If you’re an avid home chef or have recently put together your wedding registry, you’re probably familiar with Le Creuset or Staub, European lines of cast-iron cookware. Their most famous product is the Dutch oven, which is the perfect cookware for stews and even baking bread. But it’s also very pricey, with an average Dutch oven costing around $300.
Milo, a new cookware startup, wants to provide a cheaper, but equally high-quality alternative. This week, the brand launches with a single product, a 5-quart Dutch oven that costs $95, or less than a quarter of the price of similar-sized models on the market. Founder Zach Schau, who previously launched bike startup Pure Fix Cycles, started this new company because he’s an avid home chef and noticed the exceptionally high prices of cast-iron cookware.
He spent two years visiting foundries and factories in Europe and Asia, to see what went into making a Dutch oven. He discovered that the process of casting iron requires a great deal of skill, but the materials required to make them are not expensive. Part of the reason the products are so expensive is because brands are treating them like premium products. But another part of their elevated cost comes from the fact that speciality stores like Sur La Table charge a middleman markup. With Milo, Schau is selling products directly to customers through his website, eliminating some of these added costs.
Milo is part of a wave of startups trying to make high-end cookware more affordable. Made In, another brand that I wrote about recently, wants to make stainless steel cookware less expensive, while Misen is doing the same things with premium knives.