Friday, July 8, 2016

Of Facebook and foodies and cast iron skillets ...

Finex cast iron cookware on display at Rush's Kitchen Supply in Idaho Falls.
If you’re the type of person who says, “$200 for a cast iron skillet? You’ve got to be kidding!” rest assured that you’re in good company.

Alex Constantino of Rush’s Kitchen Supply said he had the same thought when he was recently approached by a sales representative from Finex Cast Iron Cookware Co., a Portland, Ore., company that makes artisanal cast iron cookware. While he agreed to take on a few pieces to see how they do -- they are on display at the front of the 345 Lindsay Boulevard store -- he’s says he’s still wrapping his head around the idea that someone might spend four times as much money on a Finex skillet as they would on a Lodge skillet at C-A-L Ranch.

Of course, Rush's has its share of “gotta have” customers, who will spend top dollar on Le Creuset or All-Clad cookware. And cast iron is the latest foodie obsession. What brought me into the store for a look was a story in the New York Times that I saved on my iPhone, Fashioning Cast-Iron Pans for Today’s Cooks.

I suppose this is how commerce works in the 21st century: Knowing from my posts and clicks that I am interested in food and cooking, Facebook routinely puts New York Times food stories in front of me. I save the links. I suppose I am still old-fashioned in that I went to a brick-and-mortar store like Rush’s. I could have looked on or eBay. But I like to keep business local when I can. For his part, Alex seemed amazed that it was a New York Times story that got me in the door.

Did I buy a Finex skillet? No, not on the spot. But they are gorgeous. Each pan is handcrafted and takes about 12 hours to make. They come pre-seasoned, with care instructions. I mentioned it to my wife, because my birthday is less than three weeks away. Overall, the 10-inch skillet with lid appealed the most. The 12-inch skillet was so heavy that a person could develop a truly monstrous tennis forehand from using it.