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Why no cast iron on cooking shows?

With the exception of one or two recipes on Americas Test Kitchen, I pretty much never see professional chefs use cast iron on TV, whether PBS or the FN. Yet experienced cooks on this site (including me) are constantly touting the virtues of cast iron. So why not on TV? My own theory is that the TV chefs love to impress us with the saute pan flip, and I don't know too many TV chefs with forearms that big.

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  1. they also can't tout how great and new/improved their line of cookware is if they're using cast-iron technology to prepare their foods....

    edit: spelling error

      1. I agree, All-Clad and others are big sponsors. Also, while I use cast iron a lot, both on the cooktop and in the oven, cast iron isn't a great conductor of heat. It takes a while to heat up and cool down, which is not a big problem in the home, but might be an issue on a short tv show

        3 Replies
        1. re: chuckl

          Huh? Uncoated cast iron may be a rarity on TV shows, but those orange enameled LeCreusets are all over the place! Except for Martha Stewart, who uses her own putty or robin's egg lines of enameled cast iron. So much for the timing issue. I'm sure that sponsors and product placement are prioritized by the production companies but where slow cooking and braising are involved, there's no shortage of iron cookware.

          1. re: greygarious

            Actually, plain cast iron is better for things like searing, not braising because it gets hot and stays hot even after you add the food. You generally don't want to cook liquid in a cast iron pan, especially if it is acidic.

            Alton Brown uses cast iron quite a bit in his shows because he's usually not pimping All Clad or whoever the flavor of the day is.

            Now, enamel coated cast iron like Le Crueset is a whole 'nother thing.

            1. re: meadandale

              Funny thing is, Alton does profess his fondness for All Clad in his book "I'm just here for the food". But I agree, on his show he uses whatever the best pan is for the job. After all, that's partially what his show is about.

        2. With the exception of cast iron serving pieces, I've yet to see cast iron anything in a commercial kitchen.

          The cast iron I own goes largely unused since switching from “Clad” to copper cookware.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Demented

            I'm guessing that a restaurant kitchen goes through a lot of pans in one shift; as they're used they're thrown onto a stack that eventually goes into a very hot, very soapy, commercial dish washer, which isn't the kind of thing that you can do with cast iron. I just rinse mine in very hot water and wipe it off with a paper towel, but in a commercial setting that may mean more work, not less.

            1. re: hlehmann

              I worked in restaurant kitchens when I was a teenager. In both kitchens, the frying pans / skillets were never washed. They (at that time) were all carbon steel and were simply wiped clean after use with a kitchen towel. I want to get a carbon steel pan just for frying potatoes.... no better flavor.

          2. Alton Brown recommends cast iron on a number of his shows. Guess he's still waiting for the deal with All-Clad to come through.

            4 Replies
            1. re: alanbarnes

              Alan, Alan...You are such a cynic (and perceptive too) :-)

              1. re: alanbarnes

                Alton has a product endorsement deal with Lodge.

                1. re: Kelli2006

                  I thought he had a deal with AC at one point.. you'll notice that in his older shows the cookware was AC.. lately, I think it's Viking.

                  1. re: grnidkjun

                    I think that Alton has an endorsement contract with Viking since he moved into his new "modern" set.

              2. Why don't professional chefs in restaurants use cast iron?

                Convenience, practicality, for two. I would think the same principles apply when producing a 30 minute TV show. Not to mention they're not very pretty. Not to mention that most people don't own cast iron.

                Many people seem to forget that producing a TV show costs money. Expenses are offset through endorsements and advertising. Surely this can't come as a shock to anyone, that TV shows need advertising to exist.

                28 Replies
                1. re: tommy

                  I don't know anyone who doesn't have cast iron at the home - but most are pieces that have been in the family for several generations.

                  My time in a professional kitchen saw usage of cast iron. Almost exclusively for searing meat, but we still used it several times, on every shift.

                  1. re: wb247

                    Cast iron is not ubiquitous in most homes in America. it may be a regional thing.

                    1. re: taos

                      I was wondering if I was missing something because I only know one or two people who have cast iron. I don't think my parents ever used cast iron and I haven't used it either.

                      1. re: queencru

                        you should give one a try. they're not expensive, they need to be seasoned, which is really no big deal. Once you season it well, not much will stick to it. drawbacks are it's heavy and not the best conductor of heat, as it takes a while to heat up and cool down, but for everyday cooking both on the stovetop and in the oven, I like it a lot.

                        1. re: chuckl

                          You will have to pry my cast iron fry pan out of my dead....never mind...you know the rest. :-)

                          1. re: billieboy

                            My dead ... you know the rest .................. too

                            I love mine

                          2. re: chuckl

                            Cast Iron is not for everything. As you see in posts here, it does not conduct heat as evenly and effectively as copper or aluminum, it's way heavy, it's not so good for acidic foods, which it may darken in both flavor and color, and you've got to establish and maintain the deeply seasoned surface that makes it so perfectly non-stick.
                            Like anything, practice, practice, practice, but once you learn what not to do with it, you'll find you'll use it nearly every day. Ours lives on the stove, while other pans get put away.

                          3. re: queencru

                            Almost everyone I know uses it so did my parents and grand parents and my ex husband parents We were from MI, My ex from NY and now in FL, everyone I know uses it.

                            1. re: kchurchill5

                              I guess I am from a "cast iron" family, too. My Irish grandmother left me a couple of very old pans that I adore. She used them for everything. I have a large fry pan I bought 10 years ago that has achieved a great black patina. It's completely non-stick and wonderful. I use them for everything - meatloaf, cornbread, soda bread, bacon and eggs. Just wonderful.

                              1. re: Divamac

                                Yep, my one is newer but 2 are from my grandmother and I love them. Egg, bacon, chicken, pork, steaks, etc. I have my non stick for some, my stainless for some but love my CI

                            2. re: queencru

                              My mom never used cast iron, but I do. I have three cast iron pans that get regular use.

                              1. re: flourgirl

                                I have 3 sitting on my stove top right now. None are doing anything at the moment. It's leftovers for dinner.


                            3. re: taos

                              Regional and probably generational.

                              I don't know anyone that uses cast iron except one person.

                              From what my grandmother and great aunts told me, as soon as they could afford to buy "modern" cookware, the cast iron was sent to the basement to rust.

                              My mom's generation felt the same way (not many of her peers actually cooked anything worthwhile anyway) but now my younger cousin, who is quite the amatuer chef, of all about cast iron.

                              1. re: cleobeach

                                I agree - it seems that "Cast Iron Families" tend to be in the Northeast (immigrants) and the South (outdoor cooking). I'm from NY, and it was common here - and yes, my mom used it when I was a kid (1970's, early '80's) and then it was tossed under the basement stairs when non-stick became all the rage. We now use the cast iron again (totally nonstick) and ignore the toxic teflon. Cast iron didn't really "jive" with fancy modern spick-and-span kitchens of the 1950's with the steel cabinets and (then) high-tech gadgets, so it went by the wayside amongst the middle and upper classes. I guess I'm lucky that my mom emigrated as a kid back then from Europe and her parents slaughtered their own pigs and rabbits and smoked them in the basement in New Jersey!

                                Like they say, what's old is new again!

