A Matter of Taste – Leanne Cloudsdale talks to Christopher Moorby about convenience, cast iron cookware and chilli-con-carne
Christopher Moorby understands good design better than most. As co-founder and creative director of London’s esteemed Commission Studio, he spends his days working with some of the world’s most prestigious brands. An enthusiastic cook in his spare time, he’s been a big fan of the C1 for a number of years. He’s a real advocate of quality over quantity – not just in business, but also at home, so we thought it would be interesting to unpick his reasons for choosing to cook with Crane.
How did you discover Crane Cookware?
Commission did the branding for a homewares store called Freight. The owners Helene and Adele have great taste and an appreciation for quality – so if they are stocking something you know it’s going to be good, as well as being worth the money. I was in the market for a new casserole pot and they’d just started stocking Crane. It was perfect. Classic, simple, and robust. There are more well-known cast iron cookware brands, but I’ve never found myself gravitating towards them because I’ve always found them a bit too ‘showpiece’. Instead I opted for the understated Crane C1, which fitted the bill perfectly.
The world is definitely split into two camps when it comes to pans. Those who cook with cast iron and stainless steel and those that'll opt for the cheaper, non-stick specials. Why do you think it makes sense to spend money on cookware?
Well, to be fair, I’ve tried both, but I definitely prefer cast iron and stainless steel. My Mum and Dad always bought good quality cookware; when I left home my Mum gave me a set of pans from an ironworks in Norway that she’d been using since the 1960s. I kept for around another ten years until they finally became unusable – but that was after nearly 50 years of service. What an advert!
Non-stick pans are great at first, but they age badly and as soon as they start to scratch its bad news. The best thing about using stainless steel pans and cast iron pots is that you know you’ll be cooking with them for decades, not just a couple of years. I think the longevity of service from a good cast iron pot is the biggest selling point and it's versatility from hob to oven. I love them. Some are very heavy, which perhaps puts people off and makes them think they wouldn’t use it regularly, but I’ve never found that to be an issue with my C1.
What makes the C1 your go-to pan of choice?
The C1 is so convenient. It’s all-rounder size and fits perfectly in the fridge. I normally flip the lid upside down on my worktop and use it as a utensil rest when I’m cooking. I just find it easier to handle all round, it’s ideal – and ours is in use every other day for stew, ragù, risotto – loads of stuff. I’d say chilli is my favourite thing to cook in it though, probably because it’s one of my favourite meals. I have a recipe I’ve been adapting over the years which now includes chocolate, stout and red wine! It’s very rich and I like to take the best part of a day making it. I have it simmering slowly for hours in my C1 and it’s always worth the wait. I’m also desperate to make bread in in the C1 too, which I’ve not found the time to do – yet.
How important is the appearance of cookware to you?
I’m a designer by trade, so the aesthetics of cookware is really important to me, especially with something like a casserole pot. I want it to fit in with lots of other things in my home because it’s going to sit on the dining table as well as the hob. I look for quiet and considered design, I don’t want my cookware to be the decoration because the food should be the show piece. Saying that, it’s a working object that still needs to be pleasing, thoughtful and complimentary to the crockery and cutlery that will also be on the table.
Do you think our attitudes to table setting and family dining experiences have changed through lockdown?
Time not spent travelling to and from work has definitely been re-invested in cooking. We’ve made more of a big deal of it since lockdown and rarely have quick or pre-packaged meals anymore. We’ve always eaten our meals at the dinner table since we’ve had a child, but now that our son is nearly 5 years old, we can converse. Sitting down to eat each night with us gives him the opportunity to break off from playing with toys or watching television. On the days he’s been to school it’s even more of an event because he gets to tell us all about his day. He really loves food and tries lots of things, so it’s never a chore to get him to the table – thankfully. Cooking and eating is a ritual that we all look forward to.