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Le Creuset and Its Imitators

I'm considering a 5qt iron enameled oval pot for the wife this Christmas. The originals are going for about $200. I've seen similarly designed--but obviously copies--in the TJMax and Ross type stores priced at $60 or so. Look to be German or Italian made. Would these be suitable substitutes or will the food come out better out of the Creuset, being French and all :-)?

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  1. The only drawback i have seen to the non-LC stuff is that the enameling is not quite as thick and tends to chip readily. This should probably go on the Cookware board for more responses,

    1. I have a Lodge dutch oven and a casserole. I bought them as seconds from the factory store.
      I've been ecstatic with the casserole but the dutch oven not so much. I think they've been used roughly the same amount but the DO has some chips round the outside underneath and a few cracks in the enamel inside on the bottom.
      The casserole is in perfect shape.
      I'm wondering if the DO had a flawed enamel job. Other than that, I love them.

      I've been advised that it's not hard to find LC on eBay and other sites at really good prices. I've never looked though.

      Good luck.

      DT

      1. I only have an LC one, so I can't compare, but I'll share a couple of thoughts. One, if you think your wife wants an LC one, I wouldn't get something else (I say that speaking as a wife). Second, check to see if there are any LC outlet stores near you, or, if you have access, check out Costco. I'm still coveting an 8 quart oval one there that was $150. The outlets have better prices and seconds that are often not discernable from firsts.

        Actually - where are you located? My local hardware store seems to be having a pretty good sale right now.

        2 Replies
        1. re: MMRuth

          I'll second that advice. If she asked for LC then don't substitute. Also speaking as a wife, nothing is surer to get me ticked off than a substitution of what I have requested. It doesn't matter what it is, for instance I asked my DH to pick up some back-fin crab meat and he came home with claw meat because they were out of the back-fin. Bad move!

          1. re: Candy

            I'm with the ladies on this one, if your wife has her heart set on LC, take the plunge and consider it an investment in your relationship. I'm using LC that I've had for 25 years and it's still going strong; it's worth the investment in my opinion.

        2. I've seen a lot of official Le Creuset stuff at TJ Maxx recently. I've had LC stuff for years and can vouch for their customer service program, which is one of the best I've experienced.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Velda Mae

            TJMaxx will sell Irregulars and over stocked items the mfg wants to get rid of. They are genuine though.

          2. I own a non-LC 5-qt oval dutch oven (it might be Innova brand or something) and it turns out beautiful food. There was a chip in the lid when I bought it from Home Goods, but in the last 4 years it hasn't chipped anywhere else or cracked. From a functional standpoint, I think any dutch oven would be suitable. However, only you know your wife. Would she feel miffed that you bought a non-LC pot because it's cheaper, or would she think it's silly to spend $200 on LC when a perfectly good dutch oven could be purchased for less?

            2 Replies
            1. re: leanneabe

              I agree with you. When I let my husband know what I want, I want that item not a version of it.

              1. re: leanneabe

                I agree, only you know your wife. Mine is a a lot more flexible than I am about what she requests. I boughgt a Martha Stewart 5.5 qt dutch oven at Macys for $49.95 and so far so good but since I've not used LC I have nothing to compare it too

              2. I'd worry that the LC sold as seconds at the factory outlets might be priced lower because they know there was a question about how properly it was manufactured. Or maybe it was dropped and has no visible damage, but will as a result chip later on.

                My Martha Stewart line DO from K-Mart performs well, as does a 6.5 qt Tramontina ($40 at Walmart) which was recommended a year ago In Cooks Illustrated as a Best Buy. Both of these are round ones - there's more available in round than oval. Previous threads have discussed chipping - IMO if you don't bang the pots around, they won't chip. I wash mine by itself, in the sink, and put it in a warm oven to dry. Unless your wife specifically wants the LC brand, I'd go for the lower price.

                4 Replies
                1. re: greygarious

                  I can't speak to the enameled cast iron at the outlets, but I've bought quite a few ceramic seconds there and never had any problems. Another thing I don't know though is how the warranty does, or does not, apply to things purchased at outlets. That said, when LC replaced the lid that I broke (completely my fault), they didn't ask where I'd bought the dutch oven.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Same warranty at the outlets as any other LC retailer. My parents bought a wok at one of the outlets that turned out to have a defective lid, and the company replaced it at no cost and with no questions asked.

