It was a holiday in Burgundy – and in particular a transcendent meal at famed restaurant La Côte d’Or – that spurred mechanical engineer Jim Hamann to pursue his passion for pans. Inspired by the cookware of the region, Hamann returned home to Rhode Island and opened a studio restoring pots and pans of varying sizes and vintages, such as early-1900s American-made copper frying pans, and tin- and silver-lined sauté pans from Le Cordon Bleu.
Hamann’s love of food and product design meet in the custom cookware he now crafts for a growing global clientele that includes chefs Alain Ducasse and Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park. What began as a range of copper pots and pans – 6in fait-tout models for sauces ($380) and larger sauté versions ($650) – has grown to include a made-to-order selection of stunning solid-silver pans “that have more even heat conductivity than copper,” says Hamann.
Sizes, grips and other embellishments can be altered according to a client’s specific tastes. In general, there are 12 different sizes to choose from, with 9in omelette and frying pans ($2,800) among the most popular. Straight-sided sauté pans in 8.75in and 12.5in sizes (up to $10,000) are other common requests, and each is solid silver with sterling silver rivets. Only the handles are made of cast iron – “because they don’t conduct heat,” Hamann explains – and covered in hand-stitched leather. Full 22-piece sets of silver-lined copper cookware ($12,500-$15,000) and solid-silver sets (from $50,000) can also be commissioned, though clients need to be prepared to wait as more complex orders can take three months or more.
All the craftsmanship – from the pans to matching copper inlaid maple burl and teak knives (from $190-$230) and the leather detailing – is performed by Hamman and his small team. The only exceptions are the linen-lined ash boxes custom made for each pan by a local Rhode Island School of Design student “who is both a furniture designer and a foodie,” says Hamman.