A Visit to the Le Creuset Factory

Le Creuset-30

I’m a random collector of Le Creuset. When rifling through a random box at a flea market in France, a hint of one of their trademark colors may catch my eye. I’ll pull out the pot, inspect it (never with too much excitement because if I plan to bargain for it, I need to keep my cards close to my chest), then either make an offer or put it back.

Le Creuset-3

Because space is always an issue, I evaluate it for a number of factors: If it’d be a good addition to my batterie de cuisine, if the price is right, and how much use it’s had. (That is, what condition it’s in.) I actually love seeing the well-used pieces at the flea markets in France, because many people have kept their Le Creuset pots and pans in their families, handing them down from generation to generation. Some I put back because they’re too far gone, others I haggle for – or just pay up because it’s too good to leave behind – and a few I regret not acting faster on, seeing them snapped up by others.

Le Creuset

Today, Le Creuset remains a popular brand, not just in France, but around the world, including across Europe, in the United States, and in Japan. (The last two are the largest buyers of their cookware in the world.) The original foundry was started in 1925 in the North of France, in Fresnoy-le-Grand, and is still making cookware today the same way they’ve been doing it for nearly a hundred years. The factory isn’t open to the public, because it’s an actual working foundry and isn’t set up for visitors.

Le Creuset-grill pans

But I’m always excited to go to a factory or workshop, whether it be KitchenAid, to a cheese-maker, or the workshop of a great chocolatier like Patrick Roger, because I like to see what goes into making things I use or eat everyday. And I was beyond thrilled to be invited.

I’m also especially interested in things that are culturally exclusive to France, which has taken a few knocks over the few years for not keeping up. In these days of globalization, it’s intriguing to see something that’s made in France that remains a worldwide icon, and hasn’t changed its philosophy nor the way it’s made, yet is still relevant. Unlike a luxury watch or Hermès handbag, a Le Creuset pot, pan, or gratin dish is something that you can buy and use every day. If you buy a Made in France Le Creuset enameled cast iron pot or pan, you’ll be owning one that can be handed down for generations, just like they are in France.

At the risk of sounding overly effusive, my invitation was strictly as a guest, not necessarily to write about it. And it may sound a little odd, but for the next few days, I was profoundly moved by the whole experience. It’s incredible to see people physically laboring over something, born of raw materials, then holding a beautiful piece of cookware that is the end result of their work. 

Le Creuset factory

The word creuset translated to crucible and refers to a very sturdy cooking cauldron. One French-English dictionary translated to a “melting pot,” which seems very appropriate.

Le Creuset factory

Le Creuset-8

Le Creuset fonte cookware (fonte émaillée means “enameled cast iron”) begins in a dark, dusky building. Each piece is individually cast in a sand mold made specifically for that piece. This part of the factory is where it all starts, and it’s not exactly an elegant showroom.

Le Creuset pans

Le Creuset-4

Sometimes when I go into a place and take pictures, they come rushing over and say “Non, Non! C’est pas propre!” (“No, it’s not clean.”) But this is how the cookware starts, and it’s hard to be tidy when you’re dealing with sand, scrap metal, and molten metal. Watching the beginning of the process felt like stepping back into something vaguely medieval.

The company was started by two Belgian men – one was an enameling expert, the other, a metal caster. The signature flame (orange) color that’s my favorite was modeled after the intense orange glow that comes out of the cauldron that they use to melt the iron.

Le Creuset iron

I watched as old metal scraps, many parts of railroad tracks, got recycled and melted in the cauldron, which became a burning, intense fireball. I was invited to peer inside as they tilted it forward.

It was so hot that I could barely get closer than 10 feet (3 meters) to it. It was hotter than I could imagine and it was kind of scary at the same time. The inside was a bubbling, heaving mass of red-hot iron and I’d never seen anything like it. I read that iron melts at about 2795ºF (1535ºC) and boils at 5183ºF (2862ºC). I wasn’t getting close enough to stick a thermometer in there – I’ll take their word for it!

Le Creuset factory in France

Each batch of iron is tested to make sure it meets their particular standards and it was amazing to see what came out of that boiling cauldron a few minutes later, as we watched the pouring, setting, and release of each pan from its mold.

Cast-iron fans, and hygiene folks, might want to scroll ahead, but I asked why they didn’t make a line of non-enameled cast iron skillets. They explained that cast iron works by absorbing the various fats and greases that are cooked in it into tiny pores in the metal, which helps create a sort-of nonstick surface (except to those of us who have tried to make fried rice in ours), and it’s not exactly hygienic. That’s not to say it’s particularly bad and I have one that I use. But I thought the point was interesting.

The next few steps, you can see the pots after the molds were filled with hot iron being released. (It was pretty dark in the foundry, and I tried to catch it for you to see. But it happens kind of abruptly.)

Le Creuset factory

Le Creuset factory

Le Creuset factory

After the pots are released, the sand gets cleaned and reused, and each piece is brushed partially clean and inspected for flaws. Duds get tossed back into that fiery inferno, melted down, and cast again.

Le Creuset factory

Le Creuset-13

When they come out of the molds, the pots and pans bear just a little resemblance to the finish product and are rough around the edges. Some are smoothed by hand. Others are left to a machine to do the work, like this oval baking dish.

One question that I had was about the rims on enameled cast iron, which I thought needed to be religiously hand-dried so they wouldn’t rust. They explained that each was actually coated, which you can’t see, but seals the metal so you don’t need to worry. Of course, if you have vintage pots like I do, you may want to continue to hand dry them as that finish may have worn off over time.

Le Creuset factory

At every step of the way, the cookware is inspected for flaws – a glaze skip, a ding in the metal, a dent in the handle, are all reasons to pull a piece off the line. Some with cosmetic flaws get sent to one of their factory stores, but anything that will affect the cooking quality of the pan doesn’t make it out of the factory.

Le Creuset factory in France

Each piece takes ten hours to make and fifteen people are involved in the making of each Dutch oven. Six hundred people work in this particular factory. They have other facilities around the world, including in China and the United States. They have also expanded their product line to include glassware, cutlery, tableware, and wine openers, because wine pairs well with food, which few know better than the French.

Le Creuset glaze

Above is a vat of enamel to finish some pots. It’s mixed up in batches from various pigments and the recipes are closely guarded secrets.

Le Creuset-21

The enameling process, which takes three hours, is especially top-secret, so I can’t show you quite how they do it, but the pots, pans and lids are individually set on a multi-pronged holder and sprayed with whatever color they are enameling that run with, that day.

Le Creuset-gratin dishes

The pots and pans that are graduated in color, that go from dark to light, have an extra-fine spray of darker colored enamel added at the end, with the spray brush moving away slowing from near the center of the pot or lid, to give it that signature burning flame-like finish.

Le Creuset colors

At any given time, they produce cookware in about 50 colors. Some are done because different countries have a tendency to favor certain colors. Black is popular in Japan and purple is popular in France: One pot they were testing in 3 various shades of purple, to be released next year in France. I like the orange, but also some of the green colors. They’re both timeless and contemporary, with a hit of vintage mixed in. Below are some of the pots that didn’t make the cut, for a variety of reasons, and are heading somewhere to meet their demise after they’re given a good once-over to find out what went wrong. In the color lab, the staff was huddled around a microscopic look at an enameled surface to study how the enamel is holding up, to make sure it was just right. Glaze can “craze” over time and they want to make sure that doesn’t happen with their cookware.

Le Creuset pots and pans

Some colors are made exclusively for stores, like Williams-Sonoma. Others are made for their outlet stores. Of course, colors go out of style and are discontinued, and new ones are introduced as tastes change.

