Subscribe Now

Spice Set

Newburyport craftsman Jordan Castro turns concrete and recycled marble into contemporary kitchenware.

A decade of “flipping” houses and doing kitchen renovations taught Jordan Castro that the building industry was not for him. But it also gave him an idea: What if he could mix concrete with recycled stone dust from marble countertops, plus a little sand and water, and create something distinctive and desirable?

“It took a lot of trial and error,” Castro says of his search for the ideal formula. “It’s not rocket science, but it takes…time to find the right balance.”

Concrete and marble weren’t the only things he threw into the mix. In a perfect alignment of experience, talent, and passion, Castro combined his building expertise with his inner artist and chef to create Culinarium, a collection of unique and stylish kitchenware. “It has an austere beauty and appeals to people with both rustic and contemporary sensibilities,” he says of his line of salt cellars, pepper mills, spice sets, coasters, and fruit trays.

“It’s a novel application,” says Castro, who runs his small family business, Port Living Co., with his wife, Annastasia, from their Plum Island home. “People are not used to seeing concrete used in kitchenware, but it has a wonderful aesthetic value and is very smooth and tactile,” he adds. “I also work with aluminum, cork, and wood, but our concrete products sell the best.”

The recycled marble dust comes in “cakes” from a factory in Burlington. Castro does all the mixing, molding, sanding, and waxing at his workshop in The Distillery in South Boston and the products are shipped directly to customers.

While loath to play the “green” card (“Everybody’s doing it-that whole label has been hijacked by everyone,” he says), Castro is happy his products are recycled, sustainable, and free of chemicals, but that’s not his primary motivation.

“The reason I use recycled product is because it has the qualities I need. This sounds corny, but every product we make, I fashion it, I touch it, a lot of quality control goes into it. I love to cook, and these are the things I like to use.”

As for the future? “I don’t want to expand too quickly,” he says. “I want to keep [Culinarium] a specialty item, and there are so many things I want to explore with this.” -Andrew Conway