As a Mexican, when someone talks to me about copper, I immediately think in handcrafts, in pots, in markets. It reminds me of that small mining town in the state of Michoacán which is famous for the Purépecha Indigenous Group who very particularly work hammered pieces that they engrave and polish by hand. However, truly and sincerely, I had never stopped to think about luxury cookware in such a metal before I visited the Loire Valley a few summers ago and witnessed an exhibit with numerous marmites, pots, and pans made of copper and with their manufacturing date engraved. Needless to say, they were all at least 100 years old and in perfect conditions to begin cooking a soup or a jam on the spot.
They didn’t have a brand, however, the style was very particular. Reading here and there, and with the help of my professors in culinary school, as well as visiting specialty stores around the Les Halles quarter in Paris, I learned that many of these pots and pans came from a place very similar to the one I knew about in Michoacán, but, this one was located very near the Mont Saint Michel Abbey in the Lower Normandy region in France. Thus, I arrived to Mauviel 1830. Now, I learn that the main difference among both sites is that here the manufacturing began back in the Crusades. Back then, artisans learned how to provide warriors with utensils because they needed to. In time, the pieces became purely ornamental, and even though Mauviel 1830 is not the only manufacturer of the regio, they are the most important ones. They currently serve exclusively the culinary arts industry, even though, history may change again in the near future, thanks to the popularity copper has been recently gaining in the decorative arts.
Mauviel 1830 is located in a small town named Villedieu-les-Poêles. It has been a family business for 7 generations, and Ms. Valérie Le Guern Gilbert has been in charge since 2006 when she succeeded her father. Since then, Ms. Le Guern Gilbert makes her best not only to be the head of an international company, but that of an entrepreneurial family. Since the moment one enters Mauviel 1830, one can feel how how homey it is. True, not all of the products on sale now are purely copper, they also work with combinations of inox with different treatments, with ceramic, and even silver for contests such as the Bocuse D’Or which takes place every other year in Lyon.
To summarize my day at Mauviel 1830 is especially difficult. I can certainly say I found a company interested in their industry’s innovation, in doing a good job, in leaving their mark in the community, but more than anything, for their daily activity to be conscious. The company’s retirees frequently come back twice, even three times a week to carry on teaching their apprentices their handcraft professions and pass on the experience acquired throughout their years on the job at the company.
Mauviel 1830 has presence in Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and America, being Mexico and the United States two of the fortunate countries where one can find the firm’s products which have been described by chefs such as Yannick Alléno, who holds at least 6 Michelin Stars in France, as the best in the world, and you know something, I think it’s impossible to disagree with him.
Valérie tells me that for some time, Mauviel 1830 has been available at the Williams-Sonoma stores in Mexico as well as in the United States, though in the latter you will find them in other specialty stores such as Sur la Table, since they are interested in their international presence. I think to myself, who knows? Maybe in the future the purépechas from my native Mexico might collaborate hand-in-hand with Mauviel 1830.