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Best Utensil Set Brand and Material

I am looking to pick up a new set or individual kitchen tools, such as spatula, ladle, spoon, etc. and I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions for a brand and the material that would be most durable and versatile. I have explored stainless steel of course, and bamboo, olive, plastic and silicone coated stuff. I use stainless steel pots and pans mostly but also have a couple non-stick and cast irons stuff, so I don't want to damage those. Do you usually have a separate set for more delicate stuff or just use plastic/wood to start with.

Thanks!

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  1. roycey: Just as the existence of a net aids the game of tennis, we find clarity in purchasing decisions is aided by setting up parameters. In our case, we try to avoid the three words, "Made in China," which is more difficult than it seems at first.

    We have replaced all of our former (squeegee-type) rubber spatulas and spoonulas over the years with high temperature tolerant silicone. It has not been easy to find "Made in USA" silicone spatulas, but we can attest that it is not impossible. At least one of them is Cuisinart, the others had a brand affixed to the wooden shaft/habndle with a decal, which has long since yielded to the dishwasher's aggressive cleaning, so I cannot tell you what it was.

    We were unsuccessful, however, in finding a thin stainless (turner-type) spatula made other than in China; but that is the only implement that cane get under a fried egg on a well-seasoned Griswold cast iron griddle without pushing the egg right across the griddle, and yet have enough structural integrity not to wilt under the weight of a pork chop, say.

    Most of our spoons and our big ladles are nylon (working end) stainless (shaft) "soft grip" Pedrini (made in Italy) and have a nice angle in the shaft just before the working end; being a basically Japanese household, we also get a lot of use out of long wooden cooking chopsticks, made in Japan. We have a straining spoon that appears to be made of nylon and bears the Caphalon brand name; it says Made in USA. Of course, living and working in Portland, Oregon, every whisk in the house (save one) must be Best Manufacturing; that is essential. The one exception is a made in Germany WMF that looks like a broom with ball bearings on the end.

    One assurance: none of our stainless utensils ever has scratched cast iron, either the Griswold, or any of the enameled cast iron pans. The enamel on cast iron is very hard and scratch resistant.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Politeness

      I second the difficulty finding anything other than "made in China". I looked forever for wooden spoons that were not made there. Everything at Bed Bath and Beyond is made in China. I have Cusinart metal whisk that I love. I even went back to TJMaxx and bought two more to have on hand.

      1. re: vafarmwife

        I have much success in trying to get tools that are not made in China. Most of them come from Williams Sonoma's outlet store. Took me quite a while to reach my current collection.

        I have wooden spoons from France, potato masher from Massachusetts, carving fork, stainless steel strainer, ice cream scoop from Italy, tongs from Maine.

        I can't seem to find any silicone spatulas not from China though.

        For OP: I wouldn't rush getting a whole new set all at once. It takes time to find the best from each class.

    2. I buy utensils like I buy my cookware - piece by piece. I choose design and material according to the task it's going to do. I have wood, nylon, silicone and stainless. I don't need a set of tools for the one non-stick skillet, just a spatula and maybe a wooden spoon.

      4 Replies
      1. re: BeaN

        Yes, don't limit yourself by buying everything in a set at once - it's too fun finding the next utensil that fits your style of cooking! For starters, a stainless long-handled spoon and second slotted one, wooden spoon, metal whisk, silicone spatula, wooden flat diagonal-ended spatula (see the "Roux Spoon" noted in a recent thread), and a pair of tongs should suffice. I like olive wood or bamboo for the wooden utensils. Wood is not as long-lived as plastic or stainless but I love cooking with my wooden spatula and spoon, especially in cast iron or non-stick cookware as it doesn't scratch or damage the surface.

        1. re: koigirl

          Koigirl,

          I don't know. I can imagine wood last longer than plastic -- consider plastic utensils can easily melt.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            The problem with wooden handles and gas burners is that you end up with burn rings on them. Metal handles (especially with woks and frying pans) can get very hot hot if the burner is on high.

            1. re: Paulustrious

              Yes, consider the fact that your picture is about you setting your pan on fire :) Is that a real picture, or did you create it from photoshop thing?

              I can get burn rings on my wood utensils? I didn't know that. Do you mean heating the wood tools directly with an open flame? I don't see how gas burners make a difference if I am having the wood spoon/spatula inside a pan. Why would a gas burner creates something an electric burner cannot?

              :)

      2. Hello- I like the nylon Calphalon utensils that Politeness mentioned. I found them at TJmaxx for very cheap price. I also own some stainless from WMFs. In addition like bamboo utensils better than woods. Agree that it is difficult to avoid "Made in China" and I do as much as I can as far as my budget allows.

        1. I have mixed utensils as others posted here. I have wood, stainless steel, bamboo, and silicone. different tools for different purposes.

          But I love love love my set of stainless steel untensils that consist of a big spoon, big slotted spoon and big spatula. We received them as an engagement present from a realy close friend of mine - and 18 years later I still use them every day and they still look new.

