Like other businesses that germinated in the incubator that is 331 Cortland in Bernal Heights, Bernal Cutlery has made the leap towards permanent digs after its three-year residency. Taking up in the former Pot + Pantry — which was home to 18 Reasons before that — owners Josh Donald and Kelly Kozak, along with additional guru Taka Tozawa, will be making fine adjustments to all your beveled edges. Just don't bring in your shovels for sharpening. "They're a pain in the butt," Donald says.
The new space also means an expanded inventory of handmade knives for sale as well as greater seating capacity for their Japanese whetstone sharpening classes — which are so much sexier on a transcript than Accounting 101. (For those not in the know, whetstones use water to eliminate the heating you get with more mechanical processes, such as a minute under the belt sander, which can reduce edge quality and shorten the blade's lifespan.)
It can sound very intimidating, or geared towards advanced-level samurai, but kitchen knives constitute more than 90 percent of what Bernal Cutlery sharpens and fine tunes. Of that figure, it's half professional chefs and half home cooks.
Classes concentrate on knife skills and sharpening, with an added emphasis on parent-kid classes. Kozak regards the general public's fear of knives as slightly "excessive," noting that as a mother, she finds her kids' involvement in food preparation helpful for them, and will give them implements such as cookie cutters so that they "learn to handle metal."
Kozak and Donald have their own favorite knives. She gravitates towards the Sabatier butcher knife for its clean motion, more like a scimitar than a saw. For him, it's the light-yet-strong Ashi Hamono series, excellent for vegetable work. Check it all out, as well as cool oddities like handmade corkscrews or a 19th-century carving set, at the business's new home, which opened on June 1.