Le Creuset test colors

In 1958, they asked industrial designer Raymond Loewy (who designed the Lucky Strike logo and the Studebaker) to design a series of pots and pans, and his Coquelle rectangular lidded pot became a hit back then, and is collectable today. I have five and used my vintage orange that is well-used if you look inside, which I love because whoever had it before me obviously wasn’t keeping it on a shelf, but using it for cooking. My others are in better shape, but a photographer who recently was in my kitchen was fascinated by the inside of my pot and even though it doesn’t look pristine, it’s the working pot of a cook. I like to have cookware in my kitchen that is still good decades later and can stand up to heavy use.

Le Creuset by Raymond Loewy

They did a limited edition re-release in France about a decade ago, and one last year in other countries, including in England, the United States, and South Korea. Some runs were only a hundred. I picked up a dozen of the re-released ones when they were having a final sale at a department store in Paris and they were discounting all cookware 50%, then came on the loudspeaker and announced that for the final 30 minutes, everything was an additional 40% off. There aren’t a lot of bargains in Paris, except wine, cheese, and the scenery, but I snagged all they had in stock. (Although I paid dearly trying to bring them all home from the store at once!)

One change Le Creuset made recently was replacing the classic phenolic knobs on some of the pots with knobs that are all-metal. The popular no-knead bread that gets baked in a Dutch oven, and the recipe calls for a very hot oven temperature. And because people were melting their knobs (there were reports that people were swiping knobs off new pots from stores, which they laughed when I asked them about that), Le Creuset modernized the knob to an all-metal design, which is also easier to lift, and they also sell replacement knobs, so bakers can keep their criminal records clean.

Le Creuset off the assembly line

Nearing the end of the factory visit, we saw them working on finishing up a specialty pot to commemorate their 90th anniversary, which will be released in September of 2015.

Le Creuset-making the 90th anniversary pot

Only 1925 pots will be made, which is the year that Le Creuset was founded, and I considered burnishing my clean criminal record with swiping one, but will just have to wait like everyone else.

Le Creuset-33

On the way out, I got to take a look at the Le Creuset archived models, in display in the showcases in their offices. Some pieces look similar to what they are making today. Others looks very different.

Le Creuset - vintage

Vintage Le Creuset

Of course, I considered a smash-‘n-run for several of them, but it was a few hours back to Paris and I didn’t think I’d make it, especially considering the heft of some of the pieces. (I remember lugging my pots home from that department store.) But I did take a trip through the factory store and came home with a handful of their silicone spatulas, which I had told them was one of my top 3 favorite, most-used, you’ll-have-to-remove-it-from-my-cold-dead-hands kitchen items. The slightly curved shape feels just right when mixing and folding, and the graceful curve is a nice angle so you can lift things like meringue you’re folding, or enough custard to take a taste of, without them slipping off the sides.

Rumors swirled that they were discontinuing them. And even though the two I’ve had for nearly fifteen years are still in fine shape, I’ve heard from Le Creuset collectors who get dismayed when a color is discontinued, and there aren’t any more. I was worried about losing my favorite spatula as I only have two left of the original design (in the front).

Le Creuset Spatulas

Fortunately, it seems like they only changed the handle – whew! And I picked up a few more (nine more, to be precise – which they gave me a special deal on), and brought those home. So I think I’m set for spatulas for the rest of my life, but will continue my hunt for vintage Le Creuset pieces, and will look at them a little differently each time I use them.

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168 comments

  • June 22, 2015 11:23am

    That was fascinating. I love all the techie background to this sort of product. Now you will have to visit the Staub factory and see how they differ…

    I have an unenamelled cast iron frying pan permanently living on my stove top. I wouldn’t be without it, but there is no question it is outrageously heavy.

    • Lise
      June 22, 2015 12:39pm

      What a wonderful post. Loved the videos.

      With all due respect to blog-posts about farmer’s markets and specialty food shops, nothing is as exciting as how things are actually made (Recycled railroad tracks, hurrah!!!)

    • Zoe Willet
      June 23, 2015 5:03am

      How they differ? Ha, that’s easy- Staub is strictly for millionaires!

  • Natasja
    June 22, 2015 11:25am

    Bought a new Le Creuset pan recently and read about the production process then. Very cool to read your blog now and see the pictures!

  • Kate T
    June 22, 2015 12:25pm

    So many of their products seem to be made in China now. I’m glad not all of them are ;-)

  • Claire
    June 22, 2015 12:56pm

    Very interesting to see that tradition has not been set aside for the sake of commercialism or commerce.
    As a matter of interest, do you (does anyone) happen to have any suggestion to stop the enamel interior in an old cast-iron pan from catching? I keep having that problem regardless of the amount of liquid or fat/oil, and regardless of the level of heat used… Very frustrating… :-(

    • Phyllis Perkins
      June 22, 2015 9:47pm

      Wonderful post, David. Thanks. I have a question which you might be able to answer or point me in the direction of someone at Le Creuset who can: I’ve inherited a couple of pieces of Le Creuset from my mother who loved them and used them often. One of them — a casserole has a break in the enamel — less than the diameter of a quarter — in the middle of the bottom. It looks as if something burned and popped off a piece of the enamel exposing the cast iron. Is the pot still safe to use? I had tried to contact Le Creuset but perhaps they never received my inquiry because I never heard from them. What do you think?

      • David
        June 22, 2015 10:23pm

        I inherited a black milk pan (with wooden handle, both no longer available) from my mother, and was horrified to have a small piece of the enamel break away when trying to thaw a frozen soup. I contacted Le Creuset here in England, and they said it would be OK but dry throughly as it could rust at that point.

        The same enquiry team also explained why some Le Creuset pans I had got in France were *not* no-stick, but had to be seasoned before use.

        I’m looking forward to their retro-release later this year! tghough, to be honest, I already have as much Le Creuset that I could possibly use – three milk pans, various casseroles, but stainless steel pans.

      • June 23, 2015 3:33am

        Try contacting them again via telephone. I had the same thing happen and they replaced it!

      • Zoe Willet
        June 23, 2015 5:05am

        ATK/Cook’s Country (I don’t remember which) recently answered that question, saying that the cooking is not impaired or dangerous.

    • sheryl
      June 30, 2015 2:28am

      My Le Creuset sadly popped its enamel . now the cast iron is exposed and more sadly it seems common amongst these lovely pots!

      • Sara aka Sally
        June 30, 2015 5:28am

        Alas Sheryl, I know what you mean. LC used to repair pots, which, of course meant you bought other things from them as their after sales servive was excellent.
        However, company policy has now changed and they no longer offer any back-up service.
        So one is left with a great pot which is useless as the enamel has either cracked or worn through and is of no use.
        Not good.

        • June 30, 2015 6:40am
          David Lebovitz

          Hi Sara and Sheryl: I’m sorry you had an issue with their pots. I’m not affiliated with them in any way, except as a visitor to their factory (so I don’t speak for them), but other readers mentioned they have a lifetime guarantee and “…free from defects in material and workmanship.” If you have not done so, I would call their customer service line and let them know if there is a problem with your cookware, as other’s here mentioned they had satisfactory experiences with their customer service.

          • Sara aka Sally
            June 30, 2015 6:57am

            Thank you for your response David.
            I live in England and took two dishes into the LC shop in New Cavendish Street in London.
            They could not have been less helpful.
            They said and I quote “We used to do this but we don’t do it any longer, you will have to buy another dish”.
            Grrrr.

  • June 22, 2015 1:12pm

    I have a Le Creuset omelette pan, which I use whenever I make an omelette; it’s heaven! Also a couple of either Le Creuset or very similar casserole dishes that get used almost daily, and a griddle pan. But the Le Creuset object I use practically every day is their garlic press – so much better than any other garlic press I’ve ever owned!

  • June 22, 2015 2:05pm

    Very interesting to read about how my favourite pots are made! I just love them. I love how functional and beatiful and long lasting they are. And the colours are gorgeous! No other pans make me smile when using them! Smile because I’m using them, rather than purely what’s in them. :)

  • Jan
    June 22, 2015 2:26pm

    Thanks for a wonderful post! I now have Le Creuset envy more than ever…

  • June 22, 2015 2:49pm

    As a hard core fan of Le Creuset, I loved this post.

