To my count, there were no fewer than five different cast-iron skillets of varying shape, size, weight, and provenance strewn across Christopher Muscarella's sun-dappled New York City living room on a recent Saturday morning. In the kitchen, where Chris's brother Stephen was frying up a breakfast of thick-cut bacon, maple-glazed kale, and oozy, golden-yolked eggs, there were four more, half of them in use at that moment. Later, Chris confided that there were more than 20 others, both new and vintage, secreted around the apartment.
Such a quantity of cast-iron skillets may seem like overkill, but to the Muscarella brothers, who for the last year and a half have been on a quest to engineer the perfect lightweight cast-iron skillet, it's all in the name of research. An exhaustive analysis of the pans' strengths and weaknesses played into the final design of the Field Skillet, a 10.5-inch cast-iron pan that, at 4.5 pounds, is lighter than a 13-inch MacBook Pro. An ongoing Kickstarter campaign to bring the Field Skillet to market has caught on like a runaway grease fire: With still 15 days to go, it's raised over $400,000, more than 13 times the original goal of $30,000.
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It all began with a single skillet. "Literally in this kitchen, there was this pan," Stephen told me, hoisting up a massive, rusted-over specimen with two hands. "This pan is heavy as shit, and Christopher said, 'I just bought this skillet and I don't like it as much as the one mom gave me. Why isn't it as good?'" Stephen motioned to a thin-walled vintage pan, a family heirloom that was Christopher's go-to in college. I picked it up, and it felt good in my hand—solid, but light enough to easily grip it one-handed. "I think with every business that has ever been started, there's a moment when you look at each other and you have this moment," he said. "And I think we had that in the kitchen."