meez podcast

Geoff Feder of Feder Knives

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About this episode

#39. We had the privilege of entering the world of a true craftsman: Geoff Feder of Feder Knives. Based in Peekskill, New York, Geoff's journey from sculptor to cook to bladesmith is a story of artistry and passion.

Geoff began his career as a sculptor and woodworker.  He went to culinary school and started working for Charlie Palmer as a project manager, sculptor, and chef. He soon met Tony Aiazzi, and together they created Feder Knives.

In this episode, host Josh Sharkey and Geoff get into the nuances of knife making, from the forging to the hardening of steel, while also exploring Geoff's voice in the podcast world. With two successful shows, Knife Talk and The Full Blast, Geoff shares his insights on the artist's journey, discussing the importance of passion, the drive behind creativity, and the pursuit of fulfillment.

The conversation with Geoff was not just about knife making; it was about the essence of being an artist and the entrepreneurial spirit that is driven by compulsion rather than choice. Geoff's opinions on artistry and the need for purpose and validation resonate with anyone who has felt the irresistible pull of their craft.

Where to find Geoff Feder:

Where to find host Josh Sharkey:

What We Cover

(02:30) Geoff's upbringing as a winemaker's son

(03:50) Why Geoff decided to go to culinary school

(04:25) Working for Charlie Palmer and creating an "un-stealable" table

(08:40) Geoff's transition into blacksmithing and bladesmithing

(11:03) Basic composition of a knife

(12:42) What makes a really good knife

19:37) The two main styles of knife making

(22:03) The intricacies of Damascus

(26:20) Handcrafted vs. commoditized knife making

(29:47) Knife making and problem solving

(33:50) More about Geoff's two podcasts

(37:36) Artists and gaining validation

(38:58) Artistry and compulsion


[00:00:00] Josh Sharkey:

Welcome to the meez podcast. I'm your host, Josh Sharkey, the founder and CEO of meez, the culinary operating system for food professionals on the show. I'll be interviewing world class entrepreneurs in the food space that are shifting the paradigm of how we innovate and operate in our industry. Thanks for listening. And I hope you enjoy the show.

[00:00:21] Josh Sharkey:

Today, I got to visit. Geoff Feder at his shop in Peekskill, New York, to talk about knife making, among many other things. Geoff is a true artist, man. He is the co founder of Feder Knives, along with my good buddy Tony Aiazzi who you might know from another company called ChouxBox.


Geoff has been working with steel and wood for decades. He was a sculptor and a woodworker, and then he went to culinary school at CIA, and then he started working for Charlie Palmer, and he actually ended up working for Charlie because he was building These tables for Charlie for his grand central restaurant called Mirazur, they needed tables that would literally not move off the floor.


And so they had to build really, really durable wood tables that would be beautiful. So Geoff built those tables and then called up Charlie and asked for an externship because he was going to school today. And Charlie hired him on the spot. I mean the knives that Geoff is making at Fedder are, I mean, really a work of art.


I learned so much more today about the composition of a knife, the forging of the blade, the hardening and the bending of the steel, and really just a deeper understanding of the differences between handmade knives and bulk manufactured ones. Geoff also has two really successful podcasts, one obviously on knife making called Knife Talk, and another more generally speaking to artists.


and craftmen and women called The Full Blast. So we finish up the show hearing a lot of Geoff's takes on being an artist. Things like why you shouldn't covet your work. Why he believes much of the motivation of artists might just be reliving how to get the validation that they wanted from their parents.


Finding happiness. And something that I really resonate with as well, you know, his belief that the only reason to be an artist is if it's a compulsion. Meaning something that you have to do. Very similar to how I think about starting a business. So anyways, I had such a blast. Loved visiting his shop. And I really enjoyed the conversation. And as always, I hope you do too.

[00:02:17] Josh Sharkey:

You are from New York City, right?

[00:02:18] Geoff Feder:

Yes, born and raised.

[00:02:20] Josh Sharkey:

And part of the reason we're talking is because I met you through my buddy Tony. Yeah. Which means that you also have a connection to the restaurant world. Yes. Even though you make knives now. Maybe just a little bit of that.

[00:02:30] Geoff Feder:

So without the superfluousness, when I was a kid, my father was a winemaker in Hudson Valley.


One of the pioneers of winemaking in Hudson Valley. So, growing up in the 70s and 80s, we were very close with wine. The CIA, the Culinary Institute of America. So we were also, because a winery, you know, having this winery in the 70s and 80s in the Hudson Valley was so unique, all the restaurants and all the cooks and all the CIA was very involved with what we were doing.


So I was constantly around culinary guys. I went to school to be an artist and I, as a freshman, I couldn't get into this class I wanted. I wanted to be a painter. My father was a painter. I wanted to be a painter. I ended up getting into. A sculpture class, accidentally, and then I got very involved in metalwork.


And then, when I graduated college, I worked for artists, and I worked as a fabricator for a lot of sculptors. I did a lot of work for restaurants. I did one for one restaurant, and I worked with Crate and Barrel. Crate and Barrel had a project in mind. that they reached out to me and they said, this restaurant wants this specific project and we want you to, can you, you know, meet up with the people from the restaurant?


I said, yeah, absolutely. I had a studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I was also, you know, working for other artists. And at the time, I also started culinary school. I went to culinary school at night. I was working in the shop during the day.

[00:03:50] Josh Sharkey:

Why? Why did you go to culinary school?

[00:03:51] Geoff Feder:

Well, I was so comfortable. My father's a winemaker. He also did a little bit of work at the Rainbow Room. And I was around, cooks so much. We cooked in the house. I was around, Waldy Malouf used to hang out at our house. I mean, I have like, chefs would be at our house. Cause you, all these chefs, they want free booze and whatever. So they're at the winery and they're having a good time.


He was very involved in the culinary scene. So it was like, it seemed like, well, I can do this and I know people. And so I was going to culinary school at night. I was working in my shop during the day. And then I got this call to do this, this, this, I got to do this table. It was the Charlie Palmer group.


The Charlie Palmer group had a restaurant. in Grand Central Station where the Apple Store is now, where the Apple Store is now used to be a restaurant called Metrozor. I remember that. Yeah. So Mirazur, they had, because it's in the middle of Grand Central Station, they couldn't set tables up downstairs because people would take them.


So they reached out to me to build an unstealable table. Now this table had to, couldn't be bolted into the ground at Grand Central Station. So they asked me to design an unstealable table. That was the word they used? Well, I basically, that's what I got out of it. I don't, I mean, they needed a 300 pound table.

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