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cookware tips?

GodfatherofLunch Jan 26, 2009 01:14 PM

I am thinking about upgrading my pots and pans, in other words replacing the crap I now own.
The easy answer is of course All Clad. Is this the way to go?
Most restaurants put out quality food without all clad. Do I get to a restaurant supply store or shell out for All Clad.
A penny for your thoughts!!!!!

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  1. kchurchill5 RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 26, 2009 01:21 PM

    I have some All Clad, some Calphalon, some cheap target brand. I use them all. Honestly. Some of my best dinner are made with my cheapest pots and pans. However my roasters and dutch ovens are descent quality. By no means the best but good quality. I love cast iron for some. A simple non stick for others. To me it is the cook who makes the food not the cookware. My grandma used crap to cook with and she was great. Also a friend who ended up being a chef at a 4 star restaurant in Austria learned and still has sub par cheap cookware. It may makes things easier, but still the cook is what makes the meal. I would go mid range and buy what looks good to you. Don't buy the name!

    1. MMRuth RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 26, 2009 01:31 PM

      My penny's worth is to suggest that you look into Sitram, rather than All-Clad. Many years ago, when I started to teach myself to cook, I called Bridge Kitchenware to ask if they carried All Clad. The estimable Fred Bridge replied, "Madam [I was 24], we do not carry junk." He followed up by suggesting that I come in and look at Sitram. Mr. Bridge has died, and the store has moved to New Jersey (www.bridgekitchenware.com), but I have several pieces - both from that era, and purchased later - and have been very happy with them.

      26 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth
        janetms383 RE: MMRuth Jan 26, 2009 01:53 PM

        $200 for the stock pot and then you have to pay another $38 for the lid???? I agree with kchurchill.... it's the cook that make the dish, not the pots

        1. re: janetms383
          kchurchill5 RE: janetms383 Jan 26, 2009 02:02 PM

          Thx janetms383. Yes my pots are good not great. But damnit I make great food and so do a few of my friends. I would love the best but hey, my pots have served me for years. Here's to ya!! The cooks rule!

          1. re: kchurchill5
            c
            chuckl RE: kchurchill5 Jan 26, 2009 02:08 PM

            a while back Mark Bittman wrote a piece in the NY Times, I believe, about how tiny his kitchen is and how he can function with the most basic tools. Having nice cookware is cool, but a good cook can do wonderful things with crappy equipment and a poor cook won't ever make anything great using even the best equipment. Check out the restaurant supply stores, you'll save some money and have very functional equipment. You might not want to hang it on your wall, but if you're a good cook or at least willing to invest the time and energy improving your skills, you can do quite well.

            1. re: chuckl
              kchurchill5 RE: chuckl Jan 26, 2009 02:10 PM

              I think my grandma if I remember had 4 cast irons pots or pans each and 1 roaster.... that is it. She was a cook at a great restaurant back in Detroit for years. She never bought a new pot in her entire life. I still have some of them and swear by them.

              1. re: chuckl
                t
                taos RE: chuckl Jan 26, 2009 03:09 PM

                I agree in principle with this, but some people are willing to work with crappy tools, whether cooking or repairing their house. I've found that cooking with good tools is a much more enjoyable experience. Mr. Bittman apparently does not share this view. He is a good writer, but I have not eaten his food.

                A lot of restaurant supply store cookware is awful quality because the restaurants are 1) cutting corners wherever they can; and 2) dealing with employee theft issues (this is especially true when it comes to knives)

                1. re: taos
                  Caralien RE: taos Jan 26, 2009 03:19 PM

                  Many times the knives are locked up and leave with the chefs, and better cooks, as they're personal property.

                  A decent cook can cook anything with any type of cookware, it's not all about cost cutting. But bad knives? Unless you want more clipped fingers and medical bills, they're definitely worth the investment. Dull knives are both useless and dangerous, while tedious. You can't get things done with crappy knives! But this is not always a cost issue--any crappy store in Germany sells paring knives which are sharper than 90% of the paring knives sold in the US, at about a tenth of the cost, and I regret leaving mine there when I left the dorm.

                  1. re: Caralien
                    t
                    taos RE: Caralien Jan 26, 2009 04:18 PM

                    It's been about 20 years since I worked in a restaurant kitchen, but it bothers me to hear the argument that cheap cookware or knives can be used because restaurants used them. The stuff used there is often cheap just because it's, well, cheap. The top guy may have his own knives locked up, but he's not the one spending all day chopping buckets of carrots.

