Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Sep 30, 2010 12:32 PM

Le Creuset - Quelle Horreur!!!

Went into Williams Sonoma today and they have gone and changed our beloved LC. How dare they! It's been an icon for 50+ years. They made the handles larger, and changed the design of the rings on top -they are now flatter and wider. They also changed the knob and made the stem wider and the knob now has a wider, more rounded edge. Is it more functional? Yes! But it's not Le Creuset any more to me even though it's stamped as such on the lid. The handles and knob look like the Lodge Color line now. It looks cheap to me.

As if that's not bad enough the Kiwi is being discontinued and it was replaced at Williams Sonoma with yet another dreary color. Sur La Table is also getting another green called Fennel which might be the same green with their own name. It's a medium, grayed down tealish green called Ocean. Almost like an army green that shades to a blackened green. Someone should get LC's marketing head some antidepressants. First that pinky taupe called Truffle, and then Cassis which is a deep, drab, muddy purple and now this muddy green.

They also discontinued that gorgeous Azure blue and replaced it with Cobalt there. I think the Azure is livlier and prettier but to each their own. They also had some new pieces such as a smaller, round doufou (sp.?) oven, and some new pieces I think in their heritage line.

LC has always been known for their iconic design and their bright, happy colors and they seem to have gotten away from both. A moment of silence for our old, beloved LC.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. That may explain why I've seen LC at Tues. Morning the 2 times I've been in over an approx. 6 month period. Maybe they've received ALL the "old" merchandise because they've been well stocked in 2 sizes - a large at about $50 (orig price 125) and a smaller one at maybe $30(?)... don't remember it's orig price.

    1 Reply
    1. re: blynk

      Thanks to the OP and for this thought, (re: Tuesday Morning).

      I'll be checking on getting some good deals on the good stuff!


    2. I feel your pain, blondelle.

      Welcome to cookware Adulthood--stuff you know and like gets "obsoleted". After adulthood comes being called Anachronistic and scrounging to find the good old stuff. After that, they say, is Curmudgeonhood, where what you MUST use works best to remind you what used to please.

      2 Replies
      1. re: kaleokahu

        the good news is that your old treasured pieces will last a lifetime of cooking.

        1. re: redgirl

          Yes, but one reason I bought them was because of their warranty, and if anything happens THIS is what it will be replaced with. Someone needs to tell someone high up at LC all about Coke Classic. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! LC is the top cast iron enameled line in the world. Why mess with perfection! What were they thinking?

      2. I also went into WS and was shocked to see the change. Also, honestly, I don't care for the new "ocean" color. The only nod to nautical feel with regard to the color could be the fact that it reminds one of becoming seasick :)

        Is LC changing all of their lines to match this new line? I thought that this new line was created just for WS and was perhaps simply a point of differentiation? Let's hope that's the case...

        34 Replies
        1. re: CookingwithMochi

          I just got off the phone with LC and was told that line was their Signature line and is confined to WS for the time being. I also found out that besides design changes there are other changes. The new knob can be used up to temperatures of 480 degrees. What bothers me though is being told the new interior enamel, which looks just like the sand color enamel in the original line, was made to be more abrasion and stain resistant. This means that they have developed a superior enamel but aren't using it in their regular collection. Basically they are saying that their standard collection which everyone has is sub par. Boo to you...LC!!!

          1. re: blondelle

            If true, that's pretty lowdown. But consistent with post-modern globalized biznesss, helmed by CEOs who are interested only in bonuses. I know nothing of LC and its management, but the lamentable histories of other iconic brands such as Eddie Bauer (sold to and ruined by Spiegel), Abercrombie & Fitch (originally fine sporting goods, believe it or not), and Cuisinart would indicate ever-lessening quality. This goes by the euphemism "brand maturation".

            So don't be surprised when you see your (grand)kids wearing Cambodian-made t-shirts with the LC logo on them, never to know that LC used to make cookware.

            1. re: blondelle

              It appears you are taking this a bit hard. It's marketing, it's what companies do when they have market saturation. Changing colors, changing shapes slightly, it gives you something "new" to buy. If you think you have the best there is, then why would you buy a new one? This way they can promote a product that is new and improved, whether it is or not, who will ever know if the interior enamel is really more abrasion and stain resistant? If they told you the new finish was available in their older "standard" collection, woudl you replace your old LC oven? Why? With all the made in China CRAP on the market for a fraction of the cost and even a lesser fraction of the quality, I'm sure the folks at LC had to come up with something to boost sales. Now you can buy a new shape in a new color with a new and improved enamel coating, it's somethig for them to sell.

              I'd be interested to know if the "new" knob is still plastic, if so, don't put it in the oven at 480°F and expect it's going to continue looking good for very long.

