NHB KnifeWorks was founded upon two beliefs. The first, which we have heartily recommended to everyone, is to follow your dreams. That's what inspired Co-founder, Nate Bonner, to leave his career as a professionally trained chef and follow his life-long dream of being a knife-maker. That same belief inspired Co-founder, Melody Noel (Mel), Nate's step-mom, to leave her career as a practicing attorney and become an entrepreneur. As a result, NHB KnifeWorks was born, and neither of us have looked back! Our second belief is that extraordinary design can (and should be) beautiful, functional, and local. Made in the USA, NHB KnifeWorks' unique culinary knives are each designed by Nate and are made from high-grade stainless, carbon, or Damascus steel, which is then coupled to a one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted wood handle. The result is an extraordinary knife that is made for chefs, by a chef, holds its edge, and is beautiful as it is functional. As Nate always says, "Cooking is an art, so should be your knife!" Mel calls them, "Jewelry for Chefs.”
Mel uses her natural attention to detail and organization skills to keep the business humming and the grinders running. She also curates the other unique, Made in the USA, culinary related products that are featured at our NHB KnifeWorks studio/factory/shop.
Knifemaker Nate Bonner pictured with Melody Noel, co-founders of NHB KnifeWorks in their Maplewood, Missouri, store location.
Finding talented American artisans and small batch producers is not only rewarding, but inspiring! We want people to know that the manufacturing of high quality products in the USA is going strong, and growing right here in our own backyard!
NHB KnifeWorks is the adventure of a life-time. We thank you for sharing that adventure!
In 2016 NHB Knifeworks opened our first brick and mortar location in the historic district of Maplewood, Missouri. The storefront features American-made knives, cookware, handmade bowls and other artisan culinary products. The window on the back wall peeks into the knife-making studio and allows guests to watch the shaping, sharpening, and grinding of knives.
Nate has always had a fascination with knives and a special appreciation for the quality and workmanship of a great knife. Captivated by knives big and small since childhood, Nate’s passion for knives was further cultivated in his 10-year career as a chef. Professionally trained at the New England Culinary Institute (NECI) in Montpelier, Vermont, Nate went on to work in restaurants in Vermont, California and eventually his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, where he held several Executive Chef positions. A gifted culinary instructor, Nate specialized in teaching “knife skills,” further honing his pursuit of the perfect knife.
A true artist, Nate had always looked for beauty and functionality when purchasing a knife, but often found himself making technical changes to his knives to optimize their performance. Seeing an opportunity to combine his love of knives, his unique knowledge and experience in the culinary arts and his desire to create one-of-a-kind, high quality knives, Nate set out to create his “dream knives.” It was from that successful effort that NHB KnifeWorks was born.
Whether working with steel, micarta, or wood, Nate has a passion and natural talent for designing, sculpting and honing knives.
MELODY-PRODUCT CURATOR, CO-FOUNDER
Melody (Mel) Noel always knew that she would someday be an entrepreneur. She never dreamt, however, that the business she would start would be a culinary knife manufacturing company or that her business partner would be her stepson, Nate Bonner. A graduate of Fontbonne University and St. Louis University Law School, Mel was a practicing litigation attorney in St. Louis and Indianapolis for almost thirty years. Although she had toyed with the idea of a career change, it was not until she and her step-son, Nate Bonner, started talking about various potential business ventures that a vision started to emerge. "We were both ready for a change, and after we settled on a concept, we never looked back." Mel's husband remembers returning home from a trip to Africa and finding a knife-making shop in the couples' basement! Venturing into this new career, Mel found herself wearing numerous new hats and on the receiving end of a lot of learning curves, but relished the changes. Working with a family member (and an artist to boot), required more diplomacy than she ever imagined or used in the law practice, but as Mel mused, "Working in a family business is not for sissies, and it's certainly not for everyone, but at the end of the day communication in business, just as it is in a family, is key."
LEVI-STORE & WEB MANAGER, WEB DESIGNER
Levi takes pride in being well-rounded, and a "jack of all trades." He is a web-developer, foodie, and DIY enthusiast. Levi comes to us from the high-tech world of digital communications, but has also logged years in the culinary cutlery industry. His years working with both professional chefs and home cooks alike is where he developed his appreciation and foundation of knowledge of knives, steels and the craftsmanship & engineering inherent to high quality blades.
One of Levi's favorite parts of working for NHB is the fact that he gets to bear witness to the resurgence of American craftsmanship first-hand, and experience the level of quality American artisans can craft. He believes that one well-made product can last for generations and that knifes, cutting boards or other products made the old fashioned way will always beat the mass produced, assembly-line imports that we so often encounter.
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Don't teach a man to fish, and you feed yourself. He's a grown man. Fishing's not that hard." -Ron Swanson
MANUELA-KNIFEMAKER, WORKSHOP MANAGER
Manuela has always loved creating things with her own hands, to make something out of nothing. She is a painter, illustrator, and sculptural artist, who also has a passion for music. After studying Audio Engineering and Film Studies at Webster University, life took her on multiple creative endeavors. Film and music were still great interests, but not something she wanted for a career. Some time passed, and after working in the tattoo industry for many years she decided it also wasn't for her, but she continued searching for something that could be more than just a job - something where she could maximize her artistic potential. Always fascinated with metalwork, she taught herself silversmithing several years ago and started making her own jewelry. This led her to gain a more serious interest in blacksmithing and knife making as well. She decided to follow this path, and continues to learn and grow in the trade.
Aside from her work at NHB, she is particularly interested in historical European and Middle Eastern weaponry, and hopes to meld her silversmithing to create ornate one of a kind pieces outside of the culinary realm. She loves working in her home art studio with her cat sleeping at her side and and an endless flow of coffee. She is an avid antique and oddity collector and lets her unusual interests influence her artistic work.
I like to think of myself as a “front of the house" kind of guy. Although top management views me primarily for my personality and charm, I like to think that I have much more to offer. Universally acknowledged on the strip as the Prince of Maplewood, I’m not just another pretty face, rather, I have real people skills. Yes, I may take more than my share of breaks, and admittedly I have a running tab at the Airdale Antics Pet Store down the street, don’t think that I don’t put in the hours. Yes, I do have a bed at the counter, but since part of my job is to greet every person that comes through the door, that’s a lot of wagging. Of course, if my tail were longer I wouldn’t have to wag my whole butt. It’s exhausting! Don’t believe me? Try wagging your butt all day.