    In this era of globalization, it’s nice to see that some traditions are still going.

    It’s a shame there isn’t more respect for the amount of work that goes into products like these.

    Once I move to an apartment bigger than a shoebox, I’m going to treat myself to a few pieces.

  • June 22, 2015 2:51pm

    What an amazing experience. I happen to be a huge le creuset fan and I love the fact that you buy yours used in flea markets around France. How neat to be able to think about the different meals that had been made in the pots throughout the years. Any more that I buy will be used (although not too used as you mentioned). I would love to see the factory and watch how they are made so thank you for sharing a piece of your experience with us.

  • June 22, 2015 2:53pm
    David Lebovitz

    Kate T: Yes, we talked a bit about that. Some products are made elsewhere, such as in China and the United States, and France is not an inexpensive place to do business because of high labor costs. But they are able to manage it and continue to make the pots and pans the traditional way. Some of the prices reflect that, but their cast iron cookware last a long, long time – as my vintage pieces can attest to!

    Susan: I have a regular cast iron skillet that I brought back from the United States that I use but was interesting hearing about why they become “nonstick” the more you use them. I guess if you use it frequently, there’s not so much concern about all the oil and fat that gets trapped in the “pores” – but I try to wash mine in very hot water when cleaning it.

    • July 2, 2015 10:03pm

      A non-enameled (plain) cast iron pan does become somewhat non-stick due to oils which penetrate into microscopic pores in the iron. These are heated at the surface temperature, higher than the average cooking temperature of the food. They carbonize and polymerize, forming a hard surface which does not react easily with soap. Mild washing will not remove this layer. Something like a high temperature plastic or natural teflon.

      This is hygienic because any bacteria have been destroyed by the 350+ F temperature when forming this layer, and repeatedly when heating the pan.

      I like them, especially for high-temperature frying. There is no worry about staining (they are already black) and they are indestructible. I have been too cheap to buy the enameled versions.

  • June 22, 2015 3:16pm

    Really enjoyed this peek behind the curtain!! Fascinating stuff.

  • June 22, 2015 4:04pm

    What an awesome experience! Love everything Le Creuset!

    Kate

  • Bebe
    June 22, 2015 4:28pm

    I have several pieces – two sizes of gratins in blue; a small yellow skillet for omelets. And they are heavy!

    I got the gratins for good prices when Jurgensens, a local fine grocery store, went out of business years ago. They carried some upscale kitchen gear long before Williams Sonoma came on the scene. And Sur la Table.

    • June 22, 2015 4:29pm
      David Lebovitz

      When I used to teach at Sur La Table stores, the first thing I would do was go over to the Sale shelves, in the back of the store. Since Le Creuset changes their colors often, they would put pieces there that were discontinued. I got most of my spatulas that way. (And since I’d get there before the class participants, I got first dibs on everything…!)

  • Bebe
    June 22, 2015 4:29pm

    I hit submit too soon. I very much enjoyed your article and photos. Like others, I enjoy seeing how interesting things are made. Thank you, David.

  • June 22, 2015 4:42pm

    Fascinating! Thanks for sharing the visit with us. Oh, and I _love_ that deep green — I’ve never seen one that colour. I will have to look out for that. I’m still using my battered flame-coloured round casserole with the chipped handle, bought in about 1979.

  • Janet
    June 22, 2015 4:55pm

    I so enjoyed this post !

  • June 22, 2015 5:08pm

    Thank you for sharing. The entire process is beautiful, grime and all. I love good products that are made with quality and love. And I’m a little jealous, as I have never even found a single Le Creuset for re-sale.

    • June 22, 2015 5:20pm
      David Lebovitz

      I think in the U.S. it’s likely harder to find used/vintage Le Creuset, as it doesn’t have the same lengthy history as it does in France. You can check sites like Ebay and Etsy for it. In America (and France) they also have factory stores, too. But there are vintage collectors around the world, and with a little sleuthing, you can find things out there…

  • Georg Jezersek
    June 22, 2015 5:13pm

    Great post David,

    very informative and thanks for the pictures. Visual always helps.

    – GJ

  • June 22, 2015 5:14pm

    This was absolutely fascinating! I am a long time lover of Le Creuset but have never owned my own piece… can you believe it? This has just made me want to go out and buy that tiny individual casserole dish I have been lusting after for years!

    I really loved this post, it is so special to see how these classics are made and to really understand how much time and love goes into making sure that each piece is perfect. I also loved the bit about the darker spray on the bottom, while it’s not something I’ve noticed, it’s a subtle detail that obviously has subconciously stuck in my brain and makes the Le Creuset brand!

  • Ronnie
    June 22, 2015 5:20pm

    David, loved this post! So interesting as I have long been a fan of La Creuset. Your posts are the best! Colorful, interesting and informative!

  • Danae
    June 22, 2015 5:30pm

    Excellent article. Although my Dutch oven is vintage Descoware, from my mother-in-laws discards, I do have a genuine appreciation for the quality of Le Crueset.

    What an amazing opportunity to tour the factory. You lucky dog!

  • Rebecca
    June 22, 2015 5:32pm

    I love my Le Creuset pots and spatulas and very much enjoyed this post. I did not know about the replacement knobs, I had been diligently taking off the knob for bread baking and filing up the hole with tinfoil. Another item to add to the amazon shopping list!

  • Cate
    June 22, 2015 5:34pm

    Lovely photos!

    Can’t believe you only bought 9 spatulas, though.

    Did you see the recent blog article about a journalist’s trip to the Aga factory in Shropshire? Nothing like as engagingly well-written as yours, unfortunately, but the story about an old-fashioned and very hands-on method to make a cast iron kitchen tool that stands the test of time admirably is very similar.

  • Mary
    June 22, 2015 5:40pm

    Wow, I have always loved my Le Creusets but this upped my appreciation by 1000%! That factory is amazing and the molten metal from recycled railroads of all things, was fascinating to see. I have gotten my own small collection at garage sales…for ridiculously cheap prices…my fav was a huge orange casserole dish for 50 cents. Great post!

  • s
    June 22, 2015 5:46pm

    Ah-love my dutch oven…will only part w/it upon death…also love those spatulas, esp. the seasonal “pumpkin”-large enough and rounded to reply clean a bowl!

  • Louise
    June 22, 2015 5:47pm

    Thank you for this tour of the factory…now I completely understand why the price is what it is and I will cherish my Le Creuset pots even more! I wish I would have been at that department store for the extra 40% … I would have needed a truck to get home.
    I periodically stop at one of their outlets here in the US and load up on discontinued colors.
    Thanks again for the tour.
    Louise

  • Marylin
    June 22, 2015 5:54pm

    I truly enjoyed this post! I read everything you write that I can get my hands on. I had to say this Le Creuset tour was exceptionally delightful. I was able to buy several beautiful pieces from MS website at 1/2 price when she went to jail. I have also found a few at Salvation Army for a few dollars. It’s the best! Thank you David! Love your cookbooks AND your Blog!
    Marylin A

  • June 22, 2015 6:00pm

    Great post. I have yet to purchase one of their products, although I do possess (other brand) something similar in cast Iron, which I love to use. I love to read and hear about how things are made.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Michael
    June 22, 2015 6:00pm

    It is a pleasure to see this product made. My last baking dish however cracked the first time I used it. Many letters later, I still was not able to reach customer service regarding their guarantee – so I will no longer buy these items, unless I find them used. I love your posts David – you are an inspiration…

  • rockyrd
    June 22, 2015 6:00pm

    thank you for a wonderful article. so interesting since I own quite a few pieces. some were bought new, some from a flea market in france and one a friend sold me for $2.00 in the 70’s.
    its a very large flame colored dutch oven that she paid dearly for, but did not like that it stained inside. that did not bother me in the least and i am still cooking in it.

  • Mark
    June 22, 2015 6:04pm

    What a pleasure to read this post David and the photos were great as well.

