luxe Luxury

Panniyaram in Le Creuset’s escargot pans?

What do escargots and panniyarams have in common? Both can be cooked in the same Le Creuset Escargot Pan. Well, that’s what the little sign at the newly-opened Palladium says, anyway.

We’re not really looking for an escargot pan though, and we’re not really in the mood to make panniyaram from scratch. Not when there’s Murugan Idly Shop around every corner.

It’s quite a hike though from Velachery, where Palladium and its host of luxury stores are, to T Nagar, so let’s focus on why we’re here — the new Le Creuset store, that stocks what every cook’s dreams are made of. If you’re wondering what cast iron pots have to do with dreams, then clearly you’ve never scraped the bottom of a non-stick pan and watched the teflon come off in horror.

Kitchen legend

Then again, one doesn’t have to be a wiz in the kitchen to appreciate the French brand that, since 1925, has consistently set the bar for cookware. And while their stores have only been in India since 2007, the brand has had a longer presence in the occasional Indian kitchen.

“We’re always hearing stories from customers about how someone travelling abroad in the ‘70s lugged back a casserole, and it’s been in their kitchens since,” says Ankur Damani, the country head for Le Creuset as he shows me around their first Chennai outpost. The brand came to India in 2007, and Damani adds that sales have been consistently good since. Unlike other luxury goods that people prefer to buy abroad, the sheer weight of a Le Creuset product pushes them to shop at local stores. “No one wants to lug that across continents,” he laughs.

Like all Le Creuset stores this one too is a riot of colours, and there’s something to work for every colour scheme. From the original bright orange Flame series to the popular Cherry red and Marseille blue, it's no wonder even their website has a “Shop by Colour” option. But while people are drawn by the colours and looks of the enamel and stoneware, Damani is quick to add that Le Creuset has more on offer. They also do a three-ply stainless steel range, and comes with the same lifetime guarantee as the rest of their products, and their toughened non-stick promises to never flake.

Millennial appeal

Luckily for the brand, one of the things that worked in its favour was the explosion of food styling on social media. Imagine a product that has remained unchanged for over nearly 100 years, still finding favour with the image-obsessed millennial.

“We have people coming in and buying entire sets in the same colour, just because of how it will look,” says Damani, adding that he also sees customers who save up and buy a piece at a time. After all, though the brand is a kitchen staple in most countries, in India it is still aspirational, with a classic cast-iron sauce pan starting at ₹12,000 and a basic wok going up to ₹25,000.

While the brand sells best in Europe, the US and Japan, in that order, Indian food has been on its agenda, which would explain the popularity of the Balti dish from the brand - although Damani admits that many Indians happily make do with the brand’s cast-iron Wok, which works perfectly well as a kadai dish, and are more than happy to use the traditional Moroccan tagine to serve everything from mutton curry to dal makhni.

And the aspirational aspect is what the brand works the best. Damani adds that their heart-shaped ramekins in red stone make great wedding gifts, even if they often end up as pickle or chutney jars on the dining table, and their rainbow mugs in a set of six are perfect for house-warmings.

The Le Creuset store is open in Palladium in Velachery, Chennai. 66653803

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 4:47:49 PM |

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