                    The knives weren't dull, obviously. But they are often of poor quality.

                    There's a video online where Bittman takes a tour of a restaurant supply store to tell people what they need to cook. Half the stuff is crap. Yeah, you can cook a marvelous meal in it. A talented woodworker can also build a beautiful bookcase using crappy construction tools. Both of these tasks will be easier and more pleasant using better tools.

                    And to carry on with the grandmother story .... my grandmother also cooked marvelous food using what looks like from our 21st cent. perspective to be very crude tools. I guarantee, though, that if she came back to life now she'd be hopping in the car (after she learned to drive) and heading out for a food processor, a microwave, and a few nice mutli-clad pans.

                    1. re: taos
                      kchurchill5 RE: taos Jan 26, 2009 04:45 PM

                      My grandma is still around and still cooks with the same pots. I only have a couple of hers. No micro and no nice pots. 97 and still kicken and makes some kick ass food. She still cooks daily.

                      She was the chef of a great restaurant back in detroit for 35 years. Wouldn't use their pots. He used her own. She still has the same old pots and knives. She does however use a food processor with hessitation.

                      1. re: kchurchill5
                        Caralien RE: kchurchill5 Jan 26, 2009 04:52 PM

                        both my mother and paternal grandfather used ancient knives, and there was even the spinning stone knife sharpener outside at my grandparents' house. Nothing was wasted, and new pans weren't often purchased, although there was a seldom-used microwave.

                        1. re: Caralien
                          kchurchill5 RE: Caralien Jan 26, 2009 05:19 PM

                          I think my grandma would die vs using a micro, lol. Her knives ... OMG, I have 2 and love them but most people would never even try to use them. They are still great. I find it amusing. I have to laught when she tries to use the food processor. I have to help every time :)

                  2. re: taos
                    b
                    blondelle RE: taos Jan 29, 2009 06:16 AM

                    Another reason restaurants buy cheap cookware is the very high heats warps pans badly. Even the multi-ply ones. I'm reading more and more reports on the net of All-Clad pans warping even used on a standard home stove. I've read that some restaurants have to replace their most used pans twice a month because of warping on very high BTU stoves.

                    1. re: blondelle
                      kchurchill5 RE: blondelle Jan 29, 2009 11:24 AM

                      Good point, Maybe I am just lucky and cook electric vs gas. I use my cast irons for high temps usually. Good mention however.

                      1. re: blondelle
                        ccbweb RE: blondelle Jan 29, 2009 01:46 PM

                        I am honestly continually baffled by stories of what people manage to do to cookware at home.

                        1. re: blondelle
                          Caralien RE: blondelle Jan 30, 2009 06:34 AM

                          I've never had cookware warp (bakeware yes, cheap jellyroll pans do in the oven). Cheap, expensive, ancient, brand new. Even from the cheap nonstick pans when they were left on the stove so long that the place smelled like burnt rubber. Never saw it in my parents' or grandparents' houses either.

                          I don't doubt that it happens, but that's the exception.

                          1. re: Caralien
                            Candy RE: Caralien Jan 30, 2009 08:27 AM

                            I had a (original '80's) Calphalon Saute pan warp.

                            1. re: Candy
                              kchurchill5 RE: Candy Jan 30, 2009 09:03 AM

                              Same here, not my saute but one of my small pans warp too. I still have one which is fine. Used them all the same.

                          2. re: blondelle
                            c
                            Coconuts RE: blondelle Jan 30, 2009 09:45 AM

                            I really wonder if the "standard home stoves" that are causing warping are the higher BTU cooktops. It's really, really easy to find a 16K+ BTU burner on any higher end basic brand cooktop now (like a Kenmore or Whirlpool, for example), and if someone is going to drop the money on All-Clad pans, they likely spent the money to upgrade the cooktop if they replaced it.

                    2. re: janetms383
                      MMRuth RE: janetms383 Jan 26, 2009 02:04 PM

                      Well, my stock pot is a cheap one, not by Sitram - I wouldn't spend that kind of money on a stock pot. But the several sauce pans that I have, as well as the saute pan, have served me well. That said, I agree that one can cook wonderful meals in cheap pans.

                      1. re: MMRuth
                        MMRuth RE: MMRuth Jan 26, 2009 02:09 PM

                        And, FWIW, the All Clad four quart stock pot is $250 - http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

                        Edit:

                        As compared to the 14 QT Sitram one, also with a copper core, for $172 (plus lid).