  • June 22, 2015 6:04pm

    When I was really little, I told my mom that I would marry the guy who gave me Pocky. Same principle, if I weren’t married, I would take a set (one of each) of Le Creuset over diamond ring any day… hahaha

    Needless to say, I am SO happy you take all of us to Le Creuset factory. :)

  • Deana
    June 22, 2015 6:08pm

    Hi David,

    Loved this post and the photos and factory info! My husband and I treated ourselves to a new 9 qt red dutch oven recently and it sits beautifully on display on my stove! Our favorite way to use it is to make carnitas (big chunks in a single layer) cooked slowly in the oven..divine!

    I am a Francophile and so enjoy reading your blog and your cookbooks. Your writing transports me right back to Paris, my favorite city in the world…thank you!

  • Dave
    June 22, 2015 6:11pm

    Thank you for the effort you put into this very informative and interesting article.

  • Pamela
    June 22, 2015 6:12pm

    I got my first LeCrueset pans 35 years ago as wedding gifts. They are in great shape and I use them often. I passed down the love of them to my children who also asked for a set as wedding gifts. Loved seeing your trip through the factory and will now scour the flea markets for some special vintage pieces. You are right, they are expensive but worth it and will last more than a lifetime if cared for!

  • Mike
    June 22, 2015 6:18pm

    What a great post! Thanks for going into what’s happened to the lid knobs – that had me wondering.

  • Becky Land
    June 22, 2015 6:20pm

    Be still my heart! What a fabulous post. Enjoyed this very much.

  • Deborah
    June 22, 2015 6:36pm

    One of my favorite travel memories is finding myself unexpectedly in NYC in the 90’s during the annual February Le Creuset sale at Broadway Panhandler when it was down in Soho. On a snowy Monday morning my husband and I got out of the cab and walked the cobblestone street to the storefront where the store cat was curled up contentedly. The sale was so good my husband concurred that my collection should grow that day from my one piece at home to several more…….and it did. Every time I use them I think of that day and the fact that they’re part of my forever cooking arsenal. I wouldn’t get to France until last year, but I always felt close to it when using my Le Creuset.

  • Diane
    June 22, 2015 6:41pm

    Great post, and I too hoard Le Creuset spatulas. They are the best!

  • Mgw
    June 22, 2015 6:48pm

    That was a fun and interesting article to read about! Thank-you David for sharing your stories.

  • Suemo
    June 22, 2015 6:49pm

    Loved this post, especially seeing the vintage pieces. Went mad for Le Creuset 46 years ago when newly married. I gradually acquired many pieces, all in the traditional original colour as that was all that was available in Australia at that time. (Later blue & then yellow appeared). Much as I love these old faithfuls, am sadly beginning to find them mighty heavy in a way that did not worry me once. Oh dear, the march of time!

    • June 22, 2015 6:52pm
      David Lebovitz

      They had a room with glass showcases filled with some great vintage pieces, but never compiled an archive. I’ll bet someone with some time, and drive, (and good searching skills!) could make a great museum of their pieces since they are a part of French history in some ways. They gave me a few pieces to look out for in my travels and trips to flea markets…

  • Barbara
    June 22, 2015 6:52pm

    David, I’d love to know how you care for your Creuset pots. No matter what I do, mine are stained and eventurally lose their non-sticking surface. Help!

  • Querino de Freitas
    June 22, 2015 6:59pm

    I have quite a few of Le Creuset pots,and I have a pair of small dishes I bought in the 70’s but this has been discontinued ,,I should have got the 6…my fault…… where can I find discontinued pieces ,,your modern pots doesn’t interest me,,,I like the older ones much better,,,I live in London I have searched all the different venues but no luck….in fact London is not the easiest of places to find what one needs….Thanks…Querino de Freitas…

  • Colin
    June 22, 2015 7:02pm

    My French origin friend in Boston was horrified when I told her that the owner of Le Creuset was a South African.
    He has a high end boutique hotel in Western Cape near Cape Town that also includes his Le Creuset shop, but he lives mainly in London.
    Such is globalization.
    Wonderful products as are the early Corning ware.

  • Beth
    June 22, 2015 7:06pm

    An impressive photolog of such an involved process, thanks for doing this and for sharing it! You mentioned that they have factories in countries other than France. Do you know if there’s a way to identify the factory/foundry of origin when considering a Le Creuset purchase?

  • Karen H.
    June 22, 2015 7:06pm

    Can you or your readers tell us where the factory stores are in the U.S?

  • Frances Blackhurst
    June 22, 2015 7:25pm

    In 1968 I worked for the writer Elizabeth David in her cookery utensil shop in London. At that time the shop was sole agent for Le Creuset in England. Any colour was available providing it was Volcanic orange, until the first alternative colour le Creuset produced became available-French Blue, in her honour.

    • CCMMSS
      June 26, 2015 7:26pm

      Do you have the booklet, Elizabeth David Cooking with Le Creuset? It’s dated 1969 and is full of her good sense and narrative recipes. I picked it up at a library book sale.

  • June 22, 2015 7:34pm
    David Lebovitz

    Frances: Wow, that much have been quite an experience. Thanks for chiming in!

    Karen H: The factory outlet stores are listed on their website in the U.S. “Flash shopping” websites like Rue La La often run specials on Le Creuset as well. (For readers in France, Vente-Privée runs specials on them from time-to-time, too.)

    Colin: He is indeed, South African. I believe he bought the company during a difficult time (and many outside investors, I am told, are wary of buying French companies as the labor laws are more challenging than elsewhere), but he was able to turn the company around and it remains a vibrant French company that still manufactures the core of their business in France.

    Diane: They did change them a bit, just the handles, and I was worried they might discontinue them. So was happy to stock up!

    Barbara: Most of my pieces are vintage and have some wear inside. People have told me to put them in the sun as that bleaches out the stains. At the factory they gave me a cleaner they make for the insides which didn’t do much for a vintage piece I tried it on (which, admittedly, was a bit far gone), but they said it works on stains on regular pots and pans, but haven’t taken it out for a full-on test.

  • June 22, 2015 7:43pm

    What a fantastic article. I love factory tours in general and have always been curious about Le Creuset. I finally got a large Dutch oven last year and can attest that everything I cook in it tastes better than the equivalent cooked in other pans. I’m glad I know how it’s manufactured.

  • June 22, 2015 7:47pm

    David, so very envious of your visit but your post takes me almost there – one of the best!
    I’ve scored most of my Le C’s from village “vide greniers” flea markets for 10 euros or less. Love to think of all the meals they’ve held over the years.
    But still faithful to my non-enamelled cast iron skillet, very non-stick with all that oily goo in its pores!

  • Burgundybrit
    June 22, 2015 7:51pm

    Thanks for a great post David. Who doesn’t love Le Creuset cookware? Fascinating to see how it’s made.
    I’ve been lucky to find several good used pieces over the years at our local Emmaüs warehouse ( tip to visitors: there’s usually one in most French departments, get there at opening time to nab the better pieces of French table and cookware )
    But the best bargain EVAH was picking up a brand spanking new unused 2k red terrine at the local village Vide Genier ( like a communal yard sale ) priced at €2. I had to stop myself doing a little dance of joy.

  • taffy holvenstot
    June 22, 2015 7:53pm

    David, a really superb post in so many ways. Love the way you share your values and the excellent description of the process in the factory, as well as the difficult to get photos. Thanks , what a treat!

  • June 22, 2015 8:10pm

    I really enjoyed reading about your visit at the Le Creuset factory. My favorite Le Creuset casserole, purchased 40 years ago, is not enameled and has to be carefully wiped with oil after each use so that it doesn’t rust.

  • TeslaGirl
    June 22, 2015 8:11pm

    Great article, David, thank you. How exciting to see the people who make some of your own pots! At farmers markets, we get to know the people who grow our food, but I don’t think I’ve ever met the people who’ve crafted my kitchen equipment. Kind of bonds you to Le Creuset items, yes? I can’t wait to get one of the purple Le Creusets!

