“In my life I have three knives that I use day in and day out, the rest are specialist knives designed for one specific job. I wanted my knife to be the first knife you reach for in the morning and the last one put away at night. It should be an extension of yourself and your automatic choice without thinking about it because it just ‘works’.”
A word from Karim Maoui – Chef / Designer
I’ve been involved in this crazy chef world all my life in one way or another but I started my journey 18 years ago. When you get that first set of college knives with those wonderful black plastic handles and edges like spoons, you think they are the best things in the world and the love of sharp, shiny knives is born.
I left college and joined the ‘real world’ where the chefs had bigger, shinier and much sharper knives and you get told that you need this brand or that brand then someone comes in one day with a Japanese knife and it was amazing! Folded steel, sharper than the Devil’s wit but the handle weight was too light. At this point I was hooked on German blades as the edges were good but the handle weight and balance for me, was perfect.
Now many years pass and I get introduced to I.O.Shen by a fellow chef and bingo my dreams come true!! A Japanese edge with the weight of a German handle.
Now, skip on a year and I finally meet Natalie from I.O.Shen and she gave me a sample of the Khay Dee Deba and asked me to test it for a while and report back. I used this knife for about 2 months and loved it but the only thought going through my mind was that this would be an incredible multi-purpose blade if there were modifications made to it.
We discussed length and weight of the knife, how the handle weight should be, the depth to the heel and the accent to the tip.
Now, the next thing I know, I’m receiving drawings of what we had discussed and to be honest I thought I was having my leg pulled!! But then came the question of the heel; round or square? I had my view and the good people of Twitter had theirs but I had a good reason for how the knife looks and what its purpose in life would be.
So skip on a few months and the knife is in my hand! It’s real and my God it looks, feels and handles like the knife I always wanted and needed. Perfect!
When the samples arrived, they were given to Daniel Clifford, Wayne Sullivan, Alvin Harris AKA DrSweetsmoke, Mark Poynton, Ernst Van Zyl, Alan Paton, Tim Allen to name a few, for their opinion. To be honest, I was beyond scared of their response. This was make or break.
The feedback simply blew me away. I can say no more.
Then came designing the box and the work that Natalie and Julie from Jamtastic Design have done is simply amazing. I was asked for my thoughts but everything was just bang on. The only issue for me was my image being used as no one needs to see Jabba the hut staring back at them! I can only sum this whole project up in one word: SURREAL.
A word from Natalie, I.O.Shen Knives
I honestly can’t thank Karim enough for designing this knife! The whole point of testing a new knife is to put it through its paces and see what it can and can’t do. I love the Khay Dee Deba (I designed this little baby so I’m a bit biased) and have used it in so many applications. So when Karim came back to me saying “I love it but….” – not going to lie – my heart sank a little!
However, what he described to me made perfect sense! There are limitations to the Khay Dee – mainly because of its length but this was the perfect opportunity to have a knife designed by a chef to be used by chefs.
We had a verbal conversation about what his perfect knife would be and 2 weeks later, I showed him the schematics of what he had described. We talked through the use of the blade, the length, depth, whether the knife needed a rounded or square heel, the degree of curve to the edge and angle to the tip. This is Karim’s knife – I simply translated what he wanted into a drawing and then eventually into steel. The day the samples arrived is one I will never forget! I nearly got in my car and drove the 200 miles to Karim drop it off the same day I was so excited!
I knew it – the minute I picked it up – that this was going to be ‘the knife’. It was absolutely perfect – in every single way. The balance, the weight, the feel and OH MY GOD – the cutting edge!!
It all works! It’s like all the elements have come together to make the perfect knife!
Designing the box with Julie from Jamtastic Designs was a lot of fun as this knife (being the first in the ‘Knives by Chefs for Chefs’ range) gave us carte blanche to do whatever we liked.
Karim hated his picture being on the box but we girls had to overrule (ha ha ha) – besides, most books show a picture of the author – why not the knife designer?!
All in all – this experience has been incredible. Karim is one of the nicest people on the planet and I for one am grateful that through this process – I can now call him a friend for life.
Testimonials for the Maoui Deba:
“It’s like a dream in the hand” – Daniel Clifford, Midsummer House
“This is an amazingly well balanced knife. I think every chef should have this blade as part of their team” – Mark Poynton, Alimentum
“This is the lightest, most intuitive I.O.Shen knife yet!” – Chef Wayne Sullivan
“It’s the perfect knife for every job. I’m amazed at how versatile it is!” – Alvin Harris AKA
DrSweetsmoke, BBQ legend
“What an amazing design. This knife fits perfectly and is a complete joy to use”
– Chef Alan Paton
“You’re at one with this blade the minute you pick it up. It’s extraordinary!” –
Tim Allen, Launceston Place
“There’s not a job it can’t do. I’ve been using it on everything!” – Twitter’s Marco Pierre Shite (parody account)