What is Knife Party? Is it a dinner party? A pop-up restaurant? An exclusive club for foodies? If you’ve stumbled across Instagram photos of your friends wining and dining with squid ink and pesto platters, you’ve probably asked the same question. But Knife Party isn’t so much what as it is who. A collaboration between a butcher and an artist at its core, Knife Party is an underground eating experience—they have no guidelines because they don’t have anything to lose. They’re more than just eccentric experimenters; they are two guys on a mission to get you to try things you would never try before (even if that thing is a cake made with pig’s blood).
Though raised in a family of Georgia farmers, Wil Drake never saw cooking as anything more than a hobby. After a post-grad stint as a musician, there came a time when Wil knew he was ready start pursuing a new passion. While working his day job at Starbucks, he began to take the idea of cooking for living more seriously and started asking local kitchens for work. His first gig? Dreamcakes Bakery. He’s put in kitchen time at local staples like Saw’s Barbeque, FlipBurger, DoDiYo’s and beyond, relying on good experience rather than formal training. After four months abroad as a butcher’s apprentice in Ireland, he came back to the south with a revived creative energy and a more-skilled understanding of his craft.
“I thought about culinary school, but it’s so expensive and every chef I’ve talked to in town said just get to work. Basically you go to school to get a job, then you start learning again once you’re out. So I think sometimes it’s okay to skip all that and just completely submerge yourself in it.”
Roscoe Hall will be the first to tell you he always wanted to be an artist before he wanted to be a cook. In his words, he got into cooking because it would feed him and pay for school when he was a hungry, broke college student. Like the many many hungry, broke, college kids that came before him, Roscoe got his start as a dishwasher. From Schlotzsky’s Deli to Dreamland to Bottega and Hot & Hot Fish Club, he served his time at his fair share of local spots until he was ready to venture out west. From San Diego to Portland, San Francisco to St. Louis, Baltimore to New York, Roscoe has spent his days making and selling art and his nights cooking in some of America’s best-known kitchens. When it was time to return to Birmingham, he wasn’t about to settle for someone else’s conventions once he got back here.
“Though fancy food is great, I can put you in a dive bar situation and serve you truffles and caviar, and that to me is only reason why I cook. It’s the only thing I got when it comes to food, it’s that I can make it punk. I don’t have to give in and feel like the help all the time. When I’m deconstructing a dish, you come on my terms.”