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new cookware set

So I have been going back and forth trying to decide on what type of cookware to get and I need some help. I do a lot of cooking and consider myself, for better or worse, kind of a foodie, so I am really looking for a good quality set that will last a while and definitely be used everyday. I have been leaning towards some try-ply stainless steel (there is a $600 Cuisinart set at amazon going for $225) or possibly the Calphalon Commercial Hard-Anodized 9-Piece Cookware Set which is going for only $160 at amazon (it is the pre-Calphalon One set I think). I have been reading some posts and seen the seemingly anti-Calphalon sentiment among many Chowhounds so if anyone has any direct usage knowledge of that particular set that would be helpful. But...I am beginning to get worried about missing the love/hate relationship with non-stick. Will I be alright without the non-stick? I make eggs and oatmeal pretty much everyday and just want to be sure I can fry up my little eggs without a whole stick of butter, and not lose half my oats to the pan. The reasons for moving away from non-stick are: I need to be able to use the pans in the oven (and not just up to 400 for 20mins), and really really really want to use metal utensils. Anyway, I can be easily convinced, so do your best.

also...I don't have unlimited funds for this either, maybe $300-350 max.

THANKS...

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  1. I'd go with a tri-ply set. Tramontina sells a nice triply set on Walmart's website at a great price (I think around $140 when I was looking. Cuisinart's triply set or Calphalon's are good as well ($225-250 range). Then buy yourself a cheap nonstick pan for eggs, etc., and you're good to go. I researched this stuff forever before buying a Surlatable (store-branded) triply set last year at around $300. Much cheaper than my single All-Clad piece and IMO it performs just as well. I've filled in with some pieces of the Walmart Tramontina and Calphalon triply and think they are also very good performers. If I had to do it again, I would have bought the way-cheap Tramontina set via the more expensive Surlatable set. Lots of others would recommend not buying a set at all, just the pots you'll use, but I found the sets to be at such a good price point that it's cost-efficient just filling in around the set.

    3 Replies
    1. re: koigirl

      Virtually everyone on this CH topic advises against buying sets. You're best off with different pans for different tasks. For eggs and crepes, non-stucj us great. For frying with the idea of making a reduction sauce (where you want those little bits and pieces for flavor), other materials are better.

      Here's an article you might find interesting:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/din...

      1. re: mpalmer6c

        The basic cookware set is all about handling the day-to-day stuff and is the foundation of a functioning home kitchen. Most of what you are looking to do is boil water, heat up a sauce, steam some veggies, etc. All but the cheapest cookware will handle these tasks just fine. You also want to have it fairly care-free to clean. You shouldn't have to worry about tossing it in the dishwasher -- life is too short.

        Sure you can piecemeal the whole thing, but you will end up spending a lot of money on stuff that is 1) suitable for a limited style of cooking, 2) requires more care than you are going to want to do on a day-to-day basis, and 3) you always seem to end up a pan or pot short.

        A set will get you started with multiple peices so that you can have a couple items going at once while a piece or two is still in the dishwasher. A decent quality stainless set will serve you well and really shouldn't set you back. (As I am writing, a flier for Sam's Club arrived -- they have a Wolfgang Puck set for $99. Maybe someone can chime in if they know if his stuff is decent .) Stay away from non-stick sets (though a non-stick pan is nice to have, just don't spend a lot on since they just don't last very long.) Enamelled and anodized really should not go in the dishwasher, so keep that in mind.

        Yeah, the sets are a compromise, and that will drive some people nuts. For the rest of us, I think it works just fine. Besides, owning a set doesn't mean you can't supplement with a few specialty items.

      2. re: koigirl

        For what it's worth, some sets are fine. I have noticed that they might be short some lids (anticipating sharing) and that there might be one of two items you won't use as much, but I haven't seen a set that is so awful that it couldn't form the base of your collection. The lid-share thing annoys me a bit, so that is one reason why I prefer individual pieces, but at my stage of the game, I am thirty years past the need for a complete set. Just be sure to really understand what you are getting in the set and ask yourself if it is sufficient, if the pieces are the right size, and will you have enough lids. There are often multiple sets available from each manufacturer, so shop carefully. As for Calphalon, I own three pieces. I like two of them -- a tapas pan and a 12 inch skillet, and they are great, but they can scratch. The smaller skillet I own has never had a flat enough bottom for my cooktop, and it spins. I also detest and advise against glass lids. They are an accident waiting to happen, and are not likely to hold up as long as the pan itself.

      3. Wanted to add that I have a Calphalon Commercial large saute pan and its non-stick finish has not held up as well as I'd hoped. I wouldn't want to own an entire set of this line.

