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Pots/Pans Choice for Bride

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As the aunt of the bride I''ve landed the responsibility of advising my niece on the "best" choice for her pots and pans. The problem is that I haven't bought any new pots and pans in decades. I'm still using the original black Calphalon pots that were the best for their day, a day that was a long time ago. Yesterday, I looked at the five lines of All-Clad, the one line of Le Cruset, and two lines of Calphalon.

By way of background, I should add that my niece has lived in an apartment for several years; she has been cooking with the pots and pans that my mother donated when she downsized her living situation. Although some of those pots are like the old Calphalon I use, some are even older. (I mention these Calphalon pots so you know that my niece has some experience using reasonably heavy pots.)

I'd really appreciate any comments and recommendations about pots and pans currently on the market.

Thanks!

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  1. I have a set of Calphalon and a set of Le Crueset that I've had for over 25 years and they have served me well. I've been looking at Scanpan sets and some copper pieces myself lately. I guess it would depend on how much she'll cook and what people are going to spend on it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bayoucook

      I've picked up Paderno pots over the years and love them. They are heavy bottomed stainess steel. I've got a few other pieces such as Calphalon "Kitchen Essentials' and the glass lid leaks. Condensation from the inside seeps through the seam and onto the top of the lid. I'm not sure about the anodize aluminum.

    2. I'd love to see more input on this topic.
      I know "sets" are easy, and my primary input on those is too duy one that is considered 'commercial quality'. The heavyness is a pain, but the evenness in heating is wonderful. Also, more pieces are not always better, even if it makes the price per piece lower. Extra pieces just take up valuable cabinet space.
      I also want to put in a word for buying pieces that may not be part of the usual starter set.
      My favorite specialty piece is a heavy cast iron skillet passed down from my mom, especially for anything that starts with a roux. I also rely on is a 6" Le Crueset enameled saucepan with a pour spout - great for warming milk for coffee, and making clarified butter.

      I'm looking for a suggestion on a good non-stick line with a coating that won't wear away after a year or two of stirring with a melamine spoon. Thanks for any advice.

      1 Reply
      1. re: flavorburst

        I, too, am lucky enough to own very old cast iron skillets and a Dutch oven. I also have the 6" LC pan w/o a pour spout. My calphalon has held up well for non-stick, even though I've replaced the skillets twice in 25 years due to MY mistakes. You can't put them in the dishwasher, but they are heavy and well-weighted and they've done the job for me.
        I bought both sets b/c they were a lot cheaper (very marked down), I had the room for them, and I have used all of both sets. Will watch this thread for more info.

      2. This is a tough one. I tend to think that a collected mish-mash of pots and pans (different brands, weight, sizes, uses) is the best way to go, rather than buying a set from a line.

        I cook every day, and based on what I have, I would recommend these brands for the following pieces:

        Lodge cast iron skillets and griddles (12" being very useful)
        Le Creuset, Staub or Lafont Dutch ovens (I like 3 to 6 quart sizes) and curved soup pots
        All Clad or Cuisinart stainless saucepans, windsor pans, saute pans and stockpot
        Calphalon anodized braising pan

        Also, any heavy roasting pan that can be used in the oven AND on the stovetop (we have the All Clad small roti pan).

        I would not recommend Le Creuset pottery- I've had cracks happen out of nowhere. I also don't do Teflon-type nonstick- I rely on cast iron. I have a large set of old Revereware (from mr. sfumato's mom and grandmother) skillets and saucepans that I LOVE, but I know that their factories have changed since these were made, so I don't know if they're still as good. We also have a lot of other pans and pots that we use, but I don't know how useful they would be to other people- it all depends on cooking habits.

        Is this for her registry, are people wanting to buy her nice cookware without referring to a registry, or is she buying all this stuff herself? If you know where the cookware will come from, maybe we could make some solid recommendations based on that.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sfumato

          Definately the Lodge cast iron. Some things you can only make in cast iron!

          1. re: sfumato

            If my sister, the bride-to-be's mother prevails, this is for a registry. (Incidentally, I completely agree with my sister about the registry. I'd much rather buy a gift for someone I know will be appreciated and a registry listing accomplishes that.) The other possbility is that I might end up purchasing many/most of the pots as a wedding gift. I strongly doubt my niece will buy all the stuff herself.

            FWIW, the Le Cruset pots are from their stainless steel line, not from their traditional enamel over cast iron.

