Inspired By A Childhood Visit To A Living History Museum, Jed Curtis Creates Forged Steel Cookware The Old-Fashioned Way
"They're artisan objects, they're luxury, but they're also available to everybody."
An unassuming cinderblock building on the outskirts of Roanoke, Virginia, is the home of Heart and Spade Forge, a one-man operation that creates forged steel cookware the old-fashioned way with both antique and modern equipment and with tools by hand.
Jed Curtis was inspired by the blacksmiths he saw on a first-grade field trip to a living history museum in Virginia and got his first anvil later that year. He taught himself blacksmithing by age 15, continuing to work in the trade through college, and founded his business in 2012. His workshop is equal parts art and science, with mathematical calculations written on cardboard on the walls and large pieces of machinery acquired from veterans of the industry.
“The old guard, they want to know that you're not doing [blacksmithing] trying to look cool… they respect the craft first almost,” Curtis says. “[They have the] mastery knowledge and a reverence for the material as well.”
Using carbon steel sourced locally from Roanoke as well as South Carolina, Curtis heats cut discs before forming them into one of a dozen heirloom ironware designs. The saute, skillet, and baking pans have curved handles for ease of use and can be used on any cooking surface, including an open flame. The material has great durability, which makes it popular with chefs, searing and browning with ease without sticking.
"I tell clients to treat it like cast iron, and it will treat you even better,” he says.
While the big companies can crank out hundreds of cookware pieces every week, Curtis does things differently, taking it slow and steady. One product takes a whole day to make, between 12 and 14 hours each. But the attention to detail creates an incredible product.
“These are good at taking in heat and at delivering heats. They're a little more responsive. They're not sluggish like cast iron can be, especially where you turn the burner off or take it off the fire and it still keeps cooking for another five minutes.”
Heart and Spade cookware is also made to last generations, passed down between family members as heirlooms. Each one is made to order.
“They're artisan objects, they're luxury, but they're also available to everybody. Everybody from school teachers to finance makers kinda thing.”
But don’t think that they’re meant just to be seen, gathering dust in your kitchen. The cookware is meant to be used for everything from braising to frying to baking, seasoning it how you might a standard cast iron pan.
"The more you use it, literally the better it gets.”
For more Southern Living news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on Southern Living.