Filed under Food
Written by Kate-Marie Thorpe
I never thought I’d see the day that I was coveting new frypans, but then again, I’d never seen the Our Place range. I’m also now in my 30s — say no more.
From viral Tiktoks resulting in a 60,000 person waitlist for the Always Pan, to being the cookware of choice for Gwyneth Paltrow, Jay-Z and Will Smith, it’s safe to say the kitchen conversion has begun.
While the dreamy pastel colourways and boundless features are seriously impressive, Our Place founder, Shiza Shahid, has built a range of cooking utilities from humble foundations. She immigrated to the US from Pakistan, carving out her path to success with determination, innovation and compassion (she’s also the co-founder of the Malala Fund).
Now heralding in a new era of home cooking, I asked Shiza more about her ground-breaking PFAS-free line, the inspiration behind it and of course, collaborating with screen and beauty queen Selena Gomez.
K: What was the process like of turning your vision into a reality? Was it difficult developing a product line that delivered all the features you wanted?
S: We bootstrapped our savings and spent two years developing the product line before we launched. We were uncompromising on product design and quality, no matter how difficult it was, or how many people told us no.
Whenever you’re challenging an industry and doing things differently, everyone will tell you it can’t be done so you have to have deep conviction in your vision. For us, it was important that we build a product line that worked for the modern chef, was aesthetically beautiful and was also better for human health, communities and the environment.
How does Our Place’s materials differ from other brands on the market that call themselves ‘eco’ or ‘safe non-toxic’ cookware?
The overwhelming majority of cookware brands today are using PTFE “forever chemicals”. The lifespan of these chemicals is a 1000 years – and they are out entering our environments, and our bodies and causing harm. We set out to develop a proprietary PFAS-free coating, “Thermakind”, that’s healthy and safe, and lasts longer than other ceramic coatings.
We also make products that are thoughtfully produced at every stage – I am especially proud of the Always Pan 2.0 because it is the first pan made at scale that uses 100% post consumer recycled aluminium. Many products that call themselves recycled use fresh metal scraps from the factory floor whereas we have really taken products that were used and loved in people’s homes, reclaimed them and turned them into these gorgeous new Always Pans.
Have you always had a passion for being in the kitchen? Where did the inspiration for the brand stem from?
I learned to cook as an adult – and wanted to create products that make cooking easier and more fun. The rest of the industry designs bulky, cluttered sets that no one needs or has room for. We designed multi-functional products that did more with less, that were also beautiful so you actually felt inspired to cook. The inspiration came from our own experiences, and wanting products for a new era of home-cooking.
We also wanted to create a brand that was rooted in cultural identity and inclusion, we wanted to create a space where everyone felt welcome. This came from our experience as immigrants, my partner and I literally found Our Place in America by hosting friends, who became chosen family, and sharing home cooked meals together!
L - R: Always Pan 2.0, Perfect Pot, Mini Perfect Pot 2.0, Mini Always Pan 2.0 in Lavender. Image provided by Our Place.
C - Perfect Pot in Sage. Image provided by Our Place.
Let’s talk about the colour range, which is so modern and refreshing. What inspired you to create colourful cookware, rather than more traditional cookware hues?
A beautiful Our Place Always Pan or Perfect Pot displayed on your stove inspires you to cook more – because good design sparks joy. We wanted to challenge the industry’s lazy practice of creating ugly, bulky black and stainless steel pans and pots that were hidden in the back of cabinets. We made the first cookware that is designed to be displayed, whether on the stovetop or table, and never put away!
Collaborating with Selena Gomez must have been the icing on the cake of your success. How did it come to be?
It was a dream come true to collaborate with Selena Gomez. Selena is a passionate cook, and her approach to cooking is deeply synergistic with Our Place. She cooks with family and friends, is not afraid of a challenge and is always deeply honest – showing the process, the ups and downs and having fun along the way. We also donated 10% of the net profits to mental health because cooking is, for many people, a form of self-care.
What’s your favourite meal/dish/dessert to create in the Our Place cookware range?
I’ve recently been cooking up a delicious shakshuka for brunch – it’s made even more delicious in the Always Pan!
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