New West KnifeWorks : Park City, Utah | Jackson Hole, Wyoming | Napa Valley, California

On the Cutting Edge:

American Made
Chef Knives

Food writer, Amiel Stanek, sat down with New West KnifeWorks founder, Corey Milligan, to find out what gives his knives their cutting edge.

For as long as I’ve been a food writer, I’ve been in love with New West KnifeWorks.

No, seriously: Some eight years ago, when I had just started out as an assistant at a fancy food magazine, I snuck one of their 6” Petty Utility Knives out of a gift package meant for my boss (sorry not sorry!) and it has been an extension of my hand ever since. Prior to that point, I was a stubborn, all-you-need-is-a-chefs-knife kind of cook, but that super-sharp, nimble, not-too-short-not-too-long blade quickly became my perennial kitchen sidekick. Agile enough for delicate tasks like trimming vegetables and sharp enough to filet fish, it keeps an edge long after my other knives have been sent out for sharpening. All that and made in the US of A? What’s not to like?!

I’ve been worshiping at the altar of New West for years, and their blades have been my ace in the hole when I’m seeking out the perfect gift for friends and family who love the kitchen as much as I do. And while this isn’t the first time I’ve had the opportunity to write glowingly about these knives, it is the first time I’ve had a chance to shoot the breeze with Corey Milligan, the company’s founder, and hear a little bit more about what makes these very special knives tick.

By Amiel Stanek,  

Amiel is a cook, writer, and editor living in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Alright, Corey, how does a gentleman such as yourself get into the business of making knives?

Well, it all started about 25 years ago. I was working in Jackson Hole, and it was such a hustle—I was working as a raft guide during the summer and cooking in restaurants during the winter so I could ski during the day. I’ve always been a fun hog, and making knives started out as a hobby, something I could do when the skiing wasn’t any good. But it quickly grew from there, and I became obsessed with the idea of making knives that were not only artful, but the highest performing knives we could possibly make. Back then, as a line cook you had a choice between the cheap, white-handled commercial knife or the black-handled German knife—that was it. I knew from my experience as a cook what kind of qualities people were looking for in a knife, but also felt strongly that a knife should be beautiful, a pleasure to have and use. I think one of the secrets to cooking at home is to have tools that turn the process into a pleasure, otherwise it can feel like drudgery.

Totally. You don’t have to be any kind of expert to appreciate your knives aesthetically, but I’m curious to know what makes them so special from a technical perspective.

It’s all about the steel. Over the years we evolved from using Japanese steel to high-performance American steel, but we really took it to the next level when we started using steel made using the Crucible Particle Metal process, or CPM. CPM was actually developed in the 70s for aerospace and heavy industry applications, not knifemaking. Traditionally, steel for knives is made by melting the different materials together in a giant crucible that is then poured into a block, then cut or rolled into sheets or bars that are processed and shaped. In the process we use, the molten steel is poured into a device that is almost like a pressure washer, which shoots it out into chilled air that turns it into a powder that is gathered and sealed in a container. Then the outside air is heated to the forging point, which crushes the steel together. The game-changing advantage to CPM steel is that the alloys are more evenly combined and have a super small grain structure, which achieves the holy grail of knifemaking: it’s hard and tough at the same time, while also offering superior stain resistance.

“Ultra-Giftable”

Okay, that all sounds very cool, but what does that...mean exactly?

Right, so, when it comes to steel, “hardness” correlates to sharpness and the ability to hold an edge, while “toughness” refers to its capacity to take impact without chipping or breaking. Throughout the history of steel, hardness and toughness have always been thought of as opposites, and the knifemaker has to balance these two qualities. But CPM allows us to achieve both at the same time, meaning our blades can have a low-profile, achieve this unbelievable, super-sharp edge that stays sharp for a really long time—which is key for home cooks—and also won’t chip or break. In the whole time we’ve been using this process we’ve only had a handful of knives get sent back with chips, and that’s out of tens of thousands.

So what does the actual manufacturing process look like at New West?

Constantly evolving, constantly improving. We’re finally at a scale where we can do everything in house, under one roof. Right now, what’s really cool to me is that we’re throwing everything we’ve got at making the finest knife in the world, it’s the whole spectrum of manufacturing. We have super high-tech machines that can cut forms for us and rough things out, but the finishing of every knife is done by human hand—you just can’t do that with a machine. And every one of our knife makers takes each knife through the entire production process, beginning to end, rather than operating like cogs in a machine. You know, knifemaking isn’t a huge industry, and most outfits are slow to evolve, which gives us a huge competitive advantage. We’re not as tethered to tradition, which allows us to combine techniques and technology from all over the place in the service of making the best possible knives. And that’s really the thing that’s catapulted us forward.

