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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.
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?
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.
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 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 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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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