Founded by Stanley Cheng, founder of Vallejo, CA-based Meyer Corp., Hestan Culinary came to market as a commercial business venture in 2015. The brand was focused around the commercial side of the culinary world and included freestanding ranges, island suites, countertop equipment, convection ovens, griddles, char broilers, French tops, hot tops, planchas, salamanders, cheese-melters, fryers, pasta cookers and refrigerated bases.
However, soon after, Cheng realized that he had an opportunity to serve the home cook as well. Seizing an opportunity to shake up the category by establishing a brand that is forward thinking, Hestan’s consumer side was born. Still keeping focused on commercial business, it also launched a consumer division, which includes Hestan Smart Cooking— which debuted with the Hestan Cue in 2017— and Hestan Culinary.
Knowing that the brand had an opportunity to make a splash in the cookware market, Cheng hired Pamela Stafford, now the director of Hestan Culinary, in 2016, to help build the brand’s awareness at retail. Stafford had worked in housewares for a now-shuttered store in Santa Barbara, CA, called Giordano’s; and then worked for Brady Marketing as a brand builder.
“I’ve seen the business from the buying side as well as being the agent. I understand the needs of both sides— the retailer and also what the manufacturer needs. All of this experience really helps in this position,” Stafford told GOURMET INSIDER®.
She explained that when creating the cookware, Hestan tapped the professional relationships Cheng had made with culinary icons, like Thomas Keller and Cory Lee, to find out what the pitfalls of even their favorite cookware lines were. “He took a different approach with these products. [Cheng] spent a lot of time asking them what they didn’t like about the equipment they had and how it could have been improved, so that’s really how the culinary side of the business started,” she said.
After heavy research and development as well as technological advancements, Hestan launched its NanoBond collection, which was developed by Cheng and has 14 global patents on it, with Williams Sonoma in 2017. The cookware brought new benefits to serious home cooks, including flush rivets and the sealed rim, which helps prevent delamination, said Stafford, and a handle that was designed for comfort.
“We made sure to collaborate with chefs in order to create a well-balanced design for that pan. You can see the craftsmanship on the cookware. Even small design benefits we use on the cookware really makes a difference to the consumer,” Stafford said.
Met with sales success, the company went back to work on creating new goods under the Culinary umbrella based on consumer demand. In 2019, the company launched both its Pro- Bond and CopperBond collections, a reflection of the consumer interest and support the company has garnered.
“It takes a lot of effort to craft, shape and build a brand. We need to understand the vision, craft the vision and then really launch it and make it come to life,” said Stafford.
The vision, added Stafford, while it is about the cookware, is also about creating and building relationships with retailers and consumers. Case in point: The cookware has seen success in an already saturated cookware market amongst independent retailers. However, said Stafford, she feels it is because of the personal touch Hestan emphasizes with both its customers and their customers.