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Induction-capable SS: All-Clad vs. Demeyere vs. others

i'm just getting into cooking and I'm looking for some recommendations for choosing some stainless steel cookware, starting with a frying pan, sauce pan, and wok.

It is a requirement that induction be supported. I've been evaluating All-Clad's Stainless Steel line, Viking, and the Demeyere Atlantis. While it seems pretty clear that Demeyere is higher quality than the other two (better/thicker material, no rivets, not unnecessarily clad up the sides for sauce pans, non-drip edges), it's also much more expensive. So I'm wondering...

- Looking at Viking, it's more expensive than All-Clad SS, but doesn't seem to add anything the All-Clad lacks, except slightly more comfortable handles (the All-Clad handles don't bother me like they do some people). It has a much smaller open stock selection. Is there any reason to choose it?
- Is Demeyere worth the extra expense? I can afford it, but I don't want to spend money needlessly. Are rivets really that much of a pain to clean? Does the lack of a non-drip edge cause problems frequently? And does the higher quality/thicker core make a real-world difference?
- What other lines of cookware should I consider?

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  1. elazuk, wow, there are a lot of questions there, but they are all good ones. Let us start with the last one first: "What other lines of cookware should I consider?"

    We have been cooking on induction, more or less exclusively, for a decade now, and have tried many kinds and brands of cookware. The finest pot that we own is a splayed straight side (Windsor) pot in Mauviel's Induc'inox line, which is very difficult to find, but can be purchased here: http://lacuisineus.com/catalog/index.... The Induc'inox line has a unique construction; like All-Clad, it is clad all the way up the sides and therefore, like All-Clad, the pot does act as a radiator and heat the kitchen a bit when in operation. That is, some of the energy transferred to the pot is not efficiently used for the cooking of food, but goes to heating the room, as is the case with any pot that heats up the sides. Of cours, in a frypan, you _want_ the heat to go up the sides: http://lacuisineus.com/catalog/index....

    What makes the Induc'inox unique is the "sandwich filling" of the construction: it is very highly permeable steel. more so than the magnetic stainless used in most induction-capable pots. The outer layers of the Induc'inox "sandwich" construction are made of magnetic stainless steel. The superb magnetic qualities of the Induc'inox construction make it even more responsive to the induction cooktop than our very responsive Demetere (Apollo line) pots.

    Our Mauviel Induc'inox pot is very heavy -- not quite as heavy as a Falk Culinair or cast iron, but much heavier than the run-of-the-mill stainless saucepan, and therefore the handle is important. We opted for the cosmetically stunning brass handle -- Induc'inox is sold with alternative choices of handles -- and we would choose the iron handles if we were buying more. Though beautiful, the brass handles do get hot, and their shape (cross-section) is a bit small for my large hand, both of which considerations force me to use a pot holder every single time I handle the pot. Inconvenience aside, however, the superb cooking performance of the Mauviel Induc'inox trumps all. Definitely consider it.

    Recently, Chantal has introduced a line of induction-capable cookware, Copper Fusion, that looks very interesting. Like the Mauviel Induc'inox, the Copper Fusion line primarily is constructed of carbon steel, not stainless steel, and therefore should have excellent magnetic properties; it is protected from rusting and acidic contents of the pot by an enamel coat. The "copper" part of the Copper Fusion moniker comes from a copper disk on the base of the pots. I have been unable to find any information from Chantal about the thickness of the copper disk or how far it extends toward the full diameter of the pot. Although we have not tried the Chantal Copper Fusion for ourselves, you, as a person not burdened as we are by a sunk investment in cookware, should give it a chance to make its case.

    We also have experience with a couple of pots in the Hackman Tools line. (Hackman is part of the same Finnish group as iitala and Arabia porcelain.) The Hackman pots are excellent, but they are not inexpensive. See this, for example: http://fjorn.com/tc1622124.html There is also a HackmanTools cast iron frypan: http://fjorn.com/tc3302606.html They certainly are classy.

    Another maker you may wish to look into is Berndes. Primarily famous for its aluminum cookware, Berndes recently has jumped into induction-capable cookware with both feet. Some of the Berndes lines are made in mainland China and are targeted at the low end of the market; the German-made Berndes lines seem to have better heft.

