It’s a meaty fortnight at HotJoint and one thing you’ll always need is a good knife. That’s where Blenheim Forge comes in – the choicest hand-forged knives in London
How did you get into knives?
James and I got into knife making as a hobby around three years ago. We started out with a very modest set-up in our backyard, which gradually became more serious. When this arch became available we decided to take over the space and try to make a business out of it.
How did you all meet up?
James and Rich went to Uni together, and I was James’s housemate. When Rich returned from cycling round the world we set him up with free lodging in a tiny cupboard under our stairs and got him to work with us.
What’s the secret of making a good knife?
That’s a tough one. A lot of it is in the quality of your set-up in terms of both tools and materials. However, there is a pretty steep learning curve for the necessary skills to hand forge a knife and you have to be ready for a lot of trial and error before you can make anything half decent.
What’s the best way to sharpen a knife at home?
We recommend starting off with a basic Japanese whetstone – combination stones of around 1000/6000 grit are pretty good value for money. There are plenty of tutorials online on how to use these, but practice is essential. The main difficulties are maintaining a correct and constant angle between the knife and the stone and finding the right amount of pressure on the blade.
Who buys your knives, what are they looking for?
Starting off, our customers were mainly locals who had heard of us through word of mouth. With time, we began to attract more interest from professional chefs, and through social media and some press attention we reached a much wider audience.
What are your first food-loving memories?
My mother was born in India and is a phenomenal cook. Her dhal and rice, which is incomparable to any of the stodgy stuff available in restaurants, and of course, fish curry spiced to perfection, are some of my earliest memories and are still my favourite foods by a long way.
What’s the dream for Blenheim Forge?
There’s some large tools we’d love to get, and we’d like to have our process streamlined to free more time for doing custom orders or special edition blades. Other than that, I’d say that the dream is actually to keep things going as they are right now..
What would you have for a death row meal?
I’d go for a Brick Brewery Peckham Pils for beverage, and chicken hearts and a black pudding beef burger with chips from Slow Richie’s (see pic). And a bottle of Wray and Nephew’s overproof rum (good old uncle Wray) for dessert.
What’s your favourite London restaurant and why?
At the moment, and for the past few months actually, it’s a Kurdish place in Peckham called Yadas. It’s our number one lunch spot. We’ve tried everything on the menu and never been let down, plus the portions are huge and the prices are ridiculously cheap for the quality of what you’re getting. Highly recommended!
Interview with Jon Warshawsky