Originally a dinnerware company, but now known for its cookware, teakettles and its growing ceramic bakeware category, Chantal is celebrating 40 years in business. Along the way it has had successful partnerships with the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Eva Zeisel and, more recently, chefs Sara Moulton and Tre Wilcox, who help keep Chantal connected to the cooking community.
Chantal was founded by German-born Heida Thurlow, who moved to the United States and began importing handpainted dinnerware from Argentina because she could not find dinnerware that she liked in America. This led to the founding of Chantal, a nod to fashion icon Coco Chanel, in 1971.
Chantal’s product direction shifted when political unrest in Argentina prompted Thurlow to consider other product categories in the ’70s. Noticing a lack of color in the kitchen, she created her own version of enamel-on-steel cookware. Teakettles were a natural progression from there and included the Classic teakettle, of which 47,000 were sold in the first year it launched.
Overall, Thurlow, an engineer, has received 26 design and utility patents from the U.S. and Germany for teakettle and cookware design and innovation. Chantal was one of the first to include tempered glass lids and stay-cool handles on its cookware, and continues to see success with Copper Fusion, which launched in 2007. The line features a core of copper between two plates of steel for even heat distribution, covered with enamel.
Next year Chantal will expand its strong relationship with Moulton, and other strategic partnerships are in the works.
For many years, Chantal was a one-woman company, but now it has close to 100 employees. The company has been the subject of a case study for The Harvard Business School to help teach students how to make decisions under strenuous circumstances, such as when Thurlow battled and overcame breast cancer while running Chantal.
“Throughout my career I have stood up to hardship with determination and an iron will,” Thurlow said. “With the help of my family and the Chantal team I have been able to persevere and I am so proud to have made it this far.”
In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Chantal will introduce a limited-edition enamel teakettle, available in January for $40. The anniversary teakettle will debut in four colors: chili red, orange, sea blue and yellow.—Andrea Lillo