    We have a whole bunch of frying pans that we use on our induction cooktop; most of them are cast iron (we will get to the exception in the next paragraph), both enameled and "naked." For _new_ cast ron, the highest quality cast iron in the world is Nambu (region) cast iron (tetsu) from the area around Morioka, northern Honshu, Japan; the largest Nambu-tetsu manufacturer is Iwachu, and you can purchase some Iwachu pieces at Natural Import. The Nambu frypan is here: http://naturalimport.com/inc/sdetail/... The same vendor also sells an Iwachu wok.

    However, the frypan that gets the most use in our kitchen (because it is so versatile) is a Kuhn-Rikon 2-quart frypan that comprises half of the Duromatic Duo. http://www.amazon.com/Kuhn-Rikon-6-Pi... In looking at the Duromatic Duo, I urge you to FORGET for a moment that it _also_ can serve as a pressure cooker; just forget that, and look at the fry pan as a frypan. It is built like a tank, as solid as any pot made anywhere, and it has a thick heat-distributing aluminum disk on the bottom that works as advertised. The frying pan (and the accompanying large pot) works just fine with no lid, or with a regular pot lid. Of course, when it is time to cook artichokes, you will find out that -- far and away -- the best way to cook an artichoke is out of the water, on a trivet above boiling water in the Kuhn-Rikon with its pressure top on. But that is just a bonus added to an already excellent frying pan.

    One final point: in considering the Demeyere line, if you are looking (as you probably will) at the conical sauteuse as a kind of frypan -- a function that it performs well -- there is no functional need to get the expensive Atlantis line. The Demeyer Apollo conical sauteuse is the same as the Demeyere Atlantis conical sauteuse except for a sturdy plain-Jane handle in place of the shi-shi Atlantis handle. We have the Deneyere Apollo conical sauteuse, and it gets a lot of use in our kitchen.

    I hope you find this helpful.

    1. You specifically state that you are looking for stainless steel cookware, but I wonder whether you might simply be implying induction-capable (i.e., not plain aluminum). If that is the case, I would suggest that you also consider cast iron (both plain and enameled), carbon steel, and induction-capable aluminum.

      I've been using an induction cooktop for several years now, and find that the frying pans I use most are my Lodge Signature cast iron skillet and grill pan, an Iwachu cast iron omelet pan, Mario Batali and Lodge enameled cast iron skillets, two carbon steel evasees, and a Silit Silargan ceramic-on-steel Fry-and-Serve pan. For omelets, I use Archetun (Italian) cast aluminum nonstick frying pans. Infinite Circulon hard-anodized aluminum cookware is also induction-capable. One nice thing about using induction-capable aluminum frying pans for omelets is that the aluminum spreads the heat out to the edges quicker.

      For saucepans and stockpots, I use Le Creuset French ovens and low casseroles, disk-bottom stainless steel pots (TKG PRO, which seem to be available only here in Japan), and Infinite Circulon.

      You mention a wok, but as I'm sure you know, you will need a flat-bottomed one. Since that's the case, you might find that a large carbon steel evasee can serve that duty as well.

      I apologize for not directly addressing your question, but I just wanted to point out that there are a lot of other options out there for induction-capable cookware.

      15 Replies
      1. re: tanuki soup

        tanuki soup: ".. . an Iwachu cast iron omlet pan . . ."

        http://www.chow.com/photos/355209
        That's much too modest a description for that GORGEOUS pan.

        1. re: Politeness

          Thanks for the kind words, Politeness. I have to confess that I bought the Iwachu omelet pan just because I thought it looked so pretty. Since then, I have come to love it because it's so nicely balanced and cooks so well. Also, the long, split handle doesn't get too hot. I agree with you that the folks at Iwachu are truly outstanding craftsmen.

        2. re: tanuki soup

          I have considered cast iron. I already have a cast iron skillet (like you I have a signature series from Lodge, which I'm impressed with). But it seems to me that stainless steel and cast iron are complimentary since each excels where the other does not (heat conductivity vs. heat retention). So my plan has been to go with stainless steel, and to compliment that with cast iron where needed. I'll definitely look into aluminum. I didn't realize there was any induction capable aluminum cookware.