                                1. re: natschultz

                                  just wait till we rediscover the sweet cooking qualities of lead that the Romans so appreciated (not sure whether :) or (: is appropriate here)

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    Yep, lead actually does add sweetness to foods! Unfortunately, that is the problem with cookware made in China - especially cast iron - the Chinese seem to be obsessed with adding lead and other toxins to everything from toys to drywall.

                                    Personally, I'd rather drink sour wine from an old Roman goblet than cook on a new Chinese made cast iron pan.

                                    1. re: natschultz

                                      Why would anyone, even if their primary goal was to cut costs, add lead to cast iron? Lead isn't cheaper, it melts at a much lower temperature, and is much denser.

                                      1. re: natschultz

                                        As for lead in cookware, there is no incentive to add lead into cast iron. There are plenty reasons to add lead in paints, which is why we have not outlawed lead in our household paints. We permit up to 600 ppm of lead: "Lead levels in paint are measured in parts per million (ppm). The greater the amount of lead in paint, the higher the ppm number. The federal government currently allows 600 ppm of lead in household paint. "


                                        As for acceptable lead level for paints out of household use? Much higher.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          My son, an engineer, warned me that if I do end up fixing my broken induction burner, I will have to add a 'contains lead' California sticker to it - because my 30 yr old spool of solder is lead based. :)

                                        2. re: natschultz

                                          Lead is commonly used in solder, but cast iron cookware is (duh) cast, not soldered together. Lead is also commonly used in glazes, but bare cast iron isn't glazed. So you should worry about antique French copper cookware and old Le Creuset long before you start worrying about Chinese cast iron.

                                          Iron is cast at temperatures well in excess of 2000C. Lead becomes a vapor at 1748C. So any lead that might be contained in the metals that are melted down for cast iron will have evaporated long before the cookware is formed. Cast iron can't contain lead any more than it can contain ice crystals.

                                          You're certainly entitled to make your own decisions about what you eat, but if you want to base them on facts rather than flights of fancy, Chinese cast iron is the last thing you need to worry about.

                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                            Cast is poured around 2300F , 1260C BTW ,

                                      2. re: cleobeach

                                        cast iron probably reminded a lot of folks of sad irons. if you've got scars, then maybe you don't want the reminders...

                                      3. re: taos

                                        Yes my mom used cast iron when I was growing up and I know my grandmother did. I have a wide variety of cast iron I've accumulated over the last 20 years and use it every day, I did have that stupid non stick phase in my youth.

                                        1. re: rasputina

                                          Stupid? Nonstick works fine for some applications and is light and easier to handle for many people. I wouldn't characterize its use as a phase or "stupid."

                                          1. re: tommy

                                            I think there are too many cookware purists.. I use everything except aluminum (health concern reasons) and got away from Teflon for the same reason. I even own a Cuisinart CI porcelain dutch and must say it performs the same as my LC dutch.
                                            I actually found a stainless frying pan that had non-stick coating of porcelain. It actually works great for eggs. You can actually flip the eggs. I'll use this or a larger copperware skillet. Both work great.

                                          2. re: rasputina

                                            Yup. Every generation in my family has cast iron on their stove that has been passed down from someone else. I grew up with stainless steel, enameled cast iron and plain cast iron skillets, kettles, corn bread molds, etc and thought EVERYONE did. Was never tempted by nonstick until the past year but I will never get rid of my little cast iron collection. I think I've seen it use in Paula Deens show a few times

                                        2. re: wb247

                                          'Nother one weighing in - cast irons was new and tricky to me before I got into the groove. I grew up eating blackened bits of Teflon in my food; my folks used nonstick or stainless. We all know better now, of course, but better-living-through-chemistry was unquestioned with cookware in my world when I was a kid. Being able to cook without butter, margarine or oil seemed like good idea at the time.

                                      4. The main reason is almost certainly product placement. BTW, I imagine the chefs likely don't have much to say about the cookware they use--those pp contracts are likely signed directly with FTV, and the chefs just have to go along or take a hike--e.g. all-clad appears to have an exclusive (for anything they make) on Iron Chef, no matter who is cooking. I'll bet they laid out big bucks for that. And the big name chefs themselves are touting their own signature lines whenever they can. And that is always expensive stuff, where the money is, not cast iron, where it isn't. Call me a cynic. I say I'm a realist.

                                        Cast iron is so cheap that it probably can't economically cough up much for pp fees. Alton B may be the exception to the rule.

                                        1. I see Anthony Sedlak and Tyler Florence use them all the time

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: AndrewK512

                                            Tyler used one this morning for a bourbon peach cobbler.


                                            1. re: Davwud

                                              Tyler uses Falk Copper. I recognize it.

                                          2. I see cast iron all the time;
                                            Heston Blumenthal has used a le creuset pan, and "something for the weekend" have le creuset casseroles.
                                            Also, a guest on Saturday kitchen insisted on using on a cast iron pan for the omelette challenge.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Soop

                                              Speaking of Saturday Kitchen, have you noticed that James Martin switches from week to week between his own-brand knives and Kin? Interesting, since Kin are actually Hattori knives, repackaged at twice the price in the UK! I buy mine direct from Japanesechefsknife.com.

                                              1. re: MadMacStew

                                                A bit off subject, but I have a couple of James Martin santokus and they're pretty good. Less than £10 each too!

                                                1. re: MadMacStew

                                                  I did notice the Kin knife block was missing once.

                                                  I went through a phase of looking hard to see what everyone was using. They seem to cut through anything like it was hot butter!

                                              2. Check most Emerilware... he has a cast iron line.. if you are concerned, walk into you local restaurant and ask what they use... its not All-Clad..

                                                1. I saw Emeril use cast iron on one of his shows. I don't remember .for sure what he made, maybe cornbread

                                                  1. TV production considerations.
                                                    Black is a difficult color to use in television.
                                                    Food shows up better against a lighter background under the very bright lights used for taping and to avoid shadows.
                                                    You can see what's being added to a pan more clearly and the color of the contents of the pan as they change against stainless steel, enameled cast iron, etc..

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                      Here in the U.K. most tv cooking shows use top end cast aluminium non stick cookware. All of it totally black! Also all the result of product placement as observed above, I expect.

                                                      1. re: Robin Joy

                                                        Is it dead black or the charcoal black of anodized aluminum? They show up differently under TV lights.

                                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                                          Fair point.....It's mostly the anodised finish which is used ( like SKK or circulon ) which I agree mostly has that crystalline sheen.
                                                          Actually naked cast iron is very rare in the UK. I know many enthusiastic cooks, and I'm the only one who has any at all (just a couple of grill plates). Maybe it's because top quality sear type meat is relatively much more expensive over here and is considered a luxury? Most everyone has Le Creuset though.

                                                          1. re: Robin Joy

                                                            I think when you add the TV lighting challenges to the long heating times for effective cast iron usage, it simply makes it impractical.
                                                            As we're both aware, cast iron functions best when it's allowed to heat "low and slow" to get evenly heated throughout. Cooking shows move too quickly for that.
                                                            They need something that will fire up fast and also stop cooking pretty quickly as well. Sometimes the chefs will even grab pan handles without pot holders on some shows. I have a few pans that I can do that with. Not my cast iron.

