I am often asked about my favourite kitchen utensil so I thought I would tell you a bit more about it.
For me an Opinel knife is one object that immediately represents France and brings back lots of memories of my childhood. Every one in France has an Opinel, especially people of my father’s generation who come from the countryside.
My father always carried his on him. He used it to eat his packed lunch at work or when he went fishing. It is extremely versatile and practical and comes in different versions. I have one especially designed for mushroom picking. It is great, it has a small brush at the end of it to clean the mushrooms as you pick them.
Since this summer we have started to use their steak knives at the Bistrot, they are fabulous and I am thrilled to be associated with such a French institution! Opinel has even organized to engrave our knives with my signature. I could not be more proud. I am also planning to have them at our new restaurant opening next year.
I thought I would tell you more about the history of the house of Opinel and give you a few facts on this little Icon of French history.
The Victoria and Albert museum here in London has named it one of the 100 most beautiful objects in the world and the Phaidon Design Classics one of the 999 most impressive design of all times.
It all started in a small factory in Savoie in the Alpes. Joseph Opinel created the knife that carries his name in the family workshop in 1890 when he was only 18 years old. He used metal cuttings from the hatches that were made in the factory. I’ s design is an immediate success partly because of the beauty of its shape but also because of it’s comfort when you hold it and the sharpness of its blade.
Originally made for the friends of the family it’s success soon extended beyond the village and Joseph had to move to its own workshop to cope with the demand!
Joseph’s descendants , his sons Marcel and Leon continued to expand the brand by creating a line that ranges from the kitchen to the table. They also insured to protect the name of the brand worldwide.
The “French Knife”, as the Americans call it has now expanded from it’s region and its country and more that 260 millions knives are sold worldwide.