Today is a very special day for me, because I get to welcome my cousin, friend, and knife maker, Brandon Hayter of BH Craft, to the team. Brandon is The Delicious Manifest’s newly appointed knife-expert. He will make guest appearances from time to time to help us brush up on kitchen knowledge and hone our skills with the cook’s most important tool: the knife. Today I get to pick his brain to help us understand a bit more about the world of knives.
First off, Brandon, why don’t you tell everyone a little bit more about yourself.
Hello all! My name is Brandon Hayter, and I am the owner of BH Craft. I am a Mechanical Engineer by day, and maker by night. BH Craft is a passion project I started that delivers functional beauty with its kitchen products. It is my goal to create items that make everyday tasks more efficient and more beautiful.
And let me be the one to say, you are TOTALLY doing that! I cannot tell you how much I love my most recent purchases from you. (The knives in these photos were both made for me by Brandon last year. I got to choose everything from the type of steel, size and shape of blade, down to the pin detail, liner material, and of course – the stunning handles. To view the specifications of each knife, scroll to the bottom of the post).
Your knives make cooking even more enjoyable for me, since they were designed specifically for my hand size and the foods I cook with most often. Not to mention, they are bloody gorgeous!! I gawk at them all the time whenever they are laying on my cutting board, haha.
So, let me ask you a few questions about our metal companions:
First of all, why should people use good quality knives?
Before I can explain why someone should use a quality knife, I feel it is necessary to define quality. The term quality has been subject to many debates over the years, and entire books have been written on the subject. ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,’ is a great example. The description I believe most completely describes quality is, “An item that brings joy into your life.” Therefore, to decide if one item is of higher quality than another, you have to see which brings more joy into your life. When applying this to a knife, we can break it down into three categories: performance, beauty, and cost. A quality knife will bring you joy in prepping, cooking, and baking by effortlessly slicing through food. The knife should be beautiful, and every time it is picked up it should spark joy. It should also be within your budget, so there are no negative emotions when being used.
Brilliant! Now, what exactly makes a good quality knife?
First and foremost, a quality knife must do what a knife is supposed to do… cut. In order to properly cut, the knife must have correct metallurgy, geometry, and a razor-sharp edge. There are many elements that go into producing the perfect steel for a knife. To summarize, the knife has to be hard enough to hold an edge through regular use, but not be too hard that it chips, breaks or is impossible to sharpen. The knife should also have the correct geometry for its design. For example, a paring knife should fit comfortably in the palm of the hand with a blade that is short enough to control when food passes over it. The knife should be as thin as possible for the designed task. The thinner the knife, the sharper it can become and more easily it can cut. However, the thinner the knife is, the less abuse it can take. For example, a knife designed to cut soft fruits can be thinner than a knife designed to chop roots and tubers. The next aspect is how ergonomic the knife is. The handle and blade geometry should be shaped so that it fits comfortably in the hand and does not cause strain after hours of use.
So many things to know! I am starting to see why you, a Mechanical Engineer, took interest in this craft! So, why should we always cut with a sharp knife?
The true secret to cooking is a sharp knife. A sharp knife makes every cut more efficient, which reduces strain on the body. It gives more accuracy, which produces more consistent and better-looking slices of food. It even makes the food taste better, since it causes less tearing and oxidation damage. Don’t believe me? Taste test two samples of basil: one cut by a razor-sharp knife and one torn by a dull knife. A sharp knife will also greatly increase the speed at which you can cut food, which reduces the amount of prep time.
I can definitely vouch for all of that! I only recently began purchasing quality knives, but before that, I always cut with a sharp knife. It makes the job so much easier, faster, and safer! Almost every time I cut myself in the kitchen, it was because I used too much force with a dull knife.
So, tell us, how should we care for our knives to make them last as long as possible?
Use: When you upgrade to quality cutlery, you want to take care of it so it will not get damaged or become dull. Make sure the knife is only used on wood (preferably) or plastic cutting boards. Never cut on countertops or glass cutting boards, and only use the knife for its intended purpose – it is not a saw or a can opener.
Wash: Always hand wash your knife. Rub soap on it, then rinse, and towel dry. Do not put knives in the dishwasher, as the high-pressure water will bang the knife around and cause it to hit other objects. The soap used in dish washers has particles in it that can also chip the blade.
Storage: It is best to store knives so they do not come into contact with other hard objects. This means do not leave the knife loose in a drawer. Options for storage are: a drawer knife rack, a knife block, magnetic knife rack, or blade guard.
Perfect! Thank you for all of that. Now, one last question. Why should people support local makers like yourself over the ‘big guys’?
When it comes to buying any item, there are thousands of options to choose from. The consumer gets to decide whether they buy the mass-produced item or the handmade one. When a major company makes a product, their focus is on profit margins. When a local craftsman makes a product, their concern is whether or not the customer will love it. Making a knife typically takes between 15-20 hours of hard labor, finesse, and love. When you buy from a local craftsman, you are not paying for the long hours they put in. In reality, you are often just covering the cost of materials, and giving them the opportunity to pursue their passion. What you get in return is a product of far greater quality than you would find in a store. You also get a great story of how your product was made just for you. Every time you use it, you can remember the smile the craftsman had on their face upon delivery.
Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Brandon. Your passion for your work is clearly shown through the beautiful pieces of art you are creating. I cannot wait to purchase my next BH Craft original, and to have you back to teach us more about the world of knives!
Thank you so much Dal! It has been so much fun! Can’t wait to come back. =)
Hop on over to Brandon’s website to view his stunning products, and to order your own gorgeous, custom knife! Also, make sure to follow him on Instagram to keep up with his latest works and inspiration. You can find out more about Brandon on our page of Contributors.