                                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                                              For all the reasons not to use cast iron on a cooking show, time is not one of them, even on a live show. It's just too easy to say, "and here's my pan, which I already preheated during the break," or something to that effect. It seems to be the standard procedure to already have the next stage in every recipe prepped. It's solely money and advertising that dictates their products. Just like they don't devote 10 min to watching meat rest, they wouldn't make you watch the preheating step.

                                                              1. re: wb247

                                                                LOL. Good point.
                                                                Back to lighting.

                                                    2. Well... it sucks.

                                                      The thermal properties of cast iron are somewhere near that of sand, actually sand may be better. For the cook who uses stainless: “Clad” cookware this may be a step up when a pot that retains heat is needed. Otherwise it's akin to using a wood oven when gas is faster and more efficient.

                                                      Having copper and cast iron cookware, I'll tell you, cast iron is over rated when compared to copper. It does not hold heat as well, it does not heat as fast, and it is not as uniform or even heating as copper!

                                                      Where cast iron takes the lead over copper, is when you need something heavy to strike your opponent with... and not even then, as copper is heavier than cast iron.

                                                      16 Replies
                                                      1. re: Demented

                                                        The primary advantage of copper cookware is its responsiveness. You turn the heat up, it heats up quickly; you turn the heat down and in no time your pan is cooler. In other words, it doesn't hold heat well.

                                                        So while it's true that cast iron doesn't heat as quickly or as uniformly as copper, it holds heat much, much better. Your claim to the contrary is simply incorrect.

                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                          I agree with alanbarnes. Cast iron will retain heat a lot longer than copper. it takes longer to heat and to cool down, but once it's hot, it stays pretty hot, even when you turn off the heat source

                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                            Hey Alan,

                                                            When adding room temp chicken breast to a hot frying pan, the copper pan recovers faster than the iron pan. Tested this time and agian.

                                                            1. re: Demented

                                                              The pan's thermal mass is only one of a number of factors involved in that process. Cast iron holds more heat than copper. Period. If you doubt this, put a cast iron pan and a copper pan of about the same size and weight in a 400F oven for half an hour. Remove them, wait a minute or two, and take the temperature of each pan. The cast iron will be hotter because it holds more heat (or, in geek speak, has more thermal mass).

                                                              1. re: alanbarnes


                                                                You are absolutely correct... a cast iron pan will hold heat better than a copper pan. But, the copper pan will come back up to working temp faster than the cast iron pan will.

                                                                I worked washing dishes, taking out trash and prep,before working the line in the mid 70's.

                                                                I still own cast iron, since replacing all of my “Clad” cookware with copper, I rarely use any of it.

                                                                1. re: Demented

                                                                  >>But, the copper pan will come back up to working temp faster than the cast iron pan will.<<

                                                                  That would depend on the Temperature Drop (TD) at the particular moment. TD is much less in cast iron, as the TD in copper is far greater. Although I used TD in my lingo, the situation is really about stored thermal energy. One can try to bring ice to a boil in copper vs cast iron to prove that copper preheats quicker, but preheat both to identical temps to add the same amount of ice, cast iron should win the boil test.

                                                                2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                  The specific heat capacity (at 25c) for iron and copper is nearly the same (ref. Wiki articles) - in J/(mol K). Since atomic weight (g/mol) isn't that different, the heat capacity per gram should also be similar. So two pans, weighing the same, heated evenly to the same temperature, will have the same heat energy (Joules). Or can you point me to better heat capacity numbers?

                                                                  What surface are you setting your two pans on? If it is insulated, I would not expect much difference in temperature, though heat loss to the air will be something of a factor.

                                                                  Are copper pans ever as heavy as iron?

                                                                  This notion of 'holding heat' is a tricky one. In part it has to do with the heat capacity and mass. Conductivity clear affects how heat flows from one part of a pan to another, for example from the edges to the center where the steak is absorbing heat. But heat transfer from the hot metal to the steak is a more complicated process. It involves heat conductivity in the meat, and heat loss due to evaporation of meat juices.

                                                                  If you observed water droplets dancing on the surface of a hot pan, you will realize that heat transfer to water is a complicated affair, that depends strongly on the temperature of the pan. On a hot enough pan, a layer of water vapor actually insulates the drop from the pan, slowing heat loss.

                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                    Cast iron has a specific gravity of 7.21 and weighs 450 pounds per cubic foot.

                                                                    Cast copper has a specific gravity of 8.69 and weighs 542 pounds per cubic foot.

                                                                    Rolled copper (commonly used for cookware) has a S.G. of 8.91 and weighs 556 pounds per cubic foot.

                                                                    Most 2.5mm copper cookware is heavier that cast iron cookware of similar size.

                                                                    For in-depth information on the various materials used in the manufacture of cookware and their merits, there is this article.


                                                                3. re: Demented

                                                                  that demonstrates that cast iron RETAINS heat better, not the opposite

                                                              2. re: Demented

                                                                I really hoping people weren't really trying to make a meaningful comparison between copper and cast iron. It's just apples and oranges.

                                                                Cast iron has the thermal properties of sand? Really? Yes, it heats and cools a lot slower than copper, aluminum and stainless. And it benefits from lower burner settings.

                                                                So relax, get your pan warming. While it warms, you have time to chop some onons and get your ducks in a row. In the meantime, your pan is doing just fine. I suppose cast iron might not be for those who thrive on a frantic pace in the kitchen.(Part of why it isn't a good fit for a commercial kitchen.)

                                                                Cast iron rocks because for very low cost you get a pan or pot that with a little patience and TLC really performs well.

                                                                I really want to love copper. (AlClad, too, for that matter.) The cost, however, puts it WAY out of the range of most folks, including myself.

                                                                1. re: MikeB3542

                                                                  Hey Mike,

                                                                  I wanted copper cookware for years, but the cost put me off, when retiring a number of years ago I took a substantial distribution. Upgraded the major appliances and bought nearly the whole line of Falk copper cookware. One of the better choices I've made in my life.

                                                                  In my opinion, yes, cast iron has thermal properties close to those of sand. When cooking at home, the time it takes iron cookware to heat allows time for preparation.

                                                                  My back is trashed and it's difficult for me to stand for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time. I still manage to cook for the wife and myself nearly every day.

                                                                  Cast iron is sturdy and well made cookware, but it's not the most efficient.

                                                                  1. re: MikeB3542

                                                                    How "way out of range" is a good copper pan when you think about it? A $200 saucepan is the equivalent of a few restaurant meals, but you will have it for the rest of your life and leave it to one of your kids.
                                                                    It might be better to buy an inexpensive basic set of pots or some garage sale specials to get by with and gradually replace those with top quality copper or stainless (depending on your willingness to occasionally polish) over a couple of years when you're young.
                                                                    Then you'll be able to enjoy the best over a lifetime.
                                                                    I wish I had done that. The copper pieces I bought 30 years ago are still perfect but even my original Calphalon - twice the weight of today's stuff and a lot more expensive - is starting to show unacceptable wear.

