The art of pot shopping: My Le Creuset Philadelphia Factory to Table experience

The Le Creuset Factory to Table shopping event happens twice a year in the USA. Once in the Springtime, usually in the South and another in early Fall, typically up North. It’s a time when cast iron pot enthusiasts, also known as, “Pot Heads”, gather to take advantage of steals and deep discounts on enameled cast iron pots, matching stoneware pieces, utensils, and accessories, offered by the company. What makes this event even more special is getting the opportunity to purchase a mystery box that could contain thousands of dollars’ worth of cookware for just $50. The mystery in the box is that you don’t know what you are getting! Boxes are packed beforehand and sealed. So, you won’t be able to tell what’s inside until you purchase and open the box. It is the thrill of not knowing the contents of mystery boxes that makes it so much fun! It’s something that fellow “Pot Heads” always look forward to at FTT events! One trick that I have found very useful over the years is the good old weight trick to ensure that my box has lots of cast iron pieces. To date this method has never failed! I usually ask the person handing out the box to give me the heaviest one he can find. Luckily with a big smile and a thank you, I have never been disappointed with the results.
The event usually starts on a Thursday morning and wraps up on a Sunday evening. Each day brings an element of suspense, with a specialty table that bears limited-edition cast-iron pieces that may have been released in other countries and are on the wish lists of many. These are termed unicorn pieces! The Thursday tickets are usually the most coveted, since this is the only day that there is the opportunity to purchase a mystery box! The Philadelphia FTT event was number three for me and the turnout was big! Tickets for this event were sold out within a day! There were long lines at each session that wrapped around curved and winding roads and were filled with the enthusiasm and chatter of “Pot Heads” that traveled from near and from far to indulge in purchasing these colorful, artisan, cast iron cooking vessels.
I was able to convince my younger brother to join in on the fun and he did oblige, traveling from Maryland with his young family to experience the utopia of a FTT haul! I had a list of all the items I was on the hunt for, which included pieces for a few of my pot friends that couldn’t make the trip. When it was time for our session, we were first in line and briskly walked inside, with laser focus when we were let into the event hall. I was in awe and so amazed at the huge selection of cast iron pieces that were there! There were pots and cookware in so many different colors, shapes and patterns and the prices were unbelievable! There were discounts as low as 60% off, which in my mind is a steal! So, it was very difficult to keep focused on my list!
As difficult as it was, I managed to stay true to my list, I purchased what I needed, ok what I wanted and grabbed a mystery box too! It was three of us, so there were triple the mystery boxes, triple the suspense and now came the best part, the trades!
The Le Creuset FTT events have had a following that has grown far and wide, with followers located across the US and the world. The Philadelphia event birthed a new movement that formalized the art of pot swapping that usually took place in the parking lots of FTT events, Le Creuchella. Le Creuchella is a celebration of food, friendships, pot swapping, lots of frolic, meeting online pot friends in person for the first time and trading elements of one’s mystery box for more desirable pieces. It was the highlight of our Philly FTT experience. There were even opportunities for pot personalization! Well, the knobs of the pots. I fell headfirst in all the celebration and festivities and enjoyed every moment.
We were satisfied with all the contents of our mystery boxes and decided to keep them all. But our satisfaction didn’t stop us from helping newfound pot friends trade their mystery box items and experience the same degree of happiness that we had at the end of it all! It was like the pot gods were reading our minds and took note of all the things we had on our list because whatever we didn’t manage to purchase, showed up in our mystery boxes. I don’t think we were alone in having this experience as many shared similar encounters from their mystery box reveals. From our three mystery boxes we managed to haul over $2500 worth of cookware for $150. I say not a bad deal for one of the best sets of enameled cast iron cookware pieces that you will ever find on the current market today!
Indulging in the art of pot shopping, yes, it is an art, and my experience at the Le Creuset Philadelphia FTT event was a memorable one. I shopped, I laughed, I ate, I made new pot friends, got reacquainted with old pot friends and spent quality time with my brother and his family. The cherry on top, going home with cast iron pieces and matching cookware that cost me a fraction of the price! Now I am reenergized and ready to step back into my kitchen to enjoy making tasty meals in these pots. I am so looking forward to my next FTT event experience, I just need to know where it will be!

Previously published on the on November 12, 2023.

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