                        http://www.bridgekitchenware.com/brow...

                        1. re: MMRuth
                          kchurchill5 RE: MMRuth Jan 26, 2009 03:04 PM

                          I have a 40 year old cast iron... not sure but for 172 I could feet me and my son for 2 weeks easily and put some gas in the car and my pot works great. I know. Maybe a bit too thrifty. But I truly believe in my ol' pots and pans. They have been good to me.

                          1. re: MMRuth
                            m
                            mateo21 RE: MMRuth Jan 26, 2009 04:34 PM

                            That just so happens to be the most expensive 4qt piece that All-Clad makes. Look at a 4.5qt MC2 pan, $150-$160 -- the OP is coming for reliable information. A sitram catering 4.5qt is $102 without the lid, so it's another $25 or so for a lid. That comparison is starting to look a little fuzzy. My all-clad stock pot was $119 (disk bottom, similar to the Sitram -- minus the copper), but it came with a steamer insert, pasta insert and lid.

                            I'm certainly not going to tell you that all-clad is worth every penny -- you're certainly paying a decent amount of money for the name, but they do make some nice cookware.

                            Is sitram copper just on the bottom, or is it clad?

                            1. re: mateo21
                              MMRuth RE: mateo21 Jan 27, 2009 08:52 AM

                              The Sitram copper layer is wedged between layers of stainless steel, but it's not covered on the outside - i.e., you see the layer of copper - if that is what you mean by clad. I had picked the all clad pot that I did b/c it does have a copper layer as the Sitram does, and therefore seemed the more appropriate comparison, but of course AC does sell one for less money w/o the copper.

                              1. re: MMRuth
                                m
                                mateo21 RE: MMRuth Jan 27, 2009 12:13 PM

                                So the Sitram line is a disk bottom then? Just want to get my cookware right :) I don't know anyone around here that carries it.

                      2. re: MMRuth
                        f
                        fauchon RE: MMRuth Jan 26, 2009 03:45 PM

                        OMG! Sounds exactly like the crusty/curmudgeonly Fred. I bought Paderno cookware from him 35+ years ago & those pots & pans are still going strong. I also bought my first decent knives (Wusthof) from him & still use those, too. This was the time before brand extension, when things were made well & for daily use. Fred knew whereof he spoke! I miss him.

                        1. re: fauchon
                          MMRuth RE: fauchon Jan 27, 2009 09:09 AM

                          I know - I became v. fond of him. I love his book on cookware and consult it pretty frequently. He signed it for me, which was sweet.

                        2. re: MMRuth
                          johnb RE: MMRuth Jan 29, 2009 06:49 AM

                          That sounds like pure, classic, Fred Bridge all right. However, as in so many things, technology has changed the equation from the days when Fred held sway. Sitram is great stuff, but there are many other ways to go that are a lot less pricy and will do the job. As always there is no "right" answer---it just depends on one's own values and preferences.

                        3. Caralien RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 26, 2009 02:10 PM

                          My All-Clad stainless (not brushed) is beautiful. Our favourite french oven is a retro enameled Copco. Calphalon--never liked any of it, eventually gave it all away. Inherited cast iron--we love these. Steel 2.5C measuring cup w/handle and tiny roasting pan from IKEA, used at least weekly. Inherited Revereware--with the domed, tight fitting lids, make better rice than the pricier cookware lids which allows too much water to escape.

                          We have a hodge podge of stuff. As pretty as the All Clad is (and some will argue for Calphalon, Le Creuset or Staub...), you may worry more about the pretty cookware than what you're cooking, at least until you forget about the pan and burn it twice in one week which gives it that well used patina.

                          Restaurant supply stores are a great bet for getting great, working pieces at a fraction of the cost of premium "professional quality" items. There was a post about this recently, but I couldn't find it.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Caralien
                            m
                            mpalmer6c RE: Caralien Jan 26, 2009 04:52 PM

                            Perhaps it was this Mark Bittman article:

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

                            1. re: mpalmer6c
                              c
                              chuckl RE: mpalmer6c Jan 26, 2009 05:40 PM

                              not exactly, but check out this one

                              http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11...

