Of all the foodie gadgets and fancy cookwares you can stock your kitchen with, few are as intimidating as buying chef's knives. For starters, they look intimidating—they are knives, after all, that are sharp, pointy, and ready to cut... your food. But anyone who's ever shopped for knives knows that picking out a set and sussing through the features will keep you on a knife's edge: Between brand name, weight, style, and balance, there's a lot to consider. Layer on technical words like "German style" and "Damascus steel," and unless you're a trained culinary expert, landing on a set can feel like a something out of Hell's Kitchen.
- Noelle Hjelte, Noelle Hjelte is the co-founder and president of cooking brand Kilne.
Well, we've found it: a user-friendly knife set that's straightforward and simple to use for home cooks, without compromising on quality. New direct-to-consumer (DTC) cooking brand Kilne has figured out how to make shopping for knives way less confusing and intimidating with its line of professional-grade knives designed for the everyday cook's skills and bank account. For $165, you can chop, slice, pare, dice, and mince with tools that are a cut above the rest.
"The idea for Kilne was born through the simple act of shopping," says the brand's co-founder, Noelle Hjelte. She explains she and her husband-turned-business partner, Michael Gettis, were looking to upgrade their low-quality knives purchased as newlyweds for something of better quality. They found knives were either well-priced but poor quality or high-quality at a very high cost, and there was little to explain or justify stark pricing differences. "Kilne was founded with one simple premise: everyone deserves a quality knife set at an affordable price."
That starts with the materials and the production process. Kilne products are made from the professional-grade materials you want your knives to be made from (think: chromium German steel, fully-forged metal, soft, Acacia wood that's gentle on blades). But true to the DTC ethos, Kilne skips out on the big-box retailers or middle-men that jack up prices, shipping straight to you, the buyer. This keeps production costs low, maintaining the quality without having to compromise the price.
When it comes to development, Kilne also goes straight to the professionals, like chefs Suzanne Barr and Claudio Aprile, to test the knives and create content explaining what makes them high-quality and how to use them. "Kilne’s website and social channels explain the features of the knives, and best knife care practices, in a way everyone can understand," says Hjelte. "For example, not everyone knows what a full-tang blade is, so we explain that it's one piece of steel through the blade and handle for strength and balance. We also love sharing recipes that are not only delicious to make, but help build kitchen confidence." '
Kilne knives: an honest review
As an amateur home chef who enjoys cooking but truly has no business on her own cooking show, Kilne knives are easy to use and understand. I received the brand's 6-Piece Knife Set ($210), which includes the same three knives as the Essentials Set, plus a 7-inch multi-use knife, a sharpener, kitchen shears, and an Acacia wood storage base.
Right off the bat they seemed ~fancy~. In my minimal kitchen knowledge I knew knives had to be 1) sharp, 2) balanced, and 3) feel natural in my hands. They checked off all these boxes—they were scarily sharp, nothing was too heavy or too awkward to use, and they looked so nice my boyfriend went out of his way to
mansplain remind me these should *not* go in the dishwasher. Noted!
But I think my favorite part is the simple descriptions of each knife that make them ridiculously easy to understand what they do. Seriously—you don't need to be Gordon Ramsey to figure out which knife does what. Both on the website and included marketing materials, the knives are duo-labelled. For example, the 8-inch Chef Knife is dubbed the "All Rounder," indicating it can be used for just about anything. The 7-inch Santoku knife, however, has been dubbed "The Chopper," implying it's better at chopping up veggies than it is, say, slicing through a slab of meat. That way, there's no scratching your head mid-cook wondering if you know how to use it—and if you do get really confused, you can just hop on Kilne's website to scroll through the knife range and get cooking tips.
My favorite part has to be that pretty Acacia wood block, though. As someone who is a sucker for aesthetics, it just looks so neat on my kitchen counters and makes it easy to reach what I need mid-cooking sesh. There's no digging around my drawers for that chopping knife or wondering where the honing stone ran off too—it all lives right there, organized neatly (and safely!) in the chic wood block.
For $210, I recommend getting the 6-piece set. It has everything you need to whip-up your favorite home cooked meals without breaking the bank. Plus, there's that pretty wood holder that you'll want to leave out on your counter space, too. If you don't need a whole set, you can also buy knives individually (or get the 3-piece Essentials Kit to round-out your fundamentals). But for bang for your buck, this $210 knife set won't do you wrong.
And if you're still intimidated, Hjelte has some advice to keep in mind: "Don't just assume that a high price means high quality. Do some research into the materials and how the knives are made," she says. And, make sure you can try them at home—lucky for you, Kilne has has a 60-day at home trial that allows customers to test the knives on their own. If you don't like them, send 'em back, no problem (but we're pretty sure you'll want to keep them).
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