Some of the sting of losing the beloved Kimball Art Center (now located on Kearns Boulevard) to commercial space has been tempered with the addition of New West KnifeWorks, a gallery of handmade knives opened by Jackson Hole craftsman Corey Milligan. Milligan, a hard-charging outdoor enthusiast (at the time of our interview, he had a fat lip from snowboarding and a shiner from rugby), began channeling his passion for food and all things wild into knife making in the late ’90s, selling enough product to expand his manufacturing space from 2,000 to 10,000 square feet and open additional stores in Napa, California, and Park City. It’s worth mentioning that in addition to teaching his kids to ski and snowboard, kayak, hunt, and fish, he and his wife have taught them how to cook—as in, really cook. Two years ago, their then-11-year-old won the Food Network’s first-ever Chopped Junior grand championship.
Perhaps in response to the inevitable hangover of Amazon shopping, the hunger for handmade products is at an all-time high. The ins and outs of cake baking, motorcycle refurbishing, and a host of other DIY transformations have been televised and video-shared ad infinitum, but few crafts are more compelling than knife making. The process is riveting—raw steel burned red hot and bent at will, with sparks cascading off the grinder throughout. And while these knives are undeniably beautiful, they are also highly functional. Although the etching on the knives’ surfaces mimics mountain ranges or the burl of wood grain or a bird’s-eye view of an arctic tundra, they also deflect food.
There are two paths to take at KnifeWorks: a line of G-Fusion kitchen knives ($125 and up), or one-of-a-kind chef’s knives crafted from Damascus steel ($800 and way up). The company, recently touted as no. 1 on a New York Times gift list, is the only manufacturer of high-end kitchen cutlery in the nation. “We don’t sell our products to other retailers,” Milligan explains. “You can only see and feel them in real life in Jackson Hole and Napa and now Park City.”
The displays created to store these knives are also works of art—blocks of sustainably harvested hardwood or stone and wood orbs of river rock and woodgrain. Add one of these mini sculptures to your counter space and elevate your kitchen to a theater of infinite, delectable possibility.
New West KnifeWorks’ line of kitchen cutlery and mountain-man toys (throwing axes, pocket knives, wine keys, and various other slightly dangerous, high-end accessories) can be found at 675 Main St, 435.649.7219, newwestknifeworks.com.