Can't decide - Falk, Sitram, Paderno, or Demeyere??
I've enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts on various types of cookware, but I am now suffering from information paralysis.
My wife and I just got married and, thanks to people on this board, managed to avoid the exhortations that "All-Clad is the only cookware worth getting" from our registry helper.
Thanks to our very generous guests, we've now got a fair bit of money from gifts to spend and are looking to buy cookware that will last a lifetime and more. We currently have good anodized aluminum stuff but want to upgrade. We very much enjoy cooking and would like to find cookware that will allow us to continue to improve.
Based on what I've read here and other places, I have no idea how to decide between:
Paderno Grand Gourmet (from Bridge)
I would not say that money is no object, but we're willing to spend more if there is a commensurate improvement in quality. We'd like to find the best balance of cost and quality.
The pieces that I'm considering getting (currently cooking for 2 and occasionally for more) are:
11-in fry pan
4 qt saute pan
sauce pan (unsure what size, would appreciate opinions)
I currently have a Lodge cast iron skillet and would also be looking for a Le Creuset (or similar) dutch oven. Are there other recommended pieces?
So, I'd appreciate ANY help with trying to decide on which brand and which pieces to get.
I'd suggest three sizes of sauce pans; that's what I need, anyway. And you're aware that a L.C. dutch overn when loaded is a very heavy piece of gear. I prefer anodized aluminum, which has worked fine for all dutch oven applications.
I have three pieces of Sitram Catering cookware, 3 qt. chef pan, 3 qt. saute pan, and 2 qt. sauce pan. They are copper-disc-sandwich-bottom type of cookware, and you can see the copper between the stainless steel at the bottom because the disc doesn't extend to the edge of the pan. This is not a good thing as it will create a hot ring inside of the pan, and burn the food around the wall of the pan (but not inside the hot ring). If you are using gas burner, this problem will be noticable to you ( I did hear people say they have no problem with it by using electric burner). The cookware looks pretty though...
In addition, are you a tall person? If you are not (like me), you will find the handle very uncomfortable as it angles very high to the ceiling. I guess it's constructed to fit in the hand of a tall French chef ( did I mention it's made in France?). Anyway, I bend the handle and now it fits well in my hand. You will still need a towel to grab that thing because the handel is essentially a piece of flat metal with curve. And the handle is not riveted onto the pot either.
Looks like Sitram Catering is the cheapest on your list, and understanding you don't want to spend 'All Clad' kind of money, why don't you look at some other brands? I will recommend Jamie Oliver by T-Fal, or simply just go to Costco to grab a set of Kirkland. I have Jamie Oliver, it's solid cookware, made in France too. Kirkland in Costco is made in Italy, it looks solid too.
If you are not even sure what size of sauce pan you are getting, why spend 'big $' on expensive cookware before you find out? Start from the cookware in my recommendations and add extra peices one by one later on when you have more expertise on what you want.
You could not go wrong with any of them, so here are a few questions to ask yourself:
1) Do you want to be able to pop your cookware into the dishwasher when you are really busy, such as a dinner party, on occasion, or do you want to commit to handwashing? If you think you might EVER want to cheat a bit or perhaps rely on you dishwasher to clean your cookware, copper is out of the question for your mainstays.
2) Do you know how to regulate the burners when cooking, or do you crank up the heat? If you know how to regulate your burners, hot rings are not an issue. If you put your pots on burners that are too big, or if you let flames lick the sides of your pans, you will experience the hot ring mentioned above. I have never had this problem personally because I match burner sizes and regulate burners carefully. For that problem, which is self inflicted, go with Demeyere if you choose stainless steel because the bottom goes all the way to the edge and there won't be too much heat at the sidewall. That said, you should never put a pot on a burner with a larger diameter than the pot, or with flames licking the sides.
3) Will you be using your fry pan on a small burner? If yes, go copper because the heat disperses better and you won't get a hot circle in the middle.
I love all of these brands for different purposes. If it were up to me I would pick:
- Falk sauce pan (cools off quickly if you heat it up too quickly)
- Paderno or Demeyere fry pan (Thick bottomed alternatives to your Lodge pan)
- Any saute pan will work. They are all beautiful, so pick which one you might want to serve your arroz con pollo or paella from. I just select which I want to use based on size most of the time, when cooking.
Just my two cents based on lots and lots of home cooking.
RGC - thanks for all the helpful information! I ordered the "try-me" sauciere from Falk Culinair and will see how I like that. However, I'm leaning towards Demeyere given it will allow me to use the dishwasher as well as an induction cooktop down the road.
Interestingly, Falk and Demeyere are about the same price.
A couple more questions:
I'm concerned about the weight of the pans for my wife. Does anyone know anywhere in the Philadelphia area where I could look at Demeyere pieces?
Is there a big difference between a "sauce pan" and a "saucier"? Why would you choose one over the other?
Hey, I know this one! There may be another place, but the only place I know around here that has Demeyere on display is Sur La Table in Marlton, NJ:
Promenade at Sagemore - Marlton,NJ
500 Route 73 South
Marlton, NJ 08053
If I remember correctly they have the Sirocco line on display. And yes, they're heavy.
