So it's a late summer day in Maine. There probably aren't too many of these beauties left before the weather starts turning cold. You decide you want to take lunch with your partner outside, at the picnic table in the backyard. You set about picking some tomatoes and basil from the garden and preparing a simple salad. The table is set sparsely, with small plates, some flatware, a nice finishing salt, a tangy Grecian olive oil and a crusty baguette.
You are the first to spear a tomato, a tomato picked from the garden not 3 minutes ago. The growing season is short in Maine and it's these kinds of simple and fresh food interactions that really get Mainers excited. You’re just that- super excited for the vibrancy of flavor that comes from fresh and simple ingredients. Your fork is delivering the manifestation of many months of work to your mouth, and, and...
'Wait!', you shout. 'Something's wrong with these tomatoes.' You take a drink of water and pick up a piece of tomato with your fingers. You ask your partner if these were, indeed, the tomatoes from your garden. Assured that they were and trying to figure out what on earth you are tasting, you pop the tomato into your mouth. It's lovely in taste and texture and satisfying in every way.
What happened here?
As you and your partner continue to eat, you've decided to conduct a little at-home science experiment. You are comparing notes and in doing so you both agree that many of your bites seem to have a sort of unappealing metallic flavor. You begin to realize that the tomatoes taste just right when eaten with your fingers but that the metallic flavor creeps in when you are using the stainless steel flatware. You agree this seems strange and that you’d like to look into it further.
This is the story of our Co-Founders, Bill and Rachel. They are Mainers who had a similar experience and wanted to better understand why metal flatware was so pervasive and seemingly the only option available to them, why it was affecting the taste and texture and the overall experiences they were having with their food. It wasn’t until they were dining out at a sushi restaurant that they really started to understand what was happening here.
So, Bill and Rachel are enjoying the elegant flavors of mackerel and tuna when Rachel points out what has always seemed so obvious- there are no metal utensils at this restaurant. In fact, Bill and Rachel realize that nearly all Asian restaurants offer just a ceramic spoon for soup and either ceramic, wooden, or sometimes, plastic chopsticks. This was sort of an A-HA! moment- maybe it really is the metal that is affecting the flavor of their food.
Bill and Rachel fashioned an idea to create utensils that had a traditional Western shape but that were made out something other than metal which they knew to be chemically reactive. They sat for lunch one day with our third Co-Founder, David, and the three of them decided together that if they could create a fork, knife, and spoon out of a material that was chemically inert, they could vastly improve upon the overall eating experience.
Ceramic was the obvious choice but they soon realized that it had one inherent and very unfortunate quality- brittleness. Traditional ceramic, like your dinner plates or coffee mugs, break or chip quite easily. That type of ceramic would never support the thin tines of a fork. It took almost two years but they were able to create a very durable type of Advanced Technical Ceramic. That ceramic is called certine and it’s what we use to make our flatware.