                              1. re: mpalmer6c
                                t
                                taos RE: mpalmer6c Jan 26, 2009 11:37 PM

                                Yes, that's the video and accompanying article I was referring to. What bothered me was the statement that because restaurant kitchens buy cheap chef's knives by the dozen, they're what a home cook should buy. Not necessarily so. As I mentioned, restaurants buy these because they're cheap, cheap and easy to replace and if they walk away, it's not a big loss. If you're looking to buy one knife that will last you for decades, you're better off spending a little more and getting a better qualify product. It will cost you less in the long run.

                                Also, I can't be sure, but I'd bet his cheap thermometer won't last as long as a more expensive one and will have to be replaced more often, again, costing more money in the long run.

                                I've been to restaurant supply stores and found that the stuff is a mix of quality stuff that's not much, if any, cheaper than at a regular store (I'm not talking over-priced cooking specialty stores), and a lot is just poorly-made junk, meant to be used and abused quickly and then replaced again and again.

                            2. ccbweb RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 26, 2009 02:47 PM

                              My wife and I have quite a few pots and pans from a handful of makers but the backbone of our cookware is All Clad stainless steel. We have several sauce pots, a couple of saute pans, a couple of skillets (one with a non-stick interior) a roasting pan, a soup pot and some straining basket inserts. We never have any trouble with any of it, it looks nice, works wonderfully (heats evenly and quickly and holds heat well) and cleans up easily.

                              I think it's worth a bit of money for high quality cookware. It is not an absolute requirement for turning out good food by any stretch. Restaurants often use much cheaper and lower quality cookware and turn out good food. Of course, some of the best restaurants also use very high quality cookware. And many restaurants don't turn out good food regardless of the cookware. Most restaurants are also using ovens and ranges that pump out heat at a much higher rate/capability level than many home ranges which can make up for pots and pans that don't heat up quickly or retain heat well. Over time, whatever cookware you get, you'll learn how it works and how to compensate for whatever deficiencies there are between it and your ovens and ranges. If you've already got crap, though, why buy new crap? For the penny, I'd buy some long lasting high quality gear.

                              Check out http://www.cookwarenmore.com/ for discounted All Clad factory seconds. Sale prices on Amazon are also usually good deals.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ccbweb
                                kchurchill5 RE: ccbweb Jan 26, 2009 03:02 PM

                                I too buy from factories or kitchen warehouses/outlets. Got some great deals for the good stuff I have.

                              2. Demented RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 26, 2009 04:02 PM

                                It depends on whats important to you, performance, looks, brand name, quality? And how much you're willing to spend.

                                I replaced all the stainless clad cookware in my kitchen with copper.

                                I really like the way it cooks, heats faster and more evenly and retains heat better than stainless and somewhat better than aluminum. Most of all I like the look and feel of copper cookware.

                                Take a look at copperpans.com

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Demented
                                  kchurchill5 RE: Demented Jan 26, 2009 04:16 PM

                                  I have two all copper plans from my grandma. Old and all scratched up but love them.

                                2. m
                                  mpalmer6c RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 26, 2009 04:33 PM

                                  Not believing that expensive gourmet store
                                  cookware produces better meals, I just order
                                  from Web restaurant supply places, including
                                  Surfas, Restaurant Source, and Webrestaurant.
                                  It all works fine.

                                  1. r
                                    RGC1982 RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 26, 2009 04:52 PM

                                    It depends on your perspective. I'd like to think I was a pretty good cook before I upgraded from my cheap Revereware to Demeyere, Le Creuset, Staub, Mauviel, Falk, Sitram, Paderno, Cuisinart and All Clad. Yes, I own all of these, plus a few others, like Calphalon and cast iron skillets. I became hooked on cookware, but it is not nearly necessary if all you are trying to do is turn out a great meal. You can save a bundle by looking for All-Clad quality in brands like Tramontina (not the Walmart line, check out 125West for what I am referring to) and get beautiful looking pots too. I am also really pleased with the way enamel-coated cast iron works. I only have LC and Staub, but I read here on this posts regularly that there are other really nice alternatives out there.

                                    So, decide you want to become a collector/cook, or just a cook, and then make up your mind. If I couldn't afford these things, I would have made different choices in many cases.

                                    1. b
                                      bcc RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 26, 2009 11:58 PM

                                      If you're prepared to spend the money for All-Clad, why don't you check out Demeyere, which knows how to attach the handles without bolts that go through to the inside of the utensil? That is a higher quality of construction, and it makes the stuff easier to clean.
                                      And whatever you do, don't buy a "set". Get one piece at a time, and if you need another, then get it.

