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An Honest Review of Material Kitchen's Fundamentals Set

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Material was founded in 2018 by longtime friends Eunice Byun and Dave Nguyen.
The Fundamentals set was Material's flagship collection, and it quickly became popular with consumers.
The Fundamentals includes seven kitchen essentials you’ll reach for whenever you're cooking at home.

I'm a bit of a minimalist. And by a bit, I mean that 80% of my home looks "unlived-in," according to my neighbors and family. But my kitchen? That's another story.

My kitchen has more going than the rest of my home, with multiple appliances displayed on the countertops (gasp!) and above the cabinets. And then there's the mess hiding in my utensil drawer, which has overflowed into a lower cabinet where I stash utensils that don't fit with the rest.

It's not that I don't try – my utensil drawer has a set of very nice and well-intentioned bamboo dividers to keep it organized. But I don't have a lot of drawer space in my apartment, and I wasn't eager to display my mismatched utensils in a crock on the countertops.

When I found out I'd be reviewing The Fundamentals set by Material, I knew my kitchen was about to get an upgrade. I'd finally have utensils worth displaying instead of hiding them in my drawer of shame. And maybe, just maybe, I'd get further the next time I try to Marie Kondo my kitchen.

The Fundamentals set

What I Love About Material

Material is a pretty lovable brand, and I'm officially a fan. I love that Material is part of a growing number of modern kitchen brands focusing on innovation, sustainability, and aesthetic appeal. I also appreciate how the brand works with my minimalist lifestyle — they strive to offer what's essential and no more. And that's a concept I try to incorporate everywhere in my home. 

But what's more important than innovation or minimalism is this: Material does more than create beautiful home goods — the brand makes an active effort to make the world a better place. For example, Material jointly granted $25,000 to the Korean American Community Foundation with The Siegel Family Endowment. How awesome is that?

Unboxing Experience 

Oh, and then there's the unboxing experience — love it! The Fundamentals set greeted me with a sturdy forest green box emblazoned with an "M" in the corner. Inside, I found The Base tucked neatly away in a simple linen bag. And next to that, the utensils sat snugly in two stacked cardboard "drawers." As a result, everything inside had an intentional and luxurious vibe.

I'd typically recycle all of this, but Material's packaging was too high-quality to toss. So instead, I kept the main box to organize my craft supplies, and I stashed the linen bag away for later use.

How Material Compares

  • Better Knife Storage: The Base from The Fundamentals set features a well-placed magnetic strip for knife storage. It's cleaner than a knife block or in-drawer holder and quicker than a sheath, which is how I previously kept my knives. Magnetic storage helps keep your knives sharper by protecting the blade's edge. 
  • Innovative Tongs: The Only Tongs feature a hidden gravity lock that opens when you point the tip down and squeeze the tongs together and locks when you do the same with the tip pointing up. This makes them more convenient to use than standard tongs. 
  • Balanced Blades: The 8" Knife and The Almost 4" Knife are both well balanced with a super-sharp, resistant edge. They're made with three layers of Japanese steel, including a high-carbon inner layer and two stainless steel outer layers, with cryogenic tempering to enhance durability. And they're far above any similarly-priced knives I've used.

Pros

  • All cookware and dinnerware feature aesthetically-pleasing designs and high-quality materials. 
  • Many products are available in multiple finishes and color options, so you can pick what fits your kitchen. 
  • Curated sets make it easy to outfit your kitchen with the essentials or find a beautiful housewarming gift. 
  • All products come with a 60-day return policy. 
  • Material products are more affordable than many competitors.

Cons

  • Products ship to the continental United States and Canada only. However, Material invites customers to email for international orders. 
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Test Drive: The Fundamentals

The Fundamentals set was a delight to test drive. I picked the deeper, warmer Walnut finish with the Blue Grey handle color. 

It took several days to try every piece, but now they're some of the most-used items in my kitchen. Each utensil is comfortable in both left-handed and right-handed grips, and they're all display-worthy. Here's what I thought of the seven pieces in The Fundamentals set

The Fundamentals set

The 8" Knife

The Fundamentals set really surprised me with the quality of the knives. The 8" Knife is balanced with plenty of weight in the blade, ideal for a smoother chopping experience and less fatigue when used for long periods. The balance point is right at the bolster (that thick piece of metal between the blade's heel and the handle).

The blade was very sharp when it arrived, and after several uses, it still doesn't need sharpening. It effortlessly chops, slices, and dices everything, and I get excited whenever I find a new reason to pull out this baddie.

I love that this chef's knife is made from Japanese steel with cryogenic tempering. The high-carbon inner layer adds strength and weight, while the two outer stainless steel layers keep it durable and sharp. In addition, the cryogenic tempering helps the blade maintain its edge while further enhancing durability. 

The Almost 4" Knife

The Almost 4" Knife is an excellent little paring knife with the same triple-layered Japanese steel construction as The 8" Knife. It's balanced a bit towards the handle, which is better for small, controlled tasks that aren't likely to cause fatigue. This little knife is hands-down the best paring knife I've used, and it's officially the only one in my kitchen. 

