Skillet Stories: Raised on Cast Iron

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Despite his family’s penchant for old-school cast iron, Tandy doesn’t find it necessary to wait for a pan to be handed down for it to become special. “The last thing you want to do is to be a young adult and get this beautiful, heirloom cast-iron pan handed down to you, and screw it up because you don’t know what you’re doing,” Tandy explains. His solution? Start ’em young. On several occasions, this award-winning chef has been known to arrive at his friends’ children’s birthday parties—as early as 1 year old—with a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in hand. “I got this miniature skillet in the mail once, and thought, ‘Oh, this would be a cool present,’” he remembers. “But then I just imagined this child playing with it and smashing a finger. But they can’t do that with a 10-inch (skillet).” While the child won’t use such a skillet for years, the parents certainly can. “The idea is that the parents have 10 or 12 years to get this thing seasoned in before the youngster is cooking,” Tandy laughs. “Then by the time they’re old enough to use it, the pan has a nice seasoning on it. It’s a better starting point for a young person, and they can take it from there.” And dozens—perhaps hundreds—of skillets of cornbread, bacon, and biscuits later, that pan will be handed down, and so begins the life of a new heirloom.

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