Goodbye cast iron, hello carbon steel

By Brandy Gonsoulin

Remember saying that one day you’d get that cast iron pan? The one that everyone and their mother has except you? The one that would finally turn your culinary endeavors from nonstick meh to chef legit? Well hold that thought, because as it turns out what you’re really looking for these days is cast iron’s lighter weight yet just as great, if not even better, cousin: carbon steel. And you can find it with Blanc Creatives, a cookware forging operation out of Charlottesville, Virginia that’s bringing the craft back to all things searing, roasting, baking, stirring, and even cocktail muddling.

It all started when then one-man show Corry Blanc hung a hand-forged carbon steel skillet—inspired from his time spent in restaurant kitchens—as a decoration in his market display of crafted metal items. The skillet caught the attention of customers, and the rest is history. Today a crew of professional blacksmiths stand ready to pound out custom-made skillets, cassoulets, and roasters in the name of your next apple galette, paella, roasted carrots, or even whole chickens. Each piece is carefully hand made over six to eight hours through a process of pressing, forging, shaping, and hammering, leaving a finished product that is lighter and with more curves on the sides than a cast iron, allowing for that egg to slide off oh so perfectly onto the plate, because you #brunchhard.

Rounding out their collection is a line of handcrafted wood pieces like stirring spoons, charcuterie platters, and cocktail muddlers, as well as forged lifestyle objects like key loops and even bottle openers. Since each piece is custom made, their products come with an average lead time of a couple of weeks, more or less, depending on demand.
Word on the Street

  • The Blanc Creatives cast iron collection garnered runner-up in Alton Brown’s 2016 best-of list for “Cooking Tool of the Year.”
  • Blanc Creatives cookware is already the choice of top Charlottesville chefs, including those at local Mas Tapas, Tavola, and Brookfield Restaurant, and has been spotted in the hands of Chef Ludovic Lefebvre at Trois Mec.

Caring for your Carbon Steel

Blanc’s cookware comes heat-treated and preseasoned with coconut oil, so no need to fry up a pound of bacon to get going. (Okay, okay, why not.) The makers recommend using a bit more oil than normal in initial uses to build up the non-stick surface. And when it comes to cleaning, gentle is best—like with cast iron—so simply rinse the cookware to clean away debris, taking care to avoid soap. Dry immediately to prevent rusting.