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Feb 20, 2002 06:26 PM

All-Clad alternatives??

  • t

I want to buy some new stainless steel pots and pans. I like the quality and look of All-Clad and this is what I probably would get--IF IT WEREN'T SO DAMN EXPENSIVE. However, I have recently noticed some other brands coming out with similar triple-layered construction. Calphalon makes a tri-ply set as does Costco's in-house Kirkland Signature brand. Has anyone compared these to All-Clad or to each other? It's important to me to get complete stainless construction, including steel rivets because I've had aluminum rivets wear out and corrode on me in the past.

My other thought is to get plain old Sitram Profiserie restraunt pans: durable, utilitarian, will last forever, even if there's not triple-layer construction (can get these at a discount through a friend). Not as cool, but maybe cool isn't critical. Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.

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  1. All Clad "seconds" are availble through this factory store site at approximately half price. The life time warranty still applies. My experience is that the damage is virtually invisible; others have noted the same thing. This URL also leads to LeCreuset factory stores.


    10 Replies
    1. re: saucyknave
      Lynne Hodgman

      I tried that web site and could find no prices. Do you have to go to a store or is there a way to order online?

      Thanks...all this Le Cruset talk has made me sure I need one for Mothers' Day!

      1. re: Lynne Hodgman

        You can order online. Click on the All Clad logo then on one of the types (i.e. Stainless) to get to the price list.

        I can vouch well for this site. My wife ordered two pans for me online for Valentine's and paid less than the cost of one on sale at Williams Sonoma. Great, great prices.

        1. re: Lynne Hodgman

          Lynn, I have the impression that the different LC factory stores may have slightly different stock. I called the one nearest me about a grill pan to get the prices. If they hadn't had it I would have tried another one. I wouldn't be surprised if some had some colors, but not others, and v/v. I do my ordering over the phone or in person by preference, so I don't know about ordering online.

          In the case of AC, there are only a couple factory outlets and they have the basic same stock (backorder when something is not immediately available, etc), so their prices are listed on the site.

        2. re: saucyknave

          If it is convenient for you to drive to Canonsberg, PA the actual factory store sale is still cheaper and has 100% of everything in their inventory. If not the outlet is still excellent. An analogy is with the Hickey Freeman mens' clothing sale that I mentioned. Hickey has three stores around the U. S. where they sell their $1,200 suits for $699 and so forth. Yet twice a year they set up in a warehouse in Rochester and sell the exact same suits for $399, etc. The inventory at these sales is much larger than what their stores carry. The All Clad outlet and factory sale is similar. In general most every manufactured good has an outlet somewhere that sells this type of inventory. When you have European manufactured items these same "real" factory outlets usually exist and then the prices are 75% or so below the standard American. Examples of the latter would be Gucci, Prada, Zegna, etc.

          1. re: Joe

            A very good deal for those close enough and/or needing more than a piece or two. I'm only filling in gaps or giving presents and live much too far away. But thanks for the info.

            I'm not certain I understand your point about European goods. Was it that they only have factory sales at the factory itself? And that these sales held at the actual factories generate the much larger savings of (for example with AC) about 75% as opposed to the roughly 40-50% at the outlets? - It would make sense that outlets maintaining separate facilities, personnel, etc. would be more expensive.

            What would be really useful would be some sort of list of true "factory sales" around the country of the sort you refer to --and for travellors around the world. Anyone know of a web site that does this? It seems these at-the-factory-sales are a word of mouth sort of thing. Perhaps we should have a thread to pool our Chowhound knowledge. I'm sure those who lust after Riedel stemware would love to buy it at on-site factory prices, etc.

            1. re: Saucyknave

              There are outlets and then there are real outlets. Throughout the U. S. and Europe are outlet malls where stores manufacture goods specifically for sale in the outlet environment. There are also manufacturers who sell legitimate surplus inventory, discontinued items, over runs, even returns etc. at incredible savings. These are what I would call a "true outlet." Then there are manufacturers who have annual or bi annual sales at their factory or a facility nearby where they do the same.
              All Clad has a biannual factory sale which they started a number of years ago and have since expanded. Recently they added the outlet you mentioned which is excellent but not quite as good as what you might find if you visit the biannual sale.
              In other fields the same is true. Hickey Freeman makes excellent mens' clothing. They have three outlets around the U. S. but also they have biannual sales in a warehouse in Rochester where they sell their clothing even cheaper. The savings are incredible. $1,200 Hickey Suits sell for $699 in their outlets but in the factory sale they are all $399. Lines for this are 100 to 200 long before it opens.