                  2. re: greygarious

                    I own a few pieces I picked up from the seconds rack at the LC outlet here in AZ. I also have several first quality pieces. (I'm talking about cast iron here to be clear). I can't tell any difference between how the seconds compare with the firsts at all. All perform equally well and haven't had any trouble with chipping in any of them, first or second quality.

                    The ones I picked up were all seconds because of misprayed paint. It doesn't take much for LC to decide something is a second.

                    As for the OP....they all pretty much perform the same. I bought a Batali pot I keep at my mother's house and things taste the same out of it as my LC. That said my mother bought me Things Cooks Love branded item from one of the discounters a couple years ago. It functioned fine but chipped horribly, including internally so I chucked it as I was concerned about the internal chips and the glaze materials(it was made in China).

                    I agree with the others that if you wife is not set on a LC piece, there are many lower price options out there. I just ordered this Staub item at very competitive price for my MILhttp://www.qvc.com/qic/qvcapp.aspx/view.2/ap....

                    But...if she is set on LC you're better off not going with a less expensive piece.

                    1. re: ziggylu

                      If buying a second, or from a discounter, make sure the lid fits nicely - I'd seen second where the lids rocks a bit.. not good for braising. That is especially true of the ceramics - I've seen a lot of Emile Henry with gappy lids..

                      If she asked for LC, get her LC.. or maybe Staub. A dutch/french oven is a very versatile, long-lived kitchen tool - its a piece you guys will have for 30 years. But of course, if the only thing she does in the kitchen is dust, then you have to decide on the value..

                      I found a nice one at Tuesday Morning that I got for a pretty fair price..

                      Also, the 5.5 is a nice pot, and great for cooking for 4, but if you entertain for a lot of people (8'ish), you might want the next size up.

                  3. I have pieces from LeCreuset and Staub, an un-named French manufacturer and a Chinese knock off. They're all excellent and do the job just fine.

                    My oldest piece is a LeCreuset that's probably 30 years old and still holding up well even if the "white" interior is stained, stained, stained at this point. But I have no reason not to believe they'll all be passed on to my girls and give them good service too.

                    At this point, I'd never choose to buy something of Chinese manufacture to prepare food with. Too many awful stories about the materials they use and the total lack of a concept of "safety" but I didn't know that when I bought the Chinese piece several years ago.

                    To save some bucks I'd check out places like Home Goods that have clearance pieces or Costco that gets a great price on the 8qt casserole you can take a bath in (great for the Lahey no-knead bread tho!). But whatever you spend now you're going to amortize over decades of use. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to say that about everything?

                    1. I have turned numerous people onto my 5 qt. Le Creuset because of the way it braises meat and the dishes I've made it in over the years. They always go out the next day and buy one.
                      I say....make the investment and you'll never be sorry you did....it is pure quality you are purchasing.

                      1. If your wife is okay with an imitation, I really like my round yellow 5qt enameled Calphalon pot that I bought from Bed Bath & Beyond with a 20% off coupon. They come in different colors and are available in both round and oval shapes. My pot works great and cleans beautifully in the dishwasher. However, I have no idea how it compares to a genuine Le Creuset, since I don't own any LC pieces.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: cvhound

                          you put cast iron, even enameled, in the dishwasher?

                            1. re: Davwud

                              I put mine in the dishwasher (the enameled).

                              I just take care to leave space all around it so that nothing will bump up against it and chip it.

                              1. re: Davwud

                                Yes, I've washed it in the d/w countless times and have never had a problem. :-)

                            2. stop being so cheap. save your money and get what your wife wants. she'll be disappointed if you buy her the cheapo chinese knock-off. i mean, don't you know she realizes that there are other lesser-priced brands out there?

                              the only one you might be able to substitute, and not draw as much irritation, would be a staub pot. otherwise, get the lady what she asks for.

                              i wonder how you might feel if you wanted some electronic gadget but she bought the walmart store brand instead of the one you desperately want.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: clearly

                                If it were me, and I asked for Le Creuset, but my husband got me a lower tier brand that was functional and looked nice, I'd still look forward to getting the Le Creuset one day, but I'd appreciate his care for *all* of our family's financial needs and goals and be touched that he cared about what I wanted and worked to find a reasonable compromise.