  • Judith Basham
    June 22, 2015 8:21pm

    Ah David, what a lovely post. My Le Creuset and the big Kitchen Aid mixer (with equally heavy transformer) have travelled the world with me for the last 43 yrs. From time-to-time, I add judicially to my collection and have been known to mow down the unfortunates in front of me during a sale without a backward glance. There is just “something” that exudes from a Le Creuset big casserole dish filled with good beef stew that no other cookware can match.

  • Anne Talley
    June 22, 2015 8:21pm

    I saved up for my first set of Le Creuset and mail-ordered it from the Speigel catalog (ha! remember them?!) in the early/mid 1980s. The set cost around $200 (a fortune at the time!) and included two round ovens, a rectangular baker, and a saucepan with a lid that was also a small saute pan. I still have and use all those pieces today, and they are the foundation for what has become a respectable collection. I’d love to visit the factory!

  • Marlis
    June 22, 2015 8:34pm

    I am so thankful you posted this. It’s always intriguing and a pure delight to see how an icon is made. I love my pots, although mine are all relatively new. My oldest is from 1999. A first purchase after a fire consumed our home. I’ve been coveting their paella pan lately and can’t wait to get my hands on it. I’ll cherish it even more now that I’ve read this and seen the photos.. Way cool!!!

  • June 22, 2015 8:36pm

    Big fan of Le Creuset. Thanks for sharing the experience..

  • nonie
    June 22, 2015 8:53pm

    This is the coolest, er, hottest post. Just Saturday, I used my large, ancient Le Creuset at the beach to cook a great Chicken Tagine from Martha Rose Shulman in Wednesday’s NYT http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017465-chicken-tagine-with-rhubarb
    The dish was so good my husband suggested I leave my Le Creuset at the beach and get a second large one for the house (yes, I sometimes lug it back and forth, and no, my husband does NOT usually suggest I spend).

    • nonie
      July 21, 2015 4:03pm

      Two lovely things transpired this weekend thanks to your post: Having it on my mind and feeling empowered, I gave my niece a Le Creuset dutch oven for her bridal shower in Chicago last Sunday. She is thrilled, realizing immediately that it is something she will always treasure. AND my husband gave me “My Paris Kitchen” for my birthday! What a beautiful book! Our daughter is back from Paris, on to new adventures, but your book puts me right back there. I am loving every page, every photo and story, and feeling a bit nostalgique. Alors, je suppose the remedy is to now make YOUR Tagine de Souris d’Agneau? Mais oui!

  • Marcia
    June 22, 2015 8:53pm

    This was fantastic! If I could afford it, I’d have a kitchen full of Le Creuset. Nothing else comes close. Now I understand why it is so costly. But you’re right. It lasts for generations and I hope someone gets to use mine long after I do.

  • laline
    June 22, 2015 8:59pm

    David, thanks for this informative post. I am also a Le Creuset fan and own a few heavy pieces. For browning butter, did you ever try using a non-enameled iron skillet? What kind of pan do you think is best for browning butter? To save me a step from washing another pan, I was thinking of browning the butter in it prior the baking a cake (blueberry buckle) in the same pan. Thanks.

  • Laurie S.
    June 22, 2015 9:01pm

    Hello David.
    I just want to chime in on your article this morning. Just recently bought my first piece of Le Creuset-a small grilling pan-it is the traditional orange. I just love it!
    Raymond Loewy also designed a streamlined steam locomotive-it is a real beauty! I recognized the old rail immediately in the melting pots!
    Peace, Laurie
    PS What is the name of the cleaning product you use to clean your pots? And, is it available in the states?

  • June 22, 2015 9:02pm

    Thank you for this amazing report. It makes me love my Le Creuset even more. And now I don’t have to figure out how to get invited for that tour since you have documented it so well. Not that I wouldn’t still jump at the chance.

  • sue
    June 22, 2015 9:17pm

    I was the recipient of two complete sets of new LeCruset cookware as gifts more than 35 years ago (one set brown and the other set gray). Unfortunately at the time I didn’t appreciate what I had and sold one whole set for around $35. After I learned to appreciate what I had I could have kicked myself for selling them. But I LOVE the ones I have left and can’t imagine beig without them. After reading your article I can also appreciate why they’re so expensive.

  • sue
    June 22, 2015 9:25pm

    Re: taking the stains out of the pots, I occasionally put some bleach into the pot, fill it with water and let it sit overnight. It takes all the stains out. (But be sure to wash it thoroughly afterward.) I’ve been doing this for many,many years and the pots are still great and great looking.

  • laline
    June 22, 2015 9:37pm

    David, Thanks also for writing about replacement metal knobs. I will definitely order a few and try baking bread in my dutch oven.

    • slapshoe
      June 29, 2015 4:49am

      My dutch oven (dk. blue, vintage 1990 or so) still has the original knob after scores of loaves baked at temps over 400. It looks a bit carbonized now, but isn’t crumbling. Yet. Perhaps I’ll invest in a replacement knob just as a precaution…

  • Robert H.
    June 22, 2015 9:41pm

    What an absolutely marvellous and suprisingly riveting (no pun intended-swear to god!) post. I have been using LC (and all-clad) pots and pans exclusively since the early 80’s when Perla Meyers first turned me on to them at a dinner party. What a joy to see something still mostly handmade, with the love and attention so obvious! More factory posts please!

  • Nikki
    June 22, 2015 9:46pm

    Would be worth another trip to France if there were perchance an outlet store where the scratched and not so perfect pots go to..

  • Christina
    June 22, 2015 9:54pm

    Several years ago I stopped by a Williams Sonoma store in a neighborhood I didn’t visit often.
    Looked under a sale table and spotted a beautiful dark green Le Creuset for less than half the price. Oh lucky day!
    The ubiquitous Longchamp tote is now made in China. I just keep cleaning my black one bought in Nantes many years ago.

  • June 22, 2015 9:56pm

    This was fascinating, thank you so much for sharing!

  • mary bess
    June 22, 2015 10:02pm

    Thanks for the field trip to Le Creuset. Not only am I impressed with the beautiful pieces they turn out, they are number 1 when it comes to standing behind their product. I mentioned to a sales clerk that the finish on the dark brown pieces I purchased 30 years ago had streaked and faded. She suggested I contact Le Creuset. They said “send them back.” Voila!
    Each one was replaced with the same or similar piece. Is there another company that can match that?

  • Donna
    June 22, 2015 10:02pm

    Love Le Creuset! I have only two dutch ovens. I’ve been facinated by the company for so long and really appreciated this look behind the scenes. Thank you!!

  • Andrea
    June 22, 2015 10:09pm

    I have found several pieces at marshall’s TJMaxx and home goods too!

    Also, a few years ago consumer reports tested the LC spatulas. They came out #1. They are supposed to withstand heat to 700degrees F.

    One last item. If you go to a factory store you used to be able to join their mailing list… Thar gave you occassional coupons and sale notices.

    Happy cooking and shopping.

  • Maureen Kennedy
    June 22, 2015 10:31pm

    New York Times–are you reading? Sounds like a great piece for the Food section!

  • Alexandra
    June 22, 2015 10:41pm

    What a great post! I still have my mother’s set of Le Creuset from over 50 years ago and it’s in great shape despite all the use it’s gotten. It’s in the flame orange which I love…I think that was the only color you could get back then. And when my husband and I got married he came with his own set of Le Creuset in white which I don’t think I would have chosen but it looks lovely and modern. I have added pieces over the years including a couple of frying pans in green and an enormous stock pot in red. Collecting pieces gets to be a bit of an addiction.

  • P Adams
    June 22, 2015 10:50pm

    Your photos are always beautiful and interesting but today’s are especially great. The one of the factory floor with the bins and ventilation system is stunning.

    I have several of Le Creuset’s 2-in-1 Pans. The lids serve as saute pans and they are amazingly useful. I don’t really need a huge Dutch oven but I still lust after one.

