Susan CASTRIOTA: Inventor of Cuchina Safe Lids

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  • Tell us something about yourself, your background

How does an accomplished artist and author become a designer of cookware?

Bucking tradition at an early age, I was one of the first female students to enrol in drafting and architecture classes in high school. Post high school, I earned a degree in graphic design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and Florence, Italy. In the years that followed, I started a greeting card business which earned me awards and accolades for my illustrations of city skylines and historical sites. 

In 2008, I was nominated to design an ornament for the White House Christmas Tree. In 2011, my passion for drawing combined with my love for dogs was the inspiration for a series of 6 children’s books. I am considered a historian on the dogs of the White House. I wrote and illustrated the award winning “Wilson and the White House Pups” book. I did extensive research and the book was edited by the White House Historical Association, thereby ensuring its historical accuracy.

A diagnosis of breast cancer and a year of surgeries and treatments took me back to my drafting class and love of technical design….

  • How/Why did you start inventing. What set you off? Also, tell us about the products you invented with a brief explanation:

It’s a true “Lemons to Lemonade” story. As a breast cancer survivor, I had concerns about toxins leaching into my food from the practice of using plastics in the microwave. Research shows plastic chemicals may cause cancer, and several other diseases. I wanted to change the way I prepared my food and decided make the switch to Eco-friendly, BPA-Free glass or ceramic. The shock came when I realized there were no ALL glass, vented, universal lids to cover bowls!  That led me to design and patent the “Cuchina Safe Lid”. The Borosilicate glass lids are safe from chemicals and allow you to efficiently steam-cook and reheat food in the microwave, insuring retention of valuable vitamins, nutrients and minerals. Cuchina Safe lids are also splatter guards to keep appliances clean for effortless clean.

Microwaves are no longer seen as a quick way to reheat your leftovers. The Cuchina Safe lid is the “little glass steamer”. Steaming brings traditional cooking to the microwave for efficiency and healthy eating. Steam fresh or frozen vegetables, eggs, fish, grains and pasta without added fat of stove top cooking.  The lids accelerate cooking by recirculating heat, while the centre ventilation holes keep food moist and crisp by letting just enough excess steam escape.

The second patented glass product I designed is the “Cover ‘n Cook” Vented Glass Plate cover.  It is one versatile product with 2 functions! As a plate cover, it fits on top of most standard plates to reheat leftovers, cook and steam food. Use as a spatter guard to keep microwaves clean. The stylish dome-like shape allows for steaming to hasten cooking while keeping food moist, and retaining valuable nutrients. Scalloped edges allow for venting, circling handle makes for easy lifting. “Flip it Over” to make a 2 qt. baking deep dish for microwave and oven up to 425°.

CNC Package Insert

Eco-friendly, durable, non-porous glass cookware is making a big come back as people embrace and appreciate reusable, recyclable glass in exchange for single-use plastics that continue to pollute our landfills and waterways. Glass does not harbour bacteria like plastic and silicone. Now home chefs have products that pose little health risk associated with using plastics in the microwave.

  • How did you get from idea to finished product?

Once the idea for a glass lid came to my mind, I started to make dummies out of foam core. Then I took my drawing to an engineer and he made STL files which enabled us to make the 3D proto-types. Once I got the 3D proto-types, I could see how they were going to work adjust the diameter and the handles to fit on top of different sizes of bowls and mugs. I tweaked things and went back and forth to the “drawing board”. Next step was applying for the design patent (I now hold 4 patents). Then I looked for USA manufacturers. After an exhausting search, I came to the realization of how difficult this was going to be. The majority (all but one) of American factories who made Borosilicate glass cookware had shut down. There was one factory in Western Pennsylvania, but after meeting with them, I was disappointed to find out that they did not have the state-of-the-art machinery to drill the much-needed centre vents and for that reason, they could not produce the lids as per my specs. Unfortunately, that factory closed its doors in early 2020.

  • Let us know of useful resources that helped you i.e. Books, websites, software etc

Since I had no knowledge of glass manufacturing, I did a lot reading on the subject to learn which type of glass would be the best to use in the microwave and the oven. Joining networking groups, getting involved with the local SBA, attending classes and seminars at the local universities and trade shows was very beneficial.

  • Where are you with your product? Where can we buy your product?

I’m now heading into my 5th year of selling the Cuchina Safe lids and plate cover. The debut of the Cuchina Safe lids was when I appeared on QVC in June 2016. Since that time, Cuchina Safe has been featured on HSN many times, selling both the lids and the plate cover. However, the home shopping and retail businesses have had major shifts and downturns. Currently Cuchina Safe products sell on Amazon (I do Amazon Live shows to promote the products), The Grommet, HSN and QVC.com.  Brick and mortar are almost non-existent, so I no longer think about those as viable options. I am always looking for new on-line outlets, including the possibility of selling in the foreign on-line markets. 

  • Website:  Click HERE

–End of Interview–

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