If Chris Hastings turned superhero, he'd be Iron Man.
The iron-willed co-owner of Hot and Hot Fish Club, Hastings forged a national platform after winning a televised Iron Chef competition over uber-chef Bobby Flay. Hastings' new restaurant, Ovenbird, will pay tribute to Birmingham's iron-making past.
"We are inspired by Sloss Furnaces and pig iron," says Hastings, whose new restaurant is part of the Pepper Place complex developed by Cathy Sloss Jones. "The tie-in between live-fire cooking and Sloss Furnaces is pig iron. Pig iron is what Sloss produced. It is used to make cast iron, which is prized in cooking because it is so durable. Cast iron is mostly what we will use for cooking, including grill grates and pans."
The grill vents at Ovenbird are meant to look like the smokestacks at Sloss. The restaurant's beehive oven evokes early Sloss pig-iron furnaces. "We tie together the cast iron and the history of Birmingham in this restaurant, both visually and practically," Hastings says.
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