                                It's nice when we can get exactly what we want, and if OP feels he can do it, I, like others here, would encourage him to try to get his wife the Le Creuset. But we can't always get exactly what we want, not even at Christmas, and there are many reasons that have nothing to do with "being cheap" that OP may have asked this question. I think he sounds like a caring husband who is concerned with making his wife happy at Christmas, and if he's unfamiliar with enameled cooking pots, then it makes sense he would ask those who have more experience with them.

                                As for me, I like all the higher-end cookware I have, and it's been worth every penny, but when I need a piece a cooking equipment and something moderately priced will do the job well, I go for that, so that I can afford the more expensive items when they really are the best tool for the job.

                                1. re: clearly

                                  "Stop being so cheap"

                                  I don't consider myself cheap but at the same time, I don't really have the budget to drop $200 on a single piece of cookware.

                                  If she was dying to have a LC and I just couldn't do it, I'd not do it at all. I wouldn't try a second rate thing. Unless we talked about it and she signed off on it.

                                  DT

                                  1. re: Davwud

                                    What do think your wife's first priority would be?

                                    Would she most want a nice 5-quart oven, a Le Creuset in particular, or, as you noted, something high quality from France?

                                    If it doesn't have to be a "5-quart Le Creuset French oven from France" ;-), maybe there are alternatives.

                                    I.e.,

                                    Here's a 2-3/4-qt. soup pot from LC for $100 on Amazon:

                                    http://www.amazon.com/Creuset-2-3-4-Q...

                                    I don't know how large your family is, and I know this pot is smaller, but I can see myself finding a lot of ways to use that, atop the burner and in the oven.

                                    Or, I've seen the 2-qt. LC cocottes onsale online in quite a few places for just over $100. True, they're small, but I use my baby Staub as much as I use the big one, for rice, for veggie sides that roasted or braised, baking beans, and a couple of times, a round quick bread loaf.

                                    Does she already have some LC? If not, you don't run the risk of getting her something she already has if you look at their open bakeware. For instance, this open enameled baker, which she could use for...well, uh, *baking*, or lasagna, noodle casseroles, roasted potatoes, small meat roasts, you get the picture.

                                    http://www.amazon.com/Creuset-Enamele...

                                    That's just over $100.

                                    You could also choose some of LC's stoneware bakeware. You can easily find something in the price range you noted in your OP. I have a couple of loaf pans, which I'm very pleased with.

                                    The only thing you need to know is that LC's stoneware bakeware is NOT made in France.

                                    So...if the priority is something nice from France, then you could consider Emile Henry's open bakeware pieces. I just got a 12" pie plate (very big) from Emile Henry this week, and I already want to marry it. :-) I love it. It's made from Burgundian clay, *very* good quality glaze. I've already used it to bake goodies, to marinate meats in the fridge, to roast veggies, and to make a beef pot pie in phyllo. Worked great for that. The larger size will be perfect for pie on Christmas, but there's a smaller version, too. I got the big one so I could use it for *small roasts*, too.

                                    You might look at EH's baking pieces, the large and smaller pie plates, the bakers (various sizes), the au gratins, etc., if something good from France that doesn't bust the budget is the point. Here's a link to some of the EH merchandise at cooking.com, but EH is readily available so you can comparison shop:

                                    http://www.cooking.com/products/brand...

                                    I'd be excited to open any one of these packages on Christmas morning, but of course only you know what your wife already has (or if you don't, you can poke around the cabinets with your measuring tape), what kinds of things she likes to cook, and how she might be able to use some of these things.

                                    1. re: Steady Habits

                                      My wife wouldn't want me to spend a whole bunch of money on something.
                                      I got her an ipod touch last Christmas and she was a little displeased. The fact that she loved it out weighed it but that's besides the point. "It's too much, it's too much."

                                      Besides, I'm the one who'd ask for kitchen stuff. Not her.

                                      DT

                                      1. re: Steady Habits

                                        Sorry for the confusion.

                                        That post was meant for justaddwater. I guess I didn't quite have the hang for the "Reply" and "Reply to Original Post" links. Now I do, of course.

                                    2. re: clearly

                                      Isn't there something artificial about buying exactly what the wife wants for Christmas, especially if the money comes out of the common household budget? If she really wants it, can't she just buy it for herself? Not that there's anything wrong with the husband acting as a purchasing agent, but is that gift giving?