        1. I make oatmeal in the microwave, so no idea how it would do with stainless, but I'd be a bit skeptical. Eggs are fine with practice, but it's easy enough to keep a cheap non-stick if you're worried.

          Metal utensils are not kind to hard-anodized surfaces. Get the tri-ply and keep one non-stick around for eggs and oatmeal. I have several pieces of Cuisinart Multiclad, and I love them.

          1. I'm not a fan of non-stick, or of anodized aluminum, and I always use a stainless saucepan for oatmeal. Sure, you end up with a little oatmeal residue in the pan. Big deal. It's easy to clean with a scrubbie, and even easier if you soak the pan first. Unless you scorch the stuff, it shouldn't be a problem. Eggs are a different story; you may want to have one nonstick skillet for those. As for cookware sets, many people recommend against them, but if you're starting from scratch they can be economical--provided you need every piece. Otherwise, better just to purchase the items you'll really use.

            1. I've been using calphalon commercial for 20+ years, with no problems and I'm pretty happy with it. That said, I purchased it as a set and find I don't use all the pieces regularly, and the skillets do stick a bit. For example I'd never do scrambled eggs in them, but if I'm sauteeing I usually get good results by keeping the heat a bit lower than for other types of cookware. Oatmeal does fine in the calphalon pan, as well as in stainless steel.

              I ended up buying some additional pieces of calphalon commerical (as well as other cookware types) to get the pans I use regularly. Because it was so long ago I don't recall the original set components, but like others I'd advise against a set. On the other hand, calphalon commerical is no longer being made and it sounds like you've got a great price, so dive in, just know that it won't meet all your cooking needs.

              1. I have a set of Kirkland (Costco) pots and pans and they're great. Stainless with a copper and clad aluminum bottom. I think they're made by All Clad. The price was excellent.

                More importantly, if you're looking to make eggs and want to use metal utensils, why not invest in a cast iron skillet. I make eggs and/or some type of protien in mine every morning. As long as you keep it clean and seasoned well, you shouldn't have any problem. I just give it a quick spray of cooking oil first.

                DT

                1. Keep repeating Swiss Diamond to yourself. It is some of the best cookware I have ever used. The shop I work in sells AllClad, Le Creuset, Emerilware etc but what we sell the most of is Swiss Diamond. Almost everyone who buys a piece become repeat customers. All of us who work in the shop use it and recommend it over any other brand.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Candy

                    Repeat customers because they keep buying more pans or repeat customers because they have to replace them? If I drop any of my pans, the handle doesn't break off.

                    1. re: HaagenDazs

                      Buying more pans. I had one customer in last week who was out fitting a new kitchen in a brand new vacation home, lucky her, price no object, bought a 10 pc. set while exclaiming to a friend how much she loves Swiss Diamond. Her friend was buying the large soup/stock pot also from SD.

                      The hysterical (not in the ha ha site) web-site with "LIAR" gouged into a SD pan had clearly abused the pan. I did impulsively cut something in one of mine with a sharp chef's knife with no damage to the pan. It is not something I would routinely do and it probably violate the guarantee. I have never had a pan returned and as a customer said to me, "the Swiss are lousy cooks, but great engineers." Gosh and they are made in Switzerland, not China.

                  2. Lots of good suggestions in these comments. So it really comes down to what you want to do and how. You said you are a "foodie" and as such would want to experiment with new recipes. This says to me that you should have a good working core set of products -- new non-stick for those eggs and omelettes, basic dutch oven, skillet, sauce pan and stock pot (suggest clad stainless), and some special purpose pots and pans. So if you choose to get a set, get a small set of basics (look online for some really good products at decent prices and they do not have to be name brands) and then add those items you want -- copper saute pan, cast iron stew pot, copper soup pot, or what ever suites your fancy.

                    I would be happy to discuss this with you in more detail so your can work out the approach that suits your best.

                    yogiwan

                    1. MikeB mentioned it but I'm surprised that no one else has really touched on it: DISHWASHER SAFE. Anodized anything is not dishwasher safe and will in fact without a doubt, 110% positive be ruined by dishwasher use. Non-stick is close behind and should not be washed in a dishwasher either.

                      So it all comes down to durability for me. I have an anodized pan and I have a non-stick pan, I have carbon steel, I have stainless, I have cast iron, I have enameled cast iron, I have enameled steel stuff too, so I just about have it all. In the long run, I frequently turn to my stainless steel pan because of the ease of use overall. It's stove top to oven to table to dishwasher safe and it does all those things splendidly.

