Oven-to-table inspires culinary sales By Jessica Harlan
It’s just as beautiful on the dinner table as it is adept at baking casseroles, roasting vegetables, braising chicken, or baking a dessert. Oven-to-table pieces are growing in popularity as home cooks seek versatile, multifunctional pieces for convenience and aesthetics.
With oven-to-table pieces, “you can take a cooking vessel straight from the oven to the table for serving,” says Sara Whitaker, brand manager – stoneware for Le Creuset. To serve a meal, she adds, there’s no need to transfer the food from the cooking vessel into a serving bowl or platter – just set down a trivet, and it’s ready to serve.
“We describe our oven to table ware as the fait tout, which means, in French, ‘does everything,’” says Tara Steffen, marketing manager of Emile Henry USA. And indeed it does. “We offer unsurpassed cooking qualities and our designs are so attractive that they can be placed on the most casual or most formal dining table.”
Materials Matter Oven-to-table collections are made of materials that are specifically developed to withstand high cooking temperatures. In the case of Emile Henry, burgundy clay, known for its superb heat diffusion and retention, has been used to make its products for more than 150 years. Emile Henry’s high resistance ceramic is oven-safe for up to 518˚F. Le Creuset’s nonporous stoneware is designed to be durable, easy to clean, and resistant to stains and odor absorption.
Another popular oven-to-table manufacturer exhibiting at AmericasMart is Pillivuyt, which is made of durable, chip-resistant porcelain. “Pillivuyt porcelain is fired at 2,400˚F, so putting it in a 550-degree oven is no problem,” says Alice Title, president of Pillivuyt USA. “You can even use it on the grill or under the broiler.” The company even has a new line, called Ulysses, that can be used on direct flame such as a stovetop or on an induction burner. Meanwhile, Revol porcelain is also fired at a high temperature—1320˚F for 8 hours. “That process allows the pieces to be resistant to thermal shock, and oven safe up to 572˚F,” says Tenaya Da Silva, vice president of sales and marketing for Revol.
Sometimes metal cookware is pretty enough to qualify as oven-to-table. Case in point is the nonstick aluminum cookware from TVS-America, which is designed to be used as serving vessels. The cookware is oven safe up to 350˚ or 450˚F, depending on the piece, and includes collections designed by Karim Rashid, Angelo di Porto and Alberto Meda. “These pieces are designed to save time,” says Diane O’Donnel, national sales manager – North America for TVS-America. “Serving dinner from the oven eliminates having to wash extra serving dishes.” Many of the company’s designs are dishwasher safe and have a nonstick finish so they’re easy to clean by hand as well. In fact, most oven-to-table pieces are just as easy to maintain, a boon for busy cooks. Most are dishwasher safe, and are coated with a durable glaze that won’t scratch when scrubbed.
The sky’s the limit with regard to what home chefs can cook in their oven-to-table pieces. Beef stew, braised vegetables, a cheesy casserole… in many cases dishes can be prepared ahead, refrigerated or even frozen, and then cooked when needed. And, of course, basic pieces or specialty pieces can also be used for sweets and other baked goods: brownies, cobblers, breads and more. For retailers who have a kitchen, nothing beats a live demonstration on the qualities of the pieces. Says Da Silva of Revol, “We have a chicken roaster that is perfect for demos.” A whole chicken, some vegetables, and garlic baked in the roaster, for instance, makes an easy demonstration that will showcase how easy the pieces are to use.
Manufacturers are responding to the customer interest in oven-to-table by increasing their assortment. Colors to suit all tastes and decorating schemes, multifunctional pieces, and specialized shapes, are among the many offerings that have grown this category. Le Creuset, for instance, has a new rectangular dish with a lid which doubles as a platter, and can also be used on its own as a baking dish. And Pillivuyt already has nearly 2,000 items in production, but is gaining traction in some of its unusual pieces such as its brioche mold and other specialty baking shapes.
Selling Oven-to-Table These tips and talking points can help retailers promote their oven-to-table offerings.
• Play up fun details about the company. For instance, Emile Henry potters wear a bracelet with which they stamp their initials onto the pieces they create.
• Create a rainbow. Many companies, such as Le Creuset, offer their products in a wide array of colors. By showcasing the entire spectrum, you add color and visual interest to your display, and give customers the option to pick one that perfectly suits their décor.
• Show off the versatility. Include pieces in tablescape vignettes with other cookware and with gourmet foods to show how these pieces are workhorses but also complement beautiful dinnerware patterns and table linens.
• Take advantage of manufacturer’s point-of-sale materials. Pillivuyt offers brochures and shelf talkers. “These help explain the quality and justify the price,” says Title. The company’s “Pillivuyt University” also rewards salespeople who educate themselves about the product. “Nothing sells Pillivuyt better than a store worker who knows, understands, and loves the product,” she says.