As new store launches go, Le Creuset is pretty much as good as it gets for me. Before last month, you could have asked me what shops I thought Leeds was missing and I would’ve reeled off a short but painstakingly compiled list of three: Le Creuset, Kitchenaid & Lakeland. Yeah… my tastes are quite niche. When I saw the sign go up as I walked through the Victoria Quarter one lunchtime on my way back to work, I was pretty excited, to say the least.
Le Creuset and I go waaay back. We’re best pals. We’ve seen each other at our best (chocolate panettone bread and butter puddings – ramekins) and our worst (curdled, gloopy bernaise sauce – gravy boat). As I whizzed around the bright, gleaming VQ store on opening day (I was very kindly invited down for a preview, about an hour before doors opened) I was racking up parallel lists of gots and wants as quickly as a junior school kid with a packet of Panini football stickers.
The Le Creuset brand was born in 1925. Sure, it’s a premium, quality range – but it ain’t snobby. What I love best about it, is that the prices aren’t high to attract the “right” kind of customer. Le Creuset don’t have pretensions like that. As Katherine Tranter, Head of Retail in the UK, said herself – the brand’s customers are “passionate home cooks, food lovers and style hunters alike”. Ding ding ding. That’s me! Le Creuset’s prices are high, of course, but that’s because each piece of cookware is a lifetime investment. Each item is built to last, and it’s not a flash in the pan (ho-ho, a cooking metaphor!) endorsed by Michellin starred chefs as *the* kitchen essential. Le Creuset is a brand for the home cook. We’re talking huge, heavy casseroles, marked by years worth of gravy, and seasoned cast-iron griddles that have seen more than their fair share of Sunday brunches. It’s cookware that’s built to be passed down, and around.
Our story is long and varied. I started collecting in my early 20s, and now my kitchen is filled with items which have come to me through many different channels. Some were bargains, sitting solo and sad on TK Maxx shelves. Some pieces were presents – box fresh and shiny. And some were eBay or jumble sale finds – including a fondue set from the 70s, a little sooty around the edges, and privy to many candid conversations and suspect dance moves in the last year alone – never mind the previous 40. The point is, my Le Creuset collection is big, and the jewel in its crown is our 30cm shallow casserole, given to Matt and I by my parents when we got engaged, used for everything from one pot chicken dishes to macaroni cheese (spoiler alert: it’s in my upcoming Top 5 Kitchen Essentials post).
I’m aware that it might seem that I’m going a little over the top. But seriously, I love this stuff. It’s classic, and it’s colourful – which in a world full of pastel silicone, throwaway “vintage” and cupcake mania, feels overwhelmingly genuine to me. I’m proud to have this stuff on my shelves, in my oven, on my table, and I have every faith that’s a lasting feeling.
It’s surprising too, there’s more on offer than you would think. There’s a whole World Cuisine range, with tangines, balti pans and condiment pots, amongst many more pieces for your kitchen arsenal that you may not expect Le Creuset to stock. There are also Wine Accessories. #justsayin.
If you can’t tell, I’m very excited to welcome this brand to Leeds. With two floors of gorgeous products, plus a demo kitchen, I’m really looking forward to becoming a regular. You know, like one of those people on that Liberty of London programme, where the shop assistants have my number on speed dial for when new ranges come into stock, and I scream “OMG, gimme 12!” down my mobile in the middle of the office. Well… maybe not. But you know what I mean, right? I LOVE THIS SHOP. Get down there.
Disclaimer: I was invited down to the new store to have a little look around before it opened its doors to the public. I received no payment or goods in exchange for this write up.
A sidenote: I’ve been pretty strict about taking meals and endorsing brands on Whip Until Fluffy, and I set out to only ever work with brands I could talk your ear off about if I met you IRL. If you know me offline, you’ll know my kitchen is filled with this stuff. So please, this won’t be a regular thing and I’m not selling out… I just can’t get enough of that ol’ volcanic stoneware.