A Great American Knife Company Helps Defend Its Community
When it comes to the culinary arts, nothing is as essential to food preparation as a finely-crafted knife. New West KnifeWorks, headquartered in Jackson, Wyoming, has established a reputation as the most respected knife manufacturer in the country, with a line of beautifully-crafted chef knives that rise to the level of art. Its unique shop in St. Helena is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Founder, Corey Milligan, started experimenting with knife making in the mid-nineties, convinced he could do a better job creating blades than the other top manufacturers on the market. Milligan decided to go to Japan to learn the art of knife making and eventually developed a hybrid approach, taking the thinner blade, ultra-sharp designs of the East, and combining that style with the toughness of European chef knives.
New West KnifeWorks launched in 1997, and when Corey’s brother Michael, New West’s Director of Outreach, suggested exhibiting at one of New York City’s holiday markets, the fledgling company suddenly became the darling of writers and editors whose publishing offices had once overlooked the market. New West KnifeWorks ended up with widespread coverage in national publications, putting the company on the map as America’s finest knife manufacturer.
Recently New West KnifeWorks has diversified its offerings, adding a collection of beautifully-sculptured knife blocks made from polished stone. They’ve also launched a Mountain Man Toy Shop brand that offers unique outdoor designs including heirloom Damascus hunting knives, repurposed vintage cleavers, custom pocket knives, and tomahawks. (Tomahawk throwing is a favorite activity at their St. Helena shop.)
But maybe the company’s most significant contribution is the effort Corey Milligan made in the face of the corona- virus pandemic. Returning from a trip to Italy, Milligan had first- hand experience with the severity of the epidemic, and on March 15, he partnered with Grand Teton Distillery to produce a hand sanitizer to distribute freely to the local community. This preventative measure probably saved significant numbers of people from the rampant infection. “I realized that this would be the most significant event of my lifetime,” said Milligan, “and the challenge was to get people to understand this was unlike anything they had ever experienced.” In addition to making hand sanitizer, Milligan also launched ‘WE ARE Jackson Hole,’ a campaign to encourage reluctant locals to adopt social distancing measures.
As life in the United States returns to normal, New West knife enthusiasts will find an exciting new addition to the company’s presence in Jackson, with the opening of a new art gallery on a corner of the town’s iconic square. The new gallery will showcase the works of local artist Connor Liljestrom, along with mixed-media knife sculptures, and will be a handsome new attraction to the community. “When people come back to visit us in Jackson, Napa Valley or Park City, it’s going to be a completely different experience,” said Michael Milligan, “as we now have this new art gallery in Jackson and many unique products at all of our shops developed over the hiatus.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
1380 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574 // 707-244-5188 // www.newwestknifeworks.com
Article By: Michael Koehn // Photos Courtesy of New West Knife Works