              1. re: mikie

                LOL, yes, I despair the trend toward hucksterism just for newness' sake. It's not bait-and-switch exactly, more like switch-and-leave-hanging.

                "NEW! IMPROVED! NOW WITH SUPERMAXOSHIELD!!!" is fine for fungibles/disposables like gasolene, clothes and laundry detergent, but it's the EXTENSION of such practices to venerable lines of durable, even heirloom goods that grates with me.

                What LC might be missing here (only time will tell) is that many folks will simply STOP BUYING LC if the new pieces don't fit into their existing collection/aesthetic/use. I know I have a few holes in my LC battery that I would still like to fill. If I can't do it in a compatible design/quality/finish, I might as well change to another brand altogether. LC must've thought of this, and have intentionally prioritized new-set sales over repeat business. For existing LC customers (more accurately, INVESTORS), that choice is shocking.

                My thoughts on the new enamel are: If it is better, LC should be using it in all their lines and simply say: "Here. We now have a new way to improve the state of the art, so we're going with it on all our products." People would at least respect that.

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  As of this Christmas, I have both old and new, and to me they are not incompatible in any way. The brand new is very shiny, I think my old LC may be a bit embarrassed ;)

                  The knob appears to me to be some type of black plastic, and the interior enamel does appear to be superior so far.

                  W-S is the biggest retailer of LC, so I don't blame LC for being nice to them.

                  1. re: foiegras

                    What makes you feel that the new enamel is superior? I would be interested if you can also comment after you have used the new ones for a while as to how they compare in terms of cleaning and staining to their older line.

                    1. re: blondelle

                      The first thing I made was short ribs braised in Dublin Dr Pepper and molasses, which makes a big mess, and I was just amazed at how it released from the pan. I could also tell the difference as soon as I started browning the meat. Overall a huge difference from my old Le Creuset. We'll see how it goes, but my old LC isn't that old, I remember how it was at the beginning.

                      I still need to clean the lid--hopefully it has the same interior enamel as the base.

                      And btw, the bit about the tighter fit is true. I also prefer the new handles from a usability standpoint, esp. since my new DO is my largest to date.

                      Another thing to consider is that W-S could have specifically challenged them to improve these 4 points in an exclusive line ... the impetus to do it may not have been LC's.

                      My impression is that the Signature line is lighter weight, but I haven't seen any degradation in performance. The only performance difference comes from the tighter fit, which is an improvement--leads to less evaporation.

                      Or have the proportions always changed as size increases? My impression is based on comparison to what I already have, not on comparing the same item in different lines.

                      1. re: foiegras

                        Thanks for the review. That's interesting about the browning and release as they don't claim that as an improvement in their Signature line. They just claim improved resistance to staining and abrasion. I will have to check out the weights of these. Lighter is better for me.

                        1. re: blondelle

                          Well, to me it's all kind of wrapped up together ;) If the food releases better and the pan is easier to clean, that's part of the resistance to staining feature. The abrasion part is good because that means the finish I'm liking will last better.

                          Has anyone tried the official LC cleaner?

                    2. re: foiegras

                      Hi, foiegras:

                      It's a year+ later, but are your old and "new" LC the same color? This would probably be a deal-killer for me.


                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        I have each piece in a different color, so I don't know, I'm sorry. I would certainly expect the color consistency to be the same as always ...

                        1. re: foiegras

                          Hi, foiegras:

                          Hey, "rainbow" works. I can see now why color discontinuation/incompatibility wouldn't be a problem for you. Do you find you gravitate to preparing certain dishes or types in certain colors? Do you subscribe to the "looks good with ______" theory?


                          1. re: kaleokahu

                            Not really ;) I mentioned on another thread my extensive collection of vintage kitchenalia. That means that I'm a minimalist when it comes to new stuff. I really needed this addition because my previous pieces were too small to do everything I wanted to do. I have more sets of dinnerware than I have pots and pans, and I definitely think about how the food looks with what it will be served on.

                  2. re: mikie

                    The new and improved mentality doesn't apply to something they are touting is supposed to last for generations. They can't have it both ways! They can't say invest in LC as it lasts a lifetime, and then bring out new and improved cookware, thus obsoleting the original. The new LC has LC stamped on the lid but it's some bastardization of LC and it looks cheap. They copied Lodge and Staub's handles and the new knob, while nice in the hand is ugly. I was just as upset when I saw the new all-Clad d5. People don't like their icons messed with!

                    Someone should remind them what happened when Coke tried to change. People don't like their icons and classics messed with.

                    Even though this might be better, I agree it doesn't mix with pieces you already have and I don't care for the look of it. They should quietly change the new production of their original line to the new enamel.

                    1. re: blondelle

                      Since you've been in touch with LC, have you asked, and have they answered, where the new line is being made? I doubt our friends at W-S would tell you, even if they know.

