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A self-taught Toronto knifemaker started his own business while working as a waiter

Someone in Toronto is now making knives for the kind of chefs he used to bring food to the tables as a server.

Michael Radojkovich started the journey of creating his own business, Culter Knivesin 2017, moved into a shop in Etobicoke in March 2018. He started learning how to make knives in 2014.

“I had previously worked with a friend who made kitchen and camping knives for his company, but decided to go my own way, focusing solely on culinary knives, mainly because of my love for the food and how it brings people together,” Radojkovich told blogTO. .

“I also felt that there was a market for quality handmade local knives that had yet to be tapped. I guess I wanted to be known as the local knife maker who provided Toronto with beautiful high-end kitchen knives.

Radojkovich worked as a waiter at the vegetarian restaurant Fresh while researching and developing Culter to pay the bills for his family and business, primarily advertising his work on Instagram. Culter is the Latin word for “knife”.

“Working two jobs while getting Culter off the ground was tough, but it prepared me for what was to come,” says Radojkovich.

During all his days off from Fresh, he worked designing and making knives, testing heat treatments, grain progression for grinding and finishing, and learning to use new tools, all while returning home. home in time to cook dinner for his family.

“It’s one of the things I’ve always made sure I make time for,” says Radojkovich. “It made me spend time at home, sit with family, talk about our days and try to relax, then get up and start again.”

Yet to this day, he rarely takes a day off as sales have surged at Culter. His customers range from home cooks to aspiring and professional chefs, including George’s Lorenzo Losetto and Gia’s Matthew Ravenscroft, all of whom have posted about his knives on social media, helping to attract a wider audience. .

Radojkovich was able to transition into full-time knife-making by taking a part-time job helping knifemaker Aaron Gough three days a week, devoting the other four to Culter. Gough uses a more automated method and Radojkovich has moved all of his equipment to his workshop in Scarborough to learn from him.

They parted ways for distancing purposes in 2020, with Radojkovich returning to a store in Etobicoke where he still is. However, it would turn out that instead of preparing for fewer orders, he should have prepared more than ever.

“I put a large quantity of my knives up for sale to empty my remaining stock, hoping that I could use the remaining money to weather the storm,” says Radojkovich.

“But as the months passed, more and more orders started coming in. Restaurants were closed for dinner in service, so more and more people started cooking at home, and before I knew it , Culter had enough orders to the point where I could do it without the help of a second income.”

It can take Radojkovich around 15-25 hours to make a knife depending on the complexity, but eventually he hopes to make it more efficient by tweaking his techniques, which would also allow him to offer them at lower prices, which means that would be more efficient. accessible to more people.

Right now, the knives available on his site range in price from around $700 to $1,600.

“Chefs are notoriously underpaid, and for that reason alone, I want to offer a knife made of high quality material, which will last, but also won’t break the bank for a beginning chef,” says Radojkovich.

“Most of my clients are from the United States, which is fine at the moment, but I would really like to help meet the needs of more locals because it’s home, and I’m proud to call it that. .”