[Full script] Raw Craft with Anthony Bourdain - Episode Four: Bob Kramer

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Dec 11, 2015 17:18 YouTube Transcribing
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Narration:
The term "handcrafted" gets thrown around a lot these days.
It's(It has) become a movement, a trend that can obscure the passionate folks who actually make amazing things by hand.
Their remarkable stories need to be told and I'm gonna find them('em).
I'm Anthony Bourdain and this is Raw Craft.

0:25

Narration:
To say that the knife is a chef's most valuable tool isn't just stating the obvious, it's an understatement of titanic proportions.
It doesn't matter if you're the executive chef of a Michelin three-star restaurant or the prep cook, dicing a fifty pound bag of onions, a good knife is the foundation of everything you do.
So, who makes the finest chef knives in the world?
This guy, Bob Kramer.

0:52

Narration:
Bob's one of only one hundred and twenty-two master bladesmiths certified in the american bladesmith society and the only one who specializes in kitchen knives.
Simply put, he's a rock star, forging knives that are as desired for their beauty as they are for their legendary sharpness, resilience, and strength.
Kramer knives have become a status symbol among serious chefs and serious knife collectors alike.
They're knives that demand excellence of their owners and more importantly, excellence from their creator.
I paid Bob a visit at his workshop in beautiful Olympia, Washington.

1:31

Anthony:
How does one make the most awesome knife in the world?

Bob:
Today I'm incorporating meteorites into my material.
This is probably man's first encounter with the solid chunk of iron. That's a meteorite.

Anthony:
Wow.

Bob:
That's a star still.

Narration:
The first thing Bob does is forge his own steel.
In this case, from melted meteorite.
Next, it's a matter of layers.

1:59

Bob:
(____)? a sandwich.

Anthony:
Basically that's your knife right there. So the ideal is to cook it down and--

Bob:
Exactly.

Anthony:
--smash it. And push all of these layers together.

Bob:
Those layers fuse together and it becomes this.
So then this gets ground clean on both sides, cut and re-stacked, and becomes that.
And then cut a knife out.

2:22

Anthony:
So it's literally a whole bunch become this, becomes this, and this, and this, and then the work begins.

Bob:
(Great. Yeah. Yeah.) Exactly.

Anthony:
Wow.

Bob:
Yeah. Wanna see it?

Anthony:
Yeah.

Bob:
Right.
Oh, protect your face.

Anthony:
Cool helmet, alright.

Bob:
Yeah, man.

3:01
Anthony:
Wow, how long would it take to make a pizza in there?

Bob:
Ah, half the second, maybe.

Anthony:
Sweet!

Bob:
Yeah.

3:08

Bob:
This is just like cooking.
It's time, temperature, and technique.

Anthony:
Right.

Bob:
You need good material to start with and the proper heat treatment just like you can ruin a steak by overcooking it.
It could be a great steak to begin with, but you could really mess it up by improper technique.

Okay. Here we go.

3:24

3:51

Bob:
So now, I'll grind both sides clean so that there's no scale, cut, and re-stack that billet.

4:23

Bob:
All this gets cut away.
The fat. So in this, we can either use band saw to cut off that extra material or use this grinder to just get rid of this excess meat.

Anthony:
S'like trimming a steak.
(S'like = it's like)

Bob:
Exactly.

4:38

4:46
Bob:
So, next, now that I've got the blank cut out, I need to grind these tapers and this taper, and that's all done by eye.

5:08
Bob:
Now that the blade is ground, and shaped, and tapered, it's the magic part.
This is where the steel becomes hardened.
So we have to take the material up to a particular temperature and hold it, like baking a cake,
only the temperature is fifteen hundred degrees Fahrenheit.

5:27

This is molten salt.
So this is sort of a high tech, high temperature sous-vide.

Anthony:
Right.

Bob:
It's an immersion, right?

Anthony:
I was just thinking of that.

Bob:
(___)?
So, there's carbon in steel.
Steel is iron with one percent carbon.
There's something very interesting that happens when the carbon dissolves and goes into solution, not only that it changes color—

Anthony:
Right

Bob:
—There's a shadow that moves through the steel.
So this is what the samurai guys were looking for.
These guys would fast beforehand, they'd pick an auspicious day, which is probably a moonless night, so it'd be really dark in the shop.
So with this, I'm gonna pull it out and you'll see it's all orange and then you'll see a shadow moves through the blade.
That's the steel transforming--

6:16

6:25
Bob:
--and that's it.

Anthony:
Wow.

Bob:
That line, that's marching across there.
That's the phase shift.
It's gone.

Anthony:
So what's happening... Wha- What's going on?