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        I think it's gift giving, paul. First of all, a lot of people put off buying things for themselves, in the interest of their families. (Case in point, my hubby. He *never* buys anything for himself....except a haircut.) I know there are things that interest him, because we'll see an ad or pass something in a store, and he'll say, "Oh, I always wanted one of those." But no matter how much I push him and let him know, it's okay, we can afford it, get it for yourself, he won't do it. He grew up without extra money and he can't let go of old habits and worries. So, I always make note of those things he mentions, and try to get him at least *something* of "exactly what he wants" on his birthday and Christmas. And, FWIW, I always appreciate getting something that I specifically asked for, as well as the thoughtful surprises.

                                    3. Thanks all for the insightful and helpful comments. I ended up hitting a couple of the discount stores (TJMaxx, Ross) and found that, in fact, TJMaxx does carry some Le Creuset products, but unfortunately no dutch ovens, at least not for this visit. No luck at all at Ross. At TJs, I picked up a very nice and heavy Cuisinart Chef's Classic round seven (7) quart in green. I was very impressed with the heft (weighs 17 lbs) and having just come back from Sonoma I can report that it is made of heavier gauge iron than the comparable 7 1/4 quart Le Creuset. The wall thickness--measured with calipers--is 4.5mm for the Cuisinart. I did not measure the Le Creuset, but it was clearly thinner, perhaps by a full 1mm. Another difference is the top handle, which is cast iron on the Cuisinart, thermoplastic on the Le Creuset. The lid on this monster is very tight fitting. I could not find any defects on the pot inside or out. The inner enamel finish is light cream colored and the inside bottom is smooth with a nice rounded corner where the bottom meets the sides. The inner side of the lid is smooth (no nibs).

                                      At $70 vs. the $240 for the Le Creuset, I think it represents good value and we're going to keep it. The wife agrees with my conclusion and won't mind not having the "name brand." She does already have the smaller 3 quart or so oval Le Creuset for that purpose and I'm going to try the no knead bread you are all talking about tomorrow in it. We're both on the practical side, perhaps to the extreme. Whether the enamel finish is as durable as Le Creuset, time will tell.

                                      There were also a number of five (5) quart models of different makes at TJs. None as heavily constructed as the Cuisinart. Interestingly, one had the "nibs" on the inner side of the lid and the three tabs on the inner lip that I thought I read in another CH post might identify it as a Staub (or a good imitation). If price is a serious consideration, I don't think the 5 quart enameled Lodge on Amazon for $50 shipped can be beat.

                                      I enjoyed reading the replies, a very interesting and diverse crowd here.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: justaddwater

                                        I've seen them on the web, but never in person. That does sound like a very good value. Are you able to tell at all how many coats of enamel it has? (Not that I'd know the difference, but it does seem like the topic comes up a lot.) The weight sounds good, and the cream colored interior sounds like a benefit. The one thing I don't like about Staub is the lack of that.

                                        1. re: Steady Habits

                                          I set the Le Creuset 2-3/4 qt and the Cuisinart 7 qt side by side and examined the inner enamel coating. The Le Creuset coating is easily thicker. If the industry standard is 2 or 4 coats (as the Lodge enameled cookware is reported to come in), then I don't think it would be unreasonable to guess that the Le Creuset's is twice as thick, though you'd have to measure to confirm. Whether the 7 1/4 qt Le Creuset would also have this extra thick coating, I can't say, I'll try to remember to check next time I drop into WS. The wall thickness on this smaller Le Creuset is 3.5mm, but again, the larger one might be a bit thicker, but certainly not as thick as the Cuisinart.

                                          If one is comparing the same quality enamel, then thicker would certainly be better. It is possible that a thinner enamel be of a higher quality and therefore more abrasion or chip resistant, but given Le Creuset's warranty and reputation, the extra thickness on it bodes well for Le Creuset.

                                          1. re: justaddwater

                                            With Le Creuset you get what you pay for.
                                            It's pure quality.
                                            They stand by their product and if there is any problem with the enamel they replace it....no questions asked.

                                      2. In my NSHO, Le Creuset = $100,000 Cadillac and something like Tremontina = $30,000 Honda Accord. I'd rather have the Accord even if the prices were the same. Of course, my kitchen is all Honda Civic - everything performs perfectly forever making it hard to ever buy any new stuff.

