Andrew Zimmern's Favorite Pots and Pans
Everyone seems to ask me the same 10 questions and high on the list is: “What pans should I be cooking with and why?” Well, for my money—and yes, I paid for mine—the best stuff I’ve seen in a decade is what’s coming out of a small artisanal group in Virginia called Blanc Creatives. Founded by Corry Blanc, a native Georgian, he’s been blacksmithing full time for only 12 years, shocking considering the amazing products coming out of his shop. He founded Blanc Creatives in 2011 specializing in carbon steel pans.
Excellent at handling high heat searing and sautéing, hand forged carbon steel pans have been a culinary secret kept by restaurants and chefs for a long time. Cladded pots and pans have been all the rage for 15 years, traditional cast iron is getting its due these days, but neither of those type of pans perform like carbon steel pans, especially in the thickness that Blanc Creatives is making them.
Every pan is pressed and placed in the forge where the BC blacksmiths shape them on anvils. They are hand ground and smoothed, handles are hand riveted and the pans are sand blasted to remove any imperfections that might exist on the surface area of the pan. Polished and smoothed out, the pans at this point could be used, but carbon steel rusts easily so the blacksmiths at BC throw them in a high heat kiln to reduce the reactivity to moisture and oxygen. When heated again at insane temperature, the pans grow a layer of iron oxide on the surface and the BC signature blue/black patina emerges. These pans look as good as they cook. As a final step the pans are rubbed with coconut oil so that it soaks into the pores of the pans as they cool down.
They make skillets, sauciers, roasters and sauté pans in a variety of sizes, and YES, they work on induction cooktops! I own one of every piece they make and I cook on them every day. They will last a lifetime, require very little specialized care or attention and they are stunning to look at. And as these pans go, they aren’t expensive in the least. It’s rare to find such a beautiful combination of artfulness and utility in a cooking pan. They have all the appeal of a priceless antique that was in your great grand mother’s kitchen, but ring true visually, echoing the modern crafting movement. You will love working with them in your own kitchen.
And for anyone looking for a great gift for someone really special in their lives try their hand forged made to order copper sauté pans made in two sizes. Copper is a superb cooking metal, conducting heat so evenly it has unparalleled control especially at low temperatures.