Tucson’s “Don Nguyen Knives” to represent Tucson at Damasteel Chef Invitational in Chicago

Nguyen's latest work is titled the "Hostile Kitchen."

Tucson knifemaker Don Nguyen submitted his latest work of art to the Damasteel Chef Invitational, taking place in Chicago on August 26.

The exclusive chef knife-focused gathering is hosted by Damasteel, a Swedish company specializing in stainless Damascus patterned steel.

Participating Knifemakers

Each maker is provided material to work with. They create a knife to exhibit at the show and meet other attendees.

“Working with Damasteel wasn’t actually as difficult as I thought,” Nguyen said. “I was expecting something that would be wear resistant and just time consuming to finish. It wasn’t as easy as a plain carbon steel, but I’ve worked with much worse. It grinds easy, it’s straight forward, and ultimately it feels clean. I’ve worked with steel before that felt like questionable cheese.”

Nguyen’s submission is the Hostile Kitchen, a chef’s knife/gyuto made with Damasteel’s Odin Heim steel and a handle of shredded carbon fiber with gold powder.

“The goal of the Damasteel blade was pretty simple but not exactly easy,” Nguyen said. “I wanted it to be another milestone project, one that would really challenge me and look righteously good. First and foremost it needed to perform well, and after that it needed to be memorable.”

That’s not to say that the appearance wasn’t a priority, however.

“Maybe it’s a little pretentious of me to say, but I wanted this to be the most visually striking piece at the show,” Nguyen said. “The game plan was to do a design that was different from the norm yet not excessive. I chose to do a combat knife theme, because nobody really does that, and then chose the shredded carbon fiber because while it has a lot going on, it’s not loud. The star of the show should be the silhouette, or the blade itself.”

Hostile Kitchen isn’t for sale, sadly. Another stainless patterned knife is in the works, so keep your eyes peeled.

Keep up with Don Nguyen Knives on Facebook.

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit jackietran.com and his Instagram @jackie_tran_.