The quest for adventure leads many people down interesting paths: it can lead you to a new country, take you on a trip of a lifetime, even cause you to go skydiving if are so bold. But not so often does the pursuit of adventure lead you to the art of knife-making.
Ever since he was a young boy Quintin Middleton loved the thrill of adventure – the big world was full of possibilities and he was anxious to seek out its excitement. Like any classic 80s child he watched in awe as the heroes of Star Wars battled the villains with light sabers, and began to associate swords, knives – and light sabers – with adventure. So fascinated was Quintin with swords that he even removed a tube from his play set to make it into an imaginary sword. Now that is dedication.
Fast forward twenty years, Quintin is now the creator and owner of Middleton Made Knives, his cutlery brainchild that provides professional knives to chefs around the country. Heralded for their precision and craftsmanship, Middleton Made Knives has taken on a life of its own, drawing attention from major publications such as Garden & Gun, Food & Wine Magazine, Entrepreneur, and more. He also has the support of some of the biggest names in the food industry today – but it wasn’t always so simple for Quintin. He knows a thing or two about being told the word no.
In his early 20s – he’s 28 now – Quintin worked in a cutlery store where he met Jason Knight, a well-known professional knife maker. The two hit it off and Quintin began learning the craft of knife-making from Jason, who administered some tough love on the fledgling knife-maker. Jason pushed Quintin to learn on his own, through making good knives and bad, and answering a few questions for him along the way. And, as it often does, the tough love worked – Quintin emulated what Jason did but with his own twist, and thus began his understanding of how to make a great knife. He made mostly hunting knives and martial arts swords – he still hadn’t forgotten those light sabers – and continued to hone his skills to make each piece more beautiful than the next.
What Jesus Says, You Do
Now all of that hard work and determination is nice and all, but this is where it really gets interesting. Quintin says that five years ago Jesus came to him in a dream and told him to make knives for chefs. And like any smart man would do, he did what Jesus said. He kicked the hunting and martial arts practice to the curb and took up creating professional chef knives. After he made a collection that he thought was good enough to sell, he made a long list of every chef in Charleston – he’s from St. Stephens, S.C. – and visited each chef on the list to sell his wares. And they all said no. No said Sean Brock; no said Jeremiah Bacon; no said Craig Diehl; no, no, no. They thought he was a door-to-door salesman, just pushing off someone else’s product on them to buy.
And then Jesus came to him again in a dream. Jesus told Quintin to call back Craig Diehl and ask him to help him with his newfound craft. And like any smart man would do, he did what Jesus said. Sure enough, Craig agreed to give Quintin feedback on how to improve the quality of his chef’s knives. Craig’s feedback was immediate: he said the knives were too big, too thick, too heavy – that the knives were more like hunting knives and lacked the precision required of a knife used in a restaurant kitchen.
So Quintin went back to work, and after some more coaching with Craig and his sous chef, Quintin nailed it – quite literally. He found a way to produce a knife that was every chef’s dream: precise, lightweight, and most importantly, long-lasting. With these much sought-after qualities Craig introduced Quintin to other chefs in need of kitchen knives, and thus the magic of Middleton Made Knives began.
From Robert Irvine to Guy Fieri to Emeril Lagasse, Quintin rubs shoulders with the big guns. His knives are featured in stores across the country and coveted by amateur and seasoned chefs alike. “Everyone wants to be the next Emeril Lagasse,” said Quintin. “And anything that young chefs can have to step up their precision, they want it. I am the person that helps them with that.”
And speaking of Emeril, Quintin says that one of his proudest moments was when he received a picture of the legendary chef and TV personality holding one of his knives. One day during the Christmas season a few years ago he received a phone call from a fellow claiming to be Emeril’s Chief Operating Officer. Skeptical of his legitimacy but happy to help the guy out, Quintin agreed to make the “COO” a chef knife to give “Emeril” for Christmas. A few days after Christmas Quintin received a text message with a picture of Emeril wielding his Middleton Made Knife – it was a happy Christmas indeed.
Besides being a knife-maker and a man of God, Quintin also prides himself as being a great husband and father to his two kids. And one thing you may not know about Quintin? He’s a big teddy bear, he says; a very goofy person. Quintin loves talking to people and could hold a conversation with a person for hours. “Everyone has something in common with each other,” Quintin said. “You just have to find the thing you have in common with the other person and then you can talk for forever.”
As for the future of Middleton Made Knives, Quintin is excited about moving forward and continuing to put great quality knives in the hands that need them. The one thing that will remain the same, though? Quintin’s passion for his work. “Great minds think alike,” Quintin said. “The passion that professional chefs put into their food, they see the same passion in my craft, and that’s what makes it meaningful.”
Written by Anna Jones