ingredient to achieve the results that I am looking for. As a chef I am drawn to the minimalist aesthetic of Japanese cuisine and the emphasis they place on quality ingredients and mastery of technique. Japanese knives are really just an extension of that mindset. If I had to choose my favorite knife it would be my Inox 300mm Sujihiki because I do most of the butchering and portioningwith it. I couldn’t work without it but choosing one over the other is like asking a parent which child is their favorite. In my opinion it gets to a point when your knives and all your tools literally become part of you. The more I learn the more “souvenirs” I pick up. It sounds cheesy but my knives are a visual representation of my journey.

On Being a Chef


After cooking for over 15 years I don’t have a romantic or poetic story about how or why I became a chef. I just thought it was a cool job and that it would be fun, but there is always something to be learned in a kitchen. I learn something new every day, but I’m really surprised at the things I forget and have to learn all over again. The thrill and challenge of it all is actually what keeps me coming back every day.

My advice for people starting out is to get a job working as a dishwasher, a prep cook, or a line cook. Be sure it’s something you really want to do. It’s a lot of hard work and it’s important that you understand that before rushing off to culinary school.

On Cuisine


It’s important for me to pave my own path. I tend to favor lighter cooking techniques such as grillingand flavoring with lighter components, using vinaigrettes instead of heavy sauces. I can’t overemphasize the importance of seasoning, not just with salt, but with heat and acid. The hardest thing to do when creating a new dish is not over thinking it. It has to be delicious if anyone is going to love it.

I try to live a healthy life style because I want to live a long productive life. I exercise a lot and I try to eat healthy and that shows in my food. If I had to pick a favorite dish it would be roast chicken, I know it sounds cliché, but it’s so good when it’s done right.