    • Samba
      July 13, 2015 4:33am

      Of course you “need” one!

  • June 22, 2015 10:59pm

    Visiting the Le Creuset factory like a dream come true for me! Well, other than actually owning more Le Creuset. You lucky devil! And thanks for sharing.

  • Jane
    June 22, 2015 11:00pm

    David, this tour almost rivaled my tour of the Steinway Factory in Astoria. (You should arrange for a tour next time you’re in NY. It’s fantastic.) The processes are remarkably similar. Precision, care and commitment to perfection, to name a few, come to mind. (These are singing bowls, are they not?!)

    My first Le Creuset was a 30th birthday gift. Close to double that birthday, I still adore and use that gorgeous big, orange pot. Since, I’ve added a several Le C’s to my kitchen.

    Truc on a budget: sometimes you can pick up “seconds” that are really fine at places like Home Goods (here in the NY Metro area.)

    Merci, bien, David!

  • witloof
    June 22, 2015 11:39pm

    I just recently acquired {via hoarded-for-years American Express reward points} a beautiful, dark green Le Creuset pot. Oh my gosh do I love it. I made a gorgeous spinach and sorrel soup in it last night, in fact.

    Would you consider publishing a photograph of your collection? I’d love to see it.

  • Leslie Green
    June 23, 2015 12:11am

    I loved your taking us along on this visit. My daughter has quite a few pieces of their cookware. I don’t own any as of now but I think that has now changed. Thanks.

  • Jill
    June 23, 2015 1:37am

    Thank you for sharing — this was a very interesting read. Unfortunately, I’ve just finished the worst customer service experience of my life with LeCreuset, so they will not be getting any more of my money.

  • June 23, 2015 1:47am

    a beautiful tour of the factory :)

  • June 23, 2015 3:29am

    Been reading your blog since you were featured on Apartment Therapy and hopped on over for a gander, been reading it since then.

    I love this, as a lover of Le Creuset, and have a few pieces myself, this was fascinating to see.

    I have several vintage pieces myself, the first 4 vessels are quite old, in the Elise Yellow with the ribbed enameled bottoms. It was a set I picked up over 20 years ago at an estate sale. It contained the 5.5Qt Dutch oven with lid (even the inside of the lid was yellow), a 1.5Qt sauce pot with the hollow cast iron handle and no spout with lid, though I did replace the original handle with one that is easier to grasp than the original almost beehive shaped one, and two skillets, a 6″, and the 8″ versions, again with the enamel across the bottoms.

    Then I got my late mother’s brown 5Qt round Dutch oven that she bought new about 35 years ago, as part of a set. Her soup pot was like mine, but a bit larger (2Qt or so) and the two skillets in the same size with enameled cast iron handles (as mine are as well), but hers had the cast iron interiors that never did season up like a proper cast iron pan will. Speaking of, I have her smaller cast iron skillet that I use quite often.

    However, only the Dutch oven remains of that set she bought. I still have the complete set I bought at an estate sale, in a cabinet all together under the cooktop and was being sold for a measly $25 US. The oval Dutch still had the sticker on the side of it even.

    Anyway, love them all and use them all too. It was my late mother’s set that I found I love Le Creuset and eventually bought my own set.

    in the summer of 2010, went to an estate sale and they had a bunch of pieces of the older turquoise set, similar to mine and a complete 11 Cup Cuisinart, model DLC 8, with owner’s manual and cookbook, with a date of 1982, so it is a made in Japan model at that. If I hadn’t had just $30 or so to spend and wasn’t looking for a food processor, I’d have bought a piece of the Le Creuset from that sale and do want at least one turquoise piece, oh well. I use the FP quite frequently so it was a good find and buy.

  • Julie
    June 23, 2015 3:31am

    Hi David,
    What a great article! I love my le creuset dutch ovens. Would love to get a pan and a grill pan as well. Are they as fantastic as the milk pans and Dutch ovens?

  • Mary J
    June 23, 2015 3:49am

    Fantastic post!! Thanks so much for the tour. Some 40+ years ago, I purchased a 12 inch covered casserole and a 3 quart saucepan with a saute pan as the lid. I lugged those pans around downtown Des Moines, IA for 2 hours doing other shopping, then back to the hotel room a good 2+ miles away. I, too, found them on a deep discounted sale. So, like you, it was worth the effort. And they are my favorite color, too. Flame Orange. Totally understand why you purchased those heavy pans. Sometimes, bargains are just too good to pass up. Have a great week. M

  • June 23, 2015 4:00am

    I covet my KitchenAid mixer, Hall teapot, handmade tortilla pin, Blue Willow dinner plates I ate off of as a child, but my Le Creuset collection is by far my dearest and most beloved of all kitchen items.

    When I began my collection I hemmed and hawed trying to decide upon what color I would go with. In the end, I went with Flame, and the White. My decision was in honor of my mother.

    Honey-Bunches, I feel as if I shuffled thru the candy store with you today. The choices, the choices…and those beautiful color options! After your visit, do you have a connection? Can you drop a msg to them and ask them if they’ll do a line of colored ceramic pearls? Mixed colors, of course. Tell them I’m first in line at the jewelry store.
    If I can’t own every piece, perhaps I could at least own every colored “pearl.”
    ;)

  • Cynthia Booker
    June 23, 2015 4:04am

    Love, love, love this article and all the inside information. I do wish they had given you just one piece to give away on your website. I could use another piece, for sure.

  • June 23, 2015 4:09am

    Wonderful article, thank you David. I treasure the array of Le Creuset pieces that I have accumulated over the years.

  • Gavrielle
    June 23, 2015 4:56am

    Fascinating post – and thank you for warning me about the melting knob problem *before* I tried the no-knead bread! Lucky escape!

  • Steve L.
    June 23, 2015 5:39am

    Le Creuset products used to come with an instruction sheet that explained how to remove stains: fill the item with water, bring it to a boil on the stove, and then pour in about a half cup of bleach. The staining disappears almost immediately. This works over and over. However, the “shiny” finish of the interior enamel does dull.

  • Marion
    June 23, 2015 5:44am

    Here in New Zealand it is winter and my Le Creuset casserole is getting a steady workout cooking comfort food like beef stews and lamb shanks. I also have a grill tray that is one of my go to utensils. Thanks for this fascinating post – we only see a limited selection in NZ but I can understand the collecting fascination.

  • June 23, 2015 6:53am

    A fabulous tour, such detailed info. So appreciate what goes into the making of their products. Will never look at them again the same way, too! Everyone should have at least one Le Creuset. I treasure mine.

  • Philip
    June 23, 2015 10:41am

    I have a 26cm Le Creuset skillet with a wooden handle that was secondhand when I purchased it over 30 years ago. I still use it very regularly. They really do last a lifetime.

  • Sherrie Hitchcock
    June 23, 2015 2:14pm

    Thanks for the tour. I find factories fascinating, in general.

    In a “What was I thinking?” moment, I almost sold my Le Creuset Dutch oven in an estate sale, when I was doing some serious downsizing to move into a condo in Boston. Fortunately, a friend told me I was crazy, and now my pot has pride of place under my bed ready to be pulled out for all kinds of wonderful dishes.

    I would love that bread recipe you mentioned!

  • Robyn
    June 23, 2015 2:25pm

    Thank you so much for this great insight in the manufacture of the most wonderful pots in the world. I always say that if I were able to have just one cooking pot, it would be a Creuset. Like many other historical comments on the above list, I bought my first one In 1969 with one of my first pays as a new teacher and have purchased several more since (always on special, though!) Our son was married earlier this year and he and his wife were delighted to receive a substantial Creuset pot for a gift.

