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Advice re Copper Core All Clad?

I used a friend's French copper saute pan (nickel interior) the other day, fell in love, and I'm now intent on depleting my child's inheritance and getting my first piece of copper core All Clad. I usually cook for 2-4, saute vegetables or sweat them for soups/sauces, sear meat, risottos, braise, prepare roux-based sauces. Any suggestions for the most versatile piece ? Right now I'm thinking of a 3-quart saute pan with cover or saucier with cover (I have a full complement of Calphalon that is serviceable and I can't afford to replace, so I'm not missing any particular shape or size of cookware). Is there any online source out there (or brick and mortar in the San Francisco Bay Area) that discounts this stuff?

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  1. A solid copper pan is very different from AC's Copper Core lineup. Copper core does not perform like a solid copper pan. If you fell in love with a solid copper pan, then that's what you should get.

    9 Replies
    1. re: ThreeGigs

      Any suggestions re good sources for solid copper? I'd hoped not to have to take out a second mortgage.

      1. re: dordogne

        Falk Culinair is one of the best, but it has a stainless steel interior rather than a nickel interior. Stainless does have nickel in it, but it is not pure nickel. The iron handles are great. You need to buy it on line at Falk Culinair.com.

        Mauviel is available at William Sonoma, and for some reason does not seem to be on the Bridge Kitchenware site any longer. I am hoping it is just a quirk of the new site and that they did not discontinue the line because it is very good stuff -- just don't buy the "serving ware". Mauviel comes in tin or stainless steel lining and you usually have a choice of brass or cast iron handles. I like the iron better because it doesn't get as hot, although the tin and brass combo look really nice. You can also get this at Broadway Panhandler online. BP also sells Bourgeat, which is another top line.

        Yes, it is really, really expensive stuff. But -- you will be spending nearly as much on the All Clad copper core, and as the other poster has pointed out, they are two very different things. If you like copper, get thick professional grade copper because All Clad copper core is fundamentally a stainless steel construction.

        1. re: RGC1982

          I would stay away from the Mauviel at William-Sonoma -- it's the "table" series (can't remember the exact name right now) and has the brass handle, but it's only 1.6mm thick for many of the peices -- not the 2.5mm, which are the ones with the cast iron handles available online and Sur la Table; 2.5mm copper is serious cooking equipment!

          1. re: mateo21

            I didn't realize that the were only selling the tableware now. Thanks for letting me know.

        2. re: dordogne

          World Cuisine sells nickel-lined frying pans and such; try cookware.com.

          If you can afford it, Falk, de Buyer, Mauviel, Bourgeat, or old-ish Bridge Kitchenware stainless-lined pieces are bombproof heirloom pieces. At one time, there was a guy who would go to the Falk factory, buy a piece wholesale, and ship it through the Belgian post office, if you purchased from him on eBay. Unfortunately the US distributor, more than a little miffed at losing all those sales, asked Falk to stop that, and they ended the practice. But it was nice while it lasted, before the dollar tanked and copper prices went through the roof.

          If you're interested in thick, vintage pieces, keep an eye on eBay. I accumulated every piece I own in that fashion and some for outrageous discounts ($35 for a 6 pound, 2.5mm thick, 3.3 quart Inocuivre saucepan, for example -- probably the one that stands out most in my mind). You have to be pretty sharp but it will save you a lot of money if you ignore Mauviel, etc. and look for sturdy pieces instead (usually "Made in France" or "Made in Belgium", with appropriately heavy weights for a given size -- we're talking 12 pound saute pans and such).

          Anyhow, good luck. I wouldn't trade my copper for anything.

          1. re: ttriche

            P.S. -- just get a 9.5" to 11" saucier pan for the cooking you have described. I happen to think that Falk's saucier pans are brilliant, but Bourgeat makes essentially the same pan in a different finish, which can sometimes be found for a more reasonable price ($100-$160). That shape is unbelievably useful, regardless. If you ever see one for a reasonable price, buy it. (You probably won't ever see the Falk or Mauviel versions at a tolerable price, which is unfortunate. But you might find the Bourgeat version of this shape at a discount.)

            It has occurred to me that, of all the shapes a cooking vessel might take, the large, curvy saucier is probably the one that takes greatest advantage of heavy copper's strengths. And if you're going to pay for heavy copper, you might as well get every cent's worth of it.

            The two most frequently used pans in our kitchen are our sauciers. The sauteuse bombee or modern 'fait tout' really earns the latter nickname.