                                        12 Replies
                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                          When i ask for a specific product and the DH comes up with a substitute, the substitute gets returned in the blink of an eye. Ask him. Don't second guess that something else is just a good. It isn't and I'm not settling for something I did not want, don't waste your time and money, it is going to cost much mor ein the long run.. Call me the "B" word, okay, fine. I know what I want and don't want substitutes or excuses. If not getting what I asked for, after you asked what i wanted, specifically don't even try to substitute something similar. Suggestion, go buy diamond studs instead, not a cheap knock off of what I specifically indicated I wanted. You asked, I said what I wanted. a cheaper substitute will not remain in the house 24 hours.

                                          Look at it this way, she asked what you'd like and you specified a Ken Onion knife but instead she bought you a cheap Gerber imitation now made by Fiskars. You gong to be happy?

                                          1. re: Candy

                                            Ken Onion v Fiskars? Depends on whether I wanted it for its functionality or as status symbol. :) Most of my best used knives are among the least expensive ones; the expensive gifts hide in storage.

                                            1. re: Candy

                                              Candy, you are so right!! I didn't address that key part of the question at all.

                                              I would NEVER EVER EVER suggest getting anything different than what was requested, especially by DH or DW or SO or ... In my experience, it is difficult to get one's SO to request something specific and pricey. I would love to have a SO who would request stuff w/o regard to price or practicality, but just because she wanted

                                              Accept my apologies, please!

                                              1. re: Candy

                                                Who would have thought enamel cast iron cookware could be so controversial? The term “Le Creuset,” to a certain extent (at least for the wife and me and probably more so for the general public than for the more knowledgeable types here), has become a genericized trademark. The wife was in fact requesting a larger “enamel cast iron pot” than she presently had. She is not offended by a substitute and did not have her “heart set on Le Creuset,” though that might be the case in some circumstances. If for example, she would have requested that I get here a “crockpot” for Christmas, I don’t think she would have been offended (in fact, probably more pleased) if I did not buy her a Rival. Or, if she requested a Kleenex, that I hand her a generic branded tissue.

                                                Purchasing a Le Creuset pot is not for everyone, even if it is the “best,” which it may very well be. Is it the best pot for someone who will use it once and put it in the cubbard? No. Is it the best pot for someone who is having to make difficult choices as to how to spend their funds? No. I read through several threads and came across a number of recommendations for it as the automatic response to the question of “which iron pot is best to purchase.”

                                                For most people, something like the $50 Lodge on Amazon or the $80 QVC Staub is the best choice, offering the most value for the casual user. These are well known manufacturers that have a history of making good product and will be around to honor the warranty. These prices are ¼ to 1/3 the price of an equivalent Le Creuset. I think you’ll see the prices come down on the Le Creusets in the future.

                                                1. re: justaddwater

                                                  Prices actually went up substantially on LC in the past year.

                                                  I sell cookware also. There are some good values out there on other brand enameled cast iron. We sell the Batali pots as well as Staub and LC where I work and we sell a lot of Batali. I haven't seen any come back (in over 2 years now) for chipping, etc. For a less expensive Chinese made product it seems to be well made. I anticipate the Staub pot I got for my MIL from QVC for less than $60 to also be of very good quality.

                                                  So buying LC isn't necessary by any means. BUT....it IS a high quality product which many of the less expensive pots can't claim to be(as I mentioned above I've had my own poor experience with a cheap off-brand pot picked up from one of the TJ Maxx type discounters). The fact the pots are made in France and that each piece is still individually cast is going to keep prices high. One thing a customer gets in return for the high price is outstanding warranty service which for many folks is worth it.

                                                  I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. There is only the right pot for each individual person. Hope your wife loves her new one!

                                                  1. re: justaddwater

                                                    Not to be a Negative Nellie, but I just thought I should let you know that I bought several pieces of the Cuisinart line of enameled cast iron and quickly replaced them with comparable LC pieces. The main problem that I had was that they chipped VERY easily. I didn't even notice it happening. Now, I have a couple of chips on my most frequently used LC, but it was from me doing stupid things like dropping it.

                                                    On the other hand, the Cuisinart performed fine - the chipping was just a cosmetic feature I wasn't happy about. If I were going to buy a cheaper enamel cast iron product, I think I would go with Lodge myself. Lodge seems to have many happy customers.

