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All Clad Master Chef 2 (MC2) vs. Stainless

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I'm in the market for a new saute pan and have been looking at All-Clad. The Master Chef 2 (MC2) line is much cheaper than the standard stainless. What's the difference, and is there a major advantage to the stainless over the MC2?

It looks like the stainless is tri-ply, with stainless interior and exterior with aluminum sandwiched in between, while the MC2 just has two layers, a stainless interior/cooking surface and aluminum exterior. I realize that the exterior will probably suffer aesthetically over time due to discoloration, scratches, etc, but in terms of cooking performance, will there be any noticeable difference?

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  1. In terms of cooking performance they will be mostly identical, with a slight advantage to the MC2 in terms of heat up time as long as you are using gas or electric cook tops. However, if you have or ever plan to use an induction cook top the MC2 line will not work. Personally, I would avoid them for that reason. You may have no plans to move to induction any time soon, but these pans will last a lifetime, and I would wager that induction may be the dominant cooking surface 20 years from now.

    1. vanillagorilla has it exactly right. I would only add that the stainless is dishwasher-safe while the MC2 will get oxidation of its aluminum exterior in the dishwasher. I have preferred the MC2 for slightly better heating and control.

      1. We have the MC2 and are very happy with it, especially since it's cheaper. We were told by the vendor that the biggest difference in the exterior appearance. It's nice not worrying about maintaining a shiny exterior. I should add that we bought ours 15 years ago so I don't know if things have changed since then.

        1. Have recently invested in the MC2 line, and am very happy with it. Got a couple of saute pans, and some sauce pans. See no problems in the cooking performance, and, as others have commented in other parts of this forum, the exterior will get a little discolored over time, but unless you need some sort of display item in your kitchen, who cares? All Clad also recommends using a commercial aluminum cleaner on the exterior, but I'm nowhere near needing that kind of rehab yet. I think the MC2 line will serve you just fine.

          1. Sorry, forgot to add one thing to my earlier reply. If you watch Iron Chef America, you'll see MC2 stuff being used all over the place, and I got to believe if it wasn't good enough for those people, it wouldn't be there.

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            1. re: trakman

              As has been noted elsewhere, the principal reason All-Clad appears on so many cooking shows is that the manufacturer pays for product placement. So, yes, it's good enough for the folks on Iron Chef America, but who knows what they'd be using if they had unrestricted choice? Maybe high-performing, low-glamour stuff like Sitram Catering or Lincoln Centurion. That being said, I'm very happy with my factory-second MC2 fry pans.

            2. I love my SS AC. If you're concerned about aesthetics, go for the SS; they look nice but cook just as well.

              1. Theoretically, the SS pan will not cook as well as the MC2, as it contains less than half of the aluminum (which is the metal that matters for cooking performance). 2 mm of aluminum is quite small, in fact, and 5-7 mm provides a much more even heat. I have MC2, LTD, SS, and copper (Bourgeat) cookware, and the MC2 is closest to the copper, the stainless does not perform as well, IMHO. I highly recommend the egullet guide to cookware, which is very well researched and informative. http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?s...

                1. I have a stack of MC2's at my saute station at work. Each one of them probably goes through the dishwasher ten times a night and are constantly being flung around and slammed on hot cast iron and tossed in the dish pit and sprayed with water while still scalding hot. I beat the heck out of those pans and they keep coming back for more. And with steel wool I can bring them back to shiny with a little bit of work.