Joel Bukiewicz of ‘Cut Brooklyn’

Words and photography: Cory White

Ex novelist turned artisan knife maker Joel Bukiewicz is so good at what he does that his back orders from New York’s most elite Chefs and foodies are years beyond his production capabilities. That’s no mean feat for a guy who abandoned his career as a writer to work with his hands. A career and life choice that a lot of men often consider but sadly never indulge.

On a stormy day in Gowanus Brooklyn, Joel made time , in a hectic schedule, for me to document his skills . A real indication that Joel is as passionate about the craft as he is sharing the love with like minded souls. And as the rain literally poured into the basement of Cut Brooklyn, we sweated and chatted in what felt like a workshop turn sauna and I came to realise the true artisan craft of knife making. The way a knife cuts, moves and even feels in hand are as scientific as they are instinctual for Joel. I had never considered the importance until Joel explained patiently to me the process of creating the perfect knife.  Needless to say, life at home in the kitchen seems a little less glamorous now that I’ve felt a real knife in hand. Here I give you a sneak peek into the world of an American knife maker. And to be honest , I am a wee bit jealous .

Nicknames: Mose.

Current weather report: 26 degree F, snow.

From where are you answering these questions? A beat-up ski lodge in Vermont.

Why knives? Because a knife is a tool of entropy, and also of creation.

Where did you grow up as a child? Schenectady, NY.

What song reminds you of your parents? ‘Me And Bobby McGee’.

Favourite  smell in the kitchen? Onions and Garlic in the pan.

What artist gets repeat airplay at Cut Brooklyn? Bruce, Langhorn Slim, Steve Earle.

Coffee of choice? Crop to Cup’s Uganda Sebei.

Best and worst element of living in New York? Best: the people. Worst: the difficulty getting away.

Given your deserved success, where do you see yourself in 5 years? In my shop, making knives, loving my wife.

Favourite place to eat in Brooklyn? Vinegar Hill House.

At what stage does a skill or craft become art? When you’ve mastered the physical language of your craft you may attempt to make art with the skills you’ve earned. But the craftsman does not always have the artist inside. The craftsman has a calling, the artist has an itch.

Stones or Beatles? Stones.

How many times a day do you cut yourself? I cut myself just a little when I finish each knife, to see that it’s biting right. But that’s on purpose. I grind off a knuckle now and then, but don’t cut my self accidentally very often.

Describe Australia in one sentence: Sun, surf, local fare, women glowing, men plundering… that’s a shot in the dark, I’ve never been.

Would you ever swap knives for paper and pen now? I hope to be able to craft with both some day, but I’m a knifemaker for life.

Worst habit? Chewing tobacco

Will Obama be re-elected? Yes.

Is it possible to create the perfect knife? Yes, and no.

A world without computers would be? Quiet.

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