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Made In Virginia: Kitchen additions – Virginian |

Made In Virginia: Kitchen additions – Virginian

There’s something special about local fare – in the rich flavor of fresh produce, the sweat of a neighbor’s labor, the peace of mind that comes from enjoying a sustainable product. But a meal is more than food. It can be an experience, derived from the instruments that bring it to life. The means are just as important as the end. Like local food, sometimes the right addition to the kitchen is homegrown.


The Timbered Wolf:

Richmond | The Timbered Wolf is a Richmond-based business born of necessity. Christopher Dean’s 9-to-5 wasn’t paying the bills, and he just happened to have scrap wood lying around. “I made cutting boards and sold them within the first week,” he says.

Dean combines small, angular pieces of different woods to create patterns that seem like they could be computer-generated. At last count, he says, he was up to 340 species of wood, a range that enhances both the color palette available and the durability of his cutting boards, which by their nature take a beating.

Remarkably, no two designs are the same. “I see these cutting boards as art,” he says. “Michelangelo wasn’t painting the Sistine Chapel dozens of times. I make a design once, then cross it off the list.”


Heart and Spade Forge

Roanoke | Jed Curtis says he fell in love with cookware because it’s the perfect combination of art and science, where design and function meet fire, allowing gourmands to make magic. Curtis is the blacksmith behind Roanoke’s Heart and Spade Forge, which offers carbon steel skillets, griddles and bakeware.

Hand forging gives the cookware a distinctive appearance that’s historical and novel, a retro vibe that stands apart from most kitchen tools found on store shelves. Hammer and anvil imbue dimension into objects that are normally cold and impersonal.

And if the looks are enough to set the cookware apart, says Curtis, “it cooks even better.” The skillets are lighter than cast iron, the wrought metal much finer. After a few cooking sessions, “you have a surface that rivals Teflon.”


Caldwell Mountain Copper

Fincastle | Elliott and Laura

Muncey took over at Caldwell Mountain Copper from the late Porter and Faye Caldwell, who started the business some 30 years ago in the shadow of Virginia’s stretch of the Allegheny Mountains.

Coppersmithing is all but a lost art, a legacy of the ancient discovery that the metal is light, malleable and a brilliant conductor of heat. The bulk of the Munceys’ business reflects an old mountain tradition. Caldwell Mountain Copper’s sales are sustained mostly by large kettles that locals use to make apple butter over an open flame. But the smaller vessels it hammers out – pot-of-chili-size kettles, as well as teapots and frying pans, for instance – express copper’s conductive properties just as well.

“You don’t have to turn up the heat much at all,” Elliott Muncey says.

“They do a beautiful job cooking.”


Emerson Creek Pottery

Bedford County | Pottery is a tradition predating even European settlement of the continent. Emerson Creek Pottery carries that flame in Bedford County with a full line of ceramic dinnerware and cookware that’s molded, fired and painted in Virginia.

Patterns adorn the glazed pottery in familiar themes; flora and fauna found in Virginia, such as the blue crab, are common motifs. Yet no two are exactly the same. “We don’t use any template or guide,” says owner Jim Leavitt.

The designs and decoration are organically American, he says, a celebration of our own culture rather than the impersonal uniformity of ceramics commercially produced in some far-flung locale.

A popular Emerson Creek item reflects another cornerstone of American life, the family pet. Among the company’s best-sellers are personalized dog bowls.

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