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Blade Runner: The TenderNob's New Knife Shop is On Point

Photography by John Lee

There is a sign in Galen Garretson’s new TenderNob knife shop, Town Cutler, that warns customers to be careful while ogling the razor-sharp selections. He can’t take responsibility for any bloodshed. However, he does have Band-Aids. “The knife companies send me boxes of them,” he says. Garretson, who has cooked in kitchens such as Quince and Wayfare Tavern, decided to turn his passion for knives and knife sharpening into a business in June. The day we meet, he’s wearing a pin-striped apron that says “serious chef” and a Mao cap with a Fernet Branca logo. He can talk steel. For example, his most expensive specimens—custom-made by Redding-based Aaron Wilburn, a knife-maker who specializes in hunting knives—have blades of Damascus steel, a strong, mottled blend of 52100 and 15N20, and go for upwards of $900. As for the covetable Japanese knives, Garretson stocks endless choices, including a 27-centimeter Kikuichi for $440 and one of his favorites, a $210 Zanmai chef’s knife with a handle of Pakkawood. There’s also a quirky vintage carving knife with a deer’s foot for a handle, which Garretson bought to match a similarly handled sharpening steel that Quince chef Michael Tusk uses to sharpen his knives. “We were always trying to one-up each other with our tools,” he says of Tusk. Wrapping your hand around the foot of a dead animal while slicing meat might sound a little too close for comfort, but Garretson thinks like a cook and sees it as a kind of nose-to-hoof program.