Jono Pandolfi and Bon Appétit’s Brad Leone Collaborate on New Fermentation Crock

With extra time on their hands at the beginning of the pandemic, the ceramics designer and It's Alive With Brad host got to work.

The fermentation crocks come in two sizes. Photo by Nick Pandolfi

In video series It’s Alive with Brad, Bon Appétit magazine’s Brad Leone tackles all manner of fermented foods: kombucha, miso, kimchi, mushrooms, eggs, you name it. His playful approach to these kitchen experiments—plus his Jersey-isms and accent—have garnered millions of views.

Now, he’s teamed up with another New Jerseyan, ceramics designer Jono Pandolfi, to encourage even more home cooks to get into fermented foods. The two have released a fermentation crock, available in two sizes. Handmade in Pandolfi’s Union City studio, the containers are a secure and stylish way to hold vegetables, fruits or any other recipe as it, well, comes alive.

The two had discussed a collaboration months ago, but Pandolfi, who’s known for making custom dinnerware for some of the country’s top restaurants, says there hadn’t been enough time to take on new projects. “But once everything shut down [due to the pandemic], we had a lot of time on our hands,” he explains.

Photo by Nick Pandolfi

Lots of other people had time on their hands, too, Pandolfi points out. Many turned to ambitious culinary creations, including attempts at fermenting and pickling (sourdough, for the record, is fermented). Once the tri-state area had mostly shut down, “we reached out to Brad the next day and he was game” to work on the crock. As Leone told his 900,000-plus Instagram followers, “My buddy Jono…made them with my insights and I’m really happy with them.”

“You can hand this thing down to your kids if you take care of it,” he also told his followers. Pandolfi agrees. His dinnerware has become increasingly popular with home cooks, in part, because of its durability. “Our product has stood the test of some of the toughest kitchens in New York City,” as the company’s website states. So it’s meant to withstand even the liveliest of family dinners, too.

Unlike crocks Pandolfi has made in the past, he explains, this one features a stoneware weight to keep food completely submerged in its brine, key to keeping mold at bay. There’s a knob, to make checking the contents of the crock less messy, and it comes in two sizes. One holds around a gallon, or an entire head of cabbage; the smaller version is just under two quarts, better for endeavors like pickled onions, miso or fermented garlic.

With the restaurants and community programs hit especially hard during the pandemic, Pandolfi and Leone are also donating a portion of proceeds to the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation and East New York Farms.

And if it turns out you like watching It’s Alive with Brad more than mastering fermentation yourself? “It makes a great utensil holder for your countertop,” Pandolfi says.

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