                                                    1. re: paraque

                                                      I ended up returning the 7 qt Cuisinart, due to its size, could not fit it and the 3 qt LC in my smallish oven and now that I've discovered how to make crusty bread, I can see having to put both in. In the store (TJ), several new Cuisinarts for sale, all with warped tops. One thing about the Le Creuset, the top fits very tightly. So I decide to skip the bottom feeding and checked out Macy's, their Calpholon looked really nice with tight fitting lids, but at $139, guess what? Decided to stop wasting time and just splurge for the "real thing." You can get Le Crueset on-line at Macy's with 15% off and free shipping. Got the 5 qt. oval for $187.

                                                        1. re: Cpt Wafer

                                                          My other one is the red so now I have two matching.

                                                          1. re: justaddwater

                                                            Yeah, the red is my favorite. Very striking.

                                                        2. re: justaddwater

                                                          Good for you!
                                                          You will never regret it...you get what you pay for.

                                                          1. re: justaddwater

                                                            You will love your new oven! The 5 qt. oval is a great shape and size. I love their red color too!

                                                  2. See, I look at it this way: It's a gift, right? Do you think your wife would like a nice set of fake diamond earrings, or genuine stones, even if they are smaller.? This is not a cookware question. It is a relationship question :)

                                                    If you choose to consider my argument, I have had some of my well-used LC for over twenty years. It is hard to kill. I also have a couple of Staubs, which are also French, expensive and made just as well (or some argue, better because of their dark interiors). If you think she will prefer LC because the brand is more familiar, the only other thing you need to consider is which color she will like.

                                                    BTW, I don't really think that it makes a difference on any given dish that you are cooking, but I suspect that the heavy duty enamel on the LC is one of the reasons it has lasted so long in my busy kitchen. I do think some of the cheaper models appear a bit more delicate and therefore may chip more easily. Just my impression...

                                                    1. I was skeptical at first too, I grew up in the boy scouts and we cooked in cast iron allll the time. I thought the idea of enameled cast iron to be crazy talk then I got a le creuset bouillabaisse, and have used it for every other meal. I liked it so much so that I got an oval oven too. my folks got a lodge coated cast piece and it works very good too, I bought a Hamilton beach enameled cast iron slow cooker. Dishes come out of them the same as in the LC however. One of my coworkers one day while we were talking about it she said "I got my LC for a wedding present 40 years ago i still have them But I Don't have him". I view it like this Le Creuset = craftsman hand tools. They booth have life time warranties you mess it up they will try (beyond what one would expect) to make it right and they are both arguably the top in their fields. But to get to brass tacks no food that comes out of LC is the same as the stuff coming out of EL Cheapo Deluxo brand. I just know my LC is going to be on my stove top FOREVER!

                                                      ALSO if you look at a factory second they are always engraved with a B by the screw hole, and i have never seen one that has chipped or been engraved all the way to the bare metal. I belive that is a testament to how well they are made.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: kchortu

                                                        I did receive my 5 quart from Macy's the day after I ordered it, but unfortunately, there is a red paint chip embedded in the inner lining. I wouldn't have cared if I'd have paid seconds price, but I didn't, so its going back. I'll have to check for the "B" to see if it was a second or somehow made it past QC.

                                                        1. re: justaddwater

                                                          I wanted an LC French oven for Christmas, so I ended up buying mine at an outlet. I bought the 5.5 quart round one in red and I love it! So far, I've made stew, pot roast, roast pork loin and chili and every dish has been delicious. It has been so easy to clean and a joy to use. It is so beautiful that I leave it on my stovetop. I purchased a second, but the salesperson and I couldn't find the flaw. What a great gift! I hope your wife enjoys her LC as much as I enjoy mine.

                                                      2. Thanks all again for your insightful comments. Just want to report some really good deals currently on select LC pieces at Gracious Home (ie 6 piece for $247):

                                                        http://www.gracioushome.com/webapp/wc...

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: justaddwater

                                                          i've only ever found the dutch ovens. both round and oval, to be particularly useful. I have some 2 quarts, and they're ok, and some frying pans, which aren't any better than regular cast iron, but that's a great deal on the red oval 5 quart. If I didn't have one already, I'd go for that one

                                                        2. I am really coming in late to the game. However, I talked to a Le Creuset rep about their warranty, and it doesn't cover anything but workmanship, and that would be a judgment call. Yes, they have good customer service, but it's not all it's cracked up to be.

                                                          Le Creuset chips, rusts, and cracks, just as anything made of enamel would.

