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About Le Creuset
Le Creuset is recognised the world over for market-leading, premium quality ranges of enamelled cast iron cookware, multi-ply stainless steel, toughened non-stick, and stoneware, along with its outstanding range of wine accessories.
Established in 1925, Le Creuset has been making world-class cookware for almost 100 years, innovation remains at the forefront of Le Creuset’s success. Used by leading chefs and keen cooks around the globe, Le Creuset cookware offers outstanding performance time after time.
Le Creuset History
Le Creuset began producing its first porcelain enamelled cast iron pots in 1925 from its foundry in Fresnoy le Grand, France. It is from this base that Le Creuset continues to produce its world famous cast iron pots.
While Le Creuset has expanded the types of products it offers and has taken advantage of many technological advances since its beginnings in 1925, some things have not changed in the manufacture of Le Creuset’s cast iron.
Le Creuset has continued to use the hand-crafted techniques and the original process of forging and casting in the manufacturing of its cookware. This attention to its heritage is also characteristic of the design. The Cocotte, or French Oven, was one of the first cast iron items produced by Le Creuset and is still the most popular item sold in a range of bright retro colours, with Volcanic (orange) the company’s trademark.
Le Creuset is now sold in more than 60 countries around the world including the US, UK, Japan and Australia.
1925 - 1935 The beginning of an adventure
In 1924, two Belgian industrialists, Armand Desaegher (a casting specialist) and Octave Aubecq (an enamelling specialist), met at the Brussels Fair. They decided to create a foundry which would enamel various cookware items. In 1925, Le Creuset® was born and set up business in Fresnoy-le-Grand in Aisne, France. This was a strategic position for the company, at the crossroads of transportation routes for the raw materials of coke, iron and sand. This same year the first cocotte was produced.
1935 - 1945 Le Creuset during the war
Le Creuset began to develop a commercial strategy as well as its product range: cookers, charcoal stoves, hot plates for electric cookers and kitchen utensils. A first publicity campaign on the radio and in the press was launched to promote the quality of enamelled cast iron. The onset of war brought troubled times as the foundry was close to front lines and occupied by German forces.
1945 - 1955 A new start
After the 2nd World War, contrary to its competitors, Le Creuset concentrated on its range of enamelled cast iron cookware and was a major innovator of the time with new and exciting styles and pieces. Originality was shown in the creation of enamel colours. In 1952, export to other countries had really begun with ever greater volume of products destined to other European countries and the United States.
1955 - 1965 Innovation
This decade was to see the acceleration of ideas and enthusiasm which was the original dream of the two founders. In 1955, launch of the first Grill model: the Tostador. The new colour “Elysées Yellow” was a real success! In 1957, Le Creuset bought its major competitor, les Hauts Fourneaux of Cousances, the designer of the popular Doufeu - a cocotte with a water lid. In 1958, media launch of the Coquelle designed by Raymond Loewy, a famous Franco-American designer, justly named “the Father of Industrial Design”. In 1962, Le Creuset launched its first Fondue Set, inspired by the growing trend in winter sports and skiing holidays. In 1963, Le Creuset launched its first Barbecue.
1965 - 1975 Modernisation
In 1966, Le Creuset modernised the factory production equipment and replaced the manual casting workshop with semi automatic machines. In 1970, Le Creuset took over the Godin company, specialists in furnaces and firing equipment for foundries. In 1972, the celebrated Italian designer Enzo Mari completely redesigned the traditional cocotte to create the “Mama” range with its distinctly different handle shape. Total production exceeded 6,000 tons! In 1974, Le Creuset took leap forward into the U.S.A. with the formation of its own subsidiary in South Carolina “Le Creuset of America Inc.”.
1975 - 1985 Internationalisation
This decade was all about the internationalisation. U.S.A., Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium… these were the many destinations for Le Creuset cocottes. Everywhere, they were associated with images of French style and cuisine. In 1980, a US publicity campaign promoted: “Every good cook should know a little French: Le Creuset”. And, innovation remains at the forefront of Le Creuset’s success. In 1980-1981, The Jam Pot (Marmite à Confiture) was introduced. The Multifunction Cocotte was launched promoting the healthy approach to steaming food. Products were adapted to make them more suitable to ceramic hobs with the introduction of the Vitrobase.
1985 - 1995 A totally new spirit
In 1985 a worldwide survey by the weekly magazine “Expansion”, in collaboration with “Newsweek”, placed Le Creuset in the top 30 French products recognised by a worldwide audience. In 1987, Le Creuset launched its new range: “Futura”, designed by J.L. Barrault. In 1988, the current President, Paul Van Zuydam, bought the company. This decade was to see the set up of three further subsidiaries: in the UK (1988), in Japan (1991), and finally in Germany (1994). In 1991, Le Creuset purchased Hallen International Inc who made wine accessories under the Screwpull trademark. In 1992, Le Creuset launched its first wok inspired by the growing trend in Asian cooking and the new Saffron colour.
1995 - 2008 Expansion
This decade was to see the set up of various subsidiaries worldwide: in Hong-Kong (1998), Switzerland, South Africa, Brazil and Spain (1999), Scandinavia (2003), Italy and Canada (2004), as well as a sourcing office in China (2004). Product innovation reflected the strong international presence of Le Creuset, adapting to local cooking trends and habits: Spanish Pueblo range in sun baked colours in 1995, first US vegetable cocotte: the Pumpkin in 1998, French Tatin Dish in 2000, Indian Karahi & Balti dishes, Japanese Sukiyaki Cocotte in 2002, Italian Risotto Pot in 2004… New colours appeared: Granite Grey & Cream in 2000, Chocolate & Pistachio in 2003, Satin Blue & Kiwi in 2004, Lavender & Burgundy in 2005… Le Creuset modernised its factory with the installation of a new electric furnace in 1999 and a new moulding chain increasing the foundry capacity in 2003. The brand was also diversified with the introduction of enamel on steel kettles in 1995, silicone spatulas in 1997, a textile range in 1999, stoneware bakeware in 2001, silicone bakeware and stainless steel cookware in 2002, Toughened Non-Stick frying pans in 2008 and most recently the Ceramics range of porcelain oven to tableware.
Cast Iron Production
Le Creuset’s original and most well known range of products is its cast iron range. Cast iron has been used as “the” material for cooking pots since Roman times. Even with today’s wide choice of cooking materials, cast iron, still forged and crafted by hand, reigns supreme with its versatility, good looks and ability to retain and spread heat evenly.
Sand moulds and casting
In order to produce the desired shape for a Le Creuset piece, two sand moulds need to be made. One produces the interior shape of the item and the second, the exterior shape. The moulds are secured together leaving a small gap between them. The raw materials, including pig iron, are melted at an extremely high temperature in a large cauldron (called a "creuset" in French) and then poured into the moulds. Once the shape is cast, and the iron cooled, it is removed from the mould ready for the finishing process to begin. After use each mould is broken (the sand is then recycled) meaning that no two pieces of Le Creuset are ever "exactly" the same.
Once removed from its mould, each piece has then to pass through several finishing processes under the hands of skilled craftsmen for cleaning and smoothing, rough edges and burrs are removed in a hand process called "fettling". Then each piece is blasted by tiny metal pellets to prepare a uniform surface for enamelling.
Each piece of Le Creuset receives two coats of enamel. The first is a ground coat which, once fired at 840°C, is clear and uncoloured. This allows for better adhesion of the second coat, the coloured enamel, to the cast iron. This special colour coat is applied internally and externally. After the enamel is applied it is air dried before being vitrified to produce a highly durable, hygienic and shock resistant finish.