                                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                                      Considering $200 is 2 1/4 days pay for me, or about $10 restaurant meals in my area, I could never justify paying that much for one pan, especially since all I am hearing about copper that is supposed to make it great (in this and a few other discussion where it is compared to cast iron) is how quickly it comes (back) to temperature. My 3 cast iron fry pans and 2 dutch ovens cost under $100 combined. Add in a couple stainless sauce pans, stock pots and baking/broiling trays from a discount store, and I could have all the pans I need for less than the cost of that one copper pot.

                                                                      It is a matter of priorities and it is all relative. $200 may not be a lot to you, but to many people it is totally unreasonable to spend that much on one item, when there are cheaper alternatives that work at least almost as well. $200 is more than a whole months free spending money for me. To buy a $200 copper pan, I would have to give up 2-3 dinners with friends, a couple of outings for my hobby, and buying anything fun for a month (mostly stuff for my hobby) or so. Not worth it to me, my friends and hobby are my life. I'll stick to inexpensive cookware except for appliances, those usually the extra expense is worth it (KitchenAid mixer, brand name food processor).

                                                                      1. re: bchick

                                                                        I agree that it all depends on your priorities, how much you actually like copper (you need to try it to see whether you like it -- I personally was amazed at the first copper pan I bought), and how much income you're willing to devote to cookware.

                                                                        Pots and pans are stuff I use every day, as important to me as a stove or a refrigerator. How many people shell out thousands of dollars for these appliances every decade or so but aren't willing to spend more than a couple hundred dollars for all of their cookware combined? How many people spend $10000 or $20000 or more to remodel a kitchen, but don't want to spend $1000 or $2000 for good cookware? How many people spend $20000 for a nice new car every few years that they spend an hour in each day, but are unwilling to spend $100 more for a better mattress that they spend 8 hours in each night?

                                                                        Prices are always relative not only to what we can afford, but what we think we *should* be paying for something. Cookware is something that most people don't think is worth a lot of money.

                                                                        I'm not arguing that you should buy copper -- I'm just saying that we only think of copper cookware as expensive because there are much cheaper alternatives. Most people don't think there's an alternative to having a refrigerator or stove, so they shell out hundreds of dollars for them. But if you really like copper and cook in it every day, I'd say it's about as useful and important a purchase as those major appliances.

                                                                        You bring up a stand mixer or food processor as appliances you'd prefer to spend money on. Perhaps you use these every day. I use my stand mixer about once per week, and my food processor maybe once every month or two. On the other hand, I have a couple copper pans I use almost every day. Given the frequency of use, I think a high cost is justified.

                                                                        Also, you don't have to spend $200 on a copper pan -- buying things second-hand, you can often find them for a fraction of the cost. (This is how I acquired many of my copper pieces, because for many years I didn't have a lot of disposable income either.) And copper does actually require less heat energy to cook -- over decades of use, you actually will save money in heating costs. Those fractions add up and make copper much more affordable as a long-term investment.

                                                                  2. re: Demented

                                                                    I get it, you dont like cast iron. I love the way my cast iron performs from searing to pancakes, and I can clean it with a dry rag. Every time I have used copper, It burns.
                                                                    A little science.
                                                                    Iron, cast 55
                                                                    Sand, dry 0.15 - 0.25
                                                                    Stainless Steel 16
                                                                    Aluminum 250
                                                                    Copper 401
                                                                    Silver 429

                                                                  3. I believe the reason cast iron isn't used on TV is because they simply appear ugly to an unappreciative audience. Those of us that appreciates cast iron, can overlook that issue.

                                                                    25 Replies
                                                                    1. re: RShea78

                                                                      And the reason folks use copper is because it's pretty and impresses the hell out of the neighbours.

                                                                      1. re: billieboy

                                                                        >>and impresses the hell out of the neighbours.

                                                                        I guess that is your story, and your "sticking" to it?

                                                                        1. re: RShea78

                                                                          I can probably scour the All-Clad or the Revereware websites for some additional selling points, if you need them..... Impressing the neighbors sums it up pretty good, though!

                                                                          EDIT: please note sarcasm

                                                                          1. re: wb247

                                                                            Fine! I will let you people entertain them with some copper pots. I just hope you can play music with them?

                                                                            (Most of my neighbors eat out as cooking is a drag to them.)

                                                                            1. re: RShea78

                                                                              They are the ones with the copper pots, likely.. :-)
                                                                              Don't get upset Shea, we are both on your side. I love my Cast iron and would not trade it for all the copper in France.

                                                                      2. re: RShea78

                                                                        Very true, Basically ugly, inexpensive, no sponsorship as far as commercial value. Why bother other than they cook great, they don't "sell" There is no appeal, no commercial value or selling point. It's a shame because they are wonderful to cook with.

                                                                        I hate to say it, but other than just a few pans some which were gifts and a couple I purchased, I would use cast iron for the majority of my cooking. I do like my non stick, my large dutch oven or large casserole and grill pan. Most which I purchased and are cheap, inexpensive and you know what ... They work just fine, most I have had for years and I love them.

                                                                        But cast iron is forgot and I wish it wasn't. But I understand why. But to me ... one of the best things to cook with

                                                                        1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                          I find that they get plenty if use if you plant them on your rangetop -- a 12-inch skillet and 5-qt dutch oven get the front burners and a kettle gets one of the back burners.

                                                                          1. re: MikeB3542

                                                                            >>I find that they get plenty if use if you plant them on your rangetop...<<

                                                                            Range top? That is another story, especially with the glass cook tops. Cast iron isn't recommended (or approved) at all on them.

                                                                            1. re: RShea78

                                                                              That's news to me, my 30-yr old Amana cooktop, and my antique cast iron frying pans and dutchie. Perhaps they're not supposed to be compatible, but they are!

                                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                                I guess it's an issue of scratching the glass, but if you don't drag the pots around on the stove it should be no problem.
                                                                                My problem is with my portable induction burner. They are too heavy for the poor little thing.

                                                                                1. re: billieboy

                                                                                  I have a gas range, so scratching the cooktop is not really an issue. The bottoms of my Lodge skillet and dutch oven (neither enamelled) are actually pretty smooth.

                                                                                  1. re: MikeB3542

                                                                                    I have been thinking of getting a Lodge dutch oven (not enameled) Was it hard to season or just do it like a fry-pan?
                                                                                    Does it season all the way up the sides?

                                                                                    1. re: billieboy

                                                                                      I have one. I followed the instructions for seasoning it with Crisco in the oven. I've used it successfully for frying potato chips, braising stews and baking no-knead bread. My only problem is that it's awfully heavy.

                                                                                      1. re: billieboy

                                                                                        Same seasoning procedure as a frying pan. The sides will season, over time, to the depth the your finished sauces/soups generally reach. Mine has decades of the clove and bay leaf I use for Mom's versions of pot roast, goulash and rouladen. I once made a pot roast in an enameled dutchie because I wanted to add some tomato. Maybe some bias, but I did not think the meat developed as much flavor as in the black one.

                                                                                        Why not look for a used one on eBay or at yard sales? That's where I got mine, and I never quite forgave Mom for THROWING HERS AWAY because she was moving to Florida and didn't want to do any more slow-cooking. Yes, I already had my own ones by then but fellow Hounds will understand that she should have given me the chance to rescur them!

