The day we met Matthew and Jovan, they were finalizing plans for a community lunch to thank everyone in town who had been a bastion of support for their restaurant. Make no mistake, Matthew’s a big guy, well over 6 feet tall, with a mane of dreadlocks cascading round his broad shoulders. But any sense of intimidation evaporates when the bespectacled giant’s face breaks into its signature smile, like it did as he ran through the menu for the next day’s lunch—a feast board filled with Jovan’s pickled creations, cast-iron skillet-seared sea trout, and his favorite, Farmhouse Burgers for everyone, served in their treasured six-inch cast iron skillets. But that smile vanished when Matthew went to check on the skillets his kitchen staff had put away the following evening.
“Look at this,” he said. The tragic tableau he was referring to was a sheet pan full of baby skillets, tinged with the arch enemy of cast-iron lovers everywhere—rust. For a restaurant whose menu depends on these skillets daily, it was unacceptable. “What this is, is a teachable moment,” Matthew said, as he took a video with his phone to send to his staff . “This is not how you respect cast iron,” he admonished. Meanwhile, Jovan’s maternal instincts kicked in, and she whisked the pan away to revitalize the skillets’ seasoning with her special method of oiling, salting, and low and slow heat—a time-consuming endeavor. And though these pans themselves don’t set The Farmer & The Larder apart, the way Matthew and Jovan use their collection of skillets and culinary know-how to bring people in their community together does.