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Labor of Love: Handcrafted Heartwood Forge Knives

  • Heartwood Forge Bocho Mushrooms

    Photo courtesy of Will Manning

Great food is a result of many moving parts like quality ingredients, talented cooks and the right equipment, all working together to create an unforgettable meal. I’ve found that people here in Georgia are pretty savvy when it comes to knowing how our food is grown and where it comes from. And thanks to popular cooking shows, they also know how to properly cook and present that food! But I wonder if they’ve ever given much thought to how their pots, pans and their knives are made? Well I did, so I took a journey to Jefferson to find out.

Nestled in the woods right off Potters House Road is Heartwood Forge, where designer and knife maker Will Manning creates his practical works of art. Hoping to answer my own question, I spent the day making knives with Will. Which admittedly, from the outside looking in, seemed more like Will making the knives while I just watched. What I learned was this: Will is very skilled and passionate in what he does. He uses repurposed metal from places like Monticello to make his knives; salvaged wood from trees like pecan, box elder and maple or white tailed deer antlers to make the handles; and reclaimed brass for balancing the handle with the blade of the knife. I also learned that his goal is to put his knives in the hands that will use them, and for that measure he has a virtual store front where you can browse and buy your knives. If you’re thinking you want something more a bit more personal, like a custom made knife, then you’re in luck, because as it turns out, Will makes those too!


Heartwood Forge Chefs Knife
Heartwood Forge Chefs Knife

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Jennifer Hill Booker

Chef Jennifer Hill Booker wears many hats in the culinary world, as a Le Cordon Blue-Paris certified chef, cookbook author, reality TV personality, culinary educator and business owner. She is a Georgia Grown Executive Chef for the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the Culinary Explorer for ExploreGeorgia.org, the founder of Southern Divas of the New South™ Dinner Series, and currently sits on the James Beard Foundation Food Waste Advisory Council. Chef Jennifer is a member of the 2018 No Kid Hungry Atlanta Society as well as a member of the 2018 AF&WF Advisory Council.