            1. re: ttriche

              Many thanks for helpful, detailed information. Can/do you use the saucier for sauteing, browning meats etc. or does the curviness of the pan leave too little surface in contact with the flame (I've got largish Wolf range burners)?

              1. re: dordogne

                For the typical sear-saute- (maybe throw in the oven)- deglaze-reduce cycle of stovetop cooking, the large saucier or curved sauteuse evasee may be the perfect pan. We have a smaller Sur La Table 24cm (9.5") copper pan which was much less expensive ($50 or so?) and is somewhat thinner-gauge, but for smaller portions performs many of the same tasks. The Sur la Table pan looks like a cross between a curved sauteuse evasee and a frying pan, in that it is half as deep as the saucier, but has sides which curve up to vertical and enclose ~2 quarts' volume. Excellent shape and we use it all the time as a 'tight pan' for just the two of us. When we need to move things around, or have company for dinner, the big pan comes out, and is much appreciated. I feel that the Falk/Bourgeat shape is very nearly ideal for its intended use.

                The 4.5 to 5 quart Falk and Bourgeat sauciers have a similar amount of surface area as an 11" frying pan. The smaller (3 quarts or less) sauciers seem to have more curve (eg. the same radius but in a smaller pan) and thus are less useful for searing or sauteeing. We use our 4.5qt saucier for all sauteeing and almost all searing tasks; it does most everything, with the obvious exception of heating small volumes of liquid - it will heat them just fine, but they'll reduce very quickly due to the heat transfer and large surface area. (Our affordable-at-the-time 1.5qt saucier is better for that.) One of my wife's specialties is skin-on chicken breasts, seared and then thrown into the oven with tomatoes, capers, olives, and garlic -- the sort of meal where this design excels.

                Unfortunately, nobody else seems to have come out with a similarly shaped pan to the SLT piece, and they discontinued it. Every so often you'll see one on eBay, or in a SLT store's clearance bin; it's great for 2 people. For 4 or more people, the bigger saucier shape is more useful, but it's a lot pricier as well (copper was never cheap, but now it's rather outrageous). This presents a bit of a problem if you frequently have guests, or like to cook lots of things where crowding would be an issue (in that case you might consider a big copper frying pan, which costs less than a sauteuse or saucier).

                It's hard to justify purchasing a substantial copper pan because the dollar is weak and copper is in high demand. On the other hand, those big pieces take the greatest advantage of copper's desirable characteristics. I've made money every time I re-sold a copper pan on eBay, so I guess there are others out there who appreciate the virtues of heavy copper, as well. It's great stuff, but as I'm sure you realize, a good cook can work magic with crappy tools, whereas a lousy cook won't notice the difference. Plus you can't put heavy copper in the dishwasher.

                That said, if my kitchen caught fire, assuming my wife and daughter were safe, I'd grab my chef's knife with one hand, and the big saucier with the other, and we'd be fine with that.

        3. I don't know what piece is best but they have great prices on the All-Clad copper core on Ebay. They are going for 50%-65% off or more. Also try www.cookwarenmore.com for cosmetic seconds with very small imperfections if you can even find them!

          1 Reply
          1. re: blondelle

            I saw a number of pieces on Ebay, but they get bid up very quickly and I found the process too labor-intensive and anxiety-producing. Many thanks for the reference to the cookwarenmore site! Their All Clad prices are as much as 1/3 off retail with full lifetime guarantee.

          2. Since you are depleting the inheritance....

            I suggest Mauviel . I have one saucepan (SS lined) that a very generous friend gifted me with (dragged over from Paris, no less). I adore it. Just fantastic. But it is a bit high maintainance, as any copper pan is -- exterior-wise.

            1. Since you live in or near SF, you can try visiting Sur La Table in the Ferry Bldg, or their other locations and browsing the clearance aisle. Sometimes there will be vastly discounted stuff they're discontinuing, or possibly some display models. I got my sur la table branded 10" copper (2mm thickness) stainless steel lined fry pan for $50, discounted off their "introductory" price of $100. They might have another laying around. You might get lucky and get some display models, returns, or discontinued copperware.

              1. After a flurry of diligent research informed by all of the helpful posts, I decided to go with solid copper, a Bourgeat 9 1/2" saucier (they call it a "flared saute pan") from

                http://www.mychefsfavorites.com/bourg...

                Great website with lots of information, very good prices, and Don, the owner, picks up the 800 number himself and will happily spend time discussing the comparative virtues of different brands, different styles of pan, etc. His prices are set to go up as of 2/1/08 because of the dismal state of the dollar and the escalating price of copper due to the Chinese cornering of the market. I fear this may be the "gateway drug" to a full set of copper cookware. But even if I'm squandering my kid's inheritance, at least she'll have a beautiful copper pan to remember me by.

