Coutelier, might be a french word but in New Orleans it is a shop that sells Japanese forged knives. It’s a shop that is one of the few places in the country that does.
On the outside, it looks to be a cozy place, but on the inside it is a different world.
Jacqueline Blanchard, is a chef and also the shop’s co-owner. She knows that just like in the storybooks, the hero’s blade can save the day.
Blanchard says, “Japanese knives give you finer cuts and better edge retention that is sharper, thinner and lighter. You have less compounding pressure and tension on your wrists.”
In 2013, Jacqueline and her co-owner, Brandt Cox, went backpacking through southeast Asia, absorbing the flavor and culture of an ancient world and fashioning their future.
“We kind of extended our layover and fell in love with japan then but we were still cooking professionally at the time. We actually had no idea that we’d be getting into this,” says Jacqueline.
Both chef’s had a sharp recollection of using dull knives in the various kitchens of New Orleans and were now inspired with culinary tools of japan.
They decided to start selling the knives back home.
“A lot of people thought we were crazy. A lot of people still think we’re crazy,” says Jacqueline.
Hot, humid and wet, Japan and south Louisiana have a lot in common when it comes to dinner plates of rice and seafood. Jacqueline and Brandt make that parallel all the time. Jacqueline says that just as every New Orleans household has a different but comforting recipe for gumbo; every household in Japan has a different but comforting recipe for dashi, a soup or stock made from seafood.
The knives are a bit of an investment. However, just as a cast iron skillet is passed down through generations, the knives are meant to last lifetimes. To keep the edge and integrity of the knives, the shop offers a sharpening service as well.
Every year they voyage to japan to bring back an array of shiny knives cast from the same families who once forged swords at the time of the shogunate and that is what makes their knives extra special. Every knife has a story.
Blanchard wants to offer something nostalgic in a world of online retail. She offers a brick and mortar knife shop in the culinary haven of New Orleans.
Jacqueline says, “That’s how some of these families started. I think that the history involved is so important in the story of the knife itself. It’s this amazing diligent process of hand forging that you don’t see in the world anymore.”
In a new age, they offer useful tools from the mystic and charm of ancient japan.
If you want to take a look for yourself, their shop is located on 8239 Oak St, New Orleans, LA 70118.