Expanded detail: why DO AUSfonte pans APPEAR to have a 'pitted' cooking surface?
We know it's a common perception for cooks new to cast iron, and new to cast iron that is sanded smooth like the famed antique American pans (Griswold, Wagner, etc), and now the new Australian AUSfonte pans. They think the surface looks grainy or pitted, until they understand why, and then season the pan further and cook with it.
So why do our pans look ‘rougher’ than other traditional cast iron pans? Optical illusion.
The appearance of 'grain' or ‘pits’ is because the sanding of our sand cast cooking surface really highlights and contrasts the differences between the shiny sanded tops and the dark as-cast divets. To reduce cost, every other manufacturer leaves their pans ‘as cast’, with much more ‘clingy’ sharp tops to the grain. But they are less visible because they are the same colour as the pits. Easy to feel the difference with the fingertip though, and our nonstick cooking performance is far superior. Once our pans are much more seasoned the contrasts aren't as visible (all filled in with black seasoning), and it quickly becomes obvious that the pan is way smoother than other production cast iron pans on the market. We are the only production pan making the (expensive) effort to smooth down the rough bumps naturally created in the sand casting process, and the experts love this benefit.
But why not machine the base completely smooth? The key reason we leave the cast ‘pits’ scattered around the pan is that the very hard seasoning layers will peel away on completely smooth pans. Our 'divets' anchor the hard seasoning for much more practical durability, while the flat tops create a very nonstick surface.
So it's like a lot of our designs: we do things for real engineering reasons, after a lot of R&D. Then it takes a while to get the word out about why we made choices that seem to be against the mainstream perception. We can't compromise though, because we know the experts will understand, support us first and in the long run lead the rest.
(At the prototype stage we had 2 upscale Melbourne stores complain that our pans are not perfectly finished, and then didn't have time to listen to our engineering talk…..one also suggested that Australian pans couldn’t be as good as the fine Japanese ones they import.....so they're clearly not our kind of stores. They're the only 2 stores in Australia who've had a problem so far though, and our pans are a major success in the ones who do carry AUSfonte. We’ll only place AUSfonte in stores that really ‘get it’: we’re in no hurry!)
The best way for customers to see how the pans really work, without having to listen to all our engineering detail, is to see the results other expert cooks have had with AUSfonte, and their praise for our smooth nonstick all-natural seasoned surface. Note how their post-seasoning and used pans are all black, with no visible ‘pits’:
Seasoned cast iron is not really for those who want the same thing as Teflon-coated aluminium. It’s for those who take the time to understand why we have so rapidly gained thousands of supporters in Australia, and why the American brands have literally millions of enthusiasts in the USA, where seasoned cast iron is more widely understood. Because Aussies aren’t as familiar with this type of cookware, we made good videos/instructions that explain the whole seasoning and care and nonstick nature of real seasoned cast iron:
♥ Easy cast iron seasoning and care video: http://youtu.be/fzvaw4b_zVc
♥ Complete seasoning and care advice doc: http://www.solidteknics.com/australian-fonte-pan-detail
♥ How nonstick is seasoned cast iron? http://youtu.be/-wByB2yTq0s
♥ Widely loved for the cooking and health benefits that only seasoned cast iron has: http://www.solidteknics.com/blog/these-5-health-benefits-are-cast-in-ironand-4-more-are-literally-cast-in-iron-in-australia
These health benefits are applicable to all seasoned cast iron (from trustworthy sources of clean iron), though we have some important new high-performance benefits over traditional cast iron brands:
AUSfonte pans are also cast from clean and safe Australian iron, free from heavy metals and toxins, and that can’t be said with confidence of all the cheaper imports. Trusting the source of the iron is really important when you’re basically cooking on bare iron.
In Australia we have had great support from cooks who don’t understand all this detail, but want to support the only production cookware made in Australia. We just hope they all get the message that these are high-performance expert pans, not generic imports, and they take a little extra maintenance. It’s the only nonstick that’s non-toxic at high temperatures, and also gets better with more cooking. They’re also sustainable: multi-century durable and not disposable like the synthetic-coated imports.
In the end, if all that is too hard to understand, or the customer really wants to trade off health and cooking benefits of cast iron for the little extra convenience and smoothness of synthetic nonstick, then they’re just not our kind of customer, clearly, and they really should 'stick' with what they know ;-)
We won't be offended, and we'll continue steadily building our strong base of supporters who really 'get it' and share our vision for a sustainable and healthy new Australian cookware industry.