My great uncle Harvey was a butcher. Harvey’s knives were always really really sharp. Even before I was officially allowed to use a real knife, I remember being quite impressed. Thirty five years later, think I’ve almost got my knives as sharp as Harvey’s...
My first job in the food business was at fifteen years old behind the counter at the F&T Diner, an historic fixture in Kendall Square, near M.I.T. where I later attended college. At 20, I learned to make ice cream from Gus Rancatore at Cambridge’s world famous Toscanini’s Ice Cream. After graduation, physics degree in hand I went to work as garde manger at a wonderful restaurant called Michela’s where I had the pleasure, daily, of having the basic skills involved in preparing Italian cuisine pounded into me by souschef Sharon Feldman. Several years later, as a bread baker at Stan Frankenthaler’s ‘Salamander’, I took first place in the James Beard Northeast region bread and pastry competition (1993).
In 1995, I took a welding class on a whim and was immediately swept up into making dreams come life in metal through the magic of fire and electricity. I soon began an avid and continuing study of modern design. In 1998 I formed MKS Design to pursue the practice of furniture and homewares design and fabrication.
In 2000, I enrolled in a knifemaking class at the Massachusetts College of Art with master bladesmith J.D. Smith. Once again I found myself standing before a banquet of irresistible possibilities and challenges I had never before imagined existed. 3 years later, after several forged blades and a number of pre-production prototypes, the MKS /knife project began in earnest.
The various patterns in the line were developed in reaction to a growing collection of sub-optimal and often downright annoying kitchen ephemera -a familiar drawer to many. In particular, when looking for knives that would be a daily pleasure to use and compelling objects to have around, none really seemed to have it all without compromise.
Prototypes emerged (and continue to evolve) from scrutinizing everything from 1940’s/50’s era carbon steel Sabatiers (France) and Dexter Russells (US), to knives from Germany, Italy, and Japan. Blades of a number of different alloys were tested in the context of daily use across a spectrum of food (squash, potatoes, tomatoes, apples, lamb shanks, rabbits, chicken, fish, baby bok choi, chives, watermelon etc.) and by several different sets of hands. In the end of course there was no one right answer. Everyone had a preference based on their own hands, habits, and experience…So, It seemed only natural to try and develop a line of knives around a design that allowed each knife to be tuned to fit in as many ways as possible in a reasonable amount of time and for a reasonable amount of money.
Blade production was initially in done in Sheffield, UK, then shifted to a small company in Italy ( the folks at Kelgin knife coop in Tennessee also stepped in to do an outstanding run of paring knives). In the process, each pattern has been reviewed and I've had the chance to incorporate my own observations as well as others' of the various knives’ behavior over several years and make changes as necessary. Currently MKS production blades are manufactured right here in Massachusetts!
Despite having switched gears professionally, my enthusiasm for food and cooking has only grown stronger over the intervening years and is as much at the heart of this line of knives as is my passion for design.
More soon...very sharp, very exciting!