  • June 23, 2015 2:49pm

    I loved the French Blue color of my Le Creuset skillet and Dutch oven so much that in our previous home I painted our lower kitchen cabinets to match. (The upper ones I painted creamy white.) That blue was one of the joys of that kitchen. (Hmm…we have a total kitchen remodel coming up in our present home. That gives me an idea…)

  • Tim Holmes
    June 23, 2015 2:51pm

    I have owned a set of 10 Le Creuset pots , frypans, duch oven and small baking rounds for nearly 30 years and can only say fantastic product. Heavy yes but also great to use and also forgiving when you stuff up.
    The greatest product i have ever used at any cost
    TimH

  • June 23, 2015 4:36pm

    What a treat to get to see all the action behind the scenes and see how quality is made!

  • sheila
    June 23, 2015 5:04pm

    Decided to comment (I never do) with a story you might find interesting. Was given a set of LeCreuset cookware as a wedding gift (50 yrs ago). The dutch oven got the most use, and had a number of dings showing the cast iron underneath. About 10 yrs ago I contacted LeCreuset USA in NJ asking where I could have it re-enameled. They replied they use a special technique when its manufactured & can not be reenameled. However, they said the pot is guaranteed for life, and if I have not abused it, they would replace it! I sent the old one and they sent me a new one, after 40 years!

    • June 23, 2015 7:58pm

      I had the same experience Sheila! Great service, and I wore my first #26 Dutch out too, even though I take good care of it. Mine was only about 15 years old.

  • San Francisco Cook
    June 23, 2015 5:37pm

    David-
    Loved the Tour behind-the-scenes!!! Fantastic photos as usual. Any chance YOu have a No-knead bread recipe that we can make in our Dutch ovens?

  • June 23, 2015 5:43pm
    David Lebovitz

    San Francisco Cook + Sherrie: That no-knead bread recipe was in the New York Times, which is on their website. I have a recipe in my book, My Paris Kitchen, for a Grainy Bread that is baked in a Dutch oven since that part of the recipe/technique works really well. But it is not a no-knead bread.

  • Kit
    June 23, 2015 6:10pm

    Best field trip ever! What an interesting process and so well documented. Do you have any idea if a slightly damaged piece of Le Creuset can be repaired? My beloved covered terrine fell and some of the enamel has chipped off. I live in France and would be willing to send it to the factory. Many thanks for any help.

    • June 23, 2015 9:17pm
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t know if you dropped a piece if they can fix the glaze. I would either call Le Creuset in France, or go into one of their shops. They’ve been opening a bunch of stand-alone shops, and they can likely help you.

  • Shohre
    June 23, 2015 6:19pm

    Hi,i like the cookware cast iron set, i am living in iran ,how can i bye, realy i love your product.thank you

  • June 23, 2015 7:56pm

    This was so much fun David. Thanks for the great pictures, as it is not likely we will ever get in to see the creation process. I am another lover of LC, and use mine almost daily. like you, I am a fan of the oranges and greens, but my latest piece (had to given an buy it) is a gorgeous shade of burgundy. I discovered their customer service is fantastic. Last year I finally wore an old #26 pot out. It was brown and could not be scrubbed clean no matter what. I was ready to toss it and buy a new one. I called customer service. They said to send it in for review, and they would let me know if anything could be done for it. I received a new one back. Now that is standing behind your products. Forever a fan of LC.

  • Kelly Kynion
    June 23, 2015 8:27pm

    REALLY well done, Mr. L. And clearly you struck a chord with your fans. You can be my virtual tour guide any day.

  • June 23, 2015 9:55pm

    Fantastic read! Le Creuset really is the best. It’s nice to see a very popular company keep their original ways in how they make it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  • June 23, 2015 9:56pm

    tell us your favorite dishes to make in your pieces; don’t forget dessert!
    thank you!

  • Kay
    June 23, 2015 11:18pm

    Very interesting article, David, and great photos!

  • Doug Wagner
    June 23, 2015 11:52pm

    i bought my first set in 1976…”French oven”, 2 pots and 2 skillets in brown, from a Bollomigdale ad in the New Yorker.. that and a Sabbatier chef knife. I still use them, and have added several others. The original oven lid had an iron handle with a little plastic cover to,slip,over it when it came out of the oven. The instructions said to soak not scrub and to soak darkened interiors overnight with a bleach/ water solution.
    Doug Wagner
    Florida

  • Barb F
    June 23, 2015 11:53pm

    Really interesting post — thank you! Fascinating. Here’s one of those Coquelles on Etsy, in France. Basically double the price to ship to the US, but looks very reasonable for France:
    Etsy

  • Robert in Santa Fe, NM
    June 24, 2015 6:18am

    Fascinating and informative piece David- Do you know if there was a connection between Le Creuset and Descoware. I have been using my handed-down Descoware for 38 years with some Le Creuset scattered in here and there. I must say that big 10 pounder seems to get heavier every time I use it!

  • Maureen
    June 24, 2015 9:38am

    I bought a set about 48 years ago which only came in flame orange. Some of the pieces had wood handles which were replaced with some regularity until I got tired of doing that and gave them to a friend. My small stew pot has lost some of it’s enamel at the bottom of the pan. Someone told me that I could send it back and get a replacement for free. Anyone know about this?

  • Becs
    June 24, 2015 10:51am

    Thank you for a fabulous post. I love the fact that there might be a piece of the French railway in my kitchen in NZ!

  • Didi
    June 24, 2015 6:03pm

    A few years ago, I left my 4 quart Le Creuset on a counter, about 5 inches from the edge. I went away for a few days, and when I came home, my CAT had pushed the dutch oven off the counter, which cracked the enamel all the way across the bottom. I now call the cat Popeye…. thanks for a great post!

  • Maggie
    June 24, 2015 6:47pm

    What a fascinating post. Thanks so much, especially for the videos!

  • Sara aka Sally.
    June 25, 2015 9:13am

    Thank you David. I, too, am a great lover of these wonderful coking tools, I worked for a short while in the med 70’s at Selfridges in London as a Buyer and, yippee, got Buyers discount rates all through the shop! LOTS of L C came home with me.
    The sad thing is that the London L C shop will no longer accept old pots in for re-enameling.. which was a service they always used to do.. grrrr.
    I would more than happily pay to have this done mind but they won’t do it.
    So now I, too, am on the hunt. I find it is amazing that people give them away, someone brought a caserole and a couple of dishes into the Charity shop where I do voluntary work, they went, at a good price, in a nano-second to a young woman who was thrilled to find them.

  • Anne
    June 25, 2015 1:45pm

    Loved this article, the tech information and especially the history. I love Le Creuset!

  • babs
    June 25, 2015 4:24pm

    I am lucky to live near one of the factory stores, but I search for the pieces made in France. Occasionally I will find one. Same with Longchamp. If you look at labels, you can avoid the ones made in China. It is worth it to me to pay a bit more and support the workers who are paid a living wage.

  • Sandy
    June 25, 2015 6:00pm

    Very interesting post, David – I had no idea that these iconic pieces of cookware recycled old metal! One question – I have a long le creuset grill (unenamelled) but try as hard as I might, I can never get it clean so I have stopped using it. How is it supposed to be cleaned?

    • June 29, 2015 10:15am
      David Lebovitz

      Am not sure about unenameled cookware and how to clean it. The best would be to call their customer service number and speak to them. That number is listed on their website.

  • June 25, 2015 8:29pm

    Thanks for sharing this experience with us. My Le Creuset pan is one of my most treasured kitchen tools.

  • June 25, 2015 11:01pm

    So cool to see the behind-the-scenes of this kitchen staple. I have a new appreciation for my Creuset!

  • Cat
    June 25, 2015 11:38pm

    Loved seeing the photos and videos of how the pieces are cast. I just received a small saucepan in a gorgeous azure color; it was a hand-me-down gift from a recipient that didn’t want it(!). Come to think of it, the Le Creuset dutch oven that I use most often was also a hand-me-down, from a friend that was moving and didn’t want to ship a heavy pot. It’s my go-to for braising, browning, and big batches of tomato sauce.

