Pampered Chef Stainless Steel versus All-Clad
Hello. I am interested in purchasing my first piece or set of SS and I polled many of my girlfriends and many of them love PC but I have read reviews on AC and I was wondering which of the two is really the best. Anyone have any insight on these two? Thanks.
Almost anything is better than PC, it is pretty much a con to sell very ordinary stuff at elevated prices. Sort of in the class of a sucker being born every minute, you can count those CC knives in this category. All-Clad is not much better. Stainless steel is pretty poor cookware. Stainless steel is much softer than you can imagine. It is very soft and scratches easily. When it is scratched it sticks. The reason it is sandwiched with SS on the outside and aluminum or copper is because SS is a very poor heat conductor and needs the assistance in heat distribution that the other metals can provide. In the same price range look at Chantal, Le Creuset, and Swiss Diamond. They are highly superior, and at a lower price, also superior to stainless is good old cast iron
Although I can agree with most of, or at least a lot of, your post, I think you poo pooed stainless steel a bit much. Yes SS is a poor thermal conductor, and yes it is laminated with better conductors to imporve it's cooking performance, but there are advantages to a stainless steel cooking vessel and it's not that soft, at least not compared to other cooking surfaces such as tin lined copper, aluminum, or most non-stick surfaces. The alternatives you mention, although good in their own way, do have limitations.
Chantal has a number of different construction technologies within their product line, but the copper fusion for example is also a laminated base to an enamel coated steel vessel. Enamel can also scratch and or chip.
Le Creuset, an enameled cast iron is great for a number of cooking methods, but not the ideal vessel for boiling water for pasta for example and it also suffers from poor heat distribution on the stove top. It too is subject to chipping, although Le Creuset is more chip resistant than most other enameled cast iron cookware. It also isn't recommended for high heat cooking.
Swiss Diamond, another great product, but it is a non-stick pan that contains some form of PTFE which would eliminate it for some people. And it's not as dishwasher friendly as SS.
Good Old Cast Iron, well, "good, old, cast iron" is hard to come by and new cast iron isn't nearly as good. However, cast iron also suffers from poor heat transfer across the pan, and is not a good choice when cooking with or deglazing with wine and other acidic foodstufs.
Demeyere is another stainless steel cookware choice, it too has a laminated disk bottom to improve heat transfer and evenness. Stainless provides a very inert cooking surface and although you can sctatch the surface, in most cases, these scratches are superficial and only effect the visual appearance of the vessel.
The fact is, no one construction material or method is best for all types of cooking, so one should choose pots and pans accordingly.
"Le Creuset, an enameled cast iron is great for a number of cooking methods, but not the ideal vessel for boiling water for pasta for example and it also suffers from poor heat distribution on the stove top. "
Agree. You cannot fault cladded stainless steel aluminum cookware for being a poor heat conductor and while praising an enameled cast iron cookware or bare cast iron cookware. An enameled cast iron cookware (mostly cast iron) has much worse heat conductivity as a whole than a cladded stainless steel-aluminum cookware (mostly aluminum).
I agree with Eiron and Chem, my experience with Pampered Chef items leaves a lot to be desired and if you are going to spend that kind of cash, you would be much better off with the All Clad.
To deepfryerdan, "seconds" typically means scratched or slightly misaligned and does not effect the cooking capability of the pot or pan, but does effect the appearance.
For the cost of the PC, I'd rather have AC. Is one better than another? Probably not. Then why go AC? I'd much rather have made-in-the-US products than made-in-China stuff. Especially at the same price points. And if you want to spend a bit less, buy your AC online from CookwareAndMore. Their "seconds" will save you a bundle over the cost of the PC pans. (In fact, you could almost get the top-of-the-line Copper Core pans for the same price you'd pay for the PC.)
Don't buy a set. Just get your few essential pieces to start, then fill in after using those for a while. It'll help you decide where your money should be spent.