At Lilienstahl, production qualities that stand the test of time are of the greatest importance. Reliability, quality and consistency, these are the company’s guiding principles and this dedication to excellence is what has made Lilienstahl a leading name in the chef’s knife industry.
Forged in Austria by expert knifemakers, Lilienstahl’s knives possess outstanding endurance, with high performance and unmatched exclusivity. That is why they are used by Austria’s best chefs, including Heinz Reitbauer, Josef Floh, Eduard Frauneder, Martin Sieberer, Matthias Seidel and Adi Bittermann.
FOUR sits down with Florian Stockinger to find out more about the brand:
Can you give us a brief overview of Lilienstahl, including how/when it was founded and its philosophy?
Lilienstahl is a small knife manufactory based in the heart of Ernstbrunn, Austria. The company was founded after several years of development using Damascus steel.
Our goal is to produce knives of unprecedented quality that boast a unique soul and character. Our method fuses expert knowledge in traditional and modern design and processing techniques to create handcrafted knives of the highest standard. We are committed to staying true to our roots, while still continuously improving our products.
We believe that chefs should have input in creating their dream knife, so we also give clients the possibility to determine every parameter of their knives themselves, providing 100% added value to their prized kitchen utensils.
Can you give us an overview of Lilienstahl’s products?
What makes your products stand out in comparison to other knife brands?
If you’ve worked with a great chef’s knife, you know what true sharpness feels like. You know what handling really means, and what durability stands for. Knives constantly give feedback to their users. The performance matters, and the cutting sensation makes all the difference. Therefore, our chef’s knives are crafted to have high durability and all the optimal cutting characteristics in terms of sharpness, hygiene and handling.
How do you achieve the perfect balance of functionality and style in your knives?
The cooking knife itself has been disassembled into its smallest components and all components have been analyzed with the question “how and with what can the best be achieved at all relevant levels”. This ensures we have thought about every aspect of the knife in terms of functionality and appearance, and how these two elements combine to create our standout knives.
What is the history behind the design and production of Lilienstahl knives? Is it a traditional method that has been passed down over generations, or is it a new method that undergoes constant innovation?
Japanese influences as well as European influences can be found in our products. Both cultures have their advantages when it comes to looking at the history of knives. The basics of knifemaking are 1000 – 1500 years old, and we stick to these time-honored principles. The innovative part is the processing and the modification of modern materials, which we also incorporate into our knives.
Can you tell us more about the production process from conception to execution and how this results in a top-quality product?
At the beginning there is the vision for a very specific product. We define every little detail, for example the cutting durability, hardness, purpose and design. After this concept phase, the materials and production processes come into form. This is followed by the first tests. If the tests of the materials are positive, the first prototypes will be produced and the pre-sale starts. Sometimes it happens that some editions have a waiting period of several months. This guarantees that the products leaving our manufactory have been rigorously tried and tested and therefore, undoubtedly uphold the highest standards of craftmanship.
What materials are used to craft the knives and how do these make the knives superior?
Only materials that meet the high quality requirements in terms of stability and durability are used. Our knives are made exclusively with European steels with certain alloys. The handle materials range from bog oak from the Danube with an age of several thousand years to black and white royal Ebony with a high, 5-digit price tag per cubic meter and a drying period of more than 40 years.
What makes Lilienstahl’s knives essential tools for chefs/cooks, how do they impact the cooking process and affect the quality/taste of the prepared food?
If you’re a chef who works 10-12 hours in a kitchen, you know your tools inside and out. These long, busy hours put a lot of strain on the cook and the knife, and so you seek reliable tools. At Lilienstahl, we want to create knives that you can trust in and rely on, giving you more capacity to concentrate on the cooking itself, producing food that tastes and looks simply exquisite.
You have some special collections – can you tell us more about these and what makes them unique?
Yes, our latest special edition is the Moor Oak collection. This knife combines regionally-sourced materials like the Austrian bog oak with steel from the Austrian voestalpine. By using local materials, we can create a top-quality knife that still boasts maximum performance and durability, but at a lower price.
What is your favourite Lilienstahl knife and why?
The Lilienstahl Gyuto in all its variations, because I think it is the knife that covers most of the areas in a modern kitchen. And even with its varied usefulness, it is still beautiful to look at.
Tell us about some of your partners and the significance of these partnerships?
The high-class cuisine establishments in Austria like Steirereck led by renowned chef Heinz Reitbauer, Landhaus-Bacher with Thomas Dorfer at the helm and Josef Floh’s Gastwirtshaft Floh, are a few of Lilienstahl’s partners where the knives are used at the front line. In this fast-paced, meticulous environment, our products can show their full strength. It is truly rewarding to have satisfied customers of this stature, and this remains a powerful incentive to continually produce the best products by harnessing the most out of the materials and the steel.