              Overseas the exact same is true. There are a number of upper end Italian clothing manufacturers clustered around Biella which is about 50 miles northwest of Milan. Zegna has an outlet there and another one closer to Malpensa airport (10 miles). Zegna also has three outlets in the U. S. Now it gets tricky: the Zegna outlets in the U. S. sell some clothing which is made in Italy and some which uses Italian material but is made in Mexico. The Italian outlet has clothing which is made exclusively in Italy. Back in America if you buy Italian made Zegna (and most of it is) you are paying 50% or less of the store price (i.e. Nieman Marcus). Therefore the $1,400 sportcoat is $699 and $350 slack are 175. But back in Italy you are paying half of the Italian price which means that it is ONE QUARTER OF THE AMERICAN PRICE. Therefore the $1,400 sport coat is $350. And once a year in January the Italian outlet in Biella has an additional markdown on their price of another 20 or 25% which will bring the $1,400 US sport coat down to $262 US. $200 US shirts now become $35 or so, etc.
              Henredon has two factory outlets for its furniture with one in Raleigh and another in Hickory. Generally Henredon is half or less in these stores. Henredon also has a small outlet at one of its two factories in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. But once a year the Henredon plant sets up a TENT SALE at Spruce Pine where Henredon furniture is sold at 80 to 90% off. (That is NOT an exaggeration!) People come from hundreds of miles for this. Many furniture manufacturers are similar whether it is Thomasville, Century, even Marbro and LeBarge have an outlet at their factory in western Michigan where their $2,000 lamps can be purchased for $500 or less. Still a lot but these are some of the finest tables and lamps in the world.
              Generally Hickory, North Carolina has more real outlets and genuine "deals" than anywhere else on earth for good furniture. There are actually a number of these tent sales and they are a big deal. Most of them are in September or October. They are worth a 500 mile drive.
              These are examples of what exists from most manufacturers of goods in all industries. Cookware, clothing, furniture, etc. Somewhere, sometime, virtually every factory has a sale where you can get a serious, serious discount of quality, first run merchandise (although it may be advertised as a second it usually is not; more than likely it is surplus or a return from a store that wasn't sold-it may be a year old though). Even Lladro, yes Lladro, has an outlet at the factory in Valencia, Spain. Lladro in Spain is half the American price. Lladro at the outlet at their factory is half the Spanish price which means it is one quarter of the American price. Let me repeat that: LLADRO PORCELAIN PURCHASED AT THE FACTORY STORE IN VALENCIA IS ONE QUARTER THE AMERICAN PRICE. That means a $300 US porcelain piece is $75, a $2000 piece is $500, etc. Just south of Manchester, England are Spode, Royal Doulton and a bunch of others. They ALL have factory stores. Not the factory stores like in outlet malls here but real stores at their factory selling far more than you will find here. And for less.
              Below is a link to "real" outlets in Italy. Included in this source are the Gucci and Prada stores in Tuscany. There are incredible deals in some of these, actually worth a trip for shopping alone.
              But also bear in mind that wine purchased in Italy is HALF the American price generally as well as other food stuffs.
              My wife and I have flown to Milan in early January and rented a car for a week of shopping by day and serious eating by night. We've actually done it a number of times. Additionally I travel about 50 days a year in Europe on business and have gone out of my way to search out places like this.
              Last, there are some European goods which are not sold in the U. S. The ABSOLUTE FINEST CUTLERY IN THE WORLD IS POTTS. Not Wustof, not Trident, not Lagioule, nor Japanese but POTTS. It is not sold outside of Germany and one or two other European countries. And it is really expensive. In Germany it is double what Wustof sells for. But if you are into cooking or a profession it is the finest you will ever use in your life. By far. Items like this justify the trip alone.
              And once you find it usually the store you bought it from will be glad to sell you additionaly items which they can ship to you back in the states.
              If you buy Wustof (as an example) in Germany it will be half the American price. The same is true with most everything. Even Meissen porcelain, Herend porcelain are half the American price.