                13 Replies
                1. re: dordogne

                  Check out Cookin' on Divisadero in SF. It's a bit hit or miss, and the joint is usually a mess, but she's got a lot of copper in the back. Not always well priced, but every so often I get lucky there.

                  1. re: rabaja

                    good tip, I'll check them out next time i'm in the neighborhood.

                  2. re: dordogne

                    Wow, I just looked at Don's price on the 9.5" saucier. Great choice!

                    I hesitate to say "value" and "copper" in the same sentence, but it's the least-worst value I've seen on such a pan since GalaSource took down their Matfer listings on eBay :-). And Don ships free, too.

                    Unless the entire universe replaces their gas stoves with induction, your daughter will likely be able to resell the piece to pay for her college textbooks. Copper doesn't ever seem to get any cheaper as time goes by.

                    1. re: dordogne

                      Sorry to dig up a year old thread, but I was hoping to get Dordogne's verdict on the bourgeat 9.5 saucier.

                      I am wavering on purchasing one from trulythefinest.com, the prices are so good I can barely resist. I just wanted a final word before I but it, hide it in my closet, and then tell my fiance that someone must have bought it for us as a surprise wedding gift.

                      1. re: polarflint

                        A friend of mine recently bought two pieces of Bourgeat copper cookware -- a sauce pan and a large casserole -- from trulythefinest.com, and loves them both. Their prices do seem unbelievably low. I just ordered the 11" casserole with lid for $272. Mychefsfavorites.com has the exact same piece specially priced at $500.

                        BTW, that 9 1/2" flared saute pan that Dordogne purchased is priced (with lid) today at $362 on mychefsfavorites.com, and at $183 on trulythefinest.com. That price difference really has me scratching my head in disbelief. Can these REALLY be the exact same pieces?

                        1. re: CindyJ

                          Well we fill find out. I got permission from the fiance (asked her while she was falling asleep) and purchased the 9.5 this morning. I will make a full report once I receive the pan. Fingers crossed.

                          1. re: CindyJ

                            Stuff at Truely the finest looks refurbished to me. It still seems new but if you look closely you'll see some slight imperfections. Still a good buy.

                            1. re: krbtv

                              When you say it "looks refurbished", what, exactly do you mean? Have you ordered pieces from them that have been delivered in less-than-perfect condition? The photos on the TFF website are manufacturer's photos, and regardless of the website you use for ordering Bourgeat copper cookware, it's shipped from the same, single USA distributor in Van Nuys, CA.

                              1. re: CindyJ

                                Looks like someone had it, didn't like it so sent it back without packing it well. Many scratches on the stainless steel. Would take a picture of it but since it's a mirror finish it's hard to take the photo. The copper side looks scratched up too. Ususally new items are well packed...

                                That's probably why the prices are cheap at TTF, maybe they sell returns from people who never cooked on the cookware. It's still a good value and at that price margin I would definetly buy something else from them....

                                1. re: krbtv

                                  I don't agree with you. TTF doesn't warehouse the copper cookware. They can process your order, but when it's sent, it's sent from the Bourgeat distributor, not from TTF. Regardless of where you place the order, it's all sent from the one and only U.S. Bourgeat distributor, located in CA. The cartons are sealed by the manufacturer in France. If I had received a piece that looked to be in less than perfect condition, I'd first call Bourgeat in CA. In fact, I believe the bill of lading tells you to do exactly that. At least at Bourgeat you can speak directly to a human being. That's just not possible when you contact customer service at TTF.

                                  I never received the first piece I ordered from TTF. They never responded to my email or voice mail inquiries. I ended up canceling that order, but when I check my account online, it still shows up as an open order. I've never been billed for it, so I'm not overly concerned.

                                  The prices at TTF were low, I'm convinced, because they made a mistake on their website. If you look back there today,you'll see that the prices have all been hiked waaaaay up -- double or even triple what they were a month ago.

                                  I'll never do business with TTF again. It's too frustrating when there's a problem. My last order was received incomplete. I had ordered two lids in addition to the one piece of copper. The copper pan came, but not the lids, and they've billed me for the whole amount. Bourgeat tells me they never received the order for the lids, only for the copper. AmEx is currently investigating the charge, and they've credited my account for the price of the two pieces not received plus the shipping. Makes me glad I used AmEx for the purchase.

