Town Cutler Meet the Crew


Galen Garretson Founder and Owner of Town Cutler photo by Alison Christiana

Galen Garretson - Founder and Owner

In 2011, Galen Garretson opened Town Cutler after working in kitchens for over ten years. Before working in restaurants, Galen had always been fascinated with knives, learning how to sharpen knives from his father, who was also a knife nerd. Receiving his first pocketknife at five, Galen grew his collection to a few dozen by age ten. This fascination with knives was the main thing that brought him into kitchens, starting his career at the age of 16, at Heise’s Steakhouse in Carson City, Nevada.

After working in kitchens for a couple of years, Galen decided to move to San Francisco and enrolled in the California Culinary Academy in 2003. After graduating, he worked his way through San Francisco at Beach Chalet, Mecca, Town Hall, Magnolia, Wayfare Tavern, and Quince. It was at Quince when Galen decided to hang up the chef coat and open up Town Cutler. At Quince, Galen and Chef Tusk often discussed their shared appreciation for antique knives, and it was these conversations that would form the early ideas of Town Cutler. During service, Galen would write down his ideas for Town Cutler on a napkin and compile them at home after a long shift in the kitchen. 

Despite being a famous culinary city, San Francisco had no local cutlery stores for cooks to visit that offered both a wide variety and extensive knowledge of knives. At the time, many cooks were left to purchase knives online without being able to talk with an expert or feel a knife before purchase, both of which seemed essential. In addition to creating a high-quality knife store, Galen wanted to offer an expert knife sharpening service, where techniques and methods could be openly showcased and shared with customers. The idea of Town Cutler was not just to be a well-informed and stocked hub for professionals and home cooks, but as a place to widely share information and help educate people about knives.

After opening Town Cutler, Galen met Mastersmith Aaron Wilburn and began visiting his shop with an interest in learning how to make knives. A primary goal of his had always been for Town Cutler to have an in-house line of cutlery and within a couple of years, Galen started making and selling custom-made culinary knives. While there had always been American knife makers, Galen says when he started making knives, “Most of the knives available at the time were from Germany and Japan.” Feeling it was time for American made knives, Galen wanted Town Cutler to be a part of a new wave of knife makers. One way that Town Cutler sets itself apart in this new generation of knife makers is how Galen's culinary background informs and inspires the making. The experience and needs of the professional chef are at the core of Town Cutler, whether when designing a knife, creating new culinary tools, or making sure that you have a reliable and sharp knife.

Favorite TC Product: “The Hankotsu and fillet. I mainly butchered when I worked in kitchens, and these were my favorite knives. Plus they are some of the most difficult to make.” 

Fun Fact: “A couple of days after owning my first knife, at the age of 5, I fell when running through the house with the blade open. The blade stabbed my head, and I had to get six stitches. I still have the scar and the knife!”        

 

Heather- Brand Manager & Operations

Heather handles all things related to organizing and communicating the interworking of Town Cutler by translating our maker madness, giving it form, and putting it out into the world. She is heads our social media, website, and marketing, and is Galen's main co-conspirator at Town Cutler. Before joining the team, Heather worked in the art and restaurant industries, bringing with her a keen eye and desire to weave a sense of service and hospitality into everything we do.

Favorite TC Product: "The hankotsu! I don't do a lot of butchery, but I love the look and feel of this knife. It begs to be used."

Fun Fact: "Despite having too many unused kitchen appliances, I'd be happy with just a sharp knife and a pot big enough to cook lots of pasta."

 

KNIFE TEAM


John - Sharpener & Knife Technician

A veteran Town Cutler employee, John is a "jack-of-all-trades" around the shop, doing everything from sharpening, fixing broken and chipped blades, helping with knife production, and training new members of our knife team.

Before joining Town Cutler in 2013, John served in the Air National Guard and attended school for music production and sound engineering at Pyramind. He loves the products we create and getting to work with a unique and dynamic crew of people. When not working he can be found relaxing and spending time with his girlfriend.

Favorite TC product: 6" AEB-L "OG" utility knife with a swirly cottonwood burl handle. "It's the perfect size for most jobs and just feels right in the hand. I'm a big fan of the finish we put on our AEB-L knives." 

Fun fact about John: He plays the turntables under the name DJ IDANO

Bobby - Knife Technician & Sharpener

Bobby joined Town Cutler in October 2016, beginning as a sharpener and quickly progressing to being a vital part of our knife production. Before joining Town Cutler, Bobby worked as a butcher at a whole animal butcher shop. His favorite part of working with us is taking raw materials and turning them into an incredible finished product. When not at Town Cutler you can find him cooking, butchering, tinkering with recipes, and camping.

