A day with Ethan Becker

Ethan Becker first invited me to come visit his house when I met him at BLADE Show 2015. David had just introduced us, and I felt a bit strange in taking him up on it. Time passed, I got busy with the guide season and the whole parenting thing, and I didn’t follow through.

At this year’s show I was caught unaware when Ethan snuck up behind me, put is arm around my shoulders, and said with a grin, “What happened? You never call, you never write…”

Well, I didn’t make the same mistake twice. Today I made good on Ethan’s invitation and made the short drive down to Vonore, TN and spent a wonderful day talking about knives and food, a little politics, and perusing Ethan’s tremendous collection of knives – or his “reference library” as he refers to it.

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Ethan evaluating the PeachSmith Chimera

We started by having a cup of coffee on his back patio. One of the things I wanted to discuss with him was his mental process when evaluating a new knife. I will break down the process in a later, stand-alone post, but it was fun to show him some of the blades I had brought with me.

Ethan and I share a fondness for the novelist W.E.B. Griffin. My favorite Griffin line is “the mark of another man’s genius is how much you agree with him”. I admit to being quite pleased when Ethan highlighted many of the same points I have made in my reviews or have noticed in the course of my testing.

Some of his observations include…

Peachsmith Chimera:

“talk about a step into the past”, “presents well”,  “a little steep in blade geometry, but not as bad as a lot of modern knives”,”this is quality goods”

LT Wright Canadian Belt Knife:

“the most comfortable Russel I have ever held”, “really nice little bird knife”.

Big Chris Steelhead:

“I like the (teardrop) shape of this handle, this is really comfortable”.

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Big Chris Wolverine:

“People are going to either like or hate the size of this handle…I like it”, “This is a really slicey knife, great balance”.

Will Woods Kraken:

“Interesting handle configuration”, “I like the multiple grip options”, “nice heft”

“A really useful knife” (on the Kim Breed H-1)

Kim Breed H-1:

“This is a really useful knife”

After he had finished his coffee it was Ethan’s turn to play show-and-tell. We made the short walk up to his workshop, which is just one of many locations where his “library” resides.

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Ethan’s workshop

After showing me dozens of blades out in the shop, mostly kukris, parangs, and machetes, we went back to the house where he showed me more still. While I saw plenty of really amazing pieces, it was getting to hold an honest-to-goodness OSS Commando stiletto from WWII that was the biggest treat.

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A WWII OSS stiletto. I’m holding a piece of history.

After spending some more times looking at some more knives stashed in random places throughout the house and at momentos from his extensive travels, Ethan made lunch.

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Ethan made us a fantastic lunch as well.

For those of you who didn’t know, in addition to being a legendary knife designer, Ethan is also the Editor and Co-Author of The Joy of Cooking, one of the most popular cookbooks of all time. We talked some more as he prepared a delicious meal of pan-fried hamburgers with a port and soy-sauce reduction, a cabbage and arugula salad, and a fresh fruit salad for dessert. It was fun to see this other side of Ethan in action.

Ethan is a true Renaissance man, equally at home in the woods or a 5-star kitchen. I am truly honored that I had the opportunity to spend the day with him. The thing is, it is hard to be star-struck around Ethan – he is such a gracious and approachable guy. I left feeling like I spent the day with an old friend. It is a day I will long remember. Thank you Sir.

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the view from Ethan’s patio

comments

  1. Sam L. says:

    An enjoyable day!

  2. cmeat says:

    homemade mustard?

  3. Gordon Tillman says:

    Wow Clay! I bet that was a fun day. I lived in TN for several years while doing contract work for TVA. I worked in Chattanooga, but lived in Ooltewah, which is a little over an hour’s drive from Vonore. Sure is pretty there.

    1. It was. I am kicking myself for not doing it sooner. Especially since we have taken the kids to fort Loudon several times and it is only 15 minutes more to Ethans.

      And yes, beautiful country indeed

  4. jonathan adessa says:

    Ethan is my hero. The fact that one man knows so much about cooking and knives is amazing to me.

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A day with Ethan Becker

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