                      1. Hey thanks everybody for all the help. I am especially interested in the Swiss Diamond. I remember seeing them a few different times, but never really knew what they were all about. Anyone know anything about their non-stick coating? From what I have been reading you can use metal utensils and throw them in the oven up to 500...sounds good to me. They have a lifetime warranty too, and they have a small 6 piece set priced within reason at amazon. So what am I missing, where is the bad news on these guys? The Swiss are always up to something, right?

                        Also, the only reason I was looking at sets was because of the deals you can find. I could probably piece together something smaller and better, but it would cost me a lot more. I do have some pots that are doing alright from a relatively cheap set I bought about 6 years ago, but I don't see the harm in having a couple nicer ones. I also have little cookouts once in a while and always seem to be short handed when it comes to pots and pans and bowls and the like. I appreciate the Bittman article (big fan of his), but I feel like this is the one time where some of my old stuff is wearing too thin and I have the chance to just do a good revamp of my stock.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: dwillm

                          All you have read is true. No bad news on this stuff, they can go in the dishwasher but clean up so easily it is unnecessary. They stand behind what they produce I had a problem with a skillet, just bad run I guess. It was replaced immediately. I had a customer bring in a skillet that had fallen out of his dish drainer and broke the handle off. That was a Monday. On Thursday afternoon I had the handle rep0ced and ready to go. One happy customer and a repeat customer.

                          1. re: dwillm

                            "So what am I missing, where is the bad news on these guys?"

                            http://209.85.173.132/search?q=cache:...

                            1. re: Joe Blowe

                              There isn't any

                              1. re: Candy

                                You may actually have to click a link or two:

                                http://www.naturalnews.com/021059.html
                                .
                                .

                                1. re: Joe Blowe

                                  And you believe that crap? I would not trust anything from a site like that that feeds on the fears of the sky is falling population. The process that makes the diamond coating destroys the so-called bad stuff that makes the coating adhere. As a woman over 50 I am more concerned with getting too much iron in my diet. I'll stick to my Swiss Diamond thank you. Never have liked eggs cooked in cast iron anyway. They taste weird.

                                  1. re: Candy

                                    Well if the findings are true then SD is really being misleading.
                                    However, this guys sense of hyperbole is a million times worse than mine!!

                                    DT

                                    1. re: Candy

                                      What I believe is that there's a sucker born every minute. And that you're obviously biased: "I had a customer bring in a skillet that had fallen out of his dish drainer and broke the handle off." You work for a Swiss Diamond dealer, right? Do you get a commission? Is it the only cookware brand you push a new customer towards? Or do you truly assess their needs and suggest stainless steel, cast iron, or inexpensive non-stick when it fits? I'm guessing you don't.

                                      I don't buy non-stick cookware that costs over $15 a pan. I buy whatever's on sale at Costco or HomeGoods, and send it to the recycler as soon as it wears out (at my rate, every few years). I don't believe there's a conspiracy to poison us with PFOA, the chemical that is used in the manufacture of PTFE. No lab has found any trace of PFOA in finished non-stick cookware. And all labs agree that PTFE, when used PROPERLY, is safe. Don't use it on high heat, don't use metal utensils, recycle it when it shows wear. That applies to ANY non-stick pan on the market.

                                      So based on that, why would any suck... hrmm, educated consumer buy the line that a $100 frying pan "coated with diamonds" is going to be a wise use of funds?

                                      The OP wondered out loud if there was any disagreeable news out there on Swiss Diamond, and I presented *some*. Why are you so defensive? Are you trying to stifle any negative discussion? Afraid of losing a sale? Afraid of some educated people deciding they might not need Swiss Diamond cookware to make an egg?

                                      1. re: Joe Blowe

                                        "I don't buy non-stick cookware that costs over $15 a pan"

                                        I'm glad you brought that up JB. I currently own zero non stick (Teflon/PTFE/diamond/californium/whatever) cookwear. I'm considering one but have been wondering if I should just go cheap and replace as needed.

                                        I buy cheap sunglasses to wear at work because they can easily end up on the floor of my truck and squashed or scratched.

                                        DT

                                        1. re: Joe Blowe

                                          You guess wrong! No commission. In a number of cases the SD is less expensive than All-Clad and I point that out to my customers. Swiss Diamon is simply superior and has a life time guarantee. They stand behind what they make. I had a French customer buying SD, her remarked that Swiss are terrible cooks (i don't totally agree with that) but are great engineers.

                                          I'm not trying to stifle anything, just setting the record straight. I only get brownie points from my happy customers. No kick backs from SD. The only one of my vendors who have a sales incentive program is Le Creuset. I actually had a customer turn down All Clad because it was metal. He did not want any metal cookware at all because it all leaches in to food. Okay if that is what you want to believe.

