Grate Flight of the Microplane

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Evolution of Microplanes: from left, a Grace Hacksaw (1990); Zester, Grater, “Fine Grater” (1998); Foot File (2005); two “Fine Graters” (2010). Credit: New York Times with Photograph by Tony Cenicola

When you look at the samples of products that “highly critical component parts maker Grace Manufacturing delivers, the range is impressive: from Encoder Discs, Flapper Valves, and Metal Belts to Metal Filters, Metal Rulers, Motor Laminates and more. The industries that the Russellville, Arkansas-based company serves are automotive, aviation, electronics, surgical, and telecommunications, among others. One of these “other industries sounds like an outlier: culinary.

But this culinary clientele began unintentionally, and initially met with disappointment. In 1966 Richard Grace founded the manufacturing company bearing his name as “a machine, tool and die shop. Today, it provides precision metal parts. Grace’s reaction to the use of his woodworking tools in the kitchen was blunt: “I didn’t set out to make cheese graters.

The microplane proved too multi-purpose to be used exclusively by carpenters. It fed a delicious democracy and keeps doing so. A tool for cooking newbies and nerds. Grace’s daughter Maria said, “We’re form-follows-function kind of people. They’re also form-follows-fans kind of people because”in this case”function was found in the crowd.

Nate Burgos

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