We heart (spoon) Gourmet

200910_15_Gourmet coverThe very day (Oct. 5) it was announced that Conde Nast was shuttering Gourmet magazine after 69 years of service, I had started a pitch letter to an editor there. Well, that was not meant to be. Not that I’m feeling bad for myself, when dozens of employees are now out of work. Welcome to the world of freelancing, my friends.

Meanwhile, I felt nostalgic for the first little piece I wrote for Gourmet in 2002. I’m thrilled to report that the subject — Beehive Kitchenware Co. — is not only still in business but thriving, with many gorgeous new pieces in its cupboards. Read on:

From the February 2002 issue of Gourmet (click on the cover above and you can see article. Woo-hoo, technology!):

Spoons for lighthearted and heavyhearted ingredients

The spoons that launched a dozen magazine articles, mine included

Some men give their sweethearts flowers for Valentine’s. Not Jim Dowd. He made girlfriend Sandra Bonazoli a pancake turner, the spatula end shaped like a heart, the handle resembling cupid’s arrow. A few years later, it ended up being one of the couple’s first in a collection of handmade cookware. After Dowd, a custom metal fabricator, and Bonazoli, a jeweler (both are 33 and have masters’ in fine arts), married in 1998, they looked for a joint project. Bonazoli, whose family owned a neighborhood restaurant in Newton, Mass., for two generations, already had a fondness for kitchenware. “One day she was waxing about how new kitchen utensils work well, but they don’t have the soul that a lot of older ones do,” recollects Dowd. “So we said, ‘why don’t we make them?’ ” Now their company, Beehive Kitchenware Co., based in Fall River, Mass., has a line of 13 pieces (and growing) and two production assistants. (UPDATE: I count 37 on their website in 2009.)

Now that's my cup of tea!

Now that's my cup of tea!

Hearts show up in much of their work, including a pewter tea strainer and rest, coffee scoop, and measuring spoons. A set of spice spoons takes care of recipes that call for a “dash,” “pinch” or “smidgen.” Hearts also are found in the etched patterns of Beehive’s copper and silver-plated measuring cups. “Hearts are traditional and even kind of corny, but people really respond to them,” Dowd says. “What we’ve tried to do, instead of take kitchen utensils and try to slap something on them, we try to incorporate the heart into the design so it seems a little more seamless.”

Cupid's best baking friend

Cupid's best baking friend

Also traditional are their fabrication methods. “In order for us to make these things we needed old equipment.” From an antique tool broker they found an old wiring machine and other traditional metal-smithing pieces.

For new ideas, “we look at a lot of examples of folk art,” Dowd says. Beehive’s newest offering is a pizza wheel cutter with an ivory-colored resin handle, based on a 19th-century scrimshaw-decorated cutter they saw at the New Bedford (Mass.) Whaling Museum.

Diane’s 2009 update: I don’t see the scrimshaw-inspired cutter in their list of products. You can purchase items from that products page, or, for a list of brick-and-mortar outlets that carry Beehive products,  go here. Happy shopping!

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