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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Town Cutler's Galen Garretson Keeps S.F. Chefs and Foodies Sharp

Posted By on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 1:30 PM

click to enlarge SYLVIE BOLAND
  • Sylvie Boland

Galen Garretson wasn't always your neighborhood knife sharpener. Before he opened Town Cutler on Bush, where he offers a sharp edge for your most important set of kitchen tools, he was just another Bay Area chef. But, growing tired of cooking up delicious meals at fabulous SF kitchens-- such as Quince-- he decided his next move would be to fill a void in the world of chefs.

"I saw lots of kids buying really nice expensive knives online," Garretson told SFoodie. Impressed that people were willing to spend thousands of bucks on equipment which they hadn't ever had the opportunity to handle, he decided to open a specialty retail shop, giving the city chef a chance to feel just how light-weight a Takeda Knife was before spending a whole pay-check.

"At first, Town Cutler was going to be entirely tool driven," Garretson explains, but as opening day approached, he realized that, due to demand, he was going to have to sharpen too.

click to enlarge SYLVIE BOLAND
  • Sylvie Boland

"So, I started building up my skills. I practiced on my own knives, developed systems and researched steels." Garretson began sharpening professionally the day after Town Cutler and he says he hasn't taken a day off since.

Now that he has sharpened over 7,000 knives, each one demanding at least ten minutes of his time, Garretson has developed quite a passion for the art. "I found I like working with metal more than food," Garretson says. "I also realized I like working with leather." Today, Garretson has added custom knife rolls and sheaths to his inventory.

While his passion for things that slice may be fairly recent, Garretson's always been a bit kooky for kitchen tools. In fact, it all predates his career in white, back when he was just a school-boy who loved spoons. "I always had a spoon in my backpack. I would use a single spoon for all meals and it would gain sentimental value." Garretson claims all his favorite things to eat are ones you can enjoy with a spoon.

click to enlarge SYLVIE BOLAND
  • Sylvie Boland

And so, to pay respect to his first crush Garretson also sells this saucy tool. "At first the spoon display was sort of a joke," Garretson says. "I just wanted to see if there were any other spoon nerds out there."

And there were! Now that he has sold out his own collection, Garretson's display houses almost exclusively antiques from the 30's and 40's. His favorite is the Lady Hamilton Line which began in 1932 and was created by "Community Plate". There is also a single black plastic spoon listed at $68. "I wouldn't actually sell that," he laughs.

When asked what about his next project, Garretson hesitates, "I'm trying not to bring on any more projects. I don't even have enough time to make the knife rolls; I screwed myself on that one. This weekend I'm not going to sleep or take any time off." Then he grins, "But I am working on these knife magnets." Proudly he displays a wooden magnet to display the tool that gives Town Cutler its name and fame.

"And eventually I dream of having a warehouse where I can make my own custom knives..."

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Sylvie Boland


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