Here’s our interview with Roland Lannier, French maker of beautiful folding and kitchen knives. Based in Thiers.
Hello Roland, How did you start making knives?
I started in 1997 as an apprentice at Perceval. Back then I was the first and only employee. I worked there for a few years and then the company change direction. It was bought by a one starred Chef who decided to make a focus on high end steak knives. Later (2008) I was appointed as team manager and designer, in charge of all of the new collections. When I left in 2014, the company had grown from 80K€ of yearly revenue to over a million and counted 18 employees. After that I founded my own business, with a less classic approach but still using the same traditional techniques. I make folding knives sold in shops and contemporary steak knives for the modern cuisine. We are three workers now and we’re planning to hire two more people in 2018.
What is a knife to you?
I think of it mostly as a tool in a recreational way. Something that should take part in the culinary experience and help you enjoy the food in the best possible way, whether it is as a steak knife in the restaurant or as a pocket knife you can bring with you in your own personal gastronomic journey.
What distinguishes you from other businesses in your category?
I decided not to use any animal material nor exotic wood anymore. I try to rather create new composite resin-based material which will carry cultural references, such as the Tartan micarta, as a tribute to the punk movement or as the vinyl records and guitar based handles, in a rock and roll spirit.
I guess you could say I’m trying to move away from the Art-déco and XVIII century styles and make stuff the new generations will find themselves into.
Currently, what’s your business biggest challenge?
Always make original and relevant products and show them to the most dynamic Chef in the cuisine vanguard. I want to accompany the renewing movement in all the codes about wines and cooking and doing so to teach new knife makers and give them work.
What’s the most popular knife that you sell?
My first collection met a nice success as a whole. You can see on my website the restaurants I supplied around the world. About my folding knives, The white/bamboo, “punk” or carbon fiber “Why So Serious?” became a bit of a classic among connoisseurs.
Are you still improving your products? if yes, how?
I spend a lot of time to make them the best possible during the creation process but I’m obviously the first user of my knives and I use this experience to improve any aspect of their systems or finishing, so my customers will not be disappointed. I also use their feedback in my future designs.
What is your favorite steel to work with? Why?
Right now it’s the sandvik 14C28N. You can achieve a very decent hardness with it (HRC60). It’s a very “user friendly” steel, easy to sharpen, maintaining a sharp edge quite long and stainless when it’s well treated. The nitrogen in it allows to keep low carbides and thus a very keen structure. And Sandvik is a reliable company, assuring accuracy, regularity and balance in the chemical components.
How can people keep Roland Lannier knives sharp? Would you give them some tips and recommendations?
You can use a sharpening rod (professional quality) or a thin grit stone (always with water, never oil). Use the flattest possible angle not to scratch the sides and sharpen once a week, mostly around the tip (it’s the part which will gets dull the sooner). Try not to wet the handle too much while cleaning and wipe dry with a tissue immediately.
Tell us something people might be surprised to learn about Roland Lannier Knives.
I hope the style we’re using can be surprising enough by itself but what I can say is that we are making knives just the way we would like to find them for ourselves. And when someone chooses to get one of our babies, he enters the family and there’s nothing we won’t do to make sure he finds complete satisfaction. In a similar way, we try to share everything we are living behind the stage on our instagram feed @rolandlan