Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Cutting Edge - Misen Knives Make Great Holiday Gifts: Professional Culinary Quality, Handsome Design & Precision Power

Photo courtesy of Misen


Not too long ago in mid autumn (sheesh, seems like last week), I got an email letting me know that Misen was following on its successful 2015 Kickstarter campaign that launched their line of chef’s knives to the consumer market with a second Kickstarter outreach to fund its new line of cookware -- including skillets, pans and pots -- with the skillets ready now to ship for the holiday season - now -and early 2018 for the stockpots, sauciers, and sauté pans.

Seemed I had a lot of catching up to do.

After blushing a bit about my ignorance of this culinary tool maker, I bounced back with the second email’s opening salvo, “I come bearing gifts!” Truth is, I do test drive every product I review so the offer was appreciated and in keeping with my hands-on platform for all things food and drink and design.

I also learned Misen really, really knows how to raise money! Their Kickstarter campaigns were off-the-butcher-block hits -- with more than $2 million in total pledged.

As it turns out, there is a direct line to all that support, based on the quality, design, and very, very fair price points.

All this American quality design and engineering at a great value sounded too good to be true. But it’s all for real.

By selling direct to the enlightened consumer, Misen says it is able to offer premium kitchen tools at honest prices. I’ll second that. You’ll want to own and gift these products to all - not just your foodie friends.

Misen has proven a delightful discovery and a valued kitchen partner. Right out of the box.

The Misen team has taken a page from Steve Jobs’ passion for packaging presentation: the knives come elegantly nestled in their own kind of jewelry boxes, surrounded by a cushioned foam and a polished branded box with a tidy closure.

This attention to detail whispers of the quality and attention to detail that Misen wants you to appreciate from the get-go.

The packaging screams gift! And you could also store them here if your kitchen doesn’t allow you to show off their runway-worthy good looks.










Misen is an online kitchenware brand, who aims to inspire; believing that “better tools make for better cooking, and better meals.” Amen to that mission. It was time to get in the kitchen with the Misen knives.

While there’s no doubt our Sunday roasted chicken was moist, we test-drove the Misens to determine if we could not only carefully cut through the skin, but on to the soft, tender meat - and then straight through the bones, as well. No problems. The Misens never broke a sweat changing gears, so to speak.





Further, as the company claims, one can slice through a fruit or vegetable without tearing, maintaining the integrity of the produce. Here you can see the balanced cut of our homegrown tomato -- keeping the juices and the integrity of the fruit.



Misen’s name comes from ‘mise en place’ — a culinary term that means “to put in place.” (We use this term in garden design, as well. Right plant for the right place...)

Chefs use the term to describe the process of setting up their stations before service. According to Misen, their knives’ moniker is an ode to “mise en place;” to better cooking through proper preparation with quality tools.

The company also worked with acclaimed culinary professional, J. Kenji López-Alt. The quote is a great summary tribute to the quality of the Misen knives:



The Anatomy of a Knife



First, a few, ahem, pointers.

A sharp knife is a safer knife simply because you won’t have to force or attempt to tear a cut or slice. Misen knives are born to be razor sharp.

Next, let’s identify the anatomy of a knife. After all, the knife is arguably the most important kitchen tool - so best to know its body parts, no?

The Handle is the part you’ll be in contact with (culinary gods willing!) so make sure it feel comfortable in your hand and grip.

And because the Misens are forged from a single piece of steel, it runs the entire length of the knife - through the handle. The section of steel in the handle is called the Tang. And Misens have Full Tang because the steel extends all the way to the end; that quality construction provides better balance.

The Bolster is the thick end of the blade area where it meets up with the handle. Here too, the construction provides balance plus it protects your fingers (from repetitive fatigue to slipping). And because Misens are forged from that single piece of steel they have a nice thick Bolster indicative of high-end, professional knives. The knives are also marked by their Rivets - another sign of quality.

The Heel is the widest part of the knife - used for chopping hard things like nuts, those chicken bones I mentioned. A solid Heel aids with a strong cutting force too.

The Cutting Edge is what most of think of when we use any knife. The edge angle on the Misen knives is ideal for most every cutting task. And it has a sharp cutting face.

The Tips of a knife can vary however the “V” or triangle is the most versatile. The Tip is the forward part of the knife and includes the knife point. The Tip is used detailed or delicate cutting
The Point is best for most cutting, with the tip used for small items and cutting food into thin strips and carving. The Point is used for piercing.

Quality Details

Misen knives are precision machined and hand finished from high carbon Japanese stainless steel. In fact, all the Misen Knives use premium Japanese AICHI AUS-8 Steel, providing a great balance of edge retention, and durability.

The knives feature acute 15 degree blade angles for a noticeably sharper cutting face, and a sloped bolster for better comfort and control.

The durable POM thermoplastic handles boast a sloped bolster that promotes a proper “pinch grip” for better comfort and control.

Plus a cook and baker like me wants the kitchen to look good -- think of all the Twitter and Instagram love you’re sharing. It won’t do to have boring utensils spoiling the culinary magic…

Misen knife handles are available in "Look-Book" ready blue, black, and gray colors.

The blue is a kind of French blue - which matches our country house blue marble island and counters soooo perfectly.

I’m told Misen will soon offer a Free sharpening service. Nice touch!

Products Available for Purchase

  • Misen Chef’s Knife - $65 (Comparable knife would cost over $135+ at traditional retail)
  • Misen Essentials Set - $130 (3 pc, edited set: Chef, Paring, Serrated Knife)
  • Misen Chef’s Knife - From paper thin slices to rough chops, the single most important tool in any kitchen
          Blade Length - 8.2 inches / 208 millimeters
          Total Length - 13.2 inches / 335 millimeters
          Weight - 8.3 oz / 235 g

  • Misen Paring Knife - Small, but mighty. An essential knife for work both on the cutting board and ‘in air.’ Perfect for work like peeling, coring, mincing and trimming
          Blade Length - 3.2 inches / 81 millimeters
          Total Length - 7.5 inches / 190 millimeters
          Weight - 2.8 oz / 80 g
  • Misen Serrated Knife - A long curved blade with pointed serrated teeth perfect for crusty breads, and tough-skinned fruits and vegetables
          Blade Length - 10.0” inches / 254 millimeters
          Total Length - 15.0” inches / 381 millimeters
          Weight - 8.6 oz / 243 g

Knife Gifts

For the holiday season, Brooklyn-based Misen plans to focus on their new cookware (will test soon..) including the skillets.

At the same time, I can heartily recommend the precision, crafted Misen knives as gifts for most everyone on your list. There are gift sets good to go and individual knives. They make great stocking stuffers, too. Plus, the company is running a promotion on their website: 10% off your first order!

The Misen knives are more than a utility; they are a handsome assistant you’ll be proud to showcase in your kitchen.

I’m told the story of Misen began when a friend lost the one quality skillet that Misen founder Omar Rada owned. While shopping for a replacement, Rada recognized an opportunity: quality cookware was nonexistent at an honest price. Products that were cheap suffered from poor quality, and premium cookware, while more versatile in the kitchen, was out of budget for many home cooks. Thus, admitted “knife nerd” Rada set out to build a knife with quality materials and thoughtful design at an affordable price that would ship direct to customers. Hitting its initial Kickstarter funding goal in mere hours, Misen raised nearly $2MM to develop a chef’s knife that was lauded by culinary experts like Serious Eats Culinary Director J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and tens of thousands of home cooks.

As Misen notes: “Better tools for better cooking for better meals.”

And the best ingredient is love…

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