                                                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                                                          Thank you for info. I have heard that the unenameled ovens give a little extra flavour to meat.
                                                                                          Did you disown your Mama? :-)

                                                                                  2. re: greygarious

                                                                                    A 30 year old glass top Amana should have made the headlines, that I must have missed. Is that for real?

                                                                                    1. re: RShea78

                                                                                      I don't know if I've got the terminology correct - it's a cooktop, of some sort of glass or ceramic, and I bought both it and my first microwave in '79. Both Amana. (The microwave only made it till age 11.) One of the large burners conked out many years ago but I never had it fixed. I cook a lot but rarely use more than 2 burners at a time. It was one of the 3 that require a flat-bottomed pan because the element only heats up where the pan contacts the cooktop. The 4th one has a traditional coil under the cooktop (if you turn that one on high, and the lights off, you can see the red-hot coil. That burner is good for non-flat bottoms. It never occurred to me that it's unusual to have one this age. The top has never cracked though the most-used burner area is certainly plenty stained and scratched despite always using the recommended non-abrasive scouring powders. KNOCK WOOD TO ALL OF THIS! I've probably just tempted fate with a bull's eye on my back!

                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                        Well, my dad was up and he recalled Amana had some $2,500 range. Granny was talked out of it by the sales staff, because warranty didn't cover damage caused by cast iron pans. She eventually went with a range that had those round cast iron burners, but some years later. (Granny was one that went head over heels for something that was new, when it came to cooking)

                                                                                        1. re: RShea78

                                                                                          I was far more organized in 1979 than now - appliance receipts all in file folders so it took just a minute to find: $650. Just don't ask me to find the current electric bill ;-). The one I have is actually one grade up from the bare-bones one I paid for: it was on indefinite back-order from Amana and the appliance store owner, unbidden, took it upon himself to demand that they send the next-higher model (it had a clock/timer built-in) at the same price, which they did. They don't make appliances - or the folks who sell them - the way they used to! I should add that my microwave died a week after I got it. The authorized factory service guy ordered a replacement magnetron, which, again, was on back-order. 2 weeks later, he still had no idea when it would arrive. I called the appliance store to ask who I could call at Amana to get an ETA. Once the owner heard about the situation, he told me he'd make a call and get back to me. Later that day he sent his delivery guy out with a brand new microwave. He had called Amana and gotten them to authorize him to replace the whole unit.

                                                                                          1. re: RShea78

                                                                                            Those round cast iron burners are what I want. Grew up with electric coils, big ol' pain in the but to clean if something boiled over, and real scary when the coils died (they explode sometimes). Now we have a glass top that my father insisted on, Mom and I both hate it because we are afraid of breaking it (we like pressure cookers and cast iron, both not recommended by the manufacturer) and because it is black and shiny, it shows every spatter. The old white metal stove with coils didn't show as much dirt as this stupid thing.

                                                                                            1. re: bchick

                                                                                              Even better: continuous cast iron grates. The entire top of my new Frigidaire gas oven is grated with heavy cast iron, so I can slide my collection of Griswold cast iron all over the top, without having to lift the (not as heavy as new CI, but still a workout) skillets and dutch ovens. Love it! I can set serving dishes RIGHT next to the cookware, too, for spooning up the food.

                                                                                              1. re: Beckyleach

                                                                                                I LOVE the continuous cast iron grates on my somewhat new range. :)

                                                                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                  Me, too! And I hadn't realized that additional perk (besides just being able to slide things around) when I bought it. My kitchen is pathetically short of cabinet and counter space. I have NOTHING near my stove but a tiny, 1square foot leftover bit of counter top, on which to set serving dishes to fill from pots and pans.

                                                                                                  Much less stress, this way!

                                                                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                    do they make a horrendous screetch when you slide your pans? I've been looking for a new gas range, but those unglazed burners make a gawd-awfull noise! Right now I've got enamel over cast iron, and they work very well, but the broiler is out on my 23-yr old GE,a dn time to update the kitchen with new fridge 25 years. Got my new Bosch DW already.

                                                                                      2. re: RShea78

                                                                                        I have a Ceran cook top and have found that cast iron is one of the best matches available. Due to the cycling of power to the heating elements cast iron provides a very even temperature and can achieve temperatures that most cookware can only reach via a gas stove top. Granted, if you are in the habit of dropping pots and pans on a stove top then I would not recommend a glass/ceramic top. Nor should you slide the pots and pans but that applies to all cookware used on glass/ceramic. Another reason cast iron is great for glass/ceramic is it's propensity to remain flat and not warp, resulting in good contact between the two surfaces. I actually hated this cook top until I switched to cast iron.

                                                                                        Commercial kitchens have stoves that produce much higher BTUs than home kitchens allowing for searing in aluminum and stainless pans. Cast iron does see use under broilers and on stove tops in commercial kitchens. The preferred method of cleaning appears to be scouring with Kosher salt and oil.

                                                                                        I've seen various cast iron pieces(skillets, griddles, dutch ovens, grill pans and woks from Lodge and "French" ovens, grill pans and brasiers(casseroles) from Le Creuset) used on tv and dvd but the main opponent appears to be when sponsorship is by a cookware company.

                                                                                2. I love to use cast iron on my grill all the time. Less energy well propane, but seems to heat up quicker. I use the side burner or right on the grill itself. I just did a potato type of dish with cheese and cream on the main grill in a pan. Chickens on the grill but veggies in my other cast iron on the side burner. And a sauce for the chicken in my small sauce pan. 3 pans on the grill. I love them for that. And they all turned out great

                                                                                  1. Some of the FN hosts do use what looks like plain old Lodge cast iron. Paula Deen does. As everyone has said, the others are mainly hawking their own lines or have endorsement deals. My mother never used cast iron but I do. I know copper is great but it's way too expensive for me.

                                                                                    1. it could be 'cuz they don't show Justin Wilson re-runs.. "I gar--ron--tee"!

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: JRCann

                                                                                        My recollection of Justin Wilson is that he was always cooking in great big aluminun Dutch ovens that looked to be at least 8 quart size.

                                                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                                                          I recall that he used a lot of Magnelite cookware -- nice stuff by the way.

                                                                                          1. re: MikeB3542

                                                                                            I do believe you are correct. My memory isn't all that good and my comment was partly in jest. My mom had a set of Magnalite (at least I think that was what is was) when I was young. Many times I have wondered what happened to it.

                                                                                            1. re: JRCann

                                                                                              My grandmother had a set (wish she had kept it) that included a pressure-cooker. The art deco-style handles were really unique. There is a company that is distributing Magnelite and other Wagner products, but based on posts that I have read, they do not appear to be reliable.

                                                                                              1. re: MikeB3542

                                                                                                I do remember the pressure cooker... in my youth I thought it was evil!

                                                                                      2. Minus all the science, isn't one of the benefits of cast iron the flavor that it will add to your food over time?

                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: jchang

                                                                                          I don't notice much of a "cast iron" flavor from cooking with it, though some say it contributes to your intake of iron

                                                                                            1. re: tommy


                                                                                              "Many fans of cast iron cooking see the little bit of extra flavor infused in your dish from past meals as a big selling point of cast iron"

                                                                                              I've always been under the impression that a well seasoned cast iron pan adds subtle flavors since its never washed. And all that bacon grease has to amount to something.

