Knife Skills
Home-cooks and pros alike are investing in handcrafted, custom-made knives
Life / 5 May 2011
Some foodies will always try to up their gastronomic game with complicated kitchen appliances. But a growing desire to simplify is compelling many cooks to abandon gadgets and invest, instead, in kitchen staples that will last a lifetime. Enter artisan bladesmiths, whose custom-made, handcrafted knives have cooks of all levels forking over their cash.
Made “by hand, for the hand, from reused and reclaimed materials,” knives crafted by Christopher Harth for his line NYCutlery are sure to meet eco-consumers’ demands for transparent sourcing. Steel for the blades is sourced from retired sawmill blades, and the handles’ prettily patterned, close-grain wood comes from the buckthorn tree, an invasive species that crowds out native plants and so must be destroyed (sometimes, as in Harth’s case, with artistic consequences). As each knife is balanced to its owner’s hand, no two are alike in fit and appearance. Harth currently sells via Green in BKLYN, but act fast, because he plans to cease production at 1,000 knives.
Middleton Made Knives
Twenty-five-year-old Quintin Middleton credits Conan the Barbarian as the inspiration for his foray into bladesmithing—and if Schwarzenegger seems an unlikely muse, think again. Middleton apprenticed for six years under master bladesmith Jason Knight, and ultimately opened up shop in St. Stephen, SC. His hand-crafted knives are designed to each customer’s specifications and marketed to professional chefs. Potential customers can schedule a consultation for a customized knife, or can purchase them ready-made from specialty shops like Charleston Cooks and Whisk. Buyers as well as broke voyeurs can get a glimpse of Middleton’s painstaking process in an engrossing mini-doc created by lifestyle photographer Jonathan Stout.
Cut Brooklyn
In his tiny Gowanus, Brooklyn workshop, Cut Brooklyn bladesmith Joel Bukiewicz will spend 10-12 hours crafting a single artisan knife. He uses exclusively American-made materials: high carbon steel, durable glass fabric laminate, and an epoxy seal. The resulting knives feature brightly colored handles and super-thin, full-bellied blades that bear Cut Brooklyn’s swirly stamp. The workshop holds open hours twice weekly, welcoming customers to drop in for knife-sharpening and browsing (hanging on the wall are “fresh knives for sale,” priced upwards of $250), though chefs with specific needs are invited to contact Bukiewicz for a consultation. There’s a year-plus wait list for custom orders, so gift seekers should plan accordingly.
©The Intelligence Group