Our fifth installment in our 'Meet' series, in which we interview and showcase some of the incredibly talented blacksmiths, leather smiths, woodworkers, etc., that we have the pleasure of working with.
Meet Dustin, a Chef of 15 years, a knife sharpener of 5, and owner of RealSharpKnife.com. Dustin got his start sharpening knives from friends and coworkers and now runs his own sharpening and restoration business, as well as making and selling beautiful, custom made Wa-style handles. Dustin's handles are incredibly stunning and expertly made, and best of all each one is unique. We couldn't be happier to represent such a dedicated industry professional and craftsman.
KNIFE: For those of us who don't know you, could you give us a little backstory into how you started cooking?
Dustin: I grew up spending a lot of time with my Grandma Pat. She made pierogies and pickles and various other things, and I was always her helper. Something intrigued me about cooking; you could make someone happy with food. I was the pickiest eater, though. Then I started working at a pizzeria as a dishwasher under the table and would get done with my work to go cook, only to get yelled at because I was only 14. At 17 I started working in a professional kitchen at the Buffalo Club, a double platinum city club.
K: What was your first culinary memory?
D: Making pierogi with my grandma. Probably also my most fond memories.
K: What was your favourite childhood food?
D: Hotdogs or pizza. Very picky.
K: What is something that you could eat everyday for the rest of your life?
D: Fried chicken or ramen for sure.
K: Since you love fried chicken and ramen so much, would you also be willing to cook it everyday?
D: I do actually, at work, but out of work absolutely not.
K: You're drunk, it's 2 am, it's cold, what are you eating?
D: Tsukemen or a spicy miso ramen.
K: Next morning, hungover as hell, what are you eating?
D: Pho with rare beef. There's something about the spices that cures a hangover quick.
K: You obviously love Japanese steel and/or knives in general. What was the first thing that sparked your obsession with Japanese knives?
D: It's always been the process. Sure, Damascus caught my eye, but I truly love Japanese culture. There's so much dedication and passion for their craft.
K: What was the very first knife you had? Do you still have it?
D: First kitchen knife was a Henckel Classic 8 inch chef knife. Then I moved to Shuns, then Anryu. They're all gone.
K: What is your favourite knife/knife shape?
D: Favourite shape is definitely a Kiritsuke. I would say my new Moritaka is my favourite at the moment.
K: Beyond the steel, you clearly love handle making and respect the 'total package' of the knife. So, why custom handles?
D: Honestly, it's because I wanted to buy one and everyone I talked to wanted a crazy amount of money. So I said I'm just gonna make them as a hobby and sell them; they pay for my hobby and I have cool handles for my knives. Unfortunately I haven't had time to make my own handles lately.
K: What's the wood/material that you like to use most in your handles?
D: Box elder burl or black ash burl. Both materials can show 3 or 4 colours after being stabilized. I like 'Loud.'
K: Your handles are so one-of-a-kind (which we love), so is it possible to make two handles exactly the same?
D: They will never be exactly the same because the grain of wood is different in every inch, but yes I can make duplicates or matching pairs, as long as I have enough of the same material.
K: As someone who hand makes custom pieces in an age of big industry and fast production, where do you see small businesses like yourself in the future?
D: I think small businesses are only growing now. People have wanted cheap and fast for so long. As a culture we are starting to appreciate hand crafted quality workmanship again. I'll be right here in my garage making handles and sharpening knives.
K: If you weren't doing the job you are now, what would you be doing instead?
D: Honestly I have no idea. I ask myself this every day. Probably a motorcycle mechanic.
K: If you could have dinner/drinks with someone famous, alive or dead, who would it be?
D: Escoffier. I know his methods are so dated but he built gastronomy as we know it today. I feel like I could pick his brain for hours.
Dustin's gorgeous, handmade, one-of-a-kind handles are the perfect addition to our shop, and we can't wait to see what he comes up with next.
To read more about the handles themselves, check out our post all about them here.
Thanks for reading,