          2. There isn't any "best" cookware,
            as the many Chowhound debates still
            attest, and cost isn't necessarily a measure
            of quality. Most cookware sold today will
            do a decent job.

            If you like clad stainless, Consumer Reports
            gave top rating to KitchenAid, which costs less
            than the heavily promoted All-Clad.

            For sauce pans, nothing wrong with Calphalon
            anodized. Mine has lasted 20-plus years and
            is still in fine shape. The frying pan finish
            wore off after a few years though. I now use carbon
            steel and aluminum for frying (and one inexpensive
            Wear-Ever non-stick for eggs and such),

            BTW. Calphalon anodized is aluminum, so it
            os not heavy as pans go. Steel and cast iron are
            heavier.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mpalmer6c

              Bloomingdale's is where I did my initial investigating since that's the likely registry location. The housewares sales clerk, whose business card identified her as a "Le Cruset consultant" never mentioned KitchenAid pots. Who sells these?

              1. re: mpalmer6c

                I find anodized aluminum heavier than clad stainless (though certainly not as heavy as cast iron).

              2. Before I got married I had a mish-mash of pot and pans. We registered for SS All Clad, and I have to say I'm glad we did. They are expensive, but distribute heat very evenly, and still look great after years of frequent use.

                If she doesn't have it already, a couple of pieces of cast iron are great for for high heat tasks (better than the All Clad).

                1. Cooks Illustrated did a review of "sets" in this month's issue - actually, and somewhat surprisingly, they gave great reviews to both All-Clad (of course) and a Tramontina clad set that you can get at Wal-Mart for like $150. But they also sort of favored the "mish-mash" approach that says just buy your needed pieces open stock - a nice dutch oven, a cast iron skillet, etc.

                  Probably biggest questions you left out were does she pray at the "non-stick" altar, and is there price range here?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: grant.cook

                    The Tramontina TriPly set is not available in WalMart's stores. It is available online and you can have it shipped to the store of your choice. Interestingly enough, the site indicates they are out of stock on line. Link to the set: http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produc...

                    I have several pieces from this line and they are excellent pieces. While a set, this set is small enough to contain everything needed for starting out.

                    1. re: grant.cook

                      When you say that Cooks Illustrated gave a great review to All-Clad, which line? From best to least the lines are...
                      Cop-R-Chef?
                      Copper Core?
                      MC Squared?
                      LTD?
                      Stainless? (Remember that this is All-Clad's least! Hardly shabby!)

                      1. re: Indy 67

                        It was a 10piece All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware Set, for $699.95. I assume the last on your list. And for copper stuff, I think pretty much every agrees its great.. just not a bazillion dollars great. They liked the Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless 8-piece set as well

                    2. I'd go along with the mix-n-match approach, also. I have a Williams-Sonoma stainless steel all-purpose pot, consisting of a stockpot with pasta strainer, steamer basket, and tempered glass lid; All-Clad stainless skillets, their petite braiser (with lid), one and three-quart saucepans (the latter comes with a lid); two Farberware Select non-stick skillets, a Farberware Dutch oven, and one Lodge pre-seasoned cast iron skillet.

                      I don't recommend All-Clad non-stick, as no matter how carefully you treat non-stick, sooner or later there'll be a problem; so I go lower-end on any non-stick so I don't feel too bad when it's time to toss it.

                      1. Indy, you don't mention what type of cooking your niece does or what she cooks on (gas, electric, induction). Some of the recommendations could vary based on that. If she cooks on electric, a flat bottom is important and a clad construction is not especially useful. If she cooks on gas, clad construction is very important and heat retention may be necessary. If she cooks on induction, the magnetic properties of the cookware will determine if they can be used or not. There are many different things to think about here.

                        Pots/Pans are somewhat personal and I highly recommend that you take this OFF your niece's registry and take her shopping. Let this be your gift to her and an adventure for you. You need to handle each piece to see if the handles are comfortable and the balance is appropriate. If you are shopping for induction, bring a small magnet and see if it sticks to the bottom.

                        I have a very eclectic collection of cookware that I've assembled over the years. I have tons of Calphalon Commercial and Professional Hard Anodized, some LeCrueset enameled cast iron, Tramontina TriPly Clad, Cuisinart MultiClad and Chef's Classic lines, TFal Ultrabase non-stick (old....20+ years), Lodge Cast Iron and stuff I found in a restaurant supply store. Each piece has its merits. I continue to look into new pieces but haven't really found anything that makes me want to get rid of what I have.