              1. re: Joe H.

       then click on search and enter outlets. This will bring up two blocks of choices. For the block on the right pick one such as "clothing" and then press enter. It will bring you to a list of the clothing outlets in Italy. Other choices will locate other outlets.
                For some reason my link will not connect directly but this is how to get there.

                1. re: Joe H.

                  What a wealth of information! I'm sure others will be as grateful for it as I am. I'm curious though, how did you go about finding where these real factory sales are, particularly those in the US which are more accessible for most of us?

                  I have a trace memory of some guide to factory stores from some years ago, but not the author or title. I know that in NYC there's some sort of guide to seasonal sales in some of the garment district designers & mfg - again without specifics.

                  1. re: saucyknave

                    I call the factory and ask if they sell their surplus inventory and, if so, where and when. I did this with All Clad seven or eight years ago before it was ever publicized. I should note that for the last twenty years I have travelled about 125 days a year throughout the U. S. and Europe on business. I actually do an 8,000 mile annual driving trip in the U. S. and a 4,500 mile driving trip in Europe. Before there were Jane and Michael Stern (who I have contributed to) I would send away for "city" magazines that had annual issues featuring the "best of." (i.e. Washingtonian, D, Atlanta, etc.). My friends also know that I have been obsessed with food all my life and also with shopping. (I am 55.) Frankly buying a Potts knife in Dusseldorf or a piece of Meissen at the factory in Meissen or Avignonesi Vin Santo in Panzano or Testoni in Bologna makes it more "special" anyway. Knowing that I am paying half price or less makes it even better.
                    One day I'll take the time and write an long article about this for publication. There are books (i.e. "Born To Shop Italy" and other countries) but the detail is lacking for what is actually IN THE OUTLETS and the specific kinds of savings. Some are mentioned but not very many. The website below lists an awful lot of them but tells virtually nothing. When you go and actually walk in the door and see Frette sheets for a quarter of what they sell for in Manhattan or discover that the Burberry Trench Coat you buy at the Burberry outlet in Bycester Village in England is made in England but most of the Burberry coats and shirts sold in America are not, well, for me this was really interesting. Then to find out that you can buy from the European source and have it shipped here-AT THE EUROPEAN PRICE WHICH IS HALF, well...
                    There are other advantages. I mentioned Potts. The most beautiful crystal decanters and wine glasses that I have ever seen are Meissen Crystal (not Lalique, Waterford, Bacarat, etc.). These are hand blown, hand engraved, absolutely beautiful. They're extremely expensive and sold in only a handful of places in America. (I think there are three stores total.) But you can buy them directly from their factory in Meissen. At half the American price (for the stores that have them.) Similar to the Potts a source is found for that which, generally, cannot be found here. Following is the link to the Meissen crystal factory. You can buy direct from them unless you live in New York City, south Florida or Minneapolis which are the locations of stores which sell their crystal.


                  2. re: Joe H.

                    I tried to view the info on the bottom of the page in regard to the outlets and when it was forwarded it stated I was unauthorized. I am traveling to Spain in Feburary an I want to buy lladro at the factory store, in January I will be in Tuscany and Milan and I would appreciate the adressesses of the prada and other outlets you mentioned in your message.



            2. Id say the triple layer feature is valuable to avoid hot spots and burning. The pans where the inner layer of aluminum goes up the sides of the pan are superior to pans which just have a thick pad on the bottom of the pan

              1. Have you looked at Berndes? I was lucky enough to get a full set so haven't priced it - as I recall, they're not cheap but better than All Clad. I haven't compared them, having had little chance to use All Clad, but as I understand it, they're comparable in quality and functionality - and that the manufacturer stands by their products for life.

                I know that Berndes doesn't have such wide distribution, but it's fabulous stuff. Link to their site is below.


                3 Replies
                1. re: Jill D

                  I should have said: I was lucky enough to get a full set as a gift.

