A chef’s most important physical tool is his knife. It is his heart and soul. Without it a chef cannot create delicious food. So it is no surprise that every chef values a good knife. To that end, there are many choices for professional and amateur chefs to choose from. But what if you had the choice to not only get a high quality knife, but get one that is unlike any other out there in the world. Well thanks to Tony Lurhman, Houston has its very own custom cutlery maker right here in town.
Tony is an IT professional by day. He was headhunted while in grad school as a Project Manager for a medical software company in Wisconsin. But what he really loves to do is to work with his hands in both metal and wood working; and knife making is a great way to do both. Tony grew up in a blue collar household and spent a lot of his childhood in the garage with his dad. When he was up in Wisconsin he really missed working with his hands. Once Tony moved back to Houston he was able to get back in the shop and started to hone his knife making skills.
Now Tony wants to turn his passion into something more than just a side job and has eet up his shop in his garage. When making his custom cutlery, Tony uses a wide variety of materials. He uses different types of steels for the blade depending on what its intended use is going to be. The design of the blade for chef knives is one he came up with. He also uses an assortment of materials for his handles; everything from exotic woods such as pink ivory or lignum vitae to manmade materials such as canvas micarta.
Handles are where Tony feels he excels. He likes to make everything himself because he feels he can put the time and take the care to make it right. Each knifes takes about 20 hours of labor to complete after the request and design has been made. Tony really enjoys the person being able to come over and hang out (and possibly drink a beer) while he makes you a knife. Once the knife is complete, Tony rigorously tests each knife to make sure it is of the highest quality. To test his knives he cuts through a tree branch and then through a free hanging manila rope. Each blade should be able to do both these feats and still be sharp enough to shave the hair off your arm.
After talking to Tony, he let me use a couple of his knives and I must say they are a thing of beauty. Not only did they cut well, they just felt right in my hands. I got to handle two slightly different designs, the sway back chopper and the sway back workhorse. The chopper, due to its handle material, had more heft to it than the workhorse, but both worked very well. After having the knives in my hand and using them, I could tell a great deal of pride and effort went into making them. Not only would I be happy using one of these knives in the kitchen, I would be proud to show it off! If you are interested in his work he can be found at www.luhrmancutlery.com.