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Mar 2, 2009 11:56 AM

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.