          1. re: elazul

            "I didn't realize there was any induction capable aluminum cookware."

            Well, of course, you're right. Aluminum doesn't work on induction. All induction-capable aluminum cookware has a steel disk stuck on the bottom to interact with the induction coil. (Kind of the opposite of an aluminum disk on the base of stainless steel cookware.)

            Here are some pics of the Archetun frying pan, showing the steel disk on the bottom.

             
             
            1. re: tanuki soup

              I got a Berndes induction compatible fry pan from TJMaxx. It is cast aluminum with nonstick coating. The bottom appears to have a large number of steel dots. Because it is case, the handle is attached to 'stump' on the outside of the pan, without any rivets on the inside.

              Because it is aluminum the rim heats up a lot more than on steel pans. Even the base of the handle gets warm. For braising and boiling water, an all steel pot is fine on the induction burner, but for sauteing, the high conductivity of the aluminum is nice.

              1. re: paulj

                The rim of your pan, which is made of aluminum, heats up faster than the the base of your pan, which has a steel disk when you are using induction cooking? That is odd.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Sorry, I meant that the rim of the aluminum pan is noticeably hotter than the rim of a pure stainless steel pot or pan.

                  The thing that stands out when using a steel pan on an induction burner is that you can often touch the rim even after the water inside has come to a full rolling boil. That isn't the case with this pan.

                  1. re: paulj

                    Paulj,

                    Oh yeah, that makes sense now. That is because aluminum conducts heat much better than stainless steel, so a (largely) aluminum pan will have a hotter rim than a pure stainless steel pan, right?

                    I noticed that too, on a typical stove top. In my case, I know a full triply saucepan (stainless-aluminum-stainless) will have hotter rim than a saucepan with a sandwich aluminum based. I think this is good for a saucepan where the heat is distributed up to the rim, but I don't know if that is really necessary for a frying pan or a stock pot.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Chemicalkinetics, methinks that you have the types mis-associated. Heat conduction up the sides of a pot is a good property for a sauteuse or a frypan or a wok. Heat conduction up the sides is not a good thing for a saucepan or a stockpot.

                      When a saucepan or stockpot is filled with liquid and sits atop an energy source, the main and most effective means of distribution of heat upward is by convection currents within the liquid. As the temperature of the contents of the pot (due to the liquid convected up from the bottom) generally will be greater than the air temperature outside the pot, heat would flow from the food within the pot to the room outside the pot across a conductive sidewall boundary (heat always flows from warmer to cooler), so the ideal saucepan or stockpot sidewall would be an insulator, not a conductor.

                      1. re: Politeness

                        Oh :) I always thought a wok and a saute pan are to be used for high temperature cooking and therefore needs the thermal heat focuses on the small cooking surface. Having the heat conducts all the way up to the rim will also lower the temperature of the cooking surface at the bottom because now the heat is being draw out from a much larger area. :) What do you think?

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Chemicalkinetics, The temperature of the inside surface of a pot will always decrease with distance from the energy source, because there is no perfect lossless conductor. Certainly in a wok, and to a lesser extent in a frypan, I use those heat gradient characteristics. selectively to brown some parts more than others. Is that different from the way you use a frying pan?

                2. re: paulj

                  I agree. With my induction cooktop, I've always found it difficult to make an omelet in a disk-bottom stainless steel or cast iron frying pan because, as you say, the rim stays cool to the touch. The center of the omelet cooks, but the edges don't, making it impossible to flip.

                  With an induction-capable aluminum frying pan, on the other hand, the rim heats up quickly, so the edges of the omelet harden up enough to get a turner under it for flipping.

                  I don't have one, but I would expect that an all-clad-style frying pan would also work well for making omelets on an induction cooktop.

                  1. re: paulj

                    Last night I made pancakes, using a carbon steel crepe pan on a regular electric burner, and the Berndes on the induction burner. While I have more experience getting the right temperature with the crepe pan, I was struck by how uniform the color was on the Berndes.

                    This by the way was on a table top unit, with just one induction coil.

