Kitchen knife 101

Let's try something...

Go into your kitchen and add up what you reckon you've spent on all of your pans, gadgets, mixers and coffee machines.

 A few Savernake knives, ready to be finished

A few Savernake knives, ready to be finished

Go into your kitchen and add up what you reckon you've spent on all of your pans, gadgets, mixers and coffee machines. If you like to cook we'd be willing to bet, it's going to be a fairly substantial amount (not that there is anything wrong with that!). Now go to your drawer and see if you can remember what you spent on your knives. £4.99?  £50? £150? We'd be willing to guess it's a lot less than some of the gadgets that hardly get a look in (we’ve all got that juicer under the cupboards).

Let's be clear, this post is not all about spending a whole wad of cash on a knife. It's not a shameless plug for our friends over at Savernake Knives and even if it was that we doubt they'd be all that comfortable with it. Nope, this little blog post is about value.

We're often asked what our favourite piece of kitchen tech is, and of course we'd be lost without our coffee machines, palette knives and blowtorches but the truth is there is only one piece of tech that we and you NEED in the kitchen. A decent knife. That's knife, singular

 Laurie and Jack discussing knife designs

Laurie and Jack discussing knife designs

There's room in a kitchen for all sort of knives, from super flexible filleting knives to small serrated tomato knives. You may need an 18-set knife block, hats off if you do because that's a serious level of kit and you can probably teach us a thing or two! But generally, most people (and we include ourselves in this) only need one great kitchen knife and this will do 95% of your tasks in the kitchen, (okay, a bread knife is also pretty important!). When you consider the level of use your knife gets every day, from chopping up hulking great butternut squashes to finely chopping herbs, day in day out, the level of value one should place on a knife becomes obvious. Think back to how much value you placed on your knife in the shop and what you were prepared to spend over that juicer that's still in the box.

They are light but feel very strong, it gives you great confidence in the blade...
— Jack

We've always been obsessed with kitchenware. Jack used to sell kitchen gear for a living, including knives (and juicers) so we know what we're on about. Or thought we did. That is until we went down to the Savernake Forest in Wilshire to meet Philip and Laurie, co-founders of Savernake Knives.

Philip and Laurie have spent the last three years inventing a whole new way of crafting knives and in turn a new way to design them as well. Instead of forging the knife (as the vast majority of knives are made) they use a CNC machine to mill the knife, creating a super fine concave design that is lighter but as strong as your traditional knife. Amongst the many upshots of this process is that the guys can design a knife pretty much in any way they or the customer wants. Like a longer blade? No problem. Want a western style blade with a Japanese tip? Sure. Want a bespoke handle to perfectly fit your hands? Of course! This is truly bespoke craftsmanship and the end result is a knife created to work exactly as you need it to.

 It's all in the detail

It's all in the detail

Over the course of a brilliant morning we discussed with Laurie what we need from a knife, thinking about how we like to hold it, what feels comfortable, what gives most control. We discussed blade length, depth, point, edge… you name it, we talked about it. It brought up some interesting thoughts, it made us consider how we use knives in a way we had never thought about before. The resulting sketch was then translated into digital form by Laurie, a perfect 3D model that provides the information for the milling. As you can see it’s quite incredible just how different our initial designs were, especially considering we cook the same food, have the same needs for our knives and have broadly similar sized hands!

Having a knife like this is a real treat, it just works and does what you want it to do
— Billy

Skip forward a few weeks and we were lucky enough to receive our prototype knives. The purpose of these knives is to really test the design, to stress test the details, to ensure that the design is correct and to collate small changes and refinements that the guys can factor in when designing the finished knife. We’re currently testing our prototypes and our initial response is that they are seriously good pieces of kit, notwithstanding the design details that make them bespoke for us, the way the knives have been made really stands out. They are light but feel very strong, it gives you great confidence in the blade but also allows you to work at speed. It goes without saying that they are incredibly sharp and crucially they are easy to hone back to a sharp edge with a steel. They’ve been pushed over the last few weeks and so far, have performed exceptionally.

This brings us back to value.

 Happy Billy!

The knives that Laurie and Philip make aren’t cheap. Nor should they be, these are highly engineered, beautifully designed and proudly crafted pieces of equipment. If you’re looking for a chef’s knife, they start at £270 (probably less than the gadgets gathering dust in your cabinets) and without doubt will become the most important piece of equipment in your kitchen, to use day in day out. Look after the knife, keep it sharp and use it with care and you’ll still be cooking up a storm with it in twenty-five years, now if that’s not value, we don’t know what is.

The bespoke knife service starts at £750. If you’re into your cooking and value your equipment it doesn’t get much better than this.

To find out more info about Savernake Knives check out their website here.

We'll be documenting our experiences with the finished knives in the new year so check back!