The case for cast iron: thoughts about being in a viral YouTube video

I was able to take part in a video with my old friend Adam Ragusea a couple of weeks and it just dropped today.

Last summer, my friend Adam Ragusea, a long-time journalist and then-teaching professor at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, shared with me that he’d been making cooking videos on YouTube. It sounded really cool, so I began to check out his work. I, like much of America, was taken by his wit and willingness to experiment in the kitchen. He’s great on air and it’s always a blast to see him share his insights.

After working collaboratively with Adam last July, I gave him a skillet to thank him for his shared expertise – his session was a huge hit and actually ran long because it was so successful. Adam was genuinely pleased by the gift and ended up making a video with the BSR #8 that he’d been gifted. All of a sudden, I became flooded with emails and follows on IG and Facebook because of the shout out he gave in the comments.

I knew I needed to build a better online presence, but work kicked off and I found myself focused on restorations for friends. The holidays picked up and it was fun to gift some pieces I’d completed, but generally speaking, I was slowing down on things.

Fast forward to March and it seemed as though the world stopped due to COVID-19. Being cooped up in the house got me inspired to dig back into restorations and by the time June rolled around, I was able to reload the booth at Athens Antiques and Vintage at 4615 Atlanta Highway.

It felt good to stock up on the merchandise and with a new booth and better visibility, I felt excited about taking my work to market. I started ramping up the Facebook and IG presence again and then out of the blue, a text.

Adam followed up with me to take part in a video. We’d talked about it last summer, but I more or less put it out of mind at the time because of work starting up.

As we exchanged messages, I immediately began backpedaling, “Oh, it’s just a hobby…” or “C’mon, man, I’m not an expert!” Fortunately, Adam is an understanding guy and having gone through his own learning curve becoming a YouTuber, he worked to allay my fears. We set a date to meet up in early July.

Between our text exchange and prior to a brief vacation and some quality picking, I finally put this website together. Spending some time researching and putting down my thoughts on cast iron was relatively cathartic, but I was still edgy about being potentially portrayed as something of an expert.

The day Adam stopped by had to be one of the hottest of the summer. Before I even walked out to greet him – I was grateful he honored the mask code – I was sweating up a storm. Whether it was nerves or the heat, I’m not totally sure, but it was sweat season.

We talked for a while about the plan for the shoot from visuals to topics of interest and we generally just spent time catching up. There’s little wonder that Adam was a success in the media game for years – he put me at ease, he listens and asks good questions. Beyond that, he’s just a fun guy to be around.

During his visit, Adam allowed me to showcase some pieces I’ve acquired that are up for restoration, some works in progress, and some of collectible pieces that I’m pretty happy with. I was impressed by the variety of shots he took, his own background and understanding of cast iron production, cooking and seasoning.

Spending an hour with Adam was a blast. Talking about some of my favorite restoration techniques, sharing tips and tricks I’d learned from mentors I’ve met since digging into the hobby, and just bouncing ideas about the best uses of the iron in the kitchen was a fulfilling experience.

After filming, I appreciated his follow up questions and the opportunity to vet the video before it aired today. Having watched the video several times now, I realized just how much I truly do know about the background of cast iron and, as Adam notes, there’s so much more to learn.

Adam, we really do need to commission a study.

 

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