                    1. re: paulj

                      You mean the color on the pancake is uniform, right? For a moment, I thought you mean the pan.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Yes, I should have written 'how uniform the color was on the pancakes cooked in the Barndes'.

                        The color of the nonstick coating of the Berdes pan is also more uniform than the color of the seasoning on the crepe pan, but that isn't particularly important.

            2. When I bought my induction cooktop, I bought the Resto line of cookware from Demeyere (much cheaper than Atlantis). I love it.

              1. I would also recommend consider Sitram Profiserie which is a comparable line to Demeyere but some of its pieces are less expensive. Amazon has a few of its pieces, http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=bl_sr_kit... .

                Also, when consider Demeyere, bare in mind that the Apollo and Atlantis lines are recommended for professional chefs. You may want to consider their other lines which are still great quality but slightly better pricing. I think Atlantis is the top of the range.

                2 Replies
                1. re: cityhopper

                  Does the Profiserie's base cover the entire bottom of the pan? I looked at the Sitram Catering line and the problem I had was that the disc base did not cover the whole bottom of the pan.

                  1. re: elazul

                    It doesn't, but that's not such a big deal on induction. The point of the full-coverage disc is to prevent the 'ring of fire', the area at the outside edge of the pan's base that isn't covered by the disc (on the Profiserie line and many others), where flames from a gas burner can come up the sides of the pan and make the edge much hotter. That doesn't happen on induction because the disc is where the heat is generated.

                    Also, I don't know if you've actually handled the Atlantis line in person, but you should before going further. I also considered it when I was planning on moving to induction, but when I actually handled one in real life I found the handles really uncomfortable. Very pretty (and the pans themselves are very nice-looking), but I couldn't imagine myself using it every day. The Profiserie line has nice fat, tubular handles that are easy to lift and move around. The Atlantis' heavier copper core also makes them harder to handle, they're much heavier than the same pan in the Profiserie line.

                    As you mentioned, the Atlantis also doesn't have a pouring lip. That is a big deal to me, pouring stuff out of my pots that don't have lips is tricky to do without spilling some down the outside. The lip makes it so much easier.

                    I have several pieces of Profiserie, all work great on induction. I suppose the Atlantis line might work better strictly from a conductivity standpoint, but I prefer the ergonomics of the Profiserie. Also, if you take my 11" saute pan as an example, I bought mine for $57 from JB Prince. The same pan in the Atlantis line costs $340. Somehow I don't think that it's six times better. Actually, you could buy every Profiserie piece I own (butter warmer, sauce pan, saute pan, sauce pot, fry pan) with lids and still pay much less than $340. Sitram has a lifetime warranty, so I'm not worried about them breaking.

                2. I have Demeyere pieces, and I love them. And yes, I find rivets a real pain to clean. I hate getting a scrubby around both of them when handwashing a pan. After a while, you get little oil stains, or worse, egg or sauces. Yuck. My Falk and Mauviel copper have rivets, and I find them as big a pain to clean as All Clad, but they have other redeeming traits that stainless does not have.

                  I am a big fan of Demeyere, and an okay fan of All Clad. I don't like rivets, and I don't think every pan should be clad. What I like about Demeyere is the variable construction. Saute pans have disk bottoms, while the conical sauteuse I have is clad and works wonderfully. for some things. I think they clean like a dream.

                  Can't help you with Viking, sorry.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: RGC1982

                    Thanks, that's a good summary of what I was looking for about the Demeyere. Can you give me any insight into how forgiving they are to mistakes like overheating or boiling dry? I assume that since I'm a cooking beginner I'll screw up a few times and I don't want to destroy something as expensive as that. Handling the Atlantis frying pan at SLT again today, what stood out to me was that it feels like its built like a tank and could take that kind of punishment.

                    1. re: elazul

                      elazul: "Can you give me any insight into how forgiving they are to mistakes like overheating or boiling dry? I assume that since I'm a cooking beginner I'll screw up a few times and I don't want to destroy something...."

                      Seriously, if that is your concern, please give a long hard look at Kuhn-Rikon Duromatic. If you run an Abrams tank over a Duromatic pot, you worry about damage to the tank's treads. If you ran a mere Patton tank over the Kuhn-Rikon, the Patton would be toast.