The blade was super sharp when it arrived, and it hasn't dulled yet. It makes short work of everything, whether I'm peeling, slicing, or mincing, and my partner officially prefers it over any of our other chef's knives. In addition, the point is perfectly sharp and great for precision tasks like hulling strawberries. 

The Only Tongs

It's tough to choose a favorite item from The Fundamentals, but The Only Tongs are definitely tied for first. I cannot express how much I love these tongs. It's all in the locking mechanism, even if it perplexed me for the first 30 seconds I held them. 

The instructions read: "Turn up and squeeze to lock. Turn down and squeeze to open."

My first thought was, "Okay, but where's the lock I'm turning?" Once I figured out that you're turning the actual tongs and there's no external locking mechanism to mess with, I was in love. I never knew I could like a pair of tongs this much, but I'm head over heels. 

True to the name, The Only Tongs are the only tongs I ever want to use again. My only gripe is that I still have to use my nonstick-friendly silicone-tipped pair for my more delicate pots and pans. But if I ever lose The Only Tongs, Material is the only place I'll go to replace them.

The Wood Spoon

The Wood Spoon is a contender for the prettiest piece from The Fundamentals Set, especially in the Walnut finish I chose for my set. It features an angled head that works quite well for deglazing pots and pans, just as Material's description states. 

I find myself grabbing The Wood Spoon instead of my other nonstick-friendly utensils, even when it isn't the most "ideal" option for the job. It has a warm, rustic look that's super appealing to me, and the natural wood grain creates an earthy texture that I adore. 

In fact, I like The Wood Spoon so much that I reached out to Material about how to make sure it stays in good condition for years to come. They responded in less than an hour (!!) to let me know that the same food-safe mineral oil I use on my wood cutting boards will do the trick. That's some excellent customer service! 

The Metal Spoon

Material's attention to detail and quality construction has thoroughly wowed me. The Metal Spoon is perfect for serving and cooking alike, and I can't get over how durable it is. And it holds exactly 1/4 cup of liquid (I double-checked), making it more versatile than my other stainless steel spoons. 

The Metal Spoon is also balanced near the handle, which is ideal for smooth sauteeing and stirring and eliminating fatigue when used for long periods. It's also dishwasher safe and comfortable to hold. 

The next time I watch Marie Kondo and get inspired to downsize, The Metal Spoon will probably be the only one of its kind that remains in my kitchen. Like The Only Tongs, Material is the only place I'd go for a replacement if I lost this beautiful spoon.

The Slotted Spatula

I wasn't sure if I'd get much use out of The Slotted Spatula. I'm a vegan, so I don't eat fish or pork chops or anything else I've used spatulas like this for in the past. But it quickly replaced my other metal spatulas, stealing the title of "Favorite," and I love how comfortable it is in my hand. 

The Slotted Spatula features the same handle found on The 8" Knife, which is probably why I like it so much. It has a durable, industrial feel while still being flexible enough for finesse. It also features a super-cool beveled edge to make it easier to cut through lasagna and other casserole-style dishes.

The Base

Last but certainly not least, we have The Base, which is tied with The Only Tongs for my favorite piece in the set. It includes a magnetic knife holder while featuring an elegant, modern design that fits right in with my kitchen. The Base is so pretty that I'm happy to display it on my counters, which wasn't the case with my previous utensil holders.

I ordered The Fundamentals set in Walnut, so The Base has a cozy, warm finish that can fit anywhere. In addition to the magnetic knife holder, it's sustainably made and wipes clean easily. My favorite part is the aesthetic appeal, though – it looks effortlessly modern and minimalist, with simple lines and an understated design.

The magnetic portion holds The 8" Knife, The Almost 4" Knife, and another 8" chef's knife. Finally, the utensil holder is big enough to hold all six pieces from The Fundamentals set, plus a few of my other favorite silicone spatulas.

Beautiful kitchenware designed for the discerning home cook

Material was founded in 2018 by longtime friends Eunice Byun and Dave Nguyen. The duo wanted to honor the Korean and Vietnamese traditions that family meals carried across the oceans and into their homes. They didn't have professional experience in the kitchenware or cooking industries, but they understood the power of a homecooked meal. Their flagship set, The Fundamentals, was born from this mission, and Material has only continued to grow.

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Material's Minimalist-Friendly Ethos 

Eunice and Dave wanted to bring warm energy and their shared passion for design into Material Kitchen. They sought to create beautiful essentials for the home chef's toolbox, and they've done a great job not cluttering up their shop with unnecessary products. As a minimalist, I love their brand ethos

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The Fundamentals: A Next-Level Kitchen Experience

I had a great experience with Material and would recommend its products to anyone who loves to cook. The brand actively supports Asian American communities, and the design of each product is guided by an ethos I believe in. 

And The Fundamentals set exceeded my expectations with the quality of both knives, the innovative locking mechanism on The Only Tongs, and the beautiful simplicity of The Base. The rest of the set was equally as impressive, offering durability, versatility, and aesthetic appeal in every piece. And what more can you ask from your utensils?

Written by
Shelby Golding is a Colorado-based writer/editor with over a decade of experience. She has a college education in interior design and enjoys woodworking in her free time.
Disclosure: If you buy a product from a link in one of our reviews, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale. We sometimes receive products free of charge from brands to test and review. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended.
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