                                                          In addition, the Le Creuset, like the Lodge, has 2 coats of enamel. Yes, the Lodge enamel is done in China. However, frankly, we don't truly know where the Le Creuset enamel work is done. It depends on the country what "made in <France, USA, etc> actually means. In many countries (US included) if a product is assembled there, you can say it's made there, even if components are made elsewhere.

                                                          I am a Le Creuset owner. I bought the Costco 8 qt. It's a nice pot, but in some ways my Lodge is better, just like in some ways my Le Creuset is better.

                                                          People should buy what they feel comfortable with, and enjoy the cast iron for its lovely performance.

                                                          14 Replies
                                                          1. re: WouldBeCook

                                                            Welcome to the board.

                                                            Perhaps you could be a little more specific on some of your points. In what way is LC customer service not all it's cracked up to be? There are several posters here that have stories regarding LC CS and how they've gone beyond what one might expect (ex., replacing lid that owner broke years after purchase). It might also be helpful to the thread to say how the LC is better than the Lodge and vice versa.

                                                            1. re: WouldBeCook

                                                              I dunno, they may "chip, rust, and crack" as you say. But I have four pieces, which are used hard and almost daily. One of them is going on 25 years old, when they didn't enamel the bottoms. And it has neither chipped, rusted, or cracked. And believe me, that is saying something when you use them as much as we do, and have a husband who leaves them in the sink soaking for overnight or even a day. No rust. I love them.

                                                              1. re: WouldBeCook

                                                                In my experience, LC truly stands behind their products. When I inquired as to how to remove the discoloration inside my French oven that was the result of 30+ years of use, they offered to replace it with a brand new one in any color of my choosing at no cost to me (except postage to return the old one). They also gave me ovenproof handles to replace the original wooden handles on two 30 year-old saute pans. In my book, that's customer service that far exceeds my expectations.

                                                                1. re: CindyJ

                                                                  A story that must be shared: I wanted LC - and would settle for no other - for sentimental reasons. My grandmother acquired a gigantic, orange, LC (round in shape) in the 1930s or 40s. She lived with our family and was sort of the "homemaker" for us. My parents continued to use the pot after she was gone. It was the mainstay of the kitchen, a constant and colorful presence. After about fifty years of use, I noticed it on my parent's stove with a new brass knob on the lid. I was an adult by this time. I removed the lid from the pot to inspect the situation and saw that my father had soddered (sic) - I think that's what he did - a heavy piece of hardware to the pot lid to repair it. It was at that moment I realized the big orange pot was more than a POT. It was something like THE pot, the pot of our lives. The family would not put it to rest; there would be no replacing it. It was much too valuable to be replaced. This is funny, because my parents were not hoarders or sentimental about objects. In fact, they seemed more able to replace possessions with newer, better possessions than anyone I've ever known of their generation. But they kept the orange pot, and used it! It was "just the thing" for so many family recipes. My brother has it now. But, at some point during the last few years desire welled within me. I wanted THAT pot. Well, of course my brother's family uses grandmother's, so I couldn't obtain the exact pot... But, SO presented me with an orange LC, big and round, for my birthday. I used it last weekend for beef stew, my own hybrid recipe. As I was prepping the meal, I realized that one of grandmother's "go-to" meals was beef stew in the orange pot. Although I had been unaware of why I chose to cook beef stew - this was the LC's maiden voyage - apparently my decision was informed by deep emotion. Food and cooking, as we see in the daily CH posts, is about love and passion, perhaps more than anything else. Love and passion... I hope the guy bought his wife the LC she wanted, the specified shape, size, and color.

                                                                  1. re: lifespan

                                                                    I love your story! I hope someday my kids are as passionate about their "heirloom pots" as your family is. Now I'm kind of sorry I took LC up on their exchange offer. That "patina" that had developed inside the old French oven probably added to its (sentimental) value.

                                                                    1. re: lifespan

                                                                      I just got a le crueset 9 quart round which I'm super excited about and was trying to decide what its 'maiden meal' should be. I think I'll do a beef stew dedicated to your the memory of your grandma and grandmothers everywhere. Thanks for the inspiration.

                                                                  2. re: WouldBeCook

                                                                    I'd like hearing more about LC service not being all it's cracked up to be from your personal experience.

