Chubo Knives was founded in 2012 by Jeremy Watson who, inspired by his own culinary experience in Japan, sought to share the magic of Japanese craftsmanship with people globally. By partnering with artisans and knife makers throughout Japan, Chubo Knives has developed an impressive collection of traditional Japanese knives that not only share, but help to preserve this beautiful craft.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us! To start, can you introduce yourself and explain your role at Chubo Knives?
I’m Jeremy Watson, the Founder of Chubo. My role is to shine a light on all the talented blacksmiths we work with through our website and social media channels. I’m also involved in the day to day of working with our customers and managing all the details that go into running an ecommerce business.
What do you think makes traditionally hand crafted Japanese knives so special?
Japan has a great tradition of craftsmanship for all types of products, but surely the history of swordmaking is undeniable in making Japanese knives special. That and Japan has such a strong culinary tradition.
Can you provide any insight on the recent increased popularity of Japanese knives?
I think Japan has been a key destination for chefs and food enthusiasts for the last decade or so. Japan has a pretty unique culinary tradition, with a strong attention to detail and that relies quite heavily on super sharp knives, whether it’s slicing fish for sushi or cutting vegetables with precision. When visiting chefs were able to see what chefs in Japan were capable of, they became interested in the tools being used. Once they got their hands on Japanese knives, they became more common in professional kitchens stateside. And by way of trickle down, more cooks became fans and finally the general public.
Tell us about the partnerships Chubo Knives has established with blacksmiths and artisans in Japan. How do they work?
We’re lucky to work with the best blacksmiths in the world. We started out ten years ago by traveling all over Japan and approaching different blacksmith shops. Building relationships takes time here but over the years we’ve been referred to new blacksmiths and increased the number of blacksmiths we work with. Several of our brands (Akira-saku, Kazan, Chubo) are produced to our specifications and are offered exclusively through our website.
Chubo Knives is currently based in Japan and New York. Can you tell us about your company’s efforts to transition towards expanding your customer base beyond just the United States?
We’ve had a pretty international customer base since we started. The United States makes up about 50% of our customers. Before the pandemic, we traveled to visit customers as much as possible. Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Europe and Mexico City to name a few. We look forward to seeing our customers in person more now that the pandemic restrictions in Japan are lifting.
Is there a product you would recommend for someone who may not be a culinary professional? Or any advice you may have?
Chubo Inox is very popular with line cooks and is a great option for folks that love to cook or are just starting to learn. It’s reasonably priced, holds an edge for a long time and is easy to maintain.
Finally, we would like to finish with a question that we ask at the end of all of our interviews: what is your favorite Japanese food?
It’s hard to answer because there are so many! Te-uchi soba and sushi are at the top of the list these days.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! At Arigato Travel, we value the importance of being a platform upon which companies can share their missions and insights firsthand. Through interviews like this one, we aim to help others better understand and appreciate the nuances of Japanese culture!
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