                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                    My carton was not sealed. It had been opened and retaped with clear tape on top of the original red/clear tape.

                                    1. re: krbtv

                                      Did you ever consider returning it?

                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                        Bourgeat was supposed to be sending me another one - I have yet to receive it. Not interested in taking the 25% hit for returns. For the price I paid for it - it's really no big deal. I also have a Falk 11" fry pan. I'll probably use the Bourgeat soon because it seems like they are not going to send another one.

                      2. Do not waste your money on All-Clad copper core!

                        Take a look at Falk copper cookware. http://www.copperpans.com/

                        21 Replies
                        1. re: Demented

                          Thanks Demented, now you got me jonesing for that $200 pan.

                          Seriously though, how long will that pan last? It's pretty much perfect apart from the cost (I refer specifically to the saucier pan, half frying pan, half saucepan)

                          1. re: Soop

                            What's really shocking is that All Clad has increased their prices so you can now buy Mauviel for little more than the cost of All clad.
                            The last time I was in WS a 3 quart All Clad copper core was $310 while a Mauviel was $325!
                            Also some one noted the Mauviel series at WS. They carry more than one series so you have to pay attention to the individual pot you are interested in. They carry some tin lined and some SS lined.
                            I have snagged some killer deals on individual Mauviel pieces on eBay. Copper is a pain to keep clean but the performance is fantastic.

                              1. re: Soop

                                Tin wears out and when used on high heat it will melt. Stainless stel should out live us.

                                  1. re: Soop

                                    Neither Tin or SS is "better". Tin will last many, many years and can be re-lined easilly. If you get a great price on a tin lined Mauviel don't pass it up just because it's tin. The majority of their stock pots are tin lined.
                                    Your going to have a hard time melting tin on your stove at home with any sort of normal use. I'd expect 20+ years of hard use before you have to worry about re-lining. AFAIK SS can not be saved once you wear the lining out, if you can wear it out or damage it.

                                    1. re: Fritter

                                      I have both tin and stainless and one non-stick copper pan, and in general I prefer tin, because it reacts faster, but stainless is attractive, because it can handle high heat, and it's nice to have the combination of non-stick and the even heat distribution of copper for one fry pan. It is not hard to melt tin, if you're not careful.

                                      My family has had tin-lined copperware for around thirty years, and depending on how much you use it, as long as you don't overheat and don't use metal utensils, the tin lining should last 10-20 years with normal home use.

                                      I haven't had to recoat my nonstick pan, but before making the investment, I did make sure that it was possible. There are companies that do this work for home cooks and commercial bakeries that might have hundreds of nonstick loaf pans.

                                      1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                        I agree David. Tin lasts a very long time unless abused. I have some tin lined Mauviel that is roughly 15 years old and still in great shape. The only thing I really do differently with Tin is that I don't pre-heat the pans empty.

                                        1. re: Demented

                                          I have about 20 pieces, most tin-lined, and the pans just need to be retinned every 10-15 years, which is a satisfactory maintenance schedule for me. I've seen nineteenth-century pieces made by Mauviel that are in perfectly good condition and identical in design to contemporary tin lined pieces, requiring only retinning, which is not that hard a service to find. I don't see that as failure, but normal maintenance.

                                          The main attraction of the traditional tin lining is that it doesn't insulate like stainless, so the pan reacts faster to changes in heat and tin is a bit slicker than stainless. The main attraction of stainless is that it requires less maintenance and can take high heat. I have both for different purposes.

                                          If I want high heat and to be able to preheat the pan, I've also got a couple of Sitram Catering pans and a few other items. As far as ruggedness, durability, even heat distribution, and value go, Sitram Catering line is probably the best option out there. One size doesn't fit all.

                                          1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                            "As far as ruggedness, durability, even heat distribution, and value go, Sitram Catering line is probably the best option out there"

                                            HEY! That's enough of that. JB Prince already gets enough of my check!
                                            LOL

                              2. re: Fritter

                                Williams Sonoma has a 3 quart copper core saute/simmer pan for $149. Most people here have dismissed the AC copper because of its price -- I'm wondering if anyone thinks it's worth buying when it's comparable in price to AC's SS line. I realize it may not be as good as a "true" copper pan, but those are out of my reach. Has anyone used the AC copper core? Is it worth picking up at a (relatively) good price? Thoughts?

