Starter cookwear set
I am just starting out professionally and in the world of cooking and want to get a set of pots and pans that will allow me to do everything I need to do in the kitchen and cut my teeth. I am young and just starting out so cost is a big factor. Does anyone know of a good starter cookwear set to purchase? Thanks in advance.
aprons and chef's toques would qualify as cook"wear"...you want a cook*ware* set ;)
one of the problems with prepackaged sets is that they often include pieces you don't really need/use, and omit ones that would be very useful. take a look at these threads to get a sense of the recommendations that have been made to fellow Chowhounds with similar requests:
Until very recently I would not have recommended a set of cookware but I switched to an induction cooktop and a number of pieces I had would no longer work because of the magnetic factor. So I bought an 11 piece set of Circulon nonstick for $200 at Costco and am very pleased with it. I don't have the box handy but it has, I believe, three skillets, three saucepans, a not-too-large stockpot (good for pasta) and I think all but two of the skillets have lids. It's DW-proof and ovenproof to 400. It also has a nice heft to it, not flimsy at all. With a couple (or more!) LC, Staub, etc. DO's I'm very, very satisfied. And so is my younger daughter who got my castoffs :)
While not as cheap, I would suggest not buying a set. Different companies make pieces that are better for different jobs. e.g. Le Creuset makes awesome casserole-ware, whereas All-clad makes lovely fry-ware and lovely saucepans. Buy non-stick from your average restaurant supply store. Not as cheap, but you end up with better stuff.
re: Indirect Heat
First off, are we looking at cookware for the home or for the professional kitchen.
Chowhound is probably not the best place to look if trying to equip a professional kitchen. Not to be harsh, but some time in culinary school and real-world restaurant or catering experience would be the ticket. The sizes of the cooking vessels vary tremendously. A trip to a restaurant supply house will show you what you are up against.
If we are talking about a home set-up, absolutely buy a set. Think of what you use every day. A couple of sauce pans (1-qt and a 2-qt) a larger pot (4-qt), a couple of saute pans (8-inch and 12-inch). Lots of covers that fit well. OK, I've just described a "set" -- lot of 10-14 piece sets out there will fit the bill. Buy the highest quality you can afford -- no reason to break the bank. You don't need "top of the line" to boil water! Skip sets with teflon. I hate glass lids. Personally, I would skip anodized stuff, too. Multi-ply stainless is easy to care for, looks great, and cooks just fine.
The sets usually come with a skillet. I won't tell anyone if you choose to chuck it. Remember, the set can always be augmented as you develop your skills. A plain cast iron skillet and dutch oven, are items you may want to add sooner rather than later. If you want to do stock, look into 8-12 qt stock pots (plain aluminum).
Similarly, you can get bakeware sets that have all the basics (round cake, square cake, oblong cake, cookie sheet/jelly roll pan, loaf pans and muffin pan). It would cost you double to piecemeal that set. Again, sets can be augmented with various and sundry Bundt pans, springform pans,and the like.
I dont know what your budget is but I love my Cuisinart Multiclad Pro 12 piece set. I got it for $247 on amazon. The price fluctuates sometimes so I waited for a good deal. It heats evenly, quickly, and it is super easy to clean. Lately I've added pieces like the Lodge cast iron skillet, Lodge griddle/grill and I'm getting around to buying a dutch oven. I also know people who love the Costco Kirkland set for around $180.
I agree Mike regarding the professional kitchen statement. CHOWHOUND may not be the best place to look for advices for equiping a professional kitchen. What you need at home is not the same as a professional kichen.