Adding a dash of colour to your kitchen Since 1925 -By Supriya Sa­muel

In­ter­view with Ankur Da­mani – Coun­try Head at Le Creuset

The Luxury Collection - - Contents - -By Supriya Sa­muel

“One can­not think well, love well and sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Vir­ginia Wolf

Those par­tic­u­lar about the qual­ity of food as well as how it is pre­sented, will tell you the story of a cook­ware brand called Le Creuset founded in 1925 in France by two Bel­gian in­dus­tri­al­ists - Ar­mand De­saegher and Oc­tave Aubecq. They in­tro­duced the Le Creuset Co­cotte (French Oven), which to date has re­mained their most pop­u­lar piece. A few years later with their new found abil­ity to pig­ment the enamel glaze, De­saegher and Aubecq mod­elled their first sig­na­ture colour, Flame Or­ange, which went on to be­come the colour of Le Creuset.

Many de­signs and colours later, the brand not only ex­panded its mar­ket, but also started a trend of be­com­ing an es­sen­tial piece of cook­ware in many kitchens. Le Creuset is best known for its dura­bil­ity and its avail­abil­ity in a wide range of colours. Its new sig­na­ture cast iron range is truly ver­sa­tile and in­cludes a va­ri­ety of cook­ware such as casseroles, pans, grills and dishes.

To­day, Le Creuset is sold in over 60 coun­tries around the world. It en­tered the In­dian mar­ket in 2007 and has been ex­pand­ing rapidly ever since. We caught up with Mr. Ankur Da­mani,

Coun­try Head, In­dia and SAARC on the new range of cook­ware and the plans of Le Creuset for the In­dian mar­ket.

How has the brand per­formed since its launch in In­dia?

Af­ter be­com­ing one of the first four brands to se­cure the sin­gle brand FDI li­cense for re­tail­ing in In­dia, we opened our first ‘com­pany-owned re­tail store’ in Fe­bru­ary 2014. The re­sponse has been phe­nom­e­nal in the Horeca seg­ment, with most pre­mium ho­tel chains us­ing Le Creuset prod­ucts. The re­sponse to the re­tail stores has been great, and it is ex­tremely en­cour­ag­ing to see many con­sumers be­com­ing aware of the brand and us­ing our prod­ucts for years now, hav­ing bought them from other coun­tries in the past.

In­dia is one of the fastest grow­ing mar­kets for Le Creuset glob­ally. We have al­ready opened 6 stores in Delhi-ncr, Mum­bai and Ban­ga­lore & are happy to share that the brand has been well re­ceived. Le Creuset plans to open more stores across met­ro­pol­i­tan cities like Chen­nai, Hy­der­abad, Kolkata and Pune in the near fu­ture.

Tell us more about the new sig­na­ture cast iron range?

The new sig­na­ture range is truly ver­sa­tile and in­cludes a wide va­ri­ety of cook­ware such as casseroles, pans, grills and much more, avail­able across a wide range of col­ors. The sig­na­ture cast iron cook­ware is made with a re­mark­able and ro­bust ma­te­rial that per­forms well with the mod­ern re­quire­ments of food. The most en­tic­ing fea­ture of the range, its “life­time guar­an­tee”, makes it es­sen­tial for ev­ery house­hold. This up­dated kitchen clas­sic fea­tures a range of new de­sign en­hance­ments spe­cially de­vel­oped to of­fer bet­ter dura­bil­ity, ver­sa­til­ity and com­fort of use while cook­ing. Other fea­tures of the range in­clude a new easy clean, tough­ened enamel in­te­rior, in­creased dura­bil­ity, re­sis­tance to chip­ping, stain­ing and dulling, new Easy-grip with 45% larger han­dles for a bet­ter grip de­signed to dis­trib­ute weight more evenly, new en­hanced tight fit­ting lid, built-in sta­bi­liz­ers to pro­vide a more se­cure fit whilst en­hanced rings and de­sign pro­vide added beauty, and last but not the least, a stylish heat re­sis­tant stain­less steel knob that with­stands any oven tem­per­a­ture.

What has made the In­dian mar­ket a prof­itable tar­get for the brand?

Ex­trav­a­gance and lux­ury in In­dia is grow­ing ex­po­nen­tially, mov­ing from fash­ion to the liv­ing room and now to the kitchen. More­over, the food and cook­ing land­scape has un­der­gone a mas­sive trans­for­ma­tion – cook­ing has be­come a hobby and a pas­sion. Peo­ple re­sort­ing to

healthy food habits, ex­per­i­ment­ing with global cuisines, host­ing house par­ties, stag­ing open kitchens, all make Le Creuset ex­tremely per­ti­nent in the In­dian set­ting. The brand has the high­est qual­ity stan­dards and of­fers a life­time guar­an­tee, which makes it a one-time in­vest­ment, and caters to the health and qual­ity con­scious cus­tomer.

