Meet the women behind one of Italy’s most iconic artisanal cookware brands that stands the test of time

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“It did me good to see rows of sparkling knives and ready-made copper pots,” Julia Child wrote in her autobiography about her cooking time in Europe. Like many well-trained people in the kitchen, Child knew the importance of specific tools for specific tasks.

Giulia Ruffoni, President of Ruffoni United States agrees, “Copper is my favorite material for cooking, and it has been used for hundreds of years around the world. It is easy to mold and shape, beautiful and an exceptional heat conductor “, and this translates perfectly into pots and pans” with food it is important to transfer heat efficiently, conductivity means control in the kitchen, ”explains Giulia.

The Ruffoni brand is one of Italy’s most iconic artisan cooking companies that has managed to keep its ethos of yesteryear while entering the foreign market. The creation of the company began in 1931 with Giulia’s great-grandfather, Antonio Ruffoni, a craftsman and lover of good food, who made his first copper pot to celebrate the birth of his son. From there, the next generations of Ruffoni will help expand the brand’s presence. Walter Ruffoni, Giulia’s father, brought it to the United States and introduced the handmade products to Chuck Williams. From that point on, Williams Sonoma became Ruffoni’s most important customer. Together, they designed the iconic Historia pot that continues to be sold across America. Last December, the editorial team of Martha Stewart magazine selected Ruffoni pots from the best cookware sets to have when building a collection.

Now Giulia Ruffoni, president of Ruffoni US and daughter of Walter who, “really developed Ruffoni’s overseas growth, a milestone that happened even before I was born”, is working to bring the brand to the next generation. following, despite at the beginning not being sure to want to work in the family business. “I went overseas and worked in other industries but I missed food, cookware and family so I went back to my roots and now I am working to develop Ruffoni in the US. United”

Giulia leads the American side of the company in her role as President of Ruffoni US where she plans to share the Italian brand with the next generation of cooks. A demographic that tends to seek out businesses that support small artisans who are steeped in sustainability and produce handcrafted products that last a lifetime. “For a while, convenience and speed were the main focus, which is why people weren’t using copper so much, but rather non-stick materials and other synthetics. There was an idea, that if you’re not very good at cooking, you need a pot that won’t stick and caramelize. The Ruffoni company also manufactures stainless steel coated and stainless steel coated copper pots, as well as their famous tin coated copper pots and pans.

This notion that the novice home cook needs a pan that isn’t valuable, that may not last, is part of a throwaway culture that seems to have a long, distant past, “with copper. it’s the opposite, it’s impossible to make a cheap copper pot, if it’s real copper, it’s expensive so it’s a big investment. But you have them forever, ”says Giulia.

Craftsmen who work exclusively with Ruffoni are precious. Like Nerio, who worked for 50 years as a blacksmith, still singing while molding, cutting and twisting copper into shapes for pots and pans. There are other artisans and craftsmen based in the Italian Alps near the Ruffoni factory who specialize in making specific components of pots and pans, like intricate handles and knobs.

In the old Italian tradition, Giulia explains that when a couple gets married, a typical gift is cookware that can last for generations. “Now there is a rediscovery, there was a period when ready meals were very present, now we are coming back to slow food, taking the time to get to know the producers and to try more elaborate cooking methods. The pandemic actually helped take the time to do so. ”

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, chef Andrea Aprea, owner of his Milan restaurant VUN, spoke on time while cooking spaghetti al pomodoro in copper pots, “the most valuable exterior ingredient missing from recipes is time.”

Rita Ruffoni, mother of Giulia and wife of Walter, has played a crucial role in perfecting the new models of pots and pans that the Ruffoni brand has created over the years. “The pot is not just a pot, it’s a tool to entertain, our customers who come here to our workshop and our museum, and they know they can come here and eat, we are used to cooking. for our guests, we all eat like family. It’s better than seeing the pots and pans on display, ”for Rita, the pots and pans are living and breathing devices in her version of entertainment. “They love to see the pots at work, and they drink their wine while I mix the risotto and they love to learn through it.”

Caring for copper has been a task that people have chosen in recent years to avoid thinking it is overwhelming, preferring the ease of synthetic cookware. But Rita explains that it’s a misconception that copper is difficult to maintain. She says that all you need to do is wash copper by hand with soap and water and dry it well. For polishing, an eco-friendly mixture of lemon and salt will easily remove tarnish from dark areas of copper cookware.

Rita is passionate about cooking and, over the years, when her husband Walter would come home with prototypes, she would test pots and pans. “My dad has the creative vision and the technical understanding, but it’s my mom who cooks at home and she gives reviews because she uses them, she tries the samples, tests the different uses and that’s a role. important in creating a new product, ”says Giulia of her mother.

In today’s age of food awakening, knowing where the ingredients come from, how and where they were grown or raised, and whether the products are sustainable is now part of the mainstream consciousness. Yet what we cook on should also be a part of this conversation.



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