                                                                                              1. re: jchang

                                                                                                I agree completely. The Cast Iron seasoning adds that little extra "something" to the flavour. Subtle, but there.

                                                                                                  1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                    I don't cook fish in CI. That and eggs in the non-stick. Everything has a purpose.

                                                                                                1. re: jchang

                                                                                                  If that's what the spokesman for Lodge cast iron pans says then it must be true.

                                                                                                  I didn't notice last week's bacon in last night's chicken, and that's just as well.

                                                                                            2. Because I'd seen this post, I noticed Michael Chiarello used a cast iron skillet for fried chicken on a show I watched yesterday... I have my grandmother's skillet and it makes the best fried chicken (and then gravy) ever.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: mr99203

                                                                                                totally agree. once those CI pans are hot, they retain heat like nobody's business. Perfect for deep frying

                                                                                              2. Under Chow Stories, check out the video of Hubert Keller making burgers.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. I am starting a cooking show and will be using cast iorn cookware where applicable, fried chicken, baked beans, and corn bread to start. Look for "cooking with The Big Guy"

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: js4977

                                                                                                    Will your show be on TV? What state are you doing it in?

                                                                                                  2. I love the way copper looks and I have at least 50 pieces, collected from estate sales,
                                                                                                    flea markets, restaurants going out of business, etc. But I won't cook with it because I
                                                                                                    HATE to clean it. Those of you who actually COOK with copperwear must have your own personal scullery maid. What a task!! My pieces range from urns said to be off train dining cars to Revere BiCentennial Issue skillets and saucepans and I still won't cook
                                                                                                    with them. They do get a twice yearly cleaning, just to keep them in shape, but they don't
                                                                                                    see the burners on my Viking....ever..... Cast Iron rules

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: amazinc

                                                                                                      I have a few pieces of Duparquet and Villedieu copper with tin lining. Sometimes they get some discoloration from the flame. It's easy to remove it with salt and half a lemon. Brings the copper back to shiny pink.

                                                                                                      1. re: amazinc

                                                                                                        Re copper That is why enamel coated Chantal coperfusion works so well The copper for rapid heat fused with the steel covered with enamel for fast clean up I have 2 fry pans in copper fusion and they are easy and look perfect I love copper and used to have my girl clean my copper beaten bowl with ketchup to keep it nice for the fruit I would not have the patience to have copper cookware I would have to either clean it or hide it away haaha

                                                                                                      2. I don't watch a whole lot of the actual cooking shows (many of the hosts/chefs annoy the heck out of me, or cook foods that I am not interested in [too high fat, too fancy for my lifestyle/tastes]), but since I am interested in general food knowledge, I watch Alton Brown's show, "Good Eats" a lot. He uses cast iron some, usually when it is the best tool for the job, and will explain the reasoning behind why he thinks what he is using is the best tool for the job, complete with chemistry stuff many of us never learned in school.

                                                                                                        I think part of the problem is some are afraid that using cast iron will scare away all the folks that think it is hard to use, and they would rather use stuff people aren't afraid of, that way people will trust them and buy their cook books, and as someone else mentioned, their special pan sets.

                                                                                                        The saute pan flip thing is so silly. I don't understand why TV chefs think it is so great. It may look cool, but it doesn't look like it moves the food in the pan all that efficiently. I'm all about making yummy stuff efficiently. I would much prefer they would use and teach techniques that the home cook should be using.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: bchick

                                                                                                          With the right pan (flared 10" is my favorite) and the right ingredients (loose dice/chunks), I like the flip. Also the pan shouldn't be too full. Once you get the hang of it, it is easy. Each 'flip' turns about a quarter of the contents. It's a way of turning the food over, not just stirring it.

                                                                                                          One of the few things that I don't like about using my induction burner is that I can't do this flip. The burner shuts off if I lift the pan.

                                                                                                        2. I have seen a white LC on Barefoot Contessa with a lentil soup and it sure looked like a red LC in Bobby Flay's hands in a cookoff

                                                                                                          1. My mom used cast and I had her skillet for years. After moving several times with the military I lost it. I recently bought a flat skillet and use it all the time. After properly seasoning it and never washing with soap but just wipe down, nothing sticks and it has been the best skillet ever. TV run on advertisements and cast iron is not new and technology savy but is the best for all round cooking.

                                                                                                            1. I think it depends on what you watch. I'm thinking I've seen Paula Deen use cast iron skillets all the time, but then again she has her own line. I think I've seen them used on Iron Chef as well, but I can't remember if they are usually used by the iron chefs themselves or the challengers.

                                                                                                              1. Dull black cast iron doesn't show the camera and viewers what's happening in the pan as well as bright metal. Cast iron also responds to heat quite differently from what most American home cooks have and use, so it's not the most appropriate teaching tool. Nor for obvious reasons is nonstick, America's favorite, but clad stainless is close enough that viewers can connect what they see with what they do, or want to learn how to do.

                                                                                                                The chefs may use quite different cookware in their restaurants and at home, but then they aren't performing for the public. Same with us home cooks, or most of us. Or is it just me? I have one Dansk Design enameled roasting pan that I rarely use except for show, otherwise no cast iron at all, and I don't feel the need for it.

                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: armagnac

                                                                                                                  Not me. I've got cast iron skillets, griddles, dutch ovens, chicken fryers, roasting pans, and popover "tins." And enameled cast iron in a similar range of items. I've got cast iron all over the house, stuffed under things and stacked 6 deep. I can't imagine cooking certain things--cornbread, pork roast, peppers, etc. --without it, in fact.

                                                                                                                  But I'm Southern by birth and rearing. That may have something to do with it.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Beckyleach

                                                                                                                        Why, shut mah mouth, I *was* right, after all:

                                                                                                                        Definitions of rearing on the Web:

                                                                                                                        raising: the properties acquired as a consequence of the way you were treated as a child

                                                                                                                2. Can't make a pan reduction with wine that won't taste like you're sucking on nails, can't do a braise with acidic ingredients, can't make a sauce that includes tomatoes or their adjuncts, too heavy to do a quick saute' and toss the ingredients, tend to lose their seasoning and get really dry dead in the middle of the pan used on small home stove gas burners and/or require constant reseasoning

                                                                                                                  They do a good job frying bacon and making cornbread.

                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: CharlieTheCook

                                                                                                                    Charlie - I read in another thread about how much you like well-seasoned carbon steel pans. Aside from the weight, how is a seasoned carbon steel pan different from a seasoned cast iron pan in practice? Do they not suffer from the problems you just listed?

                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                      The issue is to use the right pan for the job. I agree with Charlie about the drawbacks of cast iron. Cast iron is perfect for blackening or high heat frying, no sauces please. Non stick pans deteriorate under high heat cooking but are great for stove top sautes, sauce or not.
                                                                                                                      Enameled cast iron is good for braising and stews and is usually oven safe.
                                                                                                                      Stainless is good for acidic and wine sauces but sticks under dry heating.
                                                                                                                      If you take a cast iron pan and turn the heat to high, just before max and throw a steak or hamburger in, you will get a nice char and even a slight smoky taste almost as good as a grill. Turn your vent on HIGH, don't try it with a $70.00 Broan vent.

