Home cooks and hallowed chefs share their secrets for cast-iron cooking.
COOKING WITH FIRE
It’s safe to say that there wouldn’t be a Butter Pat Industries without the Cowboy Cauldron Company. And founder Mike Bertelsen is the man to thank, igniting our founder’s encouraging cast-iron collecting side hustle into cookware obsession. The Utah native has been a man of many lifetimes—fly fishing guide, law school student, Senate lobbyist—with his steel devices speaking directly to a lifelong love of the live flame. Read on for his no-nonsense advice, such as how to build a proper cooking fire and his go-to ingredient: a glass of wine.
A CUT ABOVE
Chef Harley Peet is making waves on the Chesapeake Bay.
It’s no small feat, bringing big change to a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. But leave it to a Midwestern son of a meatpacking dynasty to transform the culinary caliber of this rural landscape, where the rarity of high-quality cuisine has long felt like finding a pearl in an oyster shell. Thanks to Harley Peet’s top-notch ingredients, perfectionist precision, and a bare-knuckled work ethic, both “from heres” and “come heres,” as the locals say, are flocking to Bluepoint Hospitality.
When she’s not slinging sweets with her small-batch Milk Glass Pie bakery, hosting Sunday supper on her Old North Farm in North Carolina, or writing about food for the likes of Southern Living and Bon Appétit, Keia Mastrianni can be found schooling us on how to make a mean crust (no Lily White Flour, folks) and exuding the warmth of her “love is pie” ethos. We chat about her home state’s foodways, the wonder of local grapes, and her other must-have ingredients.
It was big news when Sean Brock took off his toque in Charleston, South Carolina, and moved closer to home in Nashville, Tennessee. His renowned restaurants, Husk and McCrady’s, would undoubtedly be tough acts to follow, but the Virginia son and James Beard Award-winning chef has always made a name for himself by reinventing the wheel. Now at his all-star lineup of Music City restaurants—from his fast-food ode at Joyland to his rebirth of heyday hotel dining at The Continental to his flagship Audrey—he is digging even deeper into his culinary roots and breaking new ground on the Southern cuisine’s sense of place.
He might now live in the Lonestar State, but John Tesar will always be a New Yorker at heart. With an ever-so-slight accent, the 65-year-old Manhattan-born chef suffers no fools—he’s a firebrand, an iconoclast, the self-destructive Jimmy Sears in Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, and once dubbed the “most hated chef in Dallas,” all with an undeniably expert eye for a damn good steakhouse. So much so that he just received his first Michelin star. One bite of his dry-aged strip and you’ll understand why.
BORN ON THE BAYOU
Jean-Paul Bourgeois’ cooking is the best of both worlds. One minute, the classically trained chef is sharing a recipe for cacio e pepe from his days with Danny Meyer’s revered Union Square Hospitality Group in New York, and the next, he’s showing off his downhome Louisiana roots—from crawfish etouffee to wild-game gumbo—as seen on his popular Duck Camp Dinners series from MeatEater. Consider his culinary wisdom as universal, too.
BACK TO THE LAND
Like many chefs across the country following the COVID-19 pandemic, Spike Gjerde is in the midst of a reinvention. There was a moment when he thought he might throw in the toque for good, as his A Rake’s Progress became a casualty at The Line Hotel in Washington, D.C., and his flagship Woodberry Kitchen pivoted with the times. But now all of that has changed, as he readies to open “a magical little jewel box” with Woodberry Tavern.
FORGING A FOODWAY
D.C. chef Jeremiah Langhorne is on a quest to define Mid-Atlantic cuisine.
By all odds, you could say that Jeremiah Langhorne was destined for this moment. Having just reopened his Michelin-starred The Dabney in Washington, D.C., the McCrady’s, Noma, and French Laundry alum is poised to be one of the next great culinary rock stars, one who is carving out newfound recognition for a regional foodway almost lost to history and deeply rooted in its diverse terroir. “When asked what [the restaurant] would be like,” he says, “my best response has always been, ‘I’ll show you.’”
OFF THE LAND
The first time we met Evan Tate, he wasn’t standing over cast iron but a massive stainless steel stock pot, filled with 60 pounds of pork, at least one bag of oranges, and a cornucopia of seasonings and spices. It was a hot summer day in Lockhart Texas, and before a live-fire grill with a wide straw cowboy hat, a thick dark mustache, and a bottle of Asian hot sauce labeled with a piece of painter’s tape that read “not just sriracha,” we knew this third-generation cattle rancher was our kind of people.
TRIAL BY FIRE
At 28 years old, Ivan Guillen is an old soul—a toro antiguo, as he puts it—and it comes across in the art that is his cooking. It was a romance born in his native Mexico, that then lured him to Los Angeles, and eventually into the vast western wilderness of Mosca, Colorado, where he is now the executive chef at the Zapata Ranch of the conservation-minded Ranchlands. When not hogtied by local drought, his food sings over an open flame. “I think of the old ways of doing it,” says Guillen. “I always say that it’s a primitive thing.”
AN HOMAGE TO SPRING
North Carolina chef Katie Button shares the secret of pan-seared scallops.
PANS IN SERVICE
D.C. chef Opie Crooks puts cast iron to work in a restaurant kitchen.
“We use cast iron everywhere,” says chef Opie Crooks of No Goodbyes in Washington, D.C.—from the open hearth to a French top range to gas burners to the oven to induction. “My advice to home cooks is don’t’ be so precious with it. Use it all the time. Use it for everything. It’s a tool, and it’s meant to be used that way.”