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I’m Anthony Topham…
and I handcraft kitchen knives
To make a phenomenal chef, and kitchen knife that anyone can take and feel like they can set the culinary world alight from their own kitchen.
Inspiration: How it all started.
I started making knives in 2015 after my sister had graduated from the Capsicum Culinary Studio in Cape Town and I wanted to give her a special gift to commemorate her achievement.
She had mentioned to me that most off the shelf/store-bought knives dug into her wrist due to their long handles, so we shortened the handle for her. She liked quite a curved blade geometry that’s synonymous with German chef knives. The blade shape really lends itself to roll cuts. She wasn’t quite into the flatter edges of Japanese knives as I am which is better for push cuts.
We also chose a more western style handle shape over an eastern octagonal handle, which was her personal preference.
That was the start of a really interesting journey for me as a part-time knifemaker specializing almost exclusively in kitchen knives.
I love making chef knives because they are in use every day to prepare food for either yourself or your family. A sharp knife can make a noticeable difference in changing a daily chore, into an enjoyable family activity. If you have felt frustrated with your current kitchen knives when cooking, a quality knife will make a world of difference.
Whilst my family is all very competent in a kitchen, I only caught the “bug” as it were, in 2008 during a year-long working holiday in France aboard a luxury hotel barge. The Saint Louis Hotel Barge cruised the 120 miles of tranquil canals that encompass the Canal de Garonne in South Western France. One can easily argue that there is a better place to discover French cuisine and wine (also Scotch Whiskey but that’s a different story). It was a truly magical year and proof that adventures await if you have the courage to pursue them.
Today my style is a blend of traditional Japanese and Western chef knives that result in light, nimble and extremely sharp blades that retain enough backbone to stand up to the regular kitchen chores.
- Steels: I use the best European stainless or high-carbon steels that I can source for my blades to ensure high hardness and great edge retention. Heat treatment is done in-house so that I have complete control over the process and ensure that the blades have the exact properties I’m looking for.
- Handle materials: I use durable synthetic materials like G10 for professional kitchen knives, various naturally abundant African hardwoods, and exotic stabilized burls that are sourced for their natural beauty, feel, and durability.
You can commonly purchase my work at the annual Durban Easter Knife Show, The Brooklyn Knife Show in Pretoria, and if you’re in the USA, via AfricanCustomKnives.
Do reach out to me as I may have blanks on the workbench ready to be customised to your specifications. Or sign up to my newsletter for the first option on finished knives that become available.
A Special Thanks
I’ve drawn upon the experience and camaraderie of my father (Roy) who is by nature a great tinkerer and by trade a structural steel draftsman. It’s in no doubt in whose footsteps I follow. He has helped me with various projects from equipment, equipping the workshop, and sourcing materials.
I joined the North Coast Knife Makers Club when I first started making knives. The members have been a great resource and inspiration to draw upon from the very beginning and continue to push me to this day. I’m currently the Chairman of the knife makers club and live in Hillcrest in KwaZulu-Natal South Africa, where I spend my free time making and refining my knife designs.
Together with Andrew Bell (A Bell Custom Knives), are the official distributors of Balbachdamast stainless damascus steel and titanium damascus alloys for the Southern Africa territory.