A 27-year-old man from Blainville is cutting up the competition when it comes to the niche market of hand-made chef’s knives.
Two years ago Gabriel Clerk began teaching himself the ancient tradition of Japanese knife-making, forging steel into a razor sharp blade.
“There’s a real community around this and I found a lot of people doing the same thing on Instagram,” he said. “There’s a lot of videos on YouTube, a lot of tutorials.”
The hobby soon became an obsession.
“I think everyone’s had the experience of trying to cut a tomato with a blunt knife and that’s just infuriating,” he said.
Now, Clerk has started his own business, called Couteaux CLK. He makes six different models of chefs’ knives, using stainless, high carbon and Damascus steel.
“Every knife is different so it’s a matter of choosing different materials, mixing materials together and just constantly trying to find something new,” he said.
The knife-making process involves heating blades to 2,000 F and then hammering and shaping them over and over. The shape of the knife is perfected and refined, with each one then baking for hours in a special over before being tempered in oil. Each handle is also handmade using wood or layers of acrylic.
The craftsmanship has caught the eyes of some of Montreal’s biggest culinary names, including chefs at Joe Beef.
“It was a great experience to meet with them and have them encouraging me to make more knives,” said Clerk.
Currently, Clerk is making around 10 knivers a month, with the average cost of around $300. He said demand has him booked up to November.
“You spend an hour cooking and then 20 minutes eating so you might as well enjoy the process,” he said.