                                                                                                                      1. re: cajundave

                                                                                                                        That's all well and good, but doesn't answer my question.

                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                          I don't think they are on cooking shows because a lot of chefs simply don't use them.

                                                                                                                      2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                        No, they are infinitely smoother with tighter 'pores' (if you will). Seasoned, they seal up tight and can be used with acidic reductions. Foods, like fried bacon, don't taint this pan for the next use or even several uses as can happen with cast iron. Carbon steel pans are almost perfectly non-stick after one session of seasoning (and will be completely non-stick in short order), here's how I do it:

                                                                                                                        Scrub the new, unused pan thoroughly with hot soapy water and a 3M green pad. This is the one and only time it will see soap unless something unusual happens at some point down the road.

                                                                                                                        Heat the pan to 400 degrees in an oven. Put a small amount of grapeseed oil in the pan first - wipe it on with a paper towel, just film it. Let it sit in the oven for about ten or fifteen minutes to get good and hot. You only do this once and then proceed with the following routine:

                                                                                                                        Take it out of the oven, the handle of course will be very hot. Put it on a gas burner on medium until the oil starts to smoke a little - move the pan around on the burner to heat up the entire bottom. Take pan off the burner and let it cool a little. Wipe it hard with paper towels (while still off the burner) held with a set of tongs. Wipe it really hard. Put some more oil in the pan, just a touch, and wipe it around with clean paper towels, again holding the wad of paper towels with tongs. Put the pan back on the burner and heat it until you see smoke, pull it off and repeat the process about five times. You'll be pretty much seasoned at this point. Go on and use the pan for frying and searing. After a bit more use you can go ahead and do pan reductions.

                                                                                                                        Here's how I clean it: salt and a green 3M pad (hot water too if I thickened a reduction with flour) - I actually want some of the 'seasoning' not absolutely thoroughly in the pores to come off the pan. You don't want the seasoning to build up so thick it flakes off - you want the seasoning in the surface of the pan and just covering the metal. You don't want a sixteenth inch thick layer of carbon which WILL flake off. You're basically burnishing the pan with the 3M pad and salt which guarantees the seasoning you see on the pan is not going to come off. And it doesn't. Doing this repeatedly results in a pan literally as smooth as a baby's bottom (although they are damned smooth out of the box). You don't need to use shower-down pressure with the pad - just let the pad and the salt do the work. Rinse the pan thoroughly, I mean thoroughly (no soap), wipe it off, put a film of oil on the inside and let it dry in the oven if it's still warm from cooking that meal. If it's not don't worry about it, just dry the pan and oil it.

                                                                                                                        1. re: CharlieTheCook

                                                                                                                          Thanks for the reply. So far I've managed to get by with only stainless steel clad aluminum and non-stick/teflon saute pans and skillets. I was wondering if a carbon steel pan would be useful enough to justify its purchase.

                                                                                                                          Personally, and back on topic, I think you're right. Aside from the difficulties of filming food in a black pan, cast iron is not used very often on cooking shows mainly because chefs don't use cast iron very much. And chefs don't use cast iron very much for a few reasons - it's heavy; it's prone to rusting; it must be heated slowly to avoid big temperature differences within the pan; and aluminum and non-stick/teflon pans work just fine.

                                                                                                                      3. Barefoot contessa everyday Italian and older Mario shows all show LC and
                                                                                                                        Alton Brown uses plain cast iron as well as a gorgeous blue Staub French enamel over
                                                                                                                        cast iron oven. RR uses her own line if enameled over cast iron as dies Mario
                                                                                                                        They are there. In other shies toonumerous to list

                                                                                                                        1. Ever watch "Mad Hungry" on the Hallmark channel? The show's host Lucinda Scala Quinn uses LC stuff all the time. She even talks about cast iron pans and has devoted a show about it too.

                                                                                                                          1. Chefs on TV *generally* don't use cast iron skillets because they *generally* don't use them in commercial kitchens. Anyone who has worked in a commercial kitchen knows that the pans in them are not treated gently and they also need to move. On the heat, off the heat, shoved tot the back of the stove and then under the broiler and then tossed into the dishwash sink. Almost all of them are frying pans, or "omlette" pans, with a few saute pans thrown in. Most of them are a little warped from having sat on a 25-35k btu burner for a little too long at one point or another. A cast iron pan would not only be a bear to manage, in terms of weight, but would not last long. It would be warped, cracked, and deseasoned in no time. Lastly, most kitchens have a griddle in them which for most intents and purposes is a large cast iron pan. Chefs use that.

                                                                                                                            That said, I have seen Bobby Flay use a cast iron skillet for certain frying tasks and a few other TV chefs as well. Interestingly, on Flay's show you'll notice that you never see logos for any of the cookware he uses...from appliances to grills to pans or anything else. I've looked for them and they are carefully not shown. So he's not steering clear of anything for reasons of endorsements.

                                                                                                                            In sum TV chefs generally don't use them on TV because most of their recipes are developed in commercial kitchens and in a modern kitchen a cast iron pan is an anachronism. Do they have great cooking qualities? Of course they do, but they are simply not practical in the context of how a modern commercial kitchen functions, any more than wood-fired ovens are.

                                                                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: LovinSpoonful

                                                                                                                              So we don't see cast iron on TV because it is not commonly used in commercial kitchens? How much beat up commercial kitchen cookware do we see on TV? How much All-Clad stainless or Le Creuset enamelled CI is used in commercial kitchens?

                                                                                                                              1. re: BruceMcK

                                                                                                                                I think it is just the ugly factor. In addition, All Clad probably pay to have a spot on the TV.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                  Speaking of 'product placement', I've noticed deBuyer-like carbon steel pans a couple of times lately. I think one was Jamie Oliver's Pyrenees show (Cooking Channel), where he used a carbon steel pan over an outdoor fire (for a truffle omelet). It certainly wasn't surprising in that context.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                    Oh, Lord paulj:

                                                                                                                                    Can I not watch Jamie, with his little birds chirping in the background while he's cooking on his woodfired camp grill and I'm sitting here in upstate NY-it's-been-winter-forever ice and snow Hell, and feel sooo envious?

                                                                                                                                    I do believe he uses the lovely French pans, while cooking those fresh newly sprouted asparagus, grilled in his woodfired camp grill with lovely oils and garlic...

                                                                                                                                    Help me. Will winter ever end?

                                                                                                                                    (At least I have the pans. Next on our to-do list is an asparagus bed.)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: breadchick

                                                                                                                                      And trying to protect his omelet from the truffle pig :)

                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                        Omelette's indeed. I have to protect mine from our corgis. They are egg-hounds!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: breadchick

                                                                                                                                          >>>>Omelette's indeed. I have to protect mine from our corgis. They are egg-hounds!

                                                                                                                                          I like that visual. I used to feed my cat an egg a week. I would make him an omelette with 9 Lives.

