Moriah Cowles is the proprietor or Orchard Steel, which is based in Brooklyn and where she crafts and sells beautiful handmade knives. My business partner Zack Bowen and I reached out to her because our friends and clients at Hugo’s, particularly Chef and Co-owner Andrew Taylor, so emphatically sang the praises of her products. We fell in love with Cowles immediately upon meeting her. While she is extraordinarily humble about her talents, her knives are incredible and absolutely gorgeous. Beyond that, she is decidedly rugged, quirky, lovely and has an awesome work ethic. Over the course of several months we captured her in her shop and her process from start to finish.
Over at Knack Factory, you can check out our full interview with and photo essay about Cowles.
How she came upon her craft is itself fascinating, and she has dived into it with several publications in the past. Cowles says that she comes from arty, earthy stock from Vermont, where she grew up on an apple orchard. Upon learning about blacksmithing, she fell in love it as the craft marries art, and scientific precision. Cowles took some classes and learned how to make somewhat primitive blades before she met a knife maker while traveling across Mexico by bike. She had dreamed of this, she said—literally dreamed of it—and so when presented with the opportunity to apprentice with him, forging by charcoal stove, Cowles took it. The scenario is so fantastic that it almost reads like an old samurai film, in which a green yet spunky student stumbles upon and insists the support of a master teacher, and it helped to solidify her path.
Cowles eventually ended up in New York where she worked at Cut Brooklyn with Joel Bukiewicz, and eventually started up Orchard Steel in Sunset Park. There, she makes her knives soup to nuts, and sells them online. Her products are used by some of the best and most well-respected chefs in the industry.
Check out our interview with Cowles, where we talked about her craft, her gut and decision-making process, and the role of gender has played in the development of her career and her identity as a knife maker.
PHOTO CREDIT: Zack Bowen / Knack Factory