                                      20 Replies
                                      1. re: bcc
                                        Candy RE: bcc Jan 27, 2009 07:50 AM

                                        I sell more Swiss Diamond than All Clad. SD is relatively new to the US market. It has been available here for about 3 years. It heats more evenly than All Clad, it browns beautifully, clean up is a snap. You can use metal utensils in it, I don't, but you can. It has a lifetime guarantee and their customer service is terrific. In the shop we carry All Clad, Mauviel, Emerilware, Le Creuset, Chantal and Swiss Diamond. The best sellers are SD and LC. If someone asks for All Clad we sell it to them. If someone asks for asuggestion we show them Swiss Diamond. No, we get no sales incentives from Swiss Diamond. We all use it and like it.

                                        1. re: Candy
                                          GodfatherofLunch RE: Candy Jan 27, 2009 08:39 AM

                                          I should have mentioned I want to stay away from non stick due to health concerns. I like my cast iron fry pan for some stuff, but cleanup and rust can can sometimes be a pain. I'm thinking stainless steel may be the way i want to go. What brands make sense. If All clad is best and most expensive but another brand cost much less and will last for 10 years rather than for generations like AC. That is fine for me, in 10 years I will be bord and want something else any way. Maybe in 10 years my Pepin A1000 robot will cook for me?

                                          1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                            kchurchill5 RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 27, 2009 08:43 AM

                                            Can I borrow Pepin A1000?

                                            1. re: kchurchill5
                                              GodfatherofLunch RE: kchurchill5 Jan 27, 2009 08:56 AM

                                              Jacques says Oui.

                                            2. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                              Candy RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 27, 2009 09:04 AM

                                              The process by which the diamond coating is applied removes all of the POFAs. There are very slight ghosts of PTFEs. I have spoken to the Swiss Diamond company about the issue. Living in a university town I get lots of questions about those issues. i try to learn as much about the cookware I sell as possible

                                              1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                Candy RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 27, 2009 12:15 PM

                                                I don't trust that info at all. So don't buy it but don't spread nonsense about a good product either.

                                                1. re: Candy
                                                  GodfatherofLunch RE: Candy Jan 27, 2009 12:29 PM

                                                  sorry to have upset you. Two points first I know that you have spoken to the Swiss Diamond company about the issue, what did expect that would tell you and secondly anyone including you can elect to ignore the article I posted. I myself will not ignore it, I will opt for another brand without these health concerns. That is just what I have decided is best for me. Of course everyone can make there own decisions.

                                                  1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                    Candy RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 27, 2009 12:54 PM

                                                    not upset. I just refuse to buy into the fear mongering of some of these off the wall groups put out.

                                                    There was also an article and photo someone posted with a picture of a SD pan with LIAR gouged into it probably with a chisel. Sure it will scratch and the surface will come off if it is abused. Not buying that article either.

                                                    My MD uses SD and loves it. If it is good enough fior him it is good enough for me.

                                            3. re: Candy
                                              kchurchill5 RE: Candy Jan 27, 2009 08:42 AM

                                              Never tried, how is the price. I may invest in a piece. I need a new dutch oven. My handle after 45 years is cracked. It was grandmas.

                                              1. re: kchurchill5
                                                Candy RE: kchurchill5 Jan 27, 2009 09:07 AM

                                                Just a little less than All Clad. They do make some stew and soup pots. If i wanted a dutch oven i would go with Le Creuset. That is just my personal preference.

                                                1. re: Candy
                                                  kchurchill5 RE: Candy Jan 27, 2009 09:12 AM

                                                  Thx

                                                  1. re: kchurchill5
                                                    Whosyerkitty RE: kchurchill5 Jan 27, 2009 09:38 AM

                                                    My fave too is my inherited cast iron. If you're going to buy cast iron, I'd recommend buying it used (resale shops, garage sales) than new. But that may be more of a hassle than you're willing to do.

                                                    That said, I need a handle that's comfy in my dinky little hand and I don't want too heavy. I also want to be able to put it in the dishwasher. So, I guess my recommendation is to go to the store and handle it and see what you like best. January/February are great times for sales on housewares.

                                                    1. re: Whosyerkitty
                                                      kchurchill5 RE: Whosyerkitty Jan 27, 2009 09:54 AM

                                                      Ditto my cast iron is great. However there are times for a simple non stick skillet or grill pan. I buy what feels good and cost effective. A combo. I check sales and lots of places. I for one ... sorry don't buy the best. Just realistic and practical.

