This is the pan! Handmade in Fukuyama by none other than our good friend Shibata Takayuki. This pan is the result of over two years of trial and error by the talented blacksmith. Designed to be light and nimble, this pan emulates a great French style omelette pan. Handmade cast iron is in our opinion the best thing to cook with. And this carbon steel with iron is no exception. Shibata aimed to make this pan as versatile as possible - with a comfortable curved handle made to be used while holding a kitchen towel. Pro. This pan has now become a staple in our kitchens, and a must have travel companion. Lets hope that the team at West Japan Tools continue to produce incredible items and to innovate in this industry.
Season with care and this pan will last a lifetime. Check out our cast iron care guide for more info on taking care of this incredible pan.
A word from the man himself:
I was in my kitchen one day and I got to thinking about frying pans. 'Somebody should make a better frying pan,' I thought. Non-stick pans made me uncomfortable. I was using iron frying pans made in Japan and France. They were good, but none of them completely satisfied me.
My Japanese frying pans were all too thin; they were made for sautéing. They weren't good for frying or baking.
My French pans were thicker; I liked that, but my wife finds them to be too heavy, even the small ones. But we need large frying pans because besides ourselves, we have three children to feed.
'Well,' I said to myself, 'maybe you should make a better frying pan.' So I set out to do just that. Moreover, as my city of Fukuyama is an iron and steel town, I resolved to use local talent and materials.
Production took two years.
First I took some ideas to a Fukuyama industrial designer. As for requirements, I wanted a frying pan with a diameter of 24 cm and a minimum bottom thickness of 3 mm. He made a prototype. It was so heavy! I brought it home and reworked it, starting with slimming the sides of the pan to 1.7 mm. This removed a lot of weight.
The improved prototype and I flew across the world to meet with a trusted friend. The biggest thing we discussed was the handle. We both agreed it wasn't perfect yet.
More meetings with the industrial designer. I also put a frying pan into the hands of a chef at a French restaurant to get his professional feedback.
Ten months before my deadline, I felt that we had the perfect pan, but it still lacked the perfect handle. We tried and rejected many designs. One day, I saw a Porsche 911 go by. Those curves! That's what I wanted. We made a fresh handle, got it red hot, and hammered it into shape. We made the handle short enough to fit nicely inside your oven, then we made it slim and ergonomic, to fit well in the hand even when wrapped in a towel. Picking it up is easy, reducing the risk of burns.
With a bottom thickness of 3 mm, the pan retains heat well. Once heated up, it cooks thoroughly, even over low heat. And with a pan diameter of 30 cm, you can fry two steaks at once. This saves time.
You might think that a 30 cm iron frying pan would be heavy, but shaving it down to 1.7 mm on the sides worked well. It's less of a burden, and more balanced when you tilt it, such as when pouring out oil or sauce.
Iron frying pans are naturally sticky, with fried eggs for example, until they are properly seasoned. But this pan has an iron-powder finish, creating surface irregularities, causing it to be less sticky.
As with everything that I do, 'Art over beauty' was my guiding principle with this frying pan.
This pan has also been referred to online as "carbon steel" - to clarify, according to Shibata himself, this is a one piece pressed soft iron pan with 0.12% Carbon. Technically yes, a carbon steel pan, but a very low percentage of carbon.
|Material||Handmade Pressed Soft Iron / .12 carbon|
|Pan Dimensions||top 30cm / bottom 24cm|
|Pan Thickness||bottom 3mm / sides 1.5mm|