                              2. I bought a set of Calphalon Commercial - 2 sets in fact - about 15 years ago. The ones with the metal lids. I love them, even heat, easy clean-up (never in the dishwasher though), I never burn or or have to watch them too closely.

                                But...i was in my 40's then. Now, I'm approaching 60. My Arthiritis is acting up and these pans are Heavy! I find it harder to flip and toss then before.

                                Not that this is a reason to not buy them, but in retrospect, if there were lighter stainless or maybe even non-stick brands, I might have gone with them instead

                                1. Hmm...there does seem to be some questionable things regarding the miracle Swiss Diamonds. After reading way too much about them and then trying to get back on the good side, reading through their FAQ's, I don't really trust them. I believe they work great and totally believe all the good things people are saying, BUT, it does seem that they are trying to make people think they are a different type of non-stick, when in fact they still have all the bad chemicals relating to that technology. I mean, look at those new Green Pans and how they are explicitly advertising no PTFE's and PFOA's....why wouldn't Swiss Diamond go the same advertising route (unless they can't)? I know that all the bad write up on the Swiss was from the past few years, but they have not seemed to have changed anything since then. My best guess would be that they are currently working on a new and better coating that can take advantage of this "anti-non-stick" attitude currently out there.

                                  Right now I am thinking that the long term ill-effects of non-stick are just not worth it. I think I am going with some stainless try-ply and maybe a simple lodge cast iron for my eggs.

                                  1. OK -- one more time -- the set should not have non-stick coatings. No matter how good, coatings wear off. Picking up a skillet or two with non-stick is a whole 'nother deal. I am not anti-Teflon -- there are lots of time I will stash my cast iron skillet and grab a non-stick pan because I know I am not going to want to deal with clean-up right away. But having to replace a whole set in a few years because the coating is getting ragged is the pits. (My wife and I were gifted a set of non-stick Calphalon around 5 years ago -- VERY NICE STUFF, but it is definitely wearing out despite gentle treatment. Meanwhile, pieces from my grandma's classic Farberware set from the 60's soldier on.)

                                    I am sure that we all deserve Swiss Diamond -- then we again we all deserve Porsches. Save your money and get a quality stainless set, and then put the money you saved into a piece of Staub or LeCreuset, or maybe that stand mixer that you have had your eye on for ages.

                                    As far as eggs tasting funny when cooked on cast iron, can we all agree that the problem was not with the pan and more with someone who either had not seasoned the pan, washed and scoured the seasoning off (using lots of Palmolive along the way), or stashed the pan for an extra-special long time and let the pan go rancid. Eggs cooked on cast iron should taste like...eggs.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: MikeB3542

                                      I'm with ya Mike. I don't know how many times people have to say it but I'm glad that dwillm is changing course. If money is important, then durability and longevity should be as well.

                                    2. Just as an update, I am leaning towards the Gordon Ramsey set. Before you all roll your eyes, look into them, they seem to be some pretty solid pieces. The only thing is that it is hard to find reviews on them (but all that I have seen has been way positive). I am almost getting burnout on looking at cookware, so this might be the final decision. Maybe outfit the set with a small Lodge skillet as well. After this whole ordeal is over then I can save up and move on to a good dutch oven...those Staub 6.5 quarts for $150 are pretty interesting.......

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: dwillm

                                        As a general rule, you will always pay more and get less with a branded item like that. In other words, look at who actually makes the set and see what the differences are in construction and price.

                                        1. re: HaagenDazs

                                          As for the Staub, I must say you have good taste. It's a whole other thread somewhere, but I find Staub far superior to Le Creuset.

                                          1. re: HaagenDazs

                                            The Ramsey set is made by Royal Doulton and has the aluminum core that runs up the sides of all the pans and seems to have some good heft to it. I think there was a video of it being sold on HSN, and as much of a joke as it all is (the selling out, the name branding, the hsn and all that), the pieces looked to be top quality. The price coincides with the sets just below All Clad...roughly 300 for 10 pieces.

                                            I have a Le Creuset piece that I love, but those Staub items just look fantastic, and are maybe just a hair below in price.

                                            1. re: dwillm

                                              Hey Dwillm

                                              If you're really interested in a set, I'd recommend you check out the Kirkland set at Costco.
                                              http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product....

                                              I picked up a smaller set a couple years ago and am ecstatic with it. I believe it's made by all clad and for that money, you can't beat it.

                                              DT

                                        2. I'm not sure where you live or but there is cookware flying out the door at our local Linens n Things. Going out of business sales are good for the home cook...