                                                      1. re: kchurchill5
                                                        e
                                                        EscapeVelocity RE: kchurchill5 Jan 27, 2009 10:27 AM

                                                        Sets are for chumps.

                                                        Get one large Cast Iron skillet.....or 2

                                                        Some Aluminum or Stainless stock pots.

                                                        A good sauce pan.

                                                        And if you must a non stick skillet.

                                                        1. re: EscapeVelocity
                                                          kchurchill5 RE: EscapeVelocity Jan 27, 2009 11:59 AM

                                                          Amen to that. Pretty much what I have. Love my stock, love my cheapy saute, medium saute and grill pan. my irons I live by and the in between work great..

                                                          Maybe just lucky, no problems with hot or cold spots ... they all work just fine. My dutch oven I do have to replace. I won't spend a fortune, probably lower end but ... I think it will work just fine.

                                                          1. re: kchurchill5
                                                            ccbweb RE: kchurchill5 Jan 27, 2009 12:23 PM

                                                            Why do you need to replace your dutch oven?

                                                            1. re: ccbweb
                                                              kchurchill5 RE: ccbweb Jan 27, 2009 12:29 PM

                                                              The handle broke in half and a hairline by the joint. I have to use the top, bottom and the other handle to pick it up. It is probably 45 plus years old. Thought of getting it fixed but having a hard time finding someone to fix it.t

                                                              1. re: kchurchill5
                                                                Whosyerkitty RE: kchurchill5 Jan 27, 2009 03:14 PM

                                                                I had a small griddle that was part of my inheritance and the handle cracked, so I feel for ya, sister (?). I guess cast iron really isn't INDESTRUCTIBLE.I had never heard of that before but it was older than God and I was shocked! Shocked I tell you! Man, I miss that little pan ::sniff::

                                                                1. re: Whosyerkitty
                                                                  Candy RE: Whosyerkitty Jan 27, 2009 03:17 PM

                                                                  In the casting process air pockets can occur. Cast iron is breakable as evidenced. If you drop it and it hits a vulnerable spot say good by.

                                                                  1. re: Whosyerkitty
                                                                    kchurchill5 RE: Whosyerkitty Jan 27, 2009 05:36 PM

                                                                    I guess the fact that I dropped it once coming back from a party on the sidewalk probably didn't help. That is how the originall crack happened. I think now the stress has weakened the joint. I am pretty much at fault but can't find anyone to fix it. Oh well. It has served me well. As the post below ... maybe I don't feel that bad ... DAMN that air pocket.

                                                                    Still very usable, just difficult to pick up with one handle, lol. I'm still keeper it around.

                                            4. GodfatherofLunch RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 29, 2009 06:42 AM

                                              Mostly, the feed back I am receiving has me confused than before. I now have cheap tefal stuff and I want to move away from nonstick. Please spare me the lectures about me being a sucker and how non stick has no health risks, I just decided to go another way. It sounds like stainless steel is the way to go. Recommendations of brands that I can check would be very appreciated.

                                              18 Replies
                                              1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                Demented RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 29, 2009 07:18 AM

                                                Godfather,

                                                Costco has a line of “Clad” stainless cookware they sell under the Kirkland brand name. The set I had years ago (my first decent of cookware) was made in Italy, it held up for years without any problems at all.

                                                I don't know where or who makes cookware for them now but a full set of stainless cookware for under $300.00 is a deal any way you look at it.

                                                Google Kirkland cookware.

                                                1. re: Demented
                                                  MMRuth RE: Demented Jan 29, 2009 07:19 AM

                                                  I believe that they have also carried the less expensive Sitram line at one point as well, if that helps.

                                                  1. re: Demented
                                                    alwayscooking RE: Demented Jan 29, 2009 01:40 PM

                                                    You can by the posts how passionate people are about their pots and knives!

                                                    Consumer Reports thought very highly of the Kirkland brand. They have a nice heft and balance and would be a nice step-up from your tfal. I'd easily buy this set for a second home.

                                                    I too have a diverse pot and pan collection selected over time to meet the general pupose of the dishes I make. I have copper lined with silver, cast iron, enamel, stainless (without and without copper), and an cheap frypan. I grew into each of them and since I have a Bittman-sized kitchen, I purge what doesn't work.

                                                    I recommend the Kirkland and then replace/add to that.

                                                    1. re: alwayscooking
                                                      ccbweb RE: alwayscooking Jan 29, 2009 01:47 PM

                                                      Do you use the Kirkland yourself?

