If this season of cooking and baking makes you realize that you need a refresh on your pots and pans, knives and other kitchen equipment and serving pieces, look no further than Made In.
Made In is a direct-to-consumer company that is working with renowned artisans and craftsmen and top chefs—as product development partners—to bring the best tools, cookware, bakeware and tabletop that the world has to offer directly to your home—or restaurant. Selling professional-quality goods directly to the customer without the extra cost of a distributor, or middleman is their business model.
Founders Chip Malt and Jake Kalick have known each other since they were five years old. When they starting cooking and entertaining at home, they realized that there were only two choices to make when outfitting your kitchen…“either cheap kitchenware or really expensive kitchenware. There wasn’t much in between that was great quality and a great value,” said Chip, CEO and Co-founder of Made In.
“In the last 10 years, people started caring about origin…well-sourced ingredients, but no one was focusing on the origin of their cookware,” explained Chip.
Jake’s family business was outfitting restaurants so he knew about kitchenware. But instead of choosing stock designs and putting their logo on it, or starting from scratch, they began to identify and partner with craftsmen and small companies in the USA, France, Italy and beyond. They also work with chefs and customers to integrate feedback from users into their designs. They are the distributor and in some cases, the manufacturer of all their products. As someone who has brought back kitchen tools and equipment from all over the world, I was intrigued.
When I asked about the name, Chip told me that, “Made In came from made in the best place in the world for that product. It’s an homage to where the products were made and the craftsman story—they are all family owned and have been doing [what they do] for multiple generations.”
The two form relationships with the raw material providers, and makers to create culinary tools such as knives, carbon-steel, nonstick and stainless cookware, French porcelain and ceramic bakeware; glassware, tabletop and more. They are continually adding items like the new specially designed Porcelain Pie Dish launching just in time for Thanksgiving. The deep pie dish is purposely designed with a flat rim—as opposed to a ruffled or scalloped edge—so that it works for any type of edge decoration. You can crimp the edge, or if you like overlapping pie-crust leaves like I do, you can use the same pan. The flat rim also makes the dish more versatile as you can use it all year long for more than just pie.
What Made In is doing reminds me of what Chuck Williams did when he started Williams Sonoma. It is well known that he brought in high-quality cookware from France—and later from all over the world—and started selling it in Sonoma, California, before expanding to San Francisco and the rest of the country.
Made In does their research and finds makers and manufacturers who have been creating products that both chefs and home cooks have relied on for years, and in some cases even centuries. For example, their knives are made in Thiers, France, world-famous for making cutlery. But the knives aren’t only French in design. There are Japanese styles including the ever-popular Santuko and the new-popular Nakiri, as well as many other choices including a bread knife that was designed with Chef and Bread Expert Nancy Silverton. The serrated blade is sharp and pointed and cuts through the tough craggy crusts of sourdough bread with ease. I especially like the olive-wood handle and the way it feels perfectly balanced in the hand.
I tested a set of knives, well priced at $279.00 for a set of three. The olive-wood handle is the more expensive option, but for knives made in France that will last a lifetime, it is a good value. All the knives are full tang and fully forged. Meaning that the knife is made from one piece of steel and that piece of steel extends from end-to-end, and that it is forged or heated and pounded into shape. (These features are sought after by knife lovers and indicate high-quality.)
Each knife and the three pans that I tested have become my new go-tos. They deliver on their promises and I love the details like the handles. So often, the handles of pots and pans are uncomfortable and seem like after-thoughts. The handles of the Made In non-stick, 5-ply stainless clad and carbon-steel pans are thick and rounded and feel good in your hand. The pans themselves are substantial, shaped for everyday cooking, and heavy enough to be workhorses but not so heavy that they are clumsy to use. You can tell that people who are passionate about food and cooking had a hand in making them.
The founders’ entrepreneurial nature puts them in a position to meet other entrepreneurs and one friendship turned into a collaboration this year. Made In is headquartered in Austin as is Tecovas hand-crafted cowboy boots. Both companies operate on the same basic tenets. They are customer-centric, focused on high quality, and sell their products direct, with no retailer markup.
Tecovas was founded by Paul Hedrick, a native of Dallas and a lover of great cowboy boots. If the idea of a housewares company and a cowboy-boot company working together seems odd, I can tell you that it resonated with me as a long-time cowboy boot wearing cook. Made In X Tecovas created a line geared towards outdoor cooking with one of the coolest knife rolls that I have ever seen made from waxed twill, brass and harness leather; a wicked sharp carving knife that goes through barbecue like butter and a carbon-steel grill pan among other items—even a special carbon-steel colored leather for their Knox boot. All of which would be great holiday gifts for your favorite chef, home cook or griller.