Blenheim Forge a cut above after near-£30,000 knife sale to Gordon Ramsay
British bladesmith Blenheim Forge has secured the edge over rivals after striking a near-£30,000 sale of gourmet knives to celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and celebrating its best ever Christmas.
The Peckham-based firm is attracting a growing list of high-profile followers and customers all over the world, with Ramsay the latest to fork out for its renowned Japanese-inspired blades.
Such is the beauty of the set of 23 knives bought by the infamously foul-mouthed chef that he is planning to display it in his soon-to-be launched restaurant, Lucky Cat, in Mayfair.
Blenheim Forge co-founder James Ross-Harris told the Press Association Blenheim Forge was thrilled with the sale of the set, which started off as a “fun project to do over the summer”.
“It was a bit of a coincidence… the week we finished the set, Gordon Ramsay’s head chef came down to the workshop saying he had an idea for an amazing display of knives,” said Mr Ross-Harris.
After a bit of haggling down from an even higher initial price tag and the promise of a free team meal at Ramsay’s restaurant, the sale was agreed at £28,800, making it Blenheim Forge’s highest priced set sold to date.
The set has blades of Japanese steel clad with a mix of metal and handles made of 5,000-year-old bog oak.
As the customer base grows and with around a fifth of sales now international, the group is looking to increase production by 30% to 50% this year to meet demand.
Having started as a hobby for Mr Ross-Harris and co-founders Jon Warshawsky and Richard Warner nearly five years ago, Blenheim Forge now boasts annual sales heading for £350,000 with 25% growth over the past two years.
Over Christmas, its sales jumped 13.5% in the firm’s best festive performance – a critical season for the group, when it makes about a third of its sales.
Alongside Ramsay, it counts TV’s James Martin and fellow chefs Mark Hix and Francis Mallman among its customers.
It is also stocked by an increasing number of specialist retailers – recently including in the US – and made the steak knives for the Tate Modern restaurant at Switch House, which opened last year.
Mr Ross-Harris said the group is taking on a general manager and training three more bladesmiths.
He said they still plan to fund expansion through reinvestment, with the three founders remaining the sole shareholders.
He put in just £1,000 of his own money to kick off the business, with a similar amount from each of his co-founders, and the canny trio have managed to grow by reinvesting.
He admitted the hours are long, with each knife taking two to three months to make, but the business remains their passion.
“We’ve made a fair few knives now and we’re not bored of it yet,” he said.