A Fond Farewell from Critical Edge Knife Sharpening

July 9, 2014

We are sad to report that Critical Edge Knife Sharpening will no longer be at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Bob Kattenburg has decided to retire his knife sharpening business after 19 years.

One of the earliest vendors in the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, Bob will be dearly missed by CUESA and the market community. We want to thank him for his friendship and dedication, and for keeping our knives in such good condition over the years!

We wish Bob and his wife, Jill McFadden, who helped manage the business, a happy retirement and much joy in their future endeavors. As a farewell, Bob shared the following reflections:

Nineteen-and-a-half. That’s a nice, round number. That’s how many years Critical Edge and I have had the pleasure of being associated with CUESA and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. During those years, all three entities have grown tremendously….really, beyond anything imaginable. We have all been in a symbiotic relationship with one another. It’s been quite a process!

The Critical Edge officially started in May 1993 as an exciting concept for a much-needed midlife career change. My wife, Jill McFadden, was the catalyst for this adventure. Once planted, that seed rapidly grew into a reality that kept on evolving and expanding, to take on the form of the past 15 years or so.

Thanks to a suggestion by master apple grower Stan Devoto of Devoto Gardens, I started at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on a provisional basis in late November 1994. The sharpening was done by hand with Arkansas stones on the tailgate of my old red 1964 Ford pickup, with a homemade canopy setup resembling a Lincoln Log creation covered with a blue tarp, all held together by gravity and bungee cords. Fortunately, both the nature and quality my sharpening equipment, as well as the quality, size, and working comfort of my truck(s) improved over the years—not to mention, the quality of my sharpening skills.

On the people side of my years with CUESA and the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, I have developed an untold number of wonderful relationships with members of the market staff. One of the most impressive aspects of this is how young market employees are hired, mentored, challenged, and given room grow and blossom in their jobs, and, over time, be promoted to positions of greater responsibility. It’s been great to see.
The list of friendships among farmers and fellow vendors is almost endless. In some cases, Jill and I had the pleasure of visiting a number of farms, being given personal tours and shown how these fruits and vegetables are grown. More recently, we took advantage of daylong CUESA farm tours. Those were terrific. I recommend them highly.

Being able to shop here, but also trading sharpening services in exchange for fruits, veggies, and other edibles, including seafood, bread, cheese, preserves, and coffee drinks, to name a few, increased the variety and quality of our daily meals. We’ve been so fortunate. There are many products such as dried beans, cheese, bread, and seafood available at Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and in the Ferry Building and nowhere else. That alone will lure Jill and me back for monthly Saturday adventures.

I’ve intentionally left my many, many customers/friends for the end (who remembers Dom DeLuise’s “Save it for the end!”?). You have made all these years of Saturdays (as well as five or six years of Tuesdays) a constant joy. All the conversations about families, cooking, and recipes, travel plans and experiences, knives and knife care. Seeing kids grow from childhood to young adults.
I’d come home after a 10-hour day and talk Jill’s ears off. Being at the market just energized the heck out of me. It took me a while to unwind. Great days!

So, thank you, all: Sibella, Judy, Dexter, Lulu, Dave, Christine, Julie, Brie, Andrea, Mike, George, et al., Jane, Louie, Rani, Morgan, David, Lee, Linda, Eric, Tori, Rebecca, Tori, Jr., Sarcus, John, Ed, Kathleen, Kelly, Zach, Haddi, Javier, Mike, Sally, Soyoung, Fabian, June, Joseph, Dan, Adam, Howard, Rose, Rey, Rogelio, John, Ian, Poli, Sylvia, Adrian, Alex, Marcie, Ana, John, George, Glenn, Steve, Elizabeth, Mollie, Robert, Christina, Karen, Paulette, Joe, Thomas, Ben, Sam, Tiff, Kate, Beto, Lale, Lore, Keith, Jasmine, Michael, Sandra, Emerald, Dana, Nick, Drew, Monica, Brian, Ben, Bill, Talia, Will, Larry, Roz, Nigel, Lorraine, Stan, Jolie, Vince, Cesar, Sebastian, Tom…deep breath…Paul, Maurice, Richard, Ellie, Bob, Maria, Vanessa, Judy, Robin, Claude, Wendy, Claudia, Tom, Minnesota Steve, Kazuko, Masahiro, Jean, Lionel, Renee, John, Mark, Lupe, Michelle, Tony, Mario, Tim, David, Candice, John, Kimi, Maya, Michael, Jeremy, Paul…and there are so many more, too many to list here. Every one of you has had a part in helping me create a very rich life here at the market, at home, and elsewhere. It’s been lovely. We will be here to shop on a monthly basis. I look forward to seeing you.

Finally, I want to acknowledge and thank my many assistants over the years: Britta, Jim, Maya, John, Lore, Molly, Ben, AnnaMarie, Ashley, Susan, Mary, and, saving the best for last, my wife, Jill McFadden. It is said, that in business you have one chance to make a good impression, and you all were my front line.