Corey Milligan at the New West factory in Victor, Idaho

ULTRA-GIFTABLE KNIVES

COREY’S GUIDE TO SHARP GIFTS

Designed for my brother-in-law, who is a really accomplished restaurant chef, this is the one for the cook who has it all. Who doesn’t want to have the biggest knife in the room? And at 12 inches, it's a chopper and slicer in one rad package.

This is the knife for everyone on your list, no matter what their experience level. It’s the perfect level-up for someone who is just getting into cooking, and a welcome addition to the pro-chef’s knife roll.

A great fit for the active home cook looking for a chef knife but doesn’t have professional-level training. It’s super sleek and manageable for folks intimidated by a larger blade, and the etching provides a bit of flair while also allowing food to release more easily.

Eating with loved ones is more sacred than ever. These beauties as ceremony to the meal as everyone chooses their colors from the set. More importantly, the blade slides through a strip like butter.

Corey Milligan at the New West factory in Victor, Idaho

Jackson Hole | Victor, ID | Park City | Napa Valley | NewWestKnifeWorks.com  

TRANSFORM CHORES INTO A JOY

The vibrant colors of the G-Fusion line remind us that making nourishing, delicious food for those we love is an expression of who we are. We make tools to be an extension of the hand of the culinary artist.

G10: BEAUTIFUL AND BOMBPROOF

Don’t be fooled by the pretty colors, these handles are bombproof. Originally developed for the motherboard of a computer, this fiberglass laminate is extremely tough, feels good in the hand, and thrives in the hot and humid environment of a professional kitchen.

THE BEST STEEL FOR CHEF KNIVES

S35VN is the best steel available for kitchen use. Sharpness, edge-holding, stain-resistance, toughness: the powder metal process lets us pack in more carbon and special alloys with none of the tradeoffs of other high-carbon blades.

PROFESSIONALLY TESTED AND APPROVED

From top test kitchens like Bon Appetit and Food & Wine to Michelin star restaurants and your local favorite bistro, New West KnifeWorks is professionally tested and approved. “My Best Friend in the Kitchen.” Hunter Lewis, Editor in Chief, Food & Wine Magazine.

NATURE AND NURTURE: THE BEST OF BOTH

For those who prefer the natural look and feel of a wooden handle, we tested all the top candidates: Desert Ironwood rose to the top. One of the hardest woods on Earth, it makes a perfect companion in the kitchen for the cutting edge blade.

SKILLED AMERICAN MAKERS

A knife is an extension of the hand, which is why all of our knife handles are hand-finished in the USA. We don’t have an assembly line, each knife is taken through the entire knife-making process by one expert maker to ensure the quality of every blade.

SOLVING THE RIDDLE OF STEEL: POWDER ME

Traditional steel selection always involved trade-offs: too sharp and it becomes brittle, too much stain-resistance makes it cut like a butter knife, too tough and you can’t sharpen it yourself. S35VN steel gives our blades all the good qualities with none of the bad.

LIFETIME GUARANTEED

The craftsmanship of our knives is backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. We also offer free sharpening and service for all of our knives by mail or through our retail shops.

THE NEW WEST
DIFFERENCE.

Why are these the best chef knives on the market?

At New West, we respect tradition, but we don’t let it keep us from moving forward. We take the best traditional techniques, the most innovative materials, and design knives for the specific needs of the modern, eclectic kitchen.

What's with the colorful handles?

When you love the tools you use, you form a bond with them, and it makes you want to play with them more. This helps folks transform their relationship with food prep - turning everyday chores into an opportunity to play.

S35VN Is the optimal kitchen knife steel.

In the past, every good quality steel came with a negative side effect. For example, an ultra-sharp knife would be brittle. A super-tough knife would be difficult to sharpen. Powder metal lets us transcend the old paradigm so you get all the good and none of the bad.

Mountain Man (and Woman!) Made.

Our knives are made in the shadow of the Teton Mountains near Jackson Hole,. Besides being a foodie mecca, JH is a center for hard-charging outdoor enthusiasts. All of our knives are developed for and tested in the field by professional chefs, anglers, hunters, and foragers.

Knives guaranteed to last a lifetime.

We believe you only need ONE GOOD KNIFE to handle most of your cooking tasks- and that knife should provide you a lifetime of service in your kitchen. All of our knives are backed by a lifetime guarantee.

Do you ever have deals and specials?

Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to find out about special offers. Aside from the holidays, Spring Cleaning and National Knife Day, we occasionally have a very limited “Flash Sale” to clear out inventory. The knives sell out quick, so stay informed!

Production

7667 Lupine Lane, #101

Victor, ID 83455

877-258-0100

Jackson Hole, WY

98 Center Street Unit C

Jackson, WY 83001

307-733-4193

Napa Valley, CA

1380 Main Street

St. Helena, CA 94574

707-244-5188

Park City, UT

675 Main Street

Park City, UT 84060

435-649-7219

Customers

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