          They are labeled "Cook's Club" which I think was the house brand for Lechter's Housewares - and I'm not sure if they're in business any longer.

          But if you can find heavy duty stainless steel kitchen tools like those, you really can't go wrong.

          2 Replies
          1. re: flourgirl

            Yeah, stainless steel utensils last forever. In fact, the simplier the better. I got one with a soft rubber handle. Guess what? I lean it on a cookware and forgot to take it away. The heat from the cookware melted/engraved the rubber handle. Still functional.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I have to admit that I went back and checked those utensils and they were made in China too. But they were an important gift, I've had them for 18 years now and I really do love them.

              But I agree with people who want to avoid buying things made in China now - for all kinds of reasons. I know I do.

          2. Does anyone know where Cuisipro is made?

            I've only had good experience with thier spatulas.

            1. Calphalon Nylon Utensils set - Spoon, Slotted Spoon, Slotted Turner, Pasta Fork - is good for the basics, plus a heatproof silicone spatula such as the Rubbermaid 13" Scraper and 9" tongs with nylon tips such as Oxo's. Designed so the handles don't get too hot. Use them for non-stick and stick alike, no need to to think about it or give space to duplicate tools. Any number of other tools such as whisks and ladles that you'd get as you find you need them.

              1. I love my stainless steel ladle, spatula, slotted spoon and potato masher. They are light, thin, and durable, especially the spatula. I got them at an estate sale. I also use bamboo spoons and flat ended spoons. I have never had a problem with stainless steel on cast iron but I avoid it on my enameled cast iron.

                1. I'm fond of assorted ladles, serving spoons and scoops I have picked up at Indian food stores in the U.S. All very well-made stainless steel, all made in India. I also like Thai soup spoons, usually very cheap, sold in boxes of a dozen or so. They are the shape of ceramic Chinese soup spoons, but made of stainless steel. Open the boxes and examine ... some brands are better made than others.

                  I also like the higher-quality Chinese bamboo chopsticks you can buy, usually sold in packages of a dozen or so pairs. Unlike Japanese ones, they are a bit longer, very durable, and dishwashers don't seem to hurt them. I have had some in regular use for more than 20 years. Bamboo ones pick up stuff easier than plastic or other smoother ones.

                  1. For most utensils, I think ...Oxo Good Grips
                    http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y63/...

                    For heavy duty usage, I always go to Dexter Russell, the supplier for many commercial kitchens.
                    http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y63/...
                    http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y63/...

                    1. I love collecting utensils. If you have a restaurant supply you can find some great tools. The rubber spatula made by Vollrath are great and in all sizes. The two we have close are very different from each other.
                      I also love to collect at thrift shops, antique malls and garage sales. There have been threads on the great stuff you can get. I have collected all kinds of tools with red bakelite handles.
                      And then there is TJ Maxx and Tuesday Morning.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: wekick

                        I love collecting utensils too. I'm not a big "gadget" person - but I love whisks, spatulas, wood spoons, stainless steel spoons, etc. I've purchased some absolutely gorgeous wood spoons from "garagewoodshop" on etsy.

                        1. re: wekick

                          I love, love, love Vollrath black plastic handled spoons, ladles, whisks, dishers, etc. They are sooo strong and durable!

                        2. Epicurean has nice utensils that are made in the USA and the handles are heat resistant to 350 degrees. The plastic is also really stiff, and not flimsy as so many utensils others are. So far I am impressed with them.

                          http://www.epicureancs.com/gourmetute...

                          Also, I love the Berard wooden spoons from France. I think I got mine at Sur la Table, but the olive wood is nice and solid feeling, and it has also been treated to resist heat. I was skeptical at first about the heat treatment, but the spoon is noticeably less hot compared to other cheaper wooden utensils I have. It is my favorite utensil now, and my wife and I have to fight for it when we are both cooking. I guess I should get another one.

                          1. If you're willing to settle for "Made in France" cooking utensils, you might check out Matfer: http://www.culinarycookware.com/matfe...

                            Amazing quality and not terribly expensive. I highly recommend the Pelton spatula. Culinary Cookware seems to be out of stock on them at the moment but I'm sure they'll get more in soon enough.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Pedr0

                              I found that Pelton spatula melts at the edges after 1 use. Not sure what they advertise by saying: "Made of polyamide plastic, resistant to temperatures up to 430 degrees Fahrenheit"

                            2. No plastic. Everything is stainless steel, heat resistant silicone up to 500-600, or wood. Everything bought piecemeal through kitchen supply stores (my preference), online, and sometimes from the nicer brick and mortar establishments. OXO is the brand you'd find most in my kitchen but it's less than half the items. I don't particularly care where it's made as long as the item works well.

                              1. Williams Sonoma recently came out with a new non-stick set of cooking tools. There are no reviews on them yet. However, my understanding is that the handles are ergonomic. The tools are made in China. Heat resistant up to 500.

                                http://www.williams-sonoma.com/shop/c...