Our collaboration with Blenheim Forge came about through a chance Twitter connection. Someone saw a tweet about them and, knowing us well, thought we would probably be interested.
Saunders takes up the story:
"Could it be true? An English forge making Japanese style blades out of very high-end steel? My blood pressure rose and I subsequently set up a meeting to see what they were up to. I travelled south of the river to an area that was known for knives but in a very different way. Like most creative start-ups in London I ended up under a railway arch. Tucked away in the corner was the forge in all its Dickensian glory.
The guys running the place had an impressive setup but I was most excited about the display cabinet in the corner full of knives. There were two main types on display, the gyuto which is closest to a western chefs' knife and the nakiri which is a thin cleaver style knife used predominately for vegetables. These two shapes came in several different steel flavours. I went away that evening with a knife to trial."
We wanted to change the specification of the knives that the forge were producing to create a knife exclusive to Kitchen Provisions. Four days later and we were summoned to the forge, armed with vegetables and a chopping board, to see the prototype for the first knife.
Who are Blenheim Forge?
Blenheim Forge produces hand-forged kitchen knives in Peckham. They choose their raw materials carefully with an emphasis on performance. With a view to ensure the final quality of the knife, they insist on completing the entire production process by hand in their workshop.
Check out the video we took at the forge:
Why Japanese style blades?
The real difference with Japanese blades is the steel. Even the stainless steel ones, have a very high carbon content of 1% and above. This enables them to be hardened to over 60 on the Rockwell scale. Even the very best German knives can't achieve this. In practice this means that the knife is able to take a fantastically steep edge ensuring a razor sharp blade.
The knife, if managed correctly, will take on a beautiful patina. We have all seen those not-so-shiny knives in Grandma's kitchen drawer. These high carbon knives that used to be shiny like the stainless steel knives we all own now. The discolouration is controlled rust called a patina. If you leave high carbon knives with acidic tomato juice on them they will rust. We always have a tea towel or kitchen paper on hand to dry the knife immediately after use. Even with these precautions a patina will form over time. This is a good thing as it will protect the knife from further rust. The change to the surface may sound scary but going back to your Grandma's knives, they are still around and probably a lot sharper than anything you have at home.
"I am a self confessed kitchen knife geek. Whether it's waxing lyrical about metallurgy or simply sharpening and using my knives I take great pleasure in it. Following several stints in kitchens and an abattoir, I developed a love for blades and their maintenance, in particular ensuring they were sharp and keeping my colleagues' hands off my knives.The real catalyst came when I was first introduced to Japanese-style blades.
It makes me immensely proud to be able to put this product on our website. A collaboration with a forge is the stuff my dreams are made of. Please keep an eye on this space as more knives of different shapes and steels will follow."