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Mar 21, 2010 10:09 AM

I'm confused about Calphalon Unison cookware

I know this product line is all non-stick cookware; however, some pieces are described as having a "sear" surface and others are described as having a "slide" surface. Does that mean that there are actually two different surfaces, and when you buy pieces you choose which surface you want? Or, are all of the pieces both "sear" and "slide" (which wouldn't make a lot of sense to me)?

Now, taking this a step further, let's say I wanted to make pan seared halibut with a pan sauce -- I suppose I'd want to use a "sear' surface for the deglazing, etc. But, if I wanted to make pan roasted halibut, I think I'd want a "slide" surface. So, does this mean I'd need two different Calphalon Unison pans, one for each type of fish preparation?

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  1. CindyJ,

    I think you are right. When I saw the Unison cookware line (a year ago), I literally shoke my head and laughed. As you know, Calphalon had nonstick cookware lines for a long lone time. For example, the Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick. There is the Calphalon One Infused. The One Infused series has the nonstick polymer infused deeper into the cooking surface. This allows sear and browning and a more stable surface, but foods do get stick. I believe the research team simply meant to have a surface that is just a touch less stick than bare cookware and more stable than a traditional nonstick (you won't see nonstick surface peeling off). One Infused is also meant to phrase out the Calphalon Commercial which is the bare anodized aluminum cookware.

    I know there are some negative feedbacks on One Infused and really Calphalon marketing and advertisement team should be responsible for the failure. They marketed the One Infused cookware line as if it is nonstick. Customers got upset when they found out their foods stick to the cookware.

    So the market team went "smart" and now decided to mix and match the Infused cookware with the Nonstick cookware and call it, yes, Unison. So some cookware have nonstick surface and some have Infused surface.

    I thought this is one of the stupidest thing I have seen. (nonthing personal to those who work on the marketing/advertisement team for Calphalon)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Now I think I know why I so rarely use the pieces of Calphalon I own -- I never know how to use them. I absolutely know I've got at least one saute pan that's supposed to be good for searing, but darned if I know which piece that might be. Is there any way to tell for sure?

      1. re: CindyJ


        I don't know anymore. I can tell you this. The nonstick series of Calphalon do not have absolutely smooth surface, whereas the Infused surface is absolutely smooth. I don't know if Unison goes by this design. At one point, Calphalon has published which Unison cookware are good for sear and which are good for sliding, but that information has been removed. I believe the saute and frying pans are the searing cookware, whereas the stock pots, omette pans... are nonstick. I think your best bet is to contact Calphalon, but my experience with Calphalon customer service regarding product information is not great, so don't get your hope up to high. Best.

    2. I agree that the Calphalon line names are confusing, but I have found their Customer Service to be very helpful. Have the # from the pan/pot bottom available when you call & they can clarify which one you have & the best uses. As an aside, they replaced a fry pan for me that had a bubbling interior surface, promptly with no hassles.

      4 Replies
      1. re: jenni49

        I am certainly a foodie and to say the least have a very active kitchen. I myself have tons of cookware, the balance of it being Calphalon.

        Their newer Unison line is identical to nonstick products they have had in the past with these exceptions:

        -It is dishwasher safe (which doesn’t much matter to me as the pans that I have are almost too big for the dishwasher)
        -It offers two different types of nonstick, what they call “Sear” or “Slide”

        Of all of the different shapes and sizes of pots and pans they offer, some will be coated with the Sear type of nonstick and others will be coated with the Slide type of nonstick- but not both. Any pan that is typically associated with caramelizing, browning or searing (grill pans, sauté pans, roasters, woks, etc) will offer the Sear type of coating. It has a rougher texture (just run your fingers over it and you’ll see what I mean) which grabs on to the food allowing the pan to more efficiently sear the food as compared to regular nonstick surfaces. The other pans, such as griddles, omelets, sauce pans, etc have a very smooth (just touch it…) surface- which is the Slide type of finish. The Slide type of coating seems to be pretty much the same finish that you find on most high quality nonstick pans. Right out of the box, my omelet pan turned out the very first omelet on to my plate effortlessly. The names they chose really do state what the product will be best suited for.

        Can I brown in my slide omelet pan? Sure, but the color and texture of the food pales in comparison to what you will get with one of the sear pans. It is really about using the right tool for the job. Forgive the carpentry reference… Certainly you can drive a nail with a large wrench, but why would you bother if you own a hammer.

        For me, the dishwasher safe aspect is not that appealing as most of my kitchen items get hand washed anyway. The Sear nonstick is however something special. I have used the Infused Anodized cookware they have produced (maybe circa 2005) and it is the BEST for searing items, but not forgiving as it does not have a nonstick coating of any kind. If I rush the cooking process (who doesn’t at times) the steak will glue itself to the pan. For anyone who wants similar browning performance, but that releases and cleans with the ease of a nonstick pan, the Unison Sear is the way to go.

        As far as your halibut is concerned, I’d use one of the sear pans. You will get a richer fond, better color, texture, flavor, etc. As all of the stuff Calphalon makes is oven safe you could use either a regular nonstick like Slide or a Sear pan for roasting. I guess it really does come down to personal preference though.

        With all the different kitchenware companies out there I totally understand all the confusion. With all of the products and features to consider, it can be a little bit too much to take in. I am with Jenni49 on this one- If you have questions probably talking to a live person in the know would be your best bet. My issue is that often the retailers don’t have a handle (pardon the pun) on the cookware (or knives, appliances, etc) they sell as well the company who produces it.

        1. re: The Pan Doctor

          You can also look on the bottom of each Unison pan and it says what type of surface it has - either "Sear" or "Slide"...

          1. re: The Pan Doctor

            Hello, thanks for your explanation! Which is better for stirfries? Would the sear require the meat to stay put for longer (whereas stir frying requires constant motion, so the slide might be better...?). Thanks!

            1. re: monicatotoro

              I don't think it will matter that much, but if I have to pick, I would say sear.