The direct-to-consumer brand started as a Kickstarter to make affordable chef's knives, and now they're adding pots and pans to their repertoire
If you know about Misen, it's probably because of their knives. The company began as a Kickstarter co-founded by Omar Rada, a self-described "knife nerd" and home cook who wanted to create a quality chef's knife at a reasonable price point. The Kickstarter met its $25,000 goal in hours, and two years later, Misen knives now have a place in many chefs' and food writers' homes. Serious Eats guru J. Kenji Lopez-Alt named the Misen chef's knife "the holy grail of inexpensive chef's knives." Now, Misen is venturing into an entirely new space, bringing the same direct-to-consumer approach to cookware.
"When I was getting more into cooking, I was gifted this incredibly nice All-Clad pan. I was shocked at how much of a difference it made in my cooking," Rada told Extra Crispy. Through a mishap with a friend, Rada lost the pan. When he went to replace it, he was shocked by the high price. "There was no way I could afford that and was actually a little mad that they were charging that much. So I researched how pans were made and why they cost so much and couldn't find a clear answer that explained why good cookware is so expensive. I realized there was no good reason. And that's pretty much when Misen was born. So in the back of my mind, even though I started with a knife, we were always coming back to cookware."
The Misen cookware launch, the result of another successful Kickstarter, includes the kitchen workhouse staples: a skillet, a saucier, and a stock pot. The skillets come in at 10 inches for $65 and 12 inches for $75, and the pots are available in one of Misen's bundled cookware sets.
The development process involved some obsessive testing. "We broke down virtually every high-end pan on the market and explored every type of stainless steel, aluminum, and copper," Rada said. "Then we worked closely with our manufacturing partners and engineers to figure out specific design elements each piece of cookware needed to make it durable enough for a professional kitchen but easy enough to use for a first-time cook at home. I must have close to 100 pans lying around my house. I've lost count, but it was well over 30 different 3-D prototypes that we ended up testing until we were happy with the end result."
The market Misen is hoping to capture is people who are interested in leveling up their cookware but unable or unwilling to shell out hundreds of dollars for an All-Clad pan. It's a set you could see being gifted to a college student moving into their first apartment, or a home cook learning the ropes and looking for something that's a little beyond the beginner stage. When developing the skillets, Rada was looking at materials that would heat evenly but also feel good to cook with. "First and foremost, I look for a tool that's easy to use. Does the pan feel good in my hand? Is it comfortable? Is it well constructed and going to last me a long time?" he said. "At the end of the day, cookware is just a tool. But it's a unique tool that can make cooking easier or more fun."