Favorite TC product: 8.5" Carbon Steel Chef Knife in our classic handle-style, or what we call the OG. "This knife sits perfectly in my hand and makes any kitchen task more enjoyable."

Fun fact about Bobby: “I have a soft spot for yacht rock (i.e., Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald, The Doobie Brothers).”

Nik - Sharpener & Assistant Knife Technician

Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Nik joined Town Cutler after working as a chef for over ten years. He loves working with steel, whether it is sharpening knives or assisting with knife production. His professional culinary background gives him a unique perspective on the work we do. Having cooked for other people for years, it should come as no surprise that his most used kitchen item are his moribashi and that he loves to eat anything anyone else has cooked for him. When not working, Nik enjoys spending time with his lovely wife.

Favorite TC Product: The Hankotsu. "I think the Town Cutler butcher knives are amazing."

Fun Fact about Nik: He speaks Norwegian and can say, "That's not a knife; this is a knife." in a perfect Australian accent. 

Matt - Sharpener & Assistant Knife Technician

As a teenager, Matt realized that having kitchen experience would allow him to find employment in any major city and give him enough time to keep skateboarding. Having gotten "aged out" of both skateboarding and working the kitchen grind, he found his way to California and Town Cutler. He “sharpens knives and wits for just a dollar an inch, fixing chips and tips with a smile and a lisp." Working at Town Cutler allows him to "make dinner at home every night, while still getting a glimpse into the beautiful chaos that is the culinary world." When not working he spends a fair amount of his spare time pacing back and forth the between his typewriter and guitar, trying to figure out which one is lying to him. If you have any information on this matter, please call the anonymous tip line.

Favorite TC Product: Matt claims this is an impossible question to answer, because our products evolve at a rate too fast for playing favorites, between new designs and custom orders. Instead, he says, "It's sort of a flavor of the week syndrome."

Fun Fact about Matt: He has a published novella titled, The Tall Tale of Thomas Till.

Leo - Assistant Sharpener & Assistant Knife Technician

Leo hails from Vail, Colorado, where he grew up immersed in the culinary industry from a very young age. His culinary background and earnest creativity lead him to Town Cutler in February 2015. He plays a versatile role in the knife world of Town Cutler and is key in the production of our palette knives and meat testers. He's also the honorary philosopher of the team, currently studying Philosophy at the University of San Francisco. When not working he never passes up an opportunity to be playing music, learning, and skiing.

Favorite TC Product: 7" Carbon Steel Drop Point Chopper. "The shape, size, sharpness, and drop point of the Chopper make it a true laser, fit for all your most advanced and simple culinary endeavors."

Fun fact about Leo: His most cherished kitchen item is a Sharpie because nothing helps you stay organized in the kitchen like a good proper labeling tool. "Keeping the Sharpie tip sharp is staying sharp." 


STITCHING TEAM

Molly - Designer and Lead Stitcher
Molly heads the stitching department and is responsible for the design and production of our in-house line of waxed canvas knife rolls and wraps, duffel bags, leather scabbards, and custom work. Molly began experimenting with fiber arts and leatherwork while attending the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Being able to create something with her hands every day at Town Cutler gives her a sense of fulfillment and pride in her work. She also feels pretty lucky to spend the day with our awesome staff, who are not just coworkers, but friends. When not working you might find her exploring flea markets. 
Favorite TC Product: “The TC duffle bag. Gotta represent! It's by far the most versatile product from the stitching department, and it's just so darn good looking!”
Fun fact about Molly: “I collect old yearbooks. I currently have about 50 ranging from 1918 to 1979.”

Sam - Stitcher
Sam joined the stitch squad leather mob at Town Cutler in early 2017, after sharpening his skills at Amblard Leather Atelier, a school for leatherworking using traditional hand tools. Before joining Town Cutler, he also worked in Emergency Response and Tunnel Operations on the Presidio Parkway Tunnels in San Francisco. Sam rarely passes up an opportunity to nerd out about new machines and techniques. His favorite part of working with us is "the creative, funny, and badass people I get to work and collaborate with on the daily!" When not working he continues to do leatherwork and can also be found eating tons of gluten, bantering with friends, listening to music, and staring into space trying to remember what he was just talking about. Enjoying "people that aren't governed by what they think they should do" he fits right in with our rebellious Cutler crew.

Favorite TC Product: Cutting canvas and leather all day is serious work, so it's no surprise that Sam's favorite products are the whetstones we use for sharpening knives and tools.

Fun fact about Sam: "When in a certain mood, only the early compositions of the legendary UGK (RIP Pimp C) can calm my soul."

 

(Photos by Alison Christiana)