                                1. re: herring

                                  Pappatty did and think it has better heat response than the standard All Clad stainelss
                                  Here is Pappatty's thought:
                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/682711

                                  1. re: herring

                                    Herring, I would go with either D5 4qt saute/simmer for $149 or tri-ply SS 4qt saute/simmer for $99 (special at WS outlet last week) instead. I saw the 3 qt AC copper core saute/simmer you mentioned last month in person but it is just too small to me as a saute/simmer pan. Many do not like 3 qt saute pan and rather want to have 4 qt instead, too. For 3 qt, i find the AC copper core saucier more versatile. it can be used for saute, too. Luckily, I cound find the same shape saucier as tri-ply SS version, which was a closeout, less than $90. I love this saucier a lot. I have no pieces from Copper core other than a small butter warmer, so I do not know anything on the difference of performance.
                                    http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

                                    http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

                                    http://www.amazon.com/All-Clad-Copper...

                                    1. re: herring

                                      Thanks, CK -- I saw that thread as well. Was hoping for a bit more feedback. Hobbybaker -- that 4 qt looks huge! I generally only cook for two, though I do entertain fairly frequently. I'll take another look in the store ... the saucier is beautiful and surely better than the Calphalon one I own, but it's more than twice the price of the saute/simmer pan so I'm afraid it's not a contender! Thanks for your thoughts, though.

                                      1. re: herring

                                        At comparable pricing, I'd always buy the Copper Core. I don't use my A-C CC 10" omelette pan on high heat & I don't have a gas range for quick heat adjustments, so my experience is severely hobbled. Compared to my Calphalon tri-ply 10" omelette pan, the A-C CC has a touch better cooking response. The A-C is much heavier than the same sized Calphalon & heats more evenly. I rarely use the Calphalon even though the differences are small for my uses.

                                    2. re: Demented

                                      Hey, I just found this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Marco-Pierre-...

                                      It's SS and 1.5 mm copper, but it's much cheaper. Surely there can't be much difference?

                                      1. re: Soop

                                        What I understand is the thicker the material, in this instance copper, the better the thermal properties. Does 2.5mm perform better than 1.5mm I don't know.

                                        For stock pots and many other pieces of cookware tinned copper may be more than sufficient. With frying and sauté pans, or any other piece that might be used with high heat, I'd error on the side of caution.

                                        To me, tin takes more care than stainless, only using soft (wood, silicone) utensils, only a soft sponge or dish towel when washing. Metal tools, abrasive cleaners and scrubber type sponges will wear through the tin very fast.

                                        I had a new ½ quart tinned copper sauce pan that needed re-tinning in a little more than a year. As EPA restrictions get tougher and tougher (here in the sates), finding a place to re-tin your cookware gets harder. On top of that, the cost and time it takes to have cookware re-tinned is prohibitive.

                                        FYI, Tin mets around 448, This is well below most oven application and many cooktop uses.

                                        1. re: Demented

                                          "I'd error on the side of caution"

                                          I've never had any issues with tin lined Mauviel however I do agree with this for those who are not familiar with the limitations of tin.

                                        2. re: Soop

                                          Try this link http://www.amazon.com/White-Collectio...

                                          Seems like a good price and copper amount is adequate.

                                          1. re: Soop

                                            I have some thin pieces and some thick ones.

                                            2.5-3.5mm will let you do something like saute onions on a medium-low to medium flame, walk away for five minutes, and come back to find your onions still happily caramelizing evenly without burning. Now I wouldn't recommend walking away from a saute pan for five minutes, but I can say that I've been in the kitchen doing other things for five or ten minutes without touching the pan, and everything's gone smoothly. A much less expensive Sitram Catering pan with a 2.5mm copper disk on the bottom will do that too, but the sides of the pan won't heat the same way as a solid copper pan, and it won't react as quickly to heat adjustments as a tin lined copper pan.

                                            A sauce or a custard is less likely to burn with a heavy pan and appropriate heat. Hotspots aren't as much of a problem. A large pot will keep a low simmer longer without requiring adjustment.

                                            That said, the thinner pieces are fine for a lot of things. You just need to pay closer attention that nothing's burning. 1.5mm is fine for a gratin dish or casserole or a pot for boiling water or melting butter or a pan for a quick saute where you're watching it closely and keeping the food moving in the pan.

                                            Most restaurant food, after all, is prepared in relatively inexpensive cast aluminum pans on stoves that put out way more heat than your average home rangetop. Cast aluminum has pretty even heat distribution, but eventually the pans get so warped they won't sit flat on the burner, and the heat distribution isn't going to be terribly even, but it doesn't matter, because the line cook knows how it all works and is paying attention to the food on the flame all the time and is keeping it all in motion.

                                        3. What did you love about it?