The knives used in many top restaurants in Charleston come from an unlikely place.
A shed behind the home of Quintin Middleton in Saint Stephen, S.C. is the production facility for Middleton Made Knives.
“I make paring knives. I make petties, and that's a utility knife. I make a slicer, a boning knife, a santoku is a Japanese vegetable knife, and a chef knife,” said Middleton.
There are numerous companies selling knives, but not all are the same.
Quintin originally made a few knives, gave them to a chef to use, and then adjusted the design based on feedback.
What came out of that process are kitchen tools with a number of chef-friendly features.
“My handles are a little different from store-bought knives, because it has a little Coke-bottle shape to it, where it's a little [more] comfortable when you grab onto it,” said Middleton. “Regular knives are a little bit flat. I round it off because a lot of chefs hug up on their knifes, so it's not really cutting into their hands.”
Quintin has been interested in making knives since he was very young.
His first attempt at anything of the sort came when he created an ice pick at age eight.
"My dad said, like, he saw it, like, he was so mad, he said, 'Man, uh-uh, give me this, you're gonna hurt yourself.' And he threw it. he threw it away,” said Middleton.
Quintin retrieved the ice pick and keeps it with him in his shop to this day...
“It's a very good reminder for, of where you come from,” he said.
While there is great attention to function here, form is equally as important, and Quintin is intent on turning out an attractive product.
“There's nothing wrong with getting a tool of the trade and it look good, it look good, as well,” said Middleton.
Prices for Middleton knives range from $80 to almost $800.
Quintin says he tries to keep them within reach of anyone working in the restaurant industry.
“A line-chef that wants a knife and that really can't afford a $1000 knife, they can get my knife and still get the same quality,” he said.
Restaurant workers are not his only customers though.
The home chef market has grown significantly for him.
“Everybody wants to be the next Bobby Flay or the next Morimoto or the Cat Cora or Claire Robinson,” said Middleton.
Quintin has thoughts of a bigger location, with maybe even several employees, at some point in the future.
For right now, however, he has no complaints.