                        Good luck and congrats to your niece on her upcoming nuptuals!

                        1. It has been nearly 15 years, but I definitely recall my wife's state of mind going into the wedding. To summarize, there is a need for things to be perfect and in order, if just for a little while. So:

                          Get something that's pretty.

                          Get something that matches.

                          For $150-250 or so you can get a very nice basic set of multi-ply stainless. A couple of saute pans, a couple of sauce pans, maybe a larger pot, all with lids that fit. It looks great, it's easy to care for and is decent quality.

                          Generally, the "top brands" are all pretty good, so it sort of comes down to what your niece likes -- look and feel.

                          I think I would stay away from teflon (it wears out too quickly, and leaves a "hole" in your set) and anodized aluminum (can't chuck in the dishwasher, which is what the husband will do.)

                          A bunch of mis-match stuff no matter how good will probably stick in her craw. A bunch of "ugly" cast iron will have a similar effect.

                          Speaking of matching, this is a good time to recycle the gadgets and serving pieces. She probably has a drawerful of stuff collected ad hoc -- usually from the supermarket.

                          Anyhow, best wishes to your niece and her husband-to-be.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: MikeB3542

                            Mike, I like your attitude and your empathy!

                            I'll have to feel her out a bit to see where she is on the spectrum of hard-core/purpose-specific mix and match VS beautiful and matching (albeit excellent quality).

                          2. Seriously consider the Kuhn-Rikon Duromatic Duo set. https://www.cooksquarters.com/info/pr...

                            You may think that Kuhn-Rikon is only a pressure cooker, and thus a super-specialty piece. We use ours as "regular" pots and pans with generic 22 cm clear Pyrex lids, and the 2-liter frypan probably gets more use as a regular pot than any other pot or pan that we use. (Of course, it has a pressure cooker lid as well, and occasionally we use it as a pressure cooker, too.) The Duromatics are very well constructed and dishwasher-safe, and the 2-liter often is just the perfect size for the job. The 5-liter pot that forms the other half of the set is the ideal size for pasta.

                            And if your niece likes artichokes, once she has steamed an artichoke on a trivet above the water inside a pressure cooker, she never will allow an artichoke to be prepared in her kitchen any other way.

                            1. figured I'd chime in since i recently made my own registry- since it's a registry and an opportunity to get the best of the best i registered for a few pieces of all-clad stainless. i didn't do a set bc it's likely beyond any single guest's budget and I already own a few pieces. the all-clad is also available at most stores that couples often register (bloomingdales, macys, even crate and barrel).

                              I also registered for a 5.5 quart LC dutch oven and 3.5 buffet casserole

                              if i were myself buying a set or pieces- i'd likely get each piece slowly partially based on need or what's on sale. in my reserch i found that the cuisinart multiclad and kitchenaid 5-ply were probably just as good as the all clad without the price or prestige. they have sets that often go on sale at amazon. perhaps if you end up getting a set for her- i would suggest one of these. if getting individual pieces on the registry, I'd do the all-clad.

                              1. well having also registered not that long ago...

                                first i should qualify that i am in Canada and where i was registered All-Clad and Calphalon were not available. i ended up with (and i'm very, very happy with them) a set of Jamie Oliver pots from T-fal. i didn't want to like them, though that buying pots from a celebirity chef (regardless that i love him) was gimicky. I also had no faith in T-Fal but they felt the best in my hands, i loved the shape, the weight, everything about them.

                                i use them everyday and have no complaints, i've even catered dinners for 100+ people using them. If they are available in the US they are actually pretty fantastic.

                                I hope to add some All-Clad to my collection one of these days... i'm all for the mish mash - now that i have the basis of something that isn't handed down or from IKEA)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: smcnultycomrie

                                  smcnultycomrie, here's some good news. Even though initially you had no faith in T-Fal (but are happy with the T-Fal cookware set that you have), T-Fal is part of the same company, Group SEB, that also includes All-Clad. So if it will bolster your faith, you can imagine that the Jamie Oliver set is an All-Clad cookware set. For what it's worth, Group SEB (based in France) includes the following brands: Krups, All-Clad, Moulinex, Rowenta, and T-Fal.

                                  1. re: smcnultycomrie

                                    It's not about the name on the handle but how you like the feel.