Walking past the store front, ’Knife arts’ stencilled on the window grabs your attention.

Rhythmic movement draws you further in. A figure in the soft light of the window. Eyes down, swaying in quiet concentration, honing the edge of a knife on a sharpening stone. 

Beyond, sentry like, stand wooden shelves lined with exotic hand forged Japanese knives. Atop the shelves, stacks of Kanji inscribed boxes hinting at further esoteric delights.

Welcome to Tōshō.

Tōshō is the brainchild of Olivia Go and Ivan Fonseca. Both share a love of food and an appreciation for the beauty of a well made knife. 

As a New York trained chef, Olivia gained an early respect for the tools of her trade, especially the functionality of her knives. Wishing to learn more on their care she sought instruction from a Japanese knife master at Korin. It was here she developed her passion for sharpening.

Returning to Toronto, Olivia pursued this passion, teaching classes in knife care. It was during this time that she serendipitously met the like-minded Ivan Fonseca who shared her passion.

A professional chef, Ivan Fonseca is also a master knife sharpener and polisher. He has been studying the properties of Japanese steel and the design of knives for over 20 years. Ivan introduced Olivia to the art of polishing and a deeper appreciation of the art of sharpening. Tōshō was born, and a knife care service soon blossomed into a Japanese knife importing business. 

Hand forged Japanese knives reflect a long tradition of sword making and a lineage of great craftsmanship.

At Tōshō there is an appreciation for who the knife makers are and an understanding of the art of the blacksmith.

As a polisher, Ivan takes the forged steel fashioned by the blacksmith. He creates the edge, and with an innate understanding of what the blacksmith has chosen to do with the steel, Ivan ’sees’ the shape of the knife.

With this depth of understanding and a curated collection of knives representing the pinnacle of the art, Olivia and Ivan educate clientele on what makes a great knife. With their backgrounds in the culinary arts, they relish introducing young chefs to the world of knives, opening their minds to new ways of thinking and working with their tools.

Today, clients from around the world send their knives in to be expertly polished and sharpened at Tōshō, always with an eye for the unique form and function of each knife.

Words and Pictures by Simon Riera

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