What’s a chef without their knives? Knives are an extension of a chef’s body—a tool that shapes, crafts and manipulates ingredients to produce an expression of their creativity and an appetizing meal for customers. Without quality knives a chef could be rendered useless. This where expert bladesmith Quintin Middleton of “Middleton Made Knives” shines.
In an interview with Francis Lam, host of The Splendid Table, Quintin Middleton discussed his childhood love of swords to the rise of bladesmith career.
The Saint Stephen, South Carolina, bladesmith found himself enamored by the 1982 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, Conan the Barbarian. He wanted to be Conan so much that he made a makeshift rubber sword from his swing set and chased his brothers around. Years later, with rubber swords behind him, Quintin began training under his mentor Jason Knight who taught him how to make hunting knives and swords, then his dreams led him to a different craft—making chef knives.
Before Middleton Made Knives took off, Quintin decided to call up every top chef in Charleston, South Carolina, only to be turned down. Still determined to make a name for himself, he reached out to friend and former Cypress executive chef Craig Deihl, who gave him some assistance.
With the “ideal knives” in hand, chef Deihl’s sous chefs and chef de cuisine tried them, and they weren’t practical. Quintin said “No one bought it. Craig basically gave me that tough love. He said these are nice, these are cool. But this is too heavy. This is too thick. This is basically an ax.” After taking Deihl’s advice, word got around about Quintin’s custom-made knives and his company began to thrive.
Quintin didn’t stop learning after Middleton Made Knives became profitable. He continued to reach out to Deihl and chef Bob Cookwho were instrumental in his ability to make new knives to serve the needs of chefs. Quintin would observe how they hold their knives and think about how he could make their lives easier considering the long hours of a chef.
Through his research of Japanese, German and French knives, he made the ultimate knife. The profile is Japanese-like, the handle is European and a little notch on the chef’s knife (in particular) is taken from the Filipino machete. Essentially, what Quintin made was a comfortable, practical—and yes, even high-quality knife.
Through the American Bladesmith Society—a nonprofit corporation that encourages and promotes the art and science of forging metal, Middleton Made Knives passed a test to prove its quality. Made with high carbon steel, customers can expect “passion and skill. In every knife,” and can be purchase on his website.
You’ll find some knives like his 8’ damasteel Gyuto, Damasteel folding chef, 4’ damasteel paring knife and more. If the knives on his website aren’t what you are looking for then you can reach out to Quintin who will be more than willing to help develop the perfect knife to fit your cooking needs.