I have only ordered on-line, but I hear that Sur la Table has them. I understand the weight issue. One thing I did miscalculate with one of my Demeyere pots (and I love it still) is that anything like a big saucier (over 3 qts) or saute pan should have a helper handle on the opposite side. My large conical sauteuse did not have one, and it is over 4 quarts. I have a little trouble lifting it when it is full, and I should have anticipated this. Up until that time, the only similar pots I had were a little less than three quarts, or they were wide pans with helper handles on the opposite side. As long as there are two handles, even a weakling like me can lift most pots, even LeCreuset, up to about 9 or 11 quarts. For this reason, I would make sure that you see a photo of the exact item you wish to order if you can't find it in the store.
The saucier or sauteuse is usually a bit wider than it is tall in order to promote evaporation when doing reductions. I like the conicial sauteuse shape because it is actually rounded, like a flat-bottomed wok, and the gently curving sides make it easier to use a wisk for gravies or for making a roux. Most sauciers I have seen have straight sides, but again, I think the shape they are going for is wider than tall, unlike most regular "sauce" pans. A similar example is the "chef's pan" or the "Windsor" pan -- they are all designed for promote rapid evaporation. There is a lot of lattitude here and the manufacturers can call it whatever they wish.
Demeyere is indeed expensive, but worth it. I particularly like that the handles are welded and not riveted through. It makes the pot easier to clean and the finish is fairly easy to scrub if burned on brown marks from grease appear. I think you are wise to try one piece of the Falk to see how you like it. They are just beautiful pots, but again -- they are not the easiest to take care of. I do a lot of handwashing, but sometimes it is just nice to be able to pop a pot and its cover into the dishwasher because you are tired or have guests. BTW, I actually think the Demeyere lids are sturdier than some of the Falk pieces I have seen, but it just may be my experience.
Good luck and let us now how you did!
That's a good tip because it seems these people discount versus 125West. How is their service? I am thus far impressed with 125West customer service, although I am awaiting a new lid for a saute pan that they promised me. The manufacturer put a Sirocco lid in with my Atlantis pan (I don't like the look and feel of the Sirocco lids and handles, which are very stylish but don't seem comfortable to me), so I called to complain. They are supposedly going to send me a new Atlantis lid. We'll see if their service is really as good as they promise.
I bought a lodge enameled cast iron dutch oven from my local target for $35. It is heavier gauge cast iron than le creuset which means it has more thermal capacity, which is exactly what you want in a cast iron dutch oven. You want to sear a pot roast before braising it and cast iron does the job best when it comes to searing. The thicker the cast iron, the better the sear, just make sure you preheat the cast iron a while so it can charge up.. I preheat my 3 quart cast iron dutch oven in my Breville countertop oven for 30 mins at 450F. The entire pot is charged up with 450F of heat. It sears nicely. And I like the enamel coating for acidic roasts such as the Italian Stracotto. The enamel coating on the Lodge is nice. Lodge also makes another nice piece, a 3 quart covered enameled cast iron braiser.. which is 12" in diameter and the depth of a deep frying pan. I think I might purchase it. Other than dutch oven, french oven or braiser, I can't think of any other good uses for enameled cast iron. I use glass and stoneware for a lot of my other baking needs.
I have Faulk Culinair and Baumalu (Tin + Cooper) and have a hard time thinking of better equipment. As someone pointed earlier, my recommendation is to buy something inexpensive to get a feeling about likes/dislikes and then, with a more discrimated taste select what you really need/want.
Relative to Dutch ovens, Le Creuset is good stuff (I don't own any) but you can get an inexpensive version at Target (Chefmate). According to American Test Kitchen, it performs as good as Le Cruset. I have one and is great. I also own a couple of IKEA cast iron cookware that is extremely good and was inexpensive compared to prime brands.
I was told by an expert who has been demonstrating most of the makes, that the Demeyere is by far the best. Their pans are made of 7 layers of various metals which continues all the way to the top of the pans and it makes a big difference when cooking. Some of the Demeyere product has a life time guarantee, and the most important aspect to consider is the induction cooking is coming fast and there will be time when you'll want one and it sure would be nice not to have to throw away your precious pots and pans, like I have to do now.
I agree that Demeyere may indeed be the best stainless steel available, but you need to be aware that the construction you are describing is only available on certain pieces, not all Demeyere pieces. I have both, and they have different uses. For example, the conical sauteuse I mentioned before is "fully clad" like your typical All Clad models, but is thicker and heavier and seems to be made better. Of course, it costs more too. On the other hand, the saute pans and such have thick flat disk bottoms of multiple layers that extend all the way to the sides, but the sides are not made of the same thickness. They are thick, trust me, and very well made pots, but the bottom construction is different from the side construction. The reason most of the clad converts are so passionate about clad construction appears to be related to fear of flames lapping the thinner sides of non-clad pans. I have never had this problem when I cook on gas because I never let flames go up the side of the pot when cooking. It is both dangerous and poor cooking technique. I have found that clad pans provide wonderful performance for most things, but reach for thick bottoms when there is a chance that something might stick to the bottom and burn, for example -- tomato sauce or cheese sauce.
Although I certainly can live the rest of my life without buying another pot or pan, because I have so many, I will still probably add Demeyere pieces to my collection, if that has any value as an endorsement.