Made In Cookware’s Growth Flywheel Extends From Professional Chefs To Home Cooks

Made In Cookware founders Johnathan “Jake” Kalick, left, and Bradford “Chip” Malt. Photo by Matt Conant

From: Forbes
By: Pamela N. Danziger, Senior Contributor,
“I study the world’s most powerful consumers — The American Affluent”

Top athletes, craftsmen and women, carpenters or anyone involved in a skilled trade knows to perform their best, they need the best tools, as Benjamin Franklin said, “The best investment is in the tools of one’s trade.”

Likewise, top professional chefs need ultimate-performance cookware in their restaurant kitchens and the Austin-based Made In Cookware company applied that learning to grow its business, first in professional kitchens then into the home cookware market, estimated to reach $4.6 billion this year, according to Statista.

Early Adoptors
In seven short years, Made In has earned the support of professional chefs across the globe. It’s now in more than 2,000 restaurants in 17 foreign countries and in all 50 states, including over 100 Michelin-starred restaurants in 2023.

And it’s taken that professional following to make a name for itself in home kitchens with dynamic growth in e-commerce – being named to Newsweek’s Fastest Growing Online Shops in 2022 and ranked as one of Newsweek’s best online shops in 2024.

“We serve home cooks who look at cooking as a skill, not a chore, and who really care about the provenance and heritage of where their tools come from,” shared co-founder Jake Kalick, whose family has been in the commercial restaurant supply business for over 100 years.

“Home cooks spend time and money investing in the best ingredients, finding the best recipes and learning techniques from professional chefs on television and the internet, but they didn’t have the right kitchen tools. That’s where Made In fits,” he added.

Together with co-founder Chip Malt, who honed his marketing and data analytics skills with Rhone Apparel, they started the company in 2017 focused on supplying professional chefs and restaurant kitchens with products that would meet their exacting standards and stand up to rigorous, repeated use.

Flywheel For Growth
By earning the support of professional chefs, like James Beard Foundation’s award winners Tom Colicchio and Nancy Silverton and 47 of this year’s semifinalists, Made In has created a flywheel to continue to grow in both the professional and home markets.

“The world’s best chefs use Made In and they’re our customers,” Kalick proudly said, adding that chefs come on as real customers, not paid influencers. “We leverage our relationships with our chef customers to connect with home customers.”

Another component of the Made In flywheel is its Made In Studio, where chefs can star in professionally-made videos to share recipes and techniques so home cooks can produce restaurant-quality meals at home. The Austin studio space is also open for nonprofit events, industry parties, supper clubs and provides a place and an audience for chefs to test recipes.

“The more content we create with chefs, the more customers want to buy our products and the more chefs want to work with us, and so it goes on,” he said.

In some cases, early professional adopters have become partners. When it needed to add a bread knife to its collection, it went to customer and famed bread-baker Nancy Silverton to design it. And after using Made In in his kitchen, Tom Colicchio joined its advisory board and became an early seed investor, along with private equity partner KarpReilly.

“It’s rare to find kitchen tools so well-suited for both professional and home applications,” Colicchio said in a statement, perhaps taking a subtle knock at celebrity chefs who put their names on cookware brands but wouldn’t dream of using them in their commercial kitchens.

“I’ve been approached by a ton of cookware brands over the years, but Made In truly stands out from the pack,” he added.

Retail Expansion
Having proven that it has what it takes in professional kitchens and reaching into home kitchens too, Made In has tested expansion from its digital e-commerce roots into brick-and-mortar retail, with two popup stores opened in the past two years in Austin, though both have closed now. It is also carried by selected independent specialty retailers across the country.

The popups focused on elevating cooks’ experiences with performance cookware by hosting in-store chef events, wine tastings and book signings, as well as knife sharpening and product engraving services.

“We figure a vast majority of cookware is still bought in real life,” Kalick said. “Many cookware customers want to touch and feel a piece of cookware before they buy it.”

After success in its popup shops, it has an eye on retail expansion. Made In has a war chest of over $8 million, the most recent a $5 million investment led by Brian Spaly, of Bonobos and Trunk Club fame, and Ezra Galston of Starting Line Ventures.

Destined To Succeed
Spaly is a passionate home cook who is also passionate about the market potential of Made In. “ With Jake’s experience as a third-generation cookware supplier, he knows everything there is to know about kitchens. Partnered with Chip’s expertise of building a brand online, Made-In has tremendous authenticity,” he said.

“It’s rare that the brand story and the founders’ experience actually line up to position for success. They are a great team. I believe they were put on this earth to do this,” he continued.

Kalick and Malt share that sentiment. “We like to say we are a startup that grew out of a 100 year-old business.”