                                                      1. re: ccbweb
                                                        alwayscooking RE: ccbweb Jan 29, 2009 01:58 PM

                                                        No, I've already have my definitive collection (yeah right!) but would definately buy these if I needed an entire new set to start from again. They remind me of the all-clad with the copper bottom ply.

                                                        1. re: alwayscooking
                                                          ccbweb RE: alwayscooking Jan 29, 2009 05:47 PM

                                                          I guess I'm confused about why you'd definitely buy pans you don't use. Have you had the chance to use them somewhere that convinced you they perform well or is it based on the Consumer Reports testing? (Not necessarily a bad thing on which to base something like this, but I'm curious.)

                                                          1. re: ccbweb
                                                            kchurchill5 RE: ccbweb Jan 29, 2009 05:57 PM

                                                            Hit or miss for me. I try to buy a quality pan on the amount of time I use it. My dutch oven all the time, so I bought a mid priced nice pan. No need for me for top of the line. It would be nice, but hell I can't afford it. Saute pan, 1 nice which was a gift the other cheap. Cast iron hand me downs. Otherwise, I don't buy much. Even catering I make do with what I have. Again ... I think you should be able to make do with anything if you are a good cook. I buy what I use, otherwise, just wing it. Always seemed to have worked.

                                                            I would love a few thousand dollars plus selection of pots and pans, but it just ain't gonna happen. And so far ... so good.

                                                  2. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                    ccbweb RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 29, 2009 07:28 AM

                                                    I'll echo my post from earlier in this thread: All Clad stainless is excellent cookware. The kitchen supply store in my town sells All Clad and KitchenAid's 5 ply line of stainless cookware. I haven't used the KitchenAid, but I have had very good experiences with everything this kitchen supply store has suggested to me, so I make an educated presumption that the KitchenAid would be worth checking into as well.

                                                    For an example of the KitchenAid - http://www.amazon.com/KitchenAid-Gour...

                                                    1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                      c
                                                      chuckl RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 29, 2009 07:57 AM

                                                      I've used sitram and all clad stainless and can attest to the quality of both. Pedrano, from what I've heard, also makes quality cookware. Others will have their own opinions. Be aware that unlike your previous pans, stainless will stick. You can minimize the sticking by getting the pan hot first and adding cold oil. Another option is a seasoned cast iron pan, which, if properly seasoned will stick less, though still not as stick-free as non-stick. What kind of cooking do you plan to do mostly?

                                                      1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                        b
                                                        bcc RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 29, 2009 09:51 AM

                                                        The true, top-of-the-line stuff is either stainless lined copper or Demeyere. I regret that I do not own anything of either one. I do have one Sitram frying pan. I do not like it, and do not use it. I do have some restaurant-quality Swiss professional pans that are not, to my knowledge, sold in the US. The brand is NSN. Great stuff.

                                                        If you want the ultimate, go for Demeyere or stainless-steel lined copper. But go for individual utensils for the cooking you do. If you now have Tefal, what you want is something heavier. Copper may be too heavy, But you want something thick and solid enough to heat well and cook well. Go to the stores, pick up the stuff, judge how thick the bottoms are, consider how it feels in your hand. Then buy one piece and see if it performs the way you want.

                                                        I myself have a few pieces of clad stainless steel, a couple of raw cast iron, a couple of Le Creuset enameled cast iron, and even a couple of tinned copper. I do not recommend tinned copper, because you have to be very careful about cooking temperatures, but all the others are great, although they all have different uses.

                                                        I think you'll be happier if you choose one piece at a time for one specific need that you have than if you plunk down big bucks for a bunch of pieces of any one type or brand.

                                                        Good luck!

                                                        1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                          johnb RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 29, 2009 10:09 AM

                                                          My response to your OP is simple. All-Clad is fine but you simply don't need to spend that kind of money to get good performance. Look for decent SS stuff at a restaurant supply house or at one of the cheap retailers such as Costco, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. If it's SS, heavy, and has an aluminum bottom then it should satisfy your needs for most tasks. Buy one or two pieces and try them out. If you like them, buy a few more. If not, try something else. Add a plain cast iron skillet, an enameled dutch oven, and a good iron omelet pan for eggs and that should be all you need for life. The whole thing can be had for less than $300.

