Living in San Francisco, Alen and I are lucky to have access to the best of the best when it comes to the hospitality industry. We have had the incredible opportunity to live and work in many cities around the world and we can both agree that we have settled in the land of (Straus) milk and (Marshall’s Farm) honey. A Farmer’s Market for every day of the week, plenty of incredible restaurants to try, amazing coffee, crafted cocktails, exceptional service, our pick of new and vintage cooking gadgets and supplies and last but not least, Galen Garretson, our very own Town Cutler.
We knew that we were in for something great when on our very first visit to the city, Chef Tusk directed us to the corner of Bush and Jones, in lower Nob Hill, to go find Galen and introduce ourselves. I am always optimistic when it comes to recommendations made by respected industry colleagues, but I wondered what to expect. As we made our way up and down the hilly streets, we were greeted by a small storefront window filled with an interesting array of knives, wooden blocks, sharpening stones and a scimitar wielding raccoon guarding his lunch and also the door. “Alright,” I thought, smiling, “a taxidermied, perhaps previously rabid masked bandit with a huge knife to welcome us. Perfect. He is welcoming us, right?” Those who have succumbed to the world of professional kitchens can quickly understand the humor of this merch display and know immediately that they are among friends here.
The interior of Town Cutler is decidedly masculine and completely charming. Spoons of every shape and style occupy mustard colored walls, to which cooks are drawn to like moths to fire. Leather strops hang from the ceiling and sturdy, handmade canvas knife rolls line the walls and wooden work table. Large bolts of leather lean in the corner. This is a retail space but also, very much an active workshop. The most unique part of Galen’s design is the knife display – long magnetic strips accommodate knives of varying styles and purposes are kept in sight but out of reach by a huge glass guard that can be easily raised and lowered by a visible pulley system. If you’d like to get up close and personal with a Zanmai or a Takeda, just ask. The team at Town Cutler is happy to help and share their experience with a certain type of knife with you. They even offer hands-on sharpening workshops so that you will know how to maintain your knives on your own.
While you peruse the shop, you will hear the door opening and closing frequently as cooks from all over the city visit to drop off or pick up their perfectly sharpened knifes. Pleasantries are exchanged over the huge antiquated wooden door that serves as a counter and perhaps even advice is given about which restaurants are hiring or who is looking to make a move to a new kitchen. It is this feeling of Galen and his team delivering an authentic service to fellow craftsmen and women that I love so much. A small town intimacy in a city full of cooks.
To visit in person: 1005 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94109
To visit online: http://towncutler.com/#home