Brooklyn Copper Cookware: Out of the Pan and into the Fire

On November 7th, 2010 my life changed profoundly. It could not have happened with less pomp or circumstance; it came to pass (like so much radical change these days) with the pushing of a button. From one second to the next the Brooklyn Copper Cookware website I’d spent months imagining was suddenly organized enough to pronounce itself an actual destination, so with a single click my doors swung open for business, and I promptly went to bed.

The drama had been in the lead up – a couple of years of:

Wildly optimistic expectations (mostly in my own ability to understand what it was I was getting into);

Planning as a pleasant notion rather than as, you know, something being done and followed;

The falling-into-place of everyone and everything, if not right when they were thought-of or needed, but eventually and always to brilliant effect;

Punishing tutorials on how little the axioms by which I thought I had lived my life for 46 years had ever actually been tested (especially my old favorite “Risk everything all the time);

The ineffable feeling in a moment when a simple vision is transformed into a useful artifact, and thus into meaningful work, work that seems much less like what I’ve called work in the past. Work that brings me into daily contact with people of a constitution similar to my own, be they liberal or conservative, widely traveled or locally learned, formally educated or masterfully applied, chefs, fond home cooks, aesthetes or tool fetishists… what they and I share is a finely wrought enthusiasm for simplicity and elegance and performance perfected thousands of years ago that doesn’t need me nor anyone else to promote it. This is my new community.

People who use copper cookware already know something special – about themselves and about the tool. Using copper means taking responsibility for one’s cooking, because unlike other more recent developments in the Batterie de Cuisine copper does exactly what it is told to do, exactly when it’s told to do it. The cook is in complete control, and when things fall apart (as inevitably they do in any art), a good copper pot will never be what gets blamed for the failure.

Me, I love using copper for all the reasons above and more – some of which I hope will come out as I muse in this forum. What I hadn’t thought of (going into it) is that it wouldn’t be just me who’d be passionate about the launch of this business. People who had resigned themselves to “Made in the USA” being equated with credit swap derivatives and genetically modified microwave popcorn are applauding the resurrection of a primary technology, a basic tool from mankind’s first metal age, made again in scruffy, can-do Bushwick; pretty low on most New York tourists’ itineraries, but the one place in the country to find the last word in fine, hand-made tools for outfitting your kitchen and fully harnessing your abilities.

And, at the risk of blowing the horn a bit too loudly – all this was done over the last two years without a single taxpayer’s dollar, without a penny of the enormous capital pile banks were encouraged to lend to small businesses (and didn’t), with no incentives, breaks or handouts of any kind. We did it with the help of family, friends and our own savings, and very importantly the faith of a few early customers (who somehow found us while our website was still a scattered tangle on my designer’s servers), their willingness to pay in advance and then to wait weeks for our first pieces to come over the finish line. To all of you I owe much of the pleasure I’m taking in these wobbly first steps.

So, while the doors didn’t open with a bang, that’s probably just as well. Revolutions that proceed quietly often effect the their changes before anyone knows anything has happened.