Carrie Rengers

'Top Chef' helps boost Knork's popularity

Thanks to Bravo's "Top Chef ," Knork Flatware has an increased presence nationally. But it's not because the flatware, which is a combination knife and fork, is used on the show.

It's because some of the chefs that have been on the show are using or plan to use the flatware in their restaurants.

"A lot of their chefs are very forward thinking," says Lacy Simon , Knork's vice president of marketing and office administration.

"I'm addicted to the show myself."

So Simon tries to contact chefs she thinks might be a good match to use Knork products.

"I just kind of stalk them, to be honest.... I'm in kind of shock when they call back."

Stefan Richter, who was "Top Chef" runner-up in the show's fifth season, uses Knorks at his Stefan's at L.A. Farm in California.

"He's been really, really good for us," Simon says. "Stefan gets it. He sees Knork for exactly what it is — as a sexy flatware line with functionality and good quality design."

At the beginning of this year, Knork products were in 25 Bed Bath & Beyond stores. Now, they're in 150. And Simon says attention from Richter and other chefs gets a big credit for that.

"This is our advertising," she says. "The restaurants really do way more promotion than we can do here."

Simon says it's the buzz that restaurants help create.

"What is this?" she says customers will ask. "Where can I get it?"

Although that's helped Knork's retail expansion with Bed Bath & Beyond, Simon says, "They've got 900 (stores) total, so we're nowhere near the end."

Simon says Chef Richard Blais , the runner-up from the fourth season of "Top Chef," plans to use Knorks in new restaurants in Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala.

And she says she's targeted national food and wine events to market Knork products. For instance, Knork was the official utensil at a Wolfgang Puck event in October.

"We are finding that many culinary (and) catering events see Knork as a value to their participating chefs to know ahead of time that they can offer a wider variety of food items beyond just finger foods," Simon says.

And she admits to still stalking other chefs.

From the most recent season of "Top Chef," Simon says, "There were so many good chefs."

Kevin Gillespie, who took third, and his Woodfire Grill in Atlanta are next on her list. She's planning a trip there and has already contacted the restaurant's general manager.

"He's on our call list to kind of drop in and present the product to him."

The restaurants of former "Top Chef" contenders are especially great, Simon says, because "there's tons of people just making trips to go to (their) restaurants."

Simon says this kind of promotion is more fruitful for Knork right now than national television buys.

"That's kind of our foundation for us to go into some TV later."

You don't say

"I just thought to myself... only in Wichita, Kansas, USA, would you get your iPod back."

—Former Wichitan Forrest Gossett , now with Boeing in St. Louis, who lost his iPod in Wichita Mid-Continent Airport last week and had it returned from a newsstand employee named Edna (whom Gossett calls "just the sweetest, nicest woman in the world")

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