Last year, America lost a culinary heroine. Her name was Judith Jones, and she passed away in August 2017 at the age of 93. While most know her as the editor who removed Anne Frank’s diary from the publishing house reject pile and gave it to the world, she was also responsible for putting Julia Child’s words in the kitchens of at-home cooks everywhere. Mastering the Art of French Cooking was a behemoth success, proving that anyone, even those who had never boiled an egg, could transform simple food into something life changing. Jones has indirectly influenced aspiring chefs and foodies of all types, including two young women who had the idea that their cookware should be as joy-inducing as the process of throwing ingredients into a pot. Today, childhood best friends Sierra Tishgart and Maddy Moelis launch Great Jones, a line of beautifully designed kitchenware with a name inspired in part by the great Ms. Jones (with a nod to one particular street in their hometown of New York, too).
The full set, which includes a Dutch oven as well as a stainless steel stock pot, saucer, sauté pan, and ceramic nonstick skillet, is available for $395. The Dutch oven comes in a variety of colors including blueberry, mustard, macaron, broccoli, and earl gray, and is only $145.
Tishgart, a former food editor, wanted to create a cookware line that was accessible but could also double as a piece of home decor. “The luxury heritage brands are gorgeous,” she says. “But I couldn’t find a modern kitchen brand that offered compelling design, pricing, or editorial...Cooking can so often feel overwhelming, and that feeling begins with buying kitchenware.”
It helped that through her previous job, Tishgart became friendly with chefs and cookbook authors. As Great Jones was developing, they served as testers and sounding boards. “They helped inform the grip of our handle, the weight of each piece, and the angles of the curves,” she notes.
Moelis, who Tishgart first met at summer camp nearly 20 years ago, came from a start-up background. She’d worked for brands like Warby Parker and Zola, and understood what it took to tackle a giant market like the one surrounding cookware products. In addition to understanding the business end of things, Moelis also says that she “was feeling so uninspired by my old, hand-me-down cookware.” She adds, “It was this frustration of wanting to upgrade but not knowing what I really needed to level up my skills and feel more confident in the kitchen.” She says the real turning point for both she and Tishgart was when they “surveyed family and friends, and friends of friends. It became very clear that we weren’t the only ones who felt this way. It turns out 70 percent of the people we spoke to wanted to upgrade their cookware and expressed similar frustrations.”
The first recipe that Tishgart and Moelis cooked in their Great Jones pots and pans was lamb ribs. “We tested this first to get a strong sense of how meat browns in our pot, without it getting disguised by a marinade.” Though they are both passionate cooks, the entrepreneurs are also thrilled at how the Dutch oven colors look in their homes. Each shade was inspired by a very specific reference. The green comes from camp colors, where the women first met; the Yves Klein blue was borrowed from Tishgart’s favorite Celine bag; and the yellow was taken from Michelle Williams’s Vera Wang Oscars dress from 2006. The pink shade was inspired the wedding of Rodarte stylist Ashley Furnival, which appeared on Vogue.com earlier this year.
“Cookware shouldn’t be relegated to underneath your sink,” Tishgart says. “I look at cooking the same way I look at exercise; I never regret doing it, even if I’m tired and it’s hard to start. It gives me a strong sense of accomplishment, especially when I’m cooking alone, which is most of the time. I feel like a better, healthier, and more organized version of myself.” The same goes for Moelis, who says that for her, “cooking is therapeutic.” In short, they created Great Jones because they wanted Great Jones. “We envisioned a brand that felt as warm, nostalgic, and joyful as opening your favorite vintage cookbook,” Tishgart says. “We wanted to engage in a conversation about why people cook, not just how.”