Bob:
So, this is a, this is ferric chloride which is a base.
It's kind of like on the other side of the acidic scale and this chemical starts to eat into the steel at a very subtle level.
So you know some layers get eaten away faster than others.


6:56

Anthony:
You know, if somebody stabbed you to death with that knife, and that would be wrong, I hasten to say, that knife is so beautiful that...
You couldn't help but say, wow, that's a fairly decent looking knife.

Bob:
Damn, that's gorgeous!
You'd remember.

Anthony:
Oh, wow, look at that.

Bob:
Boom. It looks good.
I think its ready for a handle.

7:16

7:22

Bob:
And now, I just need to shape and make this comfortable.

Anthony:
And presumably, I want it to fit into my massive - uhh, incre - ye, incredibly sensitive paw.

Bob:
Exactly.
Alright, final step:

Anthony:
Yeah.

Bob:
Put an edge on this guy.

Anthony:
Sooner or later, if you have a good knife, in fact sooner, in fact constantly, you should be doing what we're about to do here.

7:49

Bob:
I'm trying to use the full surface of the stone, and the purpose — this is the most crucial stone, this first stone sets up the edge; this is the foundational stone.
So if you watch how this cuts... it doesn't want to push-cut. It's because we haven't struck the edge. It'll slide-cut easily.

Anthony:
Right.

Bob:
But it won't push cut.
And what push cut is, is what a razor will do.

Anthony:
Right.

Bob:
And I just give this a few strokes on the leather... and this is just a plain piece of leather...

Anthony:
Wow.
That's nice.
Oh yeah, like butter.

8:38

Bob:
Nice. Thank you.

Anthony:
Look at that. Oh.
Oh man, that's fun.
Hey, I'm having fun using this knife.
I've never had so much fun cutting chives. Look at those things.

Bob:
Nice.

Anthony:
Hey you, you were a chef before, you were a cook...

Bob:
I was a cook.
I would say I was never a chef. I was definitely in the business of swinging a knife eight hours a day.

Anthony:
So is that when this all started you were dissatisfied with the quality of blade you received-

Bob:
You know, I was in college, I was taking science classes.
I was working at a hotel at the time, and it was curious to me that nobody in the kitchen really knew how to take care of their knives.
So I thought I'd make a little extra money.
I figured out how to sharpen knives and the more, uh, the deeper I got the more I was hooked. And so, you know, I quit school and just started sharpening and making knives.

9:34

Anthony:
If you forgive me for saying so, but that sounds like a really bad idea.

Bob:
Yeah.

Anthony:
It was just about the dumbest thing you do with the time, and yet it worked out.

Bob:
It has worked at yeah.

Anthony:
But you didn't really know what you were doing either.

Bob:
I had no idea.
So, the other night I'm in here working, I'm making some steel for a knife using a meteor.
I'm thinking what's cool way to make some salmon and I'm gonna heat up a meteorite and use it to smoke this.

10:05

Bob:
Induction coil.

Anthony:
Alright.

Bob:
Chunk of stardust, piece of cherry wood.

10:25

Bob:
Squeeze.

Anthony:
Alright.
Hello.

Leanne:
Smoky scrumptiousness I smell.
(What's this smoky scrumptiousness I smell?)

Anthony:
Alright.
I believe you can pour the beverages now.

Bob:
Alright.

Leanne:
Yeah.

10:42

Anthony:
So, you gotta tell me.
What do you think, di- did you know this man, he decided to throw a perfectly good career in one dead end job [restaurant business?] to pursue this.

Leanne:
I don't know where the career came from , because he was clowning and then...uhh...some other things but...

Anthony:
Did you see clowning?
Did you go to Clown College?

Bob:
I did.

Leanne:
He did go to college!

Anthony:
There is a clown college in Florida.

Bob:
Oh, now I wanna drink.
So when I was making food, I might spend two or three days, making a sauce, prepping a stock, stuffing a turkey or something.
Everybody sits down forty-five minutes later, it's gone.
Hopefully, we have a great memory.
This knife could get used every day to make a meal that maybe, that makes a memory.
So this is like a magnifying glass goes on whoever using, if you're using it and you make a bunch of meals that sort of transcends out.
I like that feeling.
I think that's cool.

11:31

Leanne:
(It's just?) passion and sticking to it, no matter what someone else says.

Anthony:
Bob Kramer is clearly out of his mind.
This process is so difficult and so long, it's insane to work this hard to improve something as utilitarian as a knife you'd think, but at the end of the day, what comes out is so unique, and so beautiful, all I can say is that I want that kinda crazy.
That's the kind of crazy that makes the world a better place.