                  1. re: Jill D

                    But Berndes is non-stick, while the All Clad the original poster is seeking isn't necessarily non-stick. While I do agree that Berndes is awesome, I don't think it's comparable. I got a set for my mother in her super-low fat days. It's held up well for a non-stick.

                    1. re: cypressstylepie

                      yep you're right! sorry, got carried away there. for nonstick, Berndes is indeed a fine product.

                  2. I have driven from Washington, D. C. to Canonsberg, PA (20 miles south of Pittsburgh) just to buy their cookware. I purchased $2,200 worth of it for approximately $1150 about two years ago. These sales are twice a year in early December and in late May. Depending on where you live it is worth the drive. In addition to most everything at 40% off there will be an additional half dozen pieces that are 75% off or so. The time I did it they had 16 quart $400 stock pots (among others) for $125. The sales were originally held at their factory, now they are nearby. They're a big deal! Lines when I went were over 200 long when the shipping door opened and a television crew from Pittsburgh filming it. The Washington Post has also written about this sale.
                    Like The Hickey Freeman Sale in Rochester (men's suits at $399) and Virginia Metalcrafters in Virginia (brass) this is one of the great "real" American factory sales.
                    In Germany Rosle makes the finest German cookware and utensils. If you trvel to Germany it is about half the U. S. price which, for the cookware, is about half the All Clad price. It IS the equal. I have both.

                    1. I would avoid any cookware, especially Sitram, that doesn't have the 3-5 ply construction. Cookware that is manufactured with a copper or aluminum disc in the base does not perform nearly as well as "clad" cookware. The sides of the pan are much thinner than the bottom which results in uneven heating, and scorching. Costco's Kirkland brand, will perform just as well as All-Clad, Viking, or KitchenAid. Unfortunately, Kirkland is not available in open stock, and you really don't need a tri-ply clad stockpot (for boiling water?) but you pay for it anyways. If you can buy open stock, just get a saute pan, and a sauce pan. No sense spending alot of money on a non-stick fry pan from All-Clad, it's going to wear out eventually. Purchase a non-stick fry pan from a restaurant supply store, they are way cheaper, and you dont have to worry about scratching them since you probably only paid $20 for them.


                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Bruce Cole

                        Bruce, what an informative post. I'd been curious about the Kirkland cookware but since I already have All-Clad couldn't justify the expense--especially since I'd be paying for a useless stockpot.

                        However, after years of using cheap aluminum nonstick saute pans and chucking them after a year or two, I finally spent $50 on a stainless one, not All-Clad, but a quality nameless brand. I have to say that I was amazed at how much better it handles. It has no hot spots, holds heat beautifully and, as a result, requires less heat to get it hot and less heat, presumably, will keep that nonstick surface in good shape for longer.

                        I still don't think I'd spring for All-Clad nonstick, but if you can find a midrange saute pan, you might be surprised at the difference.

                        1. re: Bruce Cole

                          ---I would avoid any cookware, especially Sitram, that doesn't have the 3-5 ply construction.---

                          Does that mean that some Sitram does not have the 3-ply? I thought that their on-line product writeups indicate that they do. Different grades, maybe?

                          1. re: cjb

                            Both Sitram lines that I know of have a disk base - Catering with copper and Profiserie with aluminum. I think there is a tiny layer of stainless over the bottom of the disk, but it's true that Catering especially might not work perfectly on induction.

                          2. re: Bruce Cole

                            "I would avoid any cookware, especially Sitram, that doesn't have the 3-5 ply construction. Cookware that is manufactured with a copper or aluminum disc in the base does not perform nearly as well as "clad" cookware."


                            I believe it may depend on the heat source and shape of the pan.

                            In general if the heat is open flame (gas) and the pan has sloped sides as in a standard skillet/fry pan then there is a potential for scorching if the flame/heat is larger than the pan size.

                            For electric heat that potential should be significantly dimished.

                            In general pots and pans that have sloped sides on a gas stove can limit the scorching potential with tri ply material however with straight side cookware such as sauce, saute, or stock pots the tri ply is likely overkill. I believe only Demeyre is one of the few if not only manufacturer that makes both types (tri ply/disk bottom) for the same line. They explain why on their web site.

                            A more lenghty detailed write up can be found here