In February 2003, at the Ambiente Trade Fair in Frankfurt, one conversation revolutionized the history of the KAI Group’s kitchen knives. The third generation President Koji Endo had been visited by French chef Michel Bras. He is a genius cook who won three Michelin stars for his independent restaurant. Bras was also helping his mother run an inn at the heart of Aubrac, a beautiful region to the south of France. The meeting was arranged by people who knew the uncompromising spirit of both of them. This encounter led to the flagship model of the international kitchen knife business and the birth of the “Michel BRAS” series.
Koji and Bras, who met with each other for the first time, talked about the development of a kitchen knife. From that conversation, the two-year “Michel BRAS” development project began. Koji emphasized the spirit of “craftsmanship”, where excellent craftsmen created knives that are closely linked to people's lives one by one. They also instructed the production team to deliver all of Bras’ requests, no matter how expensive. And so, “creating the best knife” began. Development was based on “Shun”, which was already successful in Europe and the United States. The design came from an idea from Bras, who exchanged opinions and used samples at the restaurant to improve the knife components. After two years of development, seven models (currently 10) in the “Michel BRAS” series were created.
The thought was, “These seven are enough to make a full course meal at the Bras restaurant.” However, because of Bras’ design requests, each knife had an average price of $300. This is 2.5 times the price of Shun, which was known as a high-end series. However, Koji decided to make “the best knife” first, rather than chasing a profit. In March 2005, starting with the Tokyo headquarters, a “Michel BRAS” press conference was held at various locations overseas. During the first year, the strategy was to raise product value in the global brand by selling at the world's leading luxurious shops.
Even with small quantities, this would prepare the European and United States markets. Later, larger domestic sales channels have blossomed brilliantly.
And now, the “Michel BRAS” series has expanded its lineup to include a wide variety of KAI products.
In 2019, the KAI Group celebrated its 111th anniversary. At the commemorative new product launch, they announced the theme of “NEXT VISION 111”. These initiatives for the next generation focus on environmentally friendly products in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), as well as new razors, cosmetics, and household product lineups. These products are a symbol of the company’s spirit of remembering past challenges. KAI is now challenging each other to reach the next stage.