After a rather un-profitable car boot sale 13 years ago, I sloped off from my wonky pasting table and decided to blow my earnings on someone else’s junk. Stacked together on the grass under a Renault exhaust pipe were three cast-iron cooking pans, pillar-box red, with a cream inner lining, coal black rim and thick, smooth wooden handles. Embossed with circled numbers on their enamel-bases, they looked suspiciously posh and with one rogue lid between them, I figured they’d at least brighten up a communal uni kitchen. The legacy lives on in ‘the best tenner I ever spent’ story and My Le Creuset pans have travelled (and split many cardboard boxes in the process), to seven flats and houses since, and seem perfectly at home on various landing stoves, under the culinary watch of a rotating cast of housemates; bubbling away, heavy as a sack of potatoes, surviving weeks of baked-on white sauce and scrubbing up a treat every time.
The physical and metaphorical weight of this iconic brand dates back to 1925. Starting life in a French foundry headed by two Belgian industrialists, Armand Desaegher and Octave Aubecq, one of Le Creuset’s first designs was the cast-iron La Cocotte (French Oven) that today remains the company’s best-seller, available in a coveted spectrum of retro colours including teal, a creamy almond, and Volcanic Orange – officially Le Creuset’s signature shade.