The Man Behind Finn Utility |

The Man Behind Finn Utility

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Ryan at his shop on the Winooski River
Last month we introduced our good friend Ryan McDonald to the Cooking District store. His fly fishing product company, Finn Utility is producing the best knife roll we've ever come across and we couldn't wait to get it on our shelves. The built-to-last, hand-crafted roll was designed to chef specs and is nearly exactly equal parts utilitarian and cool looking. And it will only look better as it ages. After an avalanche of orders over the holiday season, Ryan is caught up and today is taking new orders for the knife roll again.

We sat down with Ryan to get a little more insight into his company and his relationship with food.

CD: How did you develop the Hudson Knife Roll?

RM: My neighbor Zach — he's on staff at Cooking District — has worked as a professional cook for years. He asked me to put together a high-end knife roll. It’s one of the new products that isn't totally fly fishing focused, but still makes sense for guides' use on river trips as well as traveling cooks at lodge events and dinners.
The Hudson Knife Roll
CD: You spend a lot time foraging- what are your favorite foods to seek out?

RM: Ramps, cranberries, and mushrooms- specifically maitakes, lion’s mane, and chanterelles.
CD: You also make your own beer & wine, right?

RM: Yes, plus a lot of other food products. Experimentation in food has always been interesting to me. From making wine to making sauerkraut, even turning wild apples into apple cider vinegar, then using that to preserve the ramps in the spring. It creates a cycle and connection to food that internalizes my connection to nature.
CD: Has there been a big response to the knife roll from the fishing community?

RM:Yes, people are very excited about it. Bringing food preparation to the river provides a deeper fishing experience. The knife roll was also created to help fishing guides bring their culinary tools to the river so they can prepare their meals confidently. Beyond professional cooks, river guides may be the most excited for it right now.
Catching trout in the Rangely Lakes Region of Maine
CD: What are your favorite fishing spots?

RM: Fishing people don’t usually share their secret spots…but any place with a nice calm bend in the river where you can set your boat ashore, light up a fire and have a glass of wine before proceeding with the art of cooking is fine by me.
Finn Utility is a new fly fishing product company based in Jonesville, VT on the banks of the Winooski River. The company is focused on using the highest quality USA sourced natural materials including waxed canvas, leather and brass which are locally handcrafted. The product line includes reel holders, fly wallets and duffel bags. Finn Utility is dedicated to respecting the traditional aesthetic with a touch of modern. Their mission, simply, is to create classic, durable and useful products that will last a lifetime. Founder Ryan McDonald grew up on the Rangeley Lakes of Maine, where his grandfather was a guide, and has spent a lifetime in the outdoors.


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