                                                                    1. re: chuckl

                                                                      chuck - do you think the customer service commitments (of any company) are honored as they once were? I think it's a good bet not to expect the kind of reliability of commitment to quality and "making things right" that once existed. LC, as a corporate entity, is probably no different. It seems that we (consumers) are alone - that is, we no longer can count on the "name," "history," or "tradition" of products or the companies that produce them. The so-called companies are now "brands" to be exploited. Who knows who, if anyone, is steering the corporate ship? At any rate, steering the ship is not what business is about any longer. Even if posters give you ten sparkling examples of customer service being honored in the past (and, by the way, there are sparkling examples posted at this thread), who knows what will happen at said company tomorrow or the day after? It appears to this humble observer, and many others, that traditions of corporate excellence are ramsacked for profiteering - just as any other asset would be.

                                                                      1. re: lifespan

                                                                        The experience with LC I wrote about took place less than a year ago. I think it's their tradition of customer service, along with really fine quality, that makes LC the coveted brand for this type of cookware. On these boards, I've read many, many more stories of excellent customer service than horror stories about LC. And we know that CH posters are not shy about posting complaints.

                                                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                                                          Yes - I'll chime in again quickly with my story. I broke the lid to a large LC dutch oven - entirely my fault. I called them to order a replacement for it, and they sent me one at no cost to me, even though I was upfront that it was my fault. This was also, I think, in the past year.

                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                            I understood both of your posts when I read them originally - that your positive customer service experiences were recent. Of course, I hope that honorable practices continue at LC into the future. I personally believe, as I wrote earlier, "who knows what will happen... tomorrow or the day after." Once upon a time, it was the case that past experience was a good predictor of future experience, especially where venerable old companies like LC were concerned. But, I personally wouldn't bank (no pun intended) on past experience with any corporate entity. One hopes, of course, that the positive reports you shared continue into the future. It is often the case that privately held companies - is LC one? - continue as honorable institutions...

                                                                            1. re: lifespan

                                                                              Oops - I hadn't realized that this was an older thread and one on which I had posted before - sorry about that!

                                                                    2. re: WouldBeCook

                                                                      Replying to myself:

                                                                      I called Le Creuset prior to purchasing an item. They said that normal wear and tear isn't covered under warranty. The stories of people saying, "I dropped this, chipped it and it broke and they replaced it" may not be true anymore. The customer service did not allay the same story. In fact they were a little pessimistic about replacement....and that was after they waited 3 days to call me back. I think this must be a new policy, because many of the stories I've heard sound like normal wear and tear. Maybe you can get a replacement on an item purchased 20 years ago due to normal chipping because the replacement policy is grandfathered in, but now, it sounds like you have to come up with pretty convincing evidence on the new items that the injury isn't normal wear and tear.

                                                                      The emotionalism about this is amazing. It's JUST COOKWARE!

                                                                      1. re: WouldBeCook

                                                                        I would imagine they try to discourage people who sound like they're planning to abuse their generosity?

                                                                        Love the story about Grandma's Le Creuset ...

                                                                        Cookware is just cookware like food is just calories. I do know one guy who pretty much lives on whey protein powder ... if you can call that living :D

                                                                    3. I'm a guy and you'd better get her the LC. IMHO you're paying for the name. But if the name makes her happy and it's in the budget so be it. If you're not French, by the knock off. Their are no secrets in the enameling process anymore. If you drop any of them they will chip. I have the Tramotina from Sams and love it. I use it at least 3 times a week and everything was great till I dropped it. Great thing is if I can't stand looking at the chip I can get another one.

                                                                      1. Im a guy but it's me who lusted after Le Creuset, and my girlfriend got it for me (well us, soon ...).

                                                                        I'm looking at tripods for my camera. I want a certain brand. What if she showed up with a lesser brand? I'd return it in an instant.

                                                                        Not directed at justaddwater, but everyone else.
                                                                        "I want a dutch oven like Le Creuset." Your judgment call there.
                                                                        "I want an LC dutch oven." Gotta bite the bullet, but only you know your partner.

                                                                        You already bought a dutch oven, so you're cool. But for anyone else reading, I believe the Lodge dutch ovens while made in china do use FDA approved enamel. Not sure how valuable even that is nowadays :P but it's better than nothing.

                                                                        Oh, she got the 7 quart LC (it was actually a risotto pan but who cares, it's just a little wider than a dutch oven) for $99 at the LC outlet. Not a mark on it.