Meet Mareko Maumasi, the Man Behind Our New MKC Chef’s Knives
For a while now, the MKC community has been asking us to get into chef’s knives, and we’ve long wanted to cut our way into the culinary world.
And now, after much preparation, we’re finally doing it.
The concern we’ve always had is that MKC maintain the highest level of credibility in whatever we do. We’re hunters; we know hunting knives, and I specialize in making hunting knives. But I’m not a chef's knife maker.
Fortunately, we didn't have to look very far to find one of the leading chef’s knife makers in the world, someone who has as much experience slicing and dicing in the kitchen as he has forging and finishing in the workshop.
I met Mareko Maumasi on the set of Forged in Fire, and after competing against one another, we became friends. Mareko is constantly elevating his work; for him, every knife is an opportunity to learn and improve. We're honored to have such a dedicated craftsman join the MKC team and guide us into the highly specialized world of chef’s knives.
Who Is Mareko Maumasi?
Even when he was young, Mareko enjoyed drawing, building, and making things with his hands. He loved creating.
As a jack of all trades, he worked in all kinds of carpentry, construction, and restaurant positions. By the time he was 24, he’d worked 24 different jobs.
After several years of working in kitchens and restaurants around his hometown of Olympia, Washington, Mareko’s feelings of aimlessness spilled out to just the right person — his salsa dancing partner (he was moonlighting as an instructor).
She had just started working for a knife maker whose own life included a lot of wandering and working odd jobs. She suggested they get together, and that’s how Mareko met Master Bladesmith Bob Kramer.
Bob offered Mareko a job in his shop, neither realizing just how great a fit it would be. He started out sweeping floors, but his background in kitchens and his interest in making soon led to an apprenticeship. He’d found his direction.
That seemingly random connection to a world-class culinary knife maker changed Mareko’s life, kicking off his knife-making career. He’s been creating knives now for 12 years with a thorough background in slicing, dicing, mincing, and prepping to provide the wisdom and understanding about what makes a great culinary knife.
What Does Mareko Specialize In?
Today, Mareko has become one of the top-tier knife makers in this country's culinary space, and it's a real honor to have him guiding the culinary arm of MKC.
His knife-making style and approach are rooted in his experience working in restaurants. A lot of knife makers out there can make a beautiful chef’s knife, but Mareko’s experience in kitchens informs his understanding of knives as culinary tools. He's spent hours blasting through food preparation in a production environment, so he knows what's needed to get the job done.
He has the how and the why, the depth of knowledge that takes a knife beyond pretty to practical and sophisticated.
Mareko specializes in traditional European chef’s knives and custom-forged, pattern-welded Damascus steel. He founded Maumasi Fire Arts, spending just about every day in the shop, dreaming and designing, forging and finishing.
Highlighting Mareko’s Accomplishments
The last several years have been incredible for Mareko. He's been featured in magazines like the Michelin Guide and Vogue and appeared as a guest on Joe Rogan’s podcast. He even co-hosts the popular Knife Talk podcast, answering listener questions and picking up 200,000 downloads per month. His own new podcast, Artisans of Steel, features in-depth interviews with leaders in the knife-making industry.
All of this exposure has helped raise the awareness both of Mareko’s knife making and of knife making as a craft. A passion for educating spurs Mareko to share his knowledge about knife making with anyone who’s interested, whether that’s aspiring knife makers or knife owners who want to learn more.
Why Did Mareko Partner With MKC?
A lot goes into a well-made knife: a lot of work, know-how, and time. With the upsweep of attention and interest in Mareko’s work, he didn’t have a way to meet growing demand as just one person.
Joining MKC has given him the way to reach a broader community of knife enthusiasts and get more of these well-crafted tools into people’s hands on a larger scale.
In his view, there’s nothing worse than working in a kitchen, be it professional or at home, and having to fight against your tools. He loves helping people with the humble task of preparing food and making that task into a joy instead of a chore.
Mareko sees MKC’s move into chef’s knives as a natural progression from hunting knives. What started in the field moves into the kitchen, and now you can count on having hard-working, high-quality MKC knives for every stage of the process.
by Josh Smith, Master Bladesmith and Founder of Montana Knife Company