leave your inhibitions at the door
Literally and figuratively…
A couple of months ago, I visited Brooklyn for the first time. Back then I said that it was to check out the place most people think is the epicenter of all that’s cool, but that ‘s not the complete story. I was on a mission: to try to get a knife from Cut Brooklyn.
I figured I’d do some exploring first before I went to the shop, but immediately found myself in a not so savory neighborhood. I was almost going to bail out of my mission and get back to the familiar streets of Soho. However, when I ducked into the nearest subway station, I noticed that the train would take me right by Cut Brooklyn. I knew had to go.
Joel Bukiewicz makes kitchen knives there by hand out of the best materials available, using the a design developed over several years, and with a sharp eye for detail. While most knives are made by machines in matter of minutes, Joel spends many, many hours to transform sheets of carbon steel into works of art. No two knives are exactly alike – he tries to make every single one better than the last one. They certainly aren’t for everyone and are very expensive. But the way I see it, I’ve spent more money on art that hang on walls that may or may not hold my interest in coming years. So spending money on a piece of art that can be used every day for the rest of my life and my kids’ lives doesn’t sound so bad. They also are like art in that, even if money’s not an issue, it’s still very difficult to get one. The standard process is that they make a few knives a month, post pictures of them on their website, and the first person to respond via Twitter gets them.
When I got to the shop, I started chatting up the staff, explaining how I had come all the way from exotic Michigan to check out the shop. They were nice enough to let me try out some of the knives that were already sold. I was instantly impressed with the precision and speed I could go through some carrots.
Joel himself came up and I started chatting with him as well. He offered to give me a tour of the workshop and explain the different processes that go into making each knife.
Thankfully, I came across this terrific video that goes through the process way better than I could with my crappy iPhone pictures. It also tells Joel’s story of how he went from aspiring novelist who started making knives in his shed to master artisan.
After a while, he mentioned that he did have an extra blade hanging around and he’d be glad to make me a knife if I wanted. Apparently a married couple was going to buy a few of them for their different residences and this one wasn’t needed.
Notice the name on the blade? It says “Paltrow”. Yes, it’s this one -
When Joel first mentioned it, he said that “Gwyneth Paltrow’s husband” picked them out. Of course I had to inform him that said husband, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, is actually the more famous of the two in my household. Regardless, it was at that point that I knew I had to have it. Not only would I be purchasing one of the best knives in the world/ piece of fine art, I would be able to say, “I have Chris and Gwyneth’s knife.” The coolness factor just went through the roof.
After picking out the handle color and my choice of custom pins, the only thing left to do was wait. After a few weeks it arrived with it’s own handmade, wooden cover.
I’m going to post a comparison with other knives later, but the combination of heft, balance, and agility is out of this world. To quote Joel, these are built to perform like race cars. He’s not exaggerating.
Is it worth it? From a knife perspective, probably. But when you factor in everything else, the answer is a resounding “HECK YEAH!”
What would you have done if you were in my shoes?