  • Charlotte
    June 26, 2015 12:22am

    Thanks David for this post. I love my le Creuset dutch oven I got as a gift but have long lusted after my aunt’s collection of flame coloured pans. Love knowing that the pans start off as old metal such as railroad tracks.

  • June 26, 2015 1:43am

    Fascinating! I regularly drool over the new colors released each season.

  • May
    June 26, 2015 2:36am

    David, thank you for the tour of the le Creuset factory! I have two original le Creuset spatulas and use them everyday. I’m glad that they won’t be discontinued but I think I’ll get a few of the new ones just in case.

  • June 26, 2015 7:37am

    I own quite a few pieces myself and have always wondered about how they’re made. Thank you for this wonderful post! I definitely gained a deeper appreciations for my pots and pans after reading this post.

  • June 26, 2015 5:55pm

    I love all things French too and I love the fact that this is made in the same way today as 80 years ago which is rare and getting rarer. I bought my first piece in a House of Fraser sale in the UK and had to put it in the pushchair to wheel it home it was so heavy (my daughter had to walk). No regrets though, I use my Creuset pans and casseroles every day.

  • mireille grisanti
    June 27, 2015 4:35am

    Tres interessant. Tres bon produit j’en ai un rouge, mais tres cher en Australie. Bonne continuation

  • June 27, 2015 4:59am

    This is such a great post! What a cool and unique experience! Their products are so expensive, but so worth it. I have only a few pieces, but I love them all so dearly and look forward to keeping them in our family for a long time! The pictures of the sand were especially interesting to see! Thanks so much for sharing this. I’ve never seen coverage of their process anyplace before.

  • susie
    June 27, 2015 7:49am

    Wow! what a wonderful post! loved the video clips. I have only a couple of pieces but both were purchased at flea markets and both were loved pieces. I love them too and use them almost on a daily basis… I did not know about their spatulas…. I must have one!

  • June 28, 2015 3:14pm

    I saw on tv a well known chef say you do not need expensive cookware to be a good cook, but I have to say Le Creuset upped my game. Everything I have made in them has been so good I could not believe it.

    This was a fun post.

    • June 29, 2015 10:13am
      David Lebovitz

      You don’t need fancy or expensive cookware to cook well, but as someone who has spent most of his life cooking, I know that well-made, sturdy cookware does do the job better (thin, flimsy cookware tends to burn things), it’s easier to handle and use, and it lasts a lot longer than cheaper cookware. That said, for people on budgets, you can find used cookware on websites, flea markets, and tag sales. And good cookware, like Le Creuset, can sometimes be found in shops like TJ Maxx, on Amazon, as well as in their factory outlet stores.

  • Katy
    June 29, 2015 12:40am

    Hi David, my friends and I are in Paris this week, and we had a really enjoyable dinner a few days ago. It was at a restaurant called Bistrotters. It was delicious, inventive, and at a great price. I had the foie gras, skate wing in coconut milk and then a delicious lemon tart with anise sorbet for dessert. I definitely think that you should check them out! Thank you for your recommendations and reviews. They have been very helpful on our trip here. I can’t wait to come back to Paris soon!

    • June 29, 2015 10:11am
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks – and glad you had a great trip! : )

  • June 30, 2015 5:29am

    So interesting! This post is like an episode of How It’s Made. I just recently joined the le creuset club and love my dutch oven in caribbean (my favorite color!) :)

  • Mary Kerr
    June 30, 2015 7:43am

    Thank you for a great post! The first pan I ever bought (and it was a stretch on the budget back in 1971) was a Le Creuset skillet. I had recently moved to San Francisco where I soon developed a full-fledged love of great food, cooking, and all things culinary.

    It was a pleasure to see how these pots are created and to get an insider’s view of the factory processes. Now that I know the reason for the flame color, I can appreciate it more. Most of my LC pans are that beautiful shade of French Blue.

    And, it is so true that a stew made in a Le Creuset Dutch oven is like nothing else! Every time I make Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon, I happily pull out that pan.

    My own favorite Le Creuset pieces are the traditional gratin pans with the little fluted handles. To make Pommes de Terre Dauphinois in the 14-inch pan is to use the perfect piece of equipment for a memorable dish. But, you can’t find that pan easily anymore.

    Williams Sonoma had a special issue of a few of the older pieces in the harvest gold color about 2 years ago — that’s the only time I’ve seen that pan in a long time.

    It’s a great pan for roasting all kinds of meats and vegetables. And, you can put the pan over a flame on the stove to start the cooking before putting the dish into the oven to finish cooking.

    This post just made me appreciate Le Creuset that much more. Funny how knowledge has that effect!

  • Leslie Bekker
    June 30, 2015 9:24am

    Morning I have inherited a flat black cast iron pot from my gran and want to have it enamelled .

    • Sara aka Sally
      June 30, 2015 12:58pm

      Good luck Leslie!

  • Randall
    July 1, 2015 6:26pm

    Do you have an opinion on their stainless steel. We have an induction and really like le creuset products.

    • Nikki
      July 1, 2015 10:16pm

      Enameled cast iron should work on an induction stove. If a magnet sticks to the pot or pan is should work on an induction stove.

  • tommy
    July 1, 2015 7:03pm

    People think I’m crazy, I use my le creuset spoonulas always, they are the best! i bought a dozen years ago at an outlet store. i’ve gotten a few dings in mine, cuts from cleaning out mayonnaise jars lol I did my own visit, a group of us went to Casa Orinda. OMG, the fried chicken and mashed potatoes, so yummy, big, cold cocktails and pie made by a local woman, a small caterer, delicious. We were in the room with antique guns and a big flower arrangement. It is so fun and fun that it not only still exists, it thrives. We had a second meal out of the fried chicken, so it’s a bargain too. Lots of stuffed animal heads and a great old bar. A lot like a better “Joe’s” restaurant, Marin Joe’s etc. We’re going to House of Prime Rib in 2 weeks, I’m a sucker for a spinning salad and a big cart of beef and creamed spinach. And they give you your own cocktail shaker of the strongest, biggest side car I have ever had! I love good food, but I am in heaven when there is great food in a fun, homey setting. To me it’s always about the food. Casual restaurants allow everyone to enjoy and just have fun. Thanks for the recommendation David. PS It’s my 17th Anniversary, My husband Ted and I have been together 17 years today, married in 2008 when we could. I’m making Marion Berry granita, your recipe for berry granita to go with the Marion Berry Ice Cream I made two days ago. I just love your ice cream book. Thanks David. PPS Have you ever gone to Limoges, Bernardaud, Baccarat, etc would love to have you I’m sure. I did a wonderful trip to wine country too, stayed in the guest house on an estate, ate breakfast in the big house with the family. The children played with a hoop and a stick in the yard, just like my 94 year old mother did as a child. The wineries were so nice, my sister lived in Paris, she wrote them and at a favorite, Ch Leoville, the English speaking secretary took us on a tour and we peaked into the grapes and stems as they were resting. In Paris, by the theater district, there’s a great creperie from Alsace, I miss it most, spinach, egg and cheese buckwheat crepes, strawberry chocolate and whipped cream for dessert. Hard cider on tap. Have fun and write about it! Thanks. Tommy

  • karen harris
    July 3, 2015 2:02pm

    I too own a few Le Creuset pieces and like you my spatula is a very special tool, perfection actually.
    whats even better , it was a freebie from the Le Creuset rep .

  • July 8, 2015 5:00pm

    Great write up and expose. I see these – Le Crueset – in high end shops like Selfrdges on Oxford street, in London. It is great to know a bit more about them. The incredibly awesome colours for me is what makes them stand out

  • Traci
    July 11, 2015 4:30pm

    Ah! So cool to see this process.

  • Sabrina
    July 12, 2015 5:44pm

    David

    Loved this article. In this part of the world a Le Creuset dutch oven cost as much Kitchenaid. Sales do bring the prices down but I wonder if it is “overseas” piece. I am starting with some of their ceramic pieces first ;)