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. Forty-plus years on, I feel like 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, Cambridge 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 was lucky enough to learn basic skills the old fashioned way; boxes of chickens, bags of onions and carrots, and gallons of sauce at a time. Several years (and detours) later, as a bread baker at Stan Frankenthaler’s ‘Salamander’, I took first place Northeast region in the James Beard bread and pastry competition (1995).
Later that same year, after deciding to take a break from cooking, I took a welding class on a whim and was immediately swept up by the opportunity to make dreams come to life in metal through the magic of fire and electricity. My work began as ornamental, but I veered fairly quickly into the realm of functional objects and furniture. 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 1999, continuing my studies in metalwork, I enrolled in a bladesmithing class with master bladesmith J.D. Smith. and once again I found the door flung open to a banquet of irresistible possibilities and challenges I had never even imagined existed. The knives I began making and enjoyed the most turned out to be knives for cooking, which brought me full circle back to the sphere of culinary arts.
In 2001 I took MKS Design full time. I continued to study and make knives and in 2004 decided formally to address my own growing collection of sub-optimal and often downright annoying kitchen ephemera. This drawer, I surmised would be a familiar one to many and so I set about designing and building knives for cooking that would be a daily pleasure to use, easy to maintain, and compelling objects to have around. The MKS bicycle handle knife project was launched in earnest in late 2005
This first group of knives was designed to allow each knife to be hand fit in as many ways as possible at the point of assembly using blades and handle parts made to my specifications, in a reasonable amount of time, and at a reasonable cost. Blade production originally took place in Sheffield, UK, then Maniago, Italy (with the folks at Kelgin knife co-op in Sevierville, Tennessee stepping in to do an outstanding stop-gap run of paring knives along the way), and finally back home here in the US. With every new manufacturer, I was able to bring lessons learned from the previous, and as well, with each production run of a particular pattern, review all aspects (material / heat treating / geometry etc. with respect to my own as well as others’ observations of the various knives’ behaviors over time, then make changes as necessary. Currently MKS Bicycle handle blades are manufactured right here in Massachusetts from Sandvik 13C26,12C27 and Bohler AEB-L stainless steels. Final assembly is still done by me in Cambridge.
In 2007 demand for hand built custom designed knives began to grow and has since come to dominate my days. Blade patterns and handle styles have emerged (and continue to evolve) from scrutinizing (individual when possible) hands, habits, and body mechanics as well as knives both new and old /good and bad from all over the world. I’ve tested a number of different alloys in the context of daily use across a spectrum of food (potatoes, tomatoes, apples, lamb shanks, rabbits, chicken, fish, coconuts, chives, oysters…even ice) and sets of hands, and have landed on what I consider to be the best stainless, cs, carbon, and tool steels available for the patterns I’m building.
In early 2013 I was grateful to have succeeded in a crowdfunding endeavor to finance ramping up production of the first two patterns in a new semi-custom ready made line based on a favorite chefs knife pattern. The name of the line is ‘Adam Simha, Custom’ and I plan to continue production in addition to ongoing custom work and add to the line on a regular basis.
More soon…very sharp, very exciting!