                                                          1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                            k
                                                            koigirl RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 29, 2009 10:47 AM

                                                            It depends upon which heat source you will be cooking with. If you use electric, disk-bottom will suffice. If you're cooking on gas, you may want to go with triply. I upgraded from Emerilware disk-bottom cookware when I began cooking on a pro-style gas rangetop because I found that the thin stainless sides on my saucepans, skillets, etc. were scorching from the gas flame's heat and I was getting uneven heating. I switched to triply cookware. After looking at the top lines (All-Clad, etc.) and gasping at the prices (even at TJ Maxx, etc.), I tried to buy the highly-rated Kirkland triply set at Costco (made by Tramontina) but found it was no longer offered. I then shopped around some more (and researched online) and ended up with a SurlaTable triply set for under $300 that is very nicely constructed (I can see no differences, performance or appearance-wise from All-Clad; I've cooked with my sister's All-Clad). I finished out my set with a cheapo non-stick skillet, a couple of cast-iron skillets, and dutch oven and tall stockpot from the LeCreuset outlet.

                                                            FWIW, I also recently bought a REALLY inexpensive Tramontina triply set from the Walmart website for our beach condo and I think it performs about as well as the Surlatable for only $140. They also carry the Tramontina tri-ply line by the piece and I've supplemented with a pasta stockpot with insert. I bought an off-brand enameled dutch oven at Target that works well for $40 for the beach as well, although I don't think it has quite as nice a finish as the Le Creuset (but then again it seems to perform about the same). It's entirely possible to fit out your kitchen with great pots and pans without spending a fortune.

                                                            1. re: koigirl
                                                              GodfatherofLunch RE: koigirl Jan 30, 2009 01:09 PM

                                                              I am looking around and here is what I am considering. Cosco has a Calphalon, Tri - Ply stainless steel 13 pc set for $329.99 Sounds like good stuff features include - Tri-ply construction uses 18/10 stainless steel interior and exterior with an aluminum inner core,Polished exterior,Fine satin interior finish maintains its like new appearance through years of daily use,Ergonomic design cool V™ handle for cool comfortable stovetop cooking,Dome tempered glass covers offer convenient see through cooking,Oven and broiler safe,Covers are oven safe to 450°F,Dishwasher safe. The included pots are 1 Covered stock pot: 6 qt, 1 Pasta insert: 6 qt, ,1 Covered sauce pan: 4.5 qt, 1 Covered sauce pan: 3 qt, 1 Covered sauce pan: 2.5 qt, 1 Covered sauce pan: 1.5 qt, 1 Omelet pan: 10" and 1 Omelet pan: 8". Maybe at some point I will want a 12" pan that I can pick up as an open stock item. What do you guys think?

                                                              1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                                m
                                                                masha RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 30, 2009 02:35 PM

                                                                I have the 3 qt Calphalon stainless saucepan and like it fine. It is sturdy, conducts heat well, and cleans easily (dishwasher safe). Not sure I'd buy a whole set, however. For things like omelet pans and sautee pans, I prefer the performance of annodized steel (ie. Calphalon One).

                                                                1. re: masha
                                                                  GodfatherofLunch RE: masha Jan 30, 2009 02:50 PM

                                                                  For omelets I will probably us non stick, but the rest of the set sound like useful pieces.

                                                                2. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                                  kchurchill5 RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 30, 2009 02:51 PM

                                                                  Rule of thumb never buy sets ... unless you don't have any cookware and just starting. If that is the case ... sounds descent. I got a set when I got married ... I had 3 favorites and I could of kept those 3 favorites and nothing else along with my cast irons I had handed down. I suggest revisitng what I would use the most and get those 2-3 pots. Then slowly add pieces as you require them. Sometimes I use a pan which isn't perfect for what I need but works just fine.

                                                                  1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                                    Demented RE: GodfatherofLunch Jan 30, 2009 03:43 PM

                                                                    It sounds like a deal, if it will serve your needs and you like.

                                                                    What does this set sell for other places?

                                                                    1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                                                                      k
                                                                      koigirl RE: GodfatherofLunch Feb 2, 2009 08:55 AM

                                                                      I have one Calphalon tri-ply saucepan and I love it. As for buying a set vs. individual pieces, It depends on what you want and how much time you want to spend searching for individual pots and pans. If you're getting a terrific price on the set, you have plenty of stoage space, and you'll use most of the pieces, I'd buy the set. You can always fill in around it and you will save precious time not spent bargain-hunting individual pieces. You'll probably come out even/ahead on cost.

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