Katie's Note: I fell in love with Smithey's cast iron skillets the first time I saw them. Handcrafted in Charleston, these skillets are smooth and timeless, sure to be the workhorses of your kitchen cookware for decades. I finally met the maker - Isaac Morton - at Palmetto Bluff's Music to Your Mouth this past fall. I was super impressed by his enthusiasm for craft and cookware. And with our cast iron connection (our Petrocini roaster is cast iron), Smithey seemed only fitting to be our next feature in our Southern Makers Series. Below is my interview with Isaac Morton, founder of Smithey Ironware Company.
1.Tell us about your company.
Smithey Ironware is a backyard story. I hatched the idea for Smithey while tinkering around my woodshed admiring the smooth surfaces and timeless logos of vintage ironware. I slowly developed an expertise in restoring beautiful old cookware pieces, which I would then gift to friends and family.
After years of studying collector’s books and bird-dogging rusty old pieces to restore to their 1890’s glory, the prospect of creating something new piqued my curiosity. Creating and sharing a cast iron cookware line that honored the classic style of vintage pieces, but also harnessed modern technology and processes, just felt like a good idea. And from that idea – that a lost art might be restored into a modern icon - Smithey Ironware was born.
2. What’s your company’s vision? What problem do you solve in the marketplace? Who is your product for?
Cast iron skillets used to be better in the old days. The attention to detail and the time spent polishing the interior surface sets vintage cast iron apart from much of what’s made today. Some people are lucky enough to inherit their great-grandmother’s skillet, but for everyone else we wanted to create something that lived up to and frankly exceeds the best of the vintage standards. Ultimately Smithey cast iron is for all of those who love to cook and appreciate fine craftsmanship.
3. How and where are your products made? What is noteworthy about the craftsmanship?
Smithey is proudly based in Charleston, SC. We polish our products through an involved process that involves both hand and machine at our workshop on the old Naval Base. We then put great care into our seasoning process, applying oil by hand, baking, and repeating again. Our products are designed to become family heirlooms that you will can pass down over generations.
4. What types of coffee do you drink and how does it play a role in your day?
I am a light roast guy. I like the variety of flavor from a fresh light roast. I always seek out beans that have been roasted recently and I grind them at home just before brewing. I seem to like Ethiopian coffees in particular. I drink hot coffee in the winter and cold pressed through the rest of the year. For hot coffee, I use a French press. Otherwise I do a cold brew in a carafe for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
5. Besides being based in the South, what else makes your business a Southern company?
We feel really lucky to be part of a tight knit business and culinary community here in the South. We’re supported and encouraged by our neighbors and friends and we try to repay the favor. This is a great example – here we are talking about ourselves to new readers thanks to King Bean. They support us, and we do our best to support them. We cheer for each other.
6. Anything else you’d like to add or tell us?
Let’s end with a Julia Child quote: “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”