How has your jour­ney been with Le Creuset?

It has been an ab­so­lute plea­sure to be as­so­ci­ated with a cel­e­brated brand like Le Creuset, which is the best in the world in its cat­e­gory, and has a legacy dat­ing back to 1925. The 4-year jour­ney has been more than en­rich­ing from se­cur­ing the brand in re­tail via FDI in the sin­gle-brand re­tail route, to open­ing 6 stores in the best Malls across In­dia and repli­cat­ing the won­der­ful Le Creuset ex­pe­ri­ence within the coun­try. Le Creuset has a very open cul­ture, and cul­ti­vates in­no­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity, es­pe­cially with im­mense free­dom to im­ple­ment ideas lo­cally, rel­e­vant for each mar­ket. Such in­de­pen­dence is very mo­ti­vat­ing and im­pact­ful to each and ev­ery mar­ket.

Does the color­ful range cater to the tra­di­tional In­dian Style of cook­ing which in­volves a lot of roast­ing and fry­ing of spices?

The beauty of Le Creuset prod­ucts is that they are very ver­sa­tile and apt for cook­ing dif­fer­ent cuisines, and are com­pat­i­ble with dif­fer­ent heat sources. Le Creuset cast iron cook­ware is ideal for In­dian cook­ing as it is based on the con­cept of slow cook­ing, us­ing less oil and water, cook­ing food evenly and not only re­tain­ing nu­tri­ents, but also bring­ing out the best flavours of In­dian spices. In fact, many celebrity and renowned In­dian chefs swear by Le Creuset prod­ucts for cook­ing In­dian cui­sine and the colour­ful prod­ucts add vi­brancy and grandeur to the ta­ble.

Tell us more about Le Creuset’s other range of Cast Iron cook­ware?

Le Creuset’s cast iron prod­ucts are a once in a life­time in­vest­ment as they can be used over gen­er­a­tions and we proudly of­fer a life­time guar­an­tee on the cast iron range. They are also the light­est in the world.

Cast iron is the best ma­te­rial that can be used when it comes to flavour­some and healthy cook­ing. It re­lies on the con­cept of cook­ing on low to medium heat set­tings thereby re­tain­ing the nu­tri­tious qual­ity of the food. It also re­duces the use of oil and water which adds health ben­e­fits.

The method of cook­ing in slow to medium heat de­creases the pos­si­bil­ity of burn­ing your food and the even thick­ness of the Le Creuset prod­ucts pre­vents food from stick­ing to the bot­tom of the pan.

Cast iron’s heat re­ten­tion prop­er­ties, lock­ing in fla­vor and keep­ing food moist and ten­der, makes it an ideal pick. The ma­te­rial is just per­fect for a stylish pre­sen­ta­tion, and keeps ad­di­tional por­tions warm un­til ready to serve. Since the prod­uct lasts for gen­er­a­tions, it makes the buy easy on the pocket even­tu­ally.

How are the prod­ucts priced and what is the longevity of the new sig­na­ture cast iron range?

Our sig­na­ture cast iron range starts from INR 9,000/. Le Creuset of­fers a life­time guar­an­tee on its sig­na­ture cast iron col­lec­tion like the pre­vi­ous Clas­sic range, how­ever, the new look and fea­tures make the prod­uct more stylish with ad­di­tional ben­e­fits.

Con­sid­er­ing how mod­ern kitchens are in­cor­po­rat­ing more and more tech­nol­ogy, does the prod­uct cater to newer cook­ing tech­niques?

In­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy are at the core of Le Creuset. Our prod­ucts are so ad­vanced and su­pe­rior in terms of qual­ity and tech­nol­ogy, that none of our com­peti­tors are even close to them. Le Creuset pro­duces more than 100 colours, while com­pe­ti­tion put to­gether does not add up to this. Our prod­uct is the light­est and best in terms of qual­ity and we boast of giv­ing a life­time guar­an­tee on cast iron and even on our stain­less steel and non-stick range. Our prod­ucts are very ver­sa­tile; they can be used on all heat sources, to cook dif­fer­ent types of cuisines, and they sup­port mod­ern tech­nolo­gies and the tech­niques be­ing evolved to cook with them.

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