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Introducing Kate Slavin

Introducing Kate Slavin

Recently, Liz got the chance to grab some time with Kate Slavin from the Ironclad Pan Company and she asked her some of our favourite 'foodie' questions.

Kate Slavin is a bit of a modern day superwoman - mother of two (well four, if you count her fur babies), business owner and graphic designer-turned-product designer. She’s the co-founder of The Ironclad Pan Company, a local brand that produces the only New Zealand made, 100% cast iron cookware that’s – wait for it – guaranteed to last 100 years, with their Three Generation Guarantee. Kate, actually comes from a foodie background herself. Her family owned a restaurant in Devonport, with Kate working there from 15 years old, as well as working in other bars and restaurants throughout her design studies, into her early twenties. Family and close friends are super important to Kate; her young boys (now 6 and 9) are her inspiration and she loves trying to see the world through their eyes. Remembering what it was like to be a kid and what should really be important in life (like jumping in the ocean, or screaming really loudly when you’re annoyed). Kate’s husband, Levi is an amazing supporter and friend – they’ve been married for 12 years now.

Kate is happiest when she’s creating – be it her art, new products, or brand collateral for her graphics clients – and being able to collaborate with other artists and talented people. She also loves learning about new things – in recent times, that’s been big industrial machinery and dirty foundries which supply Ironclad’s made-to-order cast iron pans. She’s an accomplished painter, having exhibited every few years. She also loves getting her hands dirty, literally – Kate’s a keen gardener, finding something magical about tending to plants (always gloveless!) and watching them grow. Piha, on Auckland’s west coast, is her favourite place – despite Kate and Levi having lived and worked in London and New York. Travel is something that’s in Kate’s blood, having been lucky enough to do lots of it from an early age. After meeting Levi, it became a shared dream of theirs to live in different places – before eventually coming back to settle in NZ (for now), enjoying the black sand and wilderness of Piha (or any beach really) and being able to reconnect with nature.

What are your five ‘desert island’ cook’s tools? 

Ironclad Legacy pan. I know - totally biased, but can't live without it now! Wooden spatula - square-ish shape with the flat end. WMF large stainless steel pot with lid. 18cm Cooks knife. Solid wooden chopping board. 45 x 30cm - nice big one!

Who are your greatest cooking influences?

Felicity Morgan-Rhind! Close friend and total inspiration/teacher of tips and tricks. Which is the main reason we got her onboard with Ironclad. Jo Bridgford - loads of love and respect for my foodie friend and top food stylist. My parents - all those dinner parties! And the collection of recipes given to me in a beautiful 1970's leather book when I left to go flatting. So I could continue to make the food I loved eating at home. I have a big collection of cookbooks that I dip into regularly as well. And love a search through Smitten Kitchen online.

What’s your favourite winter comfort food?

Risotto - love the ease in that I can switch out what I have to hand. Favourite variations are a tomato base (paella-esque) with prawns and spicy chorizo + fresh spinach and feta thrown in at the end, OR a mix of mushrooms, lemon and peas (frozen - added near the end so not overcooked - so easy!) with extra parmesan.

Favourite cuisine?

That's a hard one. Japanese. With MANY close runner ups - authentic spicy Thai is right up there.

Best Tuesday night, out-of-time recipe?

Homemade Pizza. If no time - then a frozen base from the supermarket does the job. I always keep these in stock. It's easy to keep the kids happy with their plain preferences and create delicious simple combos for my husband and I.

Three ingredients that are always in your fridge … and anything you just don’t eat?

Only three?! Always: plain Greek yoghurt, fresh baby spinach, organic carrots. I can't think of anything I don't actually eat. We don't eat much meat in our house though.

Favourite foodie movie?

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Any favourite cookbooks?

Most used are Ottolenghi – Plenty, and My Indian Kitchen by Ashia Ismail-Singer. Plus my family collection that was handed down to me, which I have continued to add to over the years - from various places. I have a full bookshelf in the kitchen with my favourites from Al Brown, Nadia Lim, Annabel Langbein, Chef Cynthia Louise, Two Raw Sisters, Emma Galloway, Nigella, A collection from NY and of course the Edmonds cookbook. 

Recommended chefs to get everyday inspiration from?

Peter Gordon is an inspiration to me, he creates delicious food with local produce. I love visiting Homeland, even if it's only for a coffee and grabbing some yummy things from their fridge and bench top (fresh eggs and delicious sausages for the BBQ). Quality ingredients are key, then the cooking of them doesn't need to be too complex. I also love my local deli Ripe - their salads are next level and often inspire me to up my salad game at home.   

Who is the ‘head chef’ in your household? And the most discerning critic?

I am definitely 'head chef'. Levi takes on that role more when he is in holiday mode. And my 9 year old is taking to the pan more often these days - making a signature apple (or any fruit) open tart. I would say he is our discerning critic as well!

What’s next for you as a mother/businesswoman?

For now, it’s focusing on balancing our family life with the growth of the Ironclad business in New Zealand and Australia, where we’re launching this month (again, with local manufacturing and supply). Who knows what will happen next with Ironclad, it might take us somewhere completely different!


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