                                                                                                                                2. re: BruceMcK

                                                                                                                                  The form factor of All-Clad stuff is virtually identical to commercial kitchen wear. It is functionally identical to the stuff these cooks use. Does All-Clad pay to have their stuff used? Sure they do, because the cooking producers have to use SOMEONE and they might as well get someone to give it to them or even pay them. But the cooks are going to use what they know for the most part. So when they see the All-clad 12" fry that looks exactly like the commercial stuff they use every day, and the cast iron pan, they're going to reach for the All-clad. My point is that CI does not get used because Lodge does not have a product placement, it does not get used because that's not what the chef instinctively reaches for.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: LovinSpoonful

                                                                                                                                    Pan shape is important, may more so than material. Think of the typical cast iron skillet, the Lodge 10 or 12", with steep sloping sides, and short horizontal handle. Does anyone make something similar in aluminum, stainless steel, or carbon steel? That CI shape is traditional and may be determined as much by what could be made easily and reliably with sand casting. But it is quite different from the flared side frying pans, and somewhat different from the vertical side saute pan.

                                                                                                                                    There are some new thinner cast iron pans. Some of those appear to be modeled on French carbon steel designs (e.g. Lyonnaise), with angled riveted handles.

                                                                                                                                3. re: LovinSpoonful

                                                                                                                                  I would die to have a wood fired oven in my kitchen. That's all my grandmother ever had... you haven't lived until you have had bread, biscuits or a roast chicken made in one!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: JRCann

                                                                                                                                    Cooks Country explained the popularity of cup cakes in the days of wood and coal cookstoves - they were easier to bake than full size cakes in those finicky ovens. Apparently the heat was uneven, and hard to regulate. They were referring to the cast iron models common in American kitchens before gas, not a brick and mortar beehive.

                                                                                                                                    describes a traditional way of judging the oven temperature:
                                                                                                                                    " the old method of placing a piece of paper inside the oven for five minutes and judging the oven temperature by how dark the paper becomes, but for anyone willing to gamble… a paper that turns chocolate brown in five minutes indicates a quick oven that is hot enough for biscuits and muffins… a paper that turns a dark yellow is the right heat for bread… and a paper that turns only a light yellow is just right for baking cakes."

                                                                                                                                    That reminds me of a way of calibrating your oven (from Cooking for Geeks); a spoonful of sugar should remain white in a 350deg oven, and caramelize in about 5 minutes in a 375deg oven.

                                                                                                                                4. Maybe it's just too darn heavy for those cooks to lift?
                                                                                                                                  Anyway, I have not seen CI in restaurants either. It may be the cost of the cookwares and the weight. Does this mean that all those expensive CI makes no difference? But I have seen the expensive copper wares in kitchens.

                                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Mikecq

                                                                                                                                    I think the OP was thinking about inexpensive bare cast iron, such as Lodge brand. Sounds like you are thinking of the expensive French enamel pots.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                      Actually not.. Most restaurants I see use really cheap aluminum pans that they can toss. When a restaurant has 40 or more saute pans, they will think of the cost and get the cheapos. Every now and then I shop at restaurant supply places, like those in the Village NY or elsewhere. Mostly cheap stuff you'll find there. The expensive stuff is for consumers, except for the copper ware which is used by high end restaurants
                                                                                                                                      The TV cooking shows usually want to show off the cookware the chef endorsed. Won't see them flip an egg in a CI.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Mikecq

                                                                                                                                        Which high end restaurants have you ever seen using copper? I guess I coudl imagine it at the French Laundry and the like. Maybe.

                                                                                                                                        I agree about aluminum though. Restaurants use it because it is cheap, effective, and more durable than CI.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                          Mostly the high end French restaurants and some others.. Copperware allows them to control the heat better when making their sauces.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Mikecq

                                                                                                                                            Fair enough, though I've never seen a sauce so delicate I couldn't make it perfectly well in aluminum.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Mikecq

                                                                                                                                          I agree that aluminum is the go to material of choice but using the word cheap is a bit misleading. Cheap in cost, yes but the best bang for the buck commercial aluminum is far from cheap in quality. For the home cook a restaurant quality aluminum pan may last a lifetime.

                                                                                                                                    2. I saw Claire Robertson use a cast iron skillet on her 'Five Ingredient Fix' show today, and I instantly was reminded of this post!

                                                                                                                                      It was the first time I'd ever watched her show, so I don't know if she uses cast iron regularly or not. Today she used her skillet to fry up homemade pork sausage.

                                                                                                                                      Sidenote: She's a liiiiittle grating, but I do love her toaster strudel idea.

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jadore

                                                                                                                                        I like Claire Robertson. She's one of the few Do-It-Like-Rachael hosts I can stand.

                                                                                                                                      2. I think it all comes down to $$$. If it's easier for them to market a non-stick to the general public (and it is for so many reasons I won't get into), then that's what they'll do. I mean they put their names on their cookware as if that's gonna make a product work better. It works though, people buy it...

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                                                                                                                                        1. re: crowmuncher

                                                                                                                                          Commercial kitchens and FN etc TV studio kitchens are like being on different planets. Dishes cooked in cast iron pans look AWFUL! on TV compared to the gleaming A.C. or white enamel. Of course 'product placement' is another major factor.

                                                                                                                                        2. Own multi ply Stainless, good quality coated non stick, 1940's black cast iron & De Buyer carbon steel. Use them all for different types of cooking.

                                                                                                                                          Lots of carbon steel in commercial restaurants as well as straight aluminum, straight stainless & multi ply. Depends on what their cooking and who's doing it.

                                                                                                                                          Why no cast iron in cooking shows? NO ENDORSEMENTS !!!!!

                                                                                                                                          Why very few High quality Japanese knives on cooking shows? They don't need endorsements to sell, they sell themselves on their unmatched quality.

                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                            "Why very few High quality Japanese knives on cooking shows?"
                                                                                                                                            Incidentally - I've seen a lot of Japanese knives on TV. True, the most mainstream cooking shows tend to go with either German chef knives or Western-made 'santokus.' But if you watch cooking competitions (Top Chef, Chopped, Iron Chef, etc), the majority of the competitors seem to be using Japanese knives at this point.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                              <the majority of the competitors seem to be using Japanese knives>

                                                                                                                                              Really? Wow.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                Don't know about the US, but one of the most popular Cookery shows on UK TV is James Martin's Saturday Kitchen, where he uses either his own brand knives or Japanese Hattoris - rebranded as 'Kin' in the UK and sold at twice what you pay from Japanesechefsknife.com!

                                                                                                                                            2. Why very little cast iron in restaurants? YOU try lifting it for 8 to 12 straight hours!!!!!

                                                                                                                                              1. The Barbeque U guy on PBS uses cast iron whenever what he's making requires a pot or pan.

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                                                                                                                                                1. re: REFFI

                                                                                                                                                  The strangest 'cookware' I've ever come across is the set my wife's grandmother had. It was ovenproof GLASS! Even had a fry pan. Anyone here /had/has any of this stuff. The old girl would attempt to make a fried egg and inevitably the egg ended up scrambled and burnt onto the glass fry pan. She insisted the stuff was the best there was. LOL

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                    I remember those pans. Someone's parents had a set. I remember the frying pan and small sauce pans. Her's were a yellow-orangish-brownish color.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                      I receved a set of them as a wedding gift in the later 1980s. Everything stuck to them and they were a pain to clean. They were called Corningware Visions.

                                                                                                                                                      They lasted about a year until I tossed them into the recycling bin.