Cangshan cutlery is rapidly becoming known as one of world’s most premier knife brands, racking up award after award and collaborating with Thomas Keller, one of the world’s greatest chefs, but its story, like the story of many legendary products, has a humble beginning.
In southwest China, there is a mountain called Cangshan; densely forested except for its sheer rocky cliffs that tower above the surroundings. Visitors can follow a paved road as it winds up the side of the mountain, passing waterfalls and surrounded by natural splendor on their way to a temple complex and an inn for travelers. The path is called the “Jade-Cloud Road” – named for the clouds that often billow over the verdant landscape.
In this fairy tale region, there is a small town also named Cangshan, after the mountains towering in the distance. That town is the birthplace of Henry Liu, the founder of Cangshan Cutlery.
Making An Impact
Henry started out by building one of the most successful kitchenware companies in China, but after 11 years, decided to take on a new challenge. He moved to the United States with a goal of making kitchen knives that were equally functional and beautiful, and that would stand out even in a competitive market. Just a handful of years after the company’s founding, it’s undeniable that he succeeded.
In a few short years, the knives have amassed 27 design awards, the most recent of which being the “2019 Red Dot Award” for their Chef Thomas Keller Signature Collection.
That collection has been making waves in the industry since it was announced last fall. Thomas Keller is known for, if nothing else, being a man of precise and exacting standards, demanding consistency and quality in every step of his operation. A chef of his caliber entering such an exclusive partnership with a relatively new company is not something that’s easily ignored. At least, it shouldn’t be.
Tradition Meets Technology
As evidenced by those 27 awards, the brand clearly isn’t some flash in the pan or mere marketing exercise. It’s the real deal. The awards may have come out of the woodwork, but the product wasn’t created overnight.
It was more than a two year process for Liu to find a manufacturer capable of creating blades to his standards. He started in Germany, Sweden, Japan, and the United States, but after investigating the capabilities of more than 80 manufacturers, he eventually discovered a factory in his homeland of China, in Yangjiang, which boasted an artisanal cutlery tradition going back more than 1500 years.
The blades are made with German, Swedish, and and Japanese steel, all subject to a meticulous six stage Ultra6 heat treatment process to increase hardness and strength to allow for maximum initial sharpness of the knives standard 16° Asian style cutting edge . The Keller Collection, for example, are full tang knives forged from fine grained, Swedish Damasteel® RWL34 Powder Steel for incredible durability and exceptional edge retention.
It is the perfect blend of design and performance, as a bolster-free design to accommodate a firm pinch grip and allow for easy honing and sharpening.
“We felt that the high-end knife manufacturers are really good with functionality but have completely ignored the design angle. I have seen many classic designs in the market for many decades, so I asked myself, can I maintain the highest functionality standards and do something different with beautiful designs? This is why Cangshan Cutlery Company was born, and how our tagline, ‘Beautiful Function,’ came about. We believe the consumer wants both. In fact we believe the consumer demands both.”
With world-renown chefs as partners, and a swelling trophy cabinet, that demand is sure to increase over the coming years.