Categories: Home+Garden

An American Original, Reimagined

written by Melissa Dalton | photo by Eva Kosmas Flores


Like many avid home cooks, Mike Whitehead just wanted a good skillet.

Around 2011, his wife had challenged him to toss his non-stick cookware. In search of replacements, Whitehead turned to cast iron. He found modern models to be poorly made, so he started collecting Vintage cookware on Ebay, until that got expensive.

“I’m pathologically curious,” said Whitehead. “I’m the guy who asks questions.” He wondered, “What can I do to improve something that hadn’t been touched for 150 years?”

By 2012, Whitehead was working as an engineering program manager at Leupold & Stevens in Portland. In his spare time, he tinkered with a new skillet design, mainly by reverse-engineering the pans in his collection. Then he collaborated with industrial designer David Lewin to refine his ideas.

The resulting skillet is an octagon shape. “I tried a bunch of different shapes, and it had the best functional advantage,” said Whitehead, as the octagon creates six natural pour spouts. Inspired by traditional wood stoves, the handle is wrapped with a stainless steel spring for faster cooling. The pan’s interior is smoothed using a CNC machine for easy food release.

A 2013 Kickstarter campaign for Finex, provided enough start-up capital for production, and today, Whitehead’s creation is nationally distributed. The quest for a better pan has become the reinvention of an American heirloom. “I love making something that’s going to last longer than I am,” said Whitehead.

Share
Published by
admin

Recent Posts

Four Faves for Donuts—Don’t be so square!

            written by Jen Stevenson NOLA DOUGHNUTS Mardi Gras is just a king-cake-splattered March memory,…

4 weeks ago

Enviro-Breweries for a better world

written by Jeremy Storton I sat typing away at my keyboard one wintry day at a local brewery. A beautiful,…

4 weeks ago

Best places for a bountiful brunch

BEST PLACES FOR BOUNTIFUL BRUNCHING HUNNYMILK With both a West Burnside brick and mortar and an eastside weekends-only pop-up, this…

4 weeks ago

Modern Outdoor Finds—Make your patio pop with these products

    If you need an update for a decrepit picnic table, try the Aviara Aluminum Rectangular Dining Table from…

4 weeks ago

DIY Concrete Planter

illustrated by Esther Loopstra AS ANYONE WHO HAS EVER STROLLED through the nursery knows, outdoor pots can add up. Try…

4 weeks ago

A timber-frame outdoor pavilion draws a West Linn family outside

written by Melissa Dalton An Outdoor Pavilion, rustic and accommodating When Daniel Harkavy and his wife bought their West Linn…

4 weeks ago