With a background in graphic design and animation, and more than a decade working in LA and New York, Australian born Todd J Neale crafted a major career change around five years ago. After returning to Australia, and settling in Castlemaine in regional Victoria, the versatile creative was compelled to get back to basics.
‘I’d always made and repaired things, but made a conscious choice one day that I was going to make something unique and crafted to the highest level my skills would allow,’ the maker explains. Chef’s knives seemed the ideal fit – combining Todd’s love of cooking, design and craftsmanship.
The industrious maker soon read everything he could find on knife making, and discovered that his experience as a graphic designer, making choices on form, shape and function, translated perfectly to grinding steel and wood into efficient cutting tools! His first knives were made in 2012, but it wasn’t until Todd hosted his first open studio in March 2015 (during the Castlemaine State festival) that he really began to treat his new-found craft as a business. ‘I must have had about 120 visitors that week, many of whom gave me wonderful feedback on my designs, from chefs to home cooks and knife sharpeners,’ Todd recalls.
From his base in Castlemaine, Todd continues to maintain his motion graphics and design work (you can see it over here), while continuing to grow his knife business, which is now known as Doveton Fletcher. At present, Todd has three main knives in production: a 130mm paring knife, and two chef’s knives, the 210mm Gyuto and 240mm Gyuto, which is a Japanese interpretation of a French chef’s knife. The Doveton Fletcher Gyuto is tall, has a flat profile toward of the heel for chopping, a large belly for rock cutting and a fine point for precision work – three attributes that make it a great all-rounder, and popular with chefs and home cooks alike.
Each Doveton Fletcher knife comes beautiful packaged in a locally-stitched leather knife roll, ‘So you have something to transport your knife next time you escape to that airbnb with the great view but lousy kitchen tools,’ Todd explains!
News of Todd’s knives has travelled far and wide – he was particularly chuffed about a recent collaboration with Matt Preston! ‘I recently made two knives for a charity dinner & auction hosted by Matt Preston. I suggested that we try to get one of Matt’s cravats so I could have it sewn into the lining of the knife roll, and the organisers/Matt’s people agreed, it was brilliant! We ended up with two knives beautifully wrapped, in a leather knife roll with Matt’s cravat as the lining!’.
Todd knives can be purchased online, and are stocked at Meatsmith in Fitzroy. His work is also currently showcased in a group exhibition entitled ‘Lost & Found’ in Launceston, as part of Design Tasmania.