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        If the product is imported, the retailer is by law required to identify the country of origin(based on current labeling laws which can complicate actual country of origin). So 1) it should be on the product itself and 2) the retailer shouldn't have an issue informing you if queried

                        That said, while i haven't seen this new line myself, I can't imagine these are made anywhere but France unless the price has also substantially dropped. Forget about shape and color, if LC moved their production out of France that would truly be shooting themselves in the foot. That is really their big differentiator - hand cast in France - compared to most other enameled cast iron on the market.

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          It's made in France. That fact is in embossed letters now on the inside lid.

                            1. re: Jay F

                              It's not the heritage line. It's actually another line of redesigned LC pieces and a new color called "ocean." It's not on the WS website yet....

                            2. re: blondelle

                              blondelle & ziggylu:

                              Pardon my cynicism, but given the laws of France and USA, would it not be possible to legally label, disclose, etc. "Made in France" if the KNOB were made there and the rest in the PRC or Cambodia? Certainly there is no punishment for founders in Asia putting "Made in France" in their castings. Or are we to believe everything we read?

                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                Well, there are rules for made in the USA at least and from what I"ve looked at recently, I'm a big time made in China detractor, things seem to be labeled correctly. Kitchen Aid now states on the box assembeled in Ohio, USA. To be made in the USA and labeled as such, 70% of the cost of manufacture must take place in the USA, assembeled in the USA requires more than screwdriver assembly, the final transformation of the product has to happen in the US. I honestly don't know about France, but in general the EU is way more protectionest than the US is.

                                As far as changing iconic products is concerned, be darn glad they didn't move production to China, leave the price the same, and provide no customer service. That's what has happened to American power tools among other things. I honestly would have a lot of reservations cooking in an enameled DO that was made in China.

                                With regard to the changes LC made, If it's a metal knob it's an improvement in my book, I could never understand the plastic knob for something that's supposed to go in the oven. I don't know why they wouldn't put the new finish on the old design pots, unless it wouldn't match previous stock, or they want to give the impression they have an upscale line. The other design differences I'm sure are just marketing, just like Ford or Chevy offering more than one model. It sounds like you can still buy items like you already have, just not at WS.

                                And BTW Williams Samoma is one of the few companies that provide the place of manufacture on their web site, just click on the second tab in the product description. You'll find out Cuisenart is made in China, no cover up.

                                1. re: mikie

                                  "I honestly would have a lot of reservations cooking in an enameled DO that was made in China."

                                  Me too.

                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                    A little lead or mercury isn't too bad for us seniors is it?

                                    China isn't the only place to be wary of.

                                    Enameled and glazed cookware, cups, and plates from Mexico and Central America have been pulled off the shelves a lot. Some Spanish dishes apparently weren't fired correctly and got pulled where I lived a few years ago.

                                  2. re: mikie

                                    Does any CH in France know if everything on these is actually made in France?

                                    I'm with mikie--I'm not buying Chinese-made ANYTHING until the trading field is levelled.

                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                      Based on labeling laws there is no gurantee every single component used to produce a LC dutch oven is made in France. If you call the company they might tell you but even customer service may not have information on every input used for the enamel, etc. The only thing i would suspect might be sourced as a finished product from an alternative vendor is the knob. Having been involved in development of private label cookware for the companies i mentioned above I would not be surprised if the knob is from Asia. Because it adds so little value to the item as a raw material, the labeling is legal as Made in France.

                                      Keep in mind when something is labeled made in USA there is no guarantee that means it is 100% US made. All-Clad may make thier pots and pans(Not lids) in the US. They may even source their steel here in the us...but the raw materials for that steel? Likely mined elsewhere. Where are you going to draw the line?

                                      As for Chinese enameled cast iron, I'd recommend avoiding it so don't disagree there. Terrible quality when it comes to chipping.

                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        It's not just about trade imbalances. Product safety is a real issue.

                                    2. re: kaleokahu

                                      Unless that's a REALLY expensive knob it's not likely. As Mike notes Country of Origin labeling is based on value of components(including labor). What IS probable is that the knob is made in China and the DO cast in France.

                                      Having worked as a buyer for two very large retailers who do a lot of international sourcing (IKEA and Costco) I would trust both W-S and LC to be honest in their labeling and marketing.

                                2. re: blondelle

                                  Well there's Classic Coke, Diet Coke, Caffeine-Free, Caffeine-Free Diet, Cherry Coke, Coke Zero, Cherry Coke Zero, Coca Cola with Lime, Coca Cola with Raspberry, Coca Cola C2, Coca Cola Black Cherry Vanilla, Vanilla Coke, Coca Cola Light, Coca Cola Blak....etc.

                                3. re: mikie

                                  I agree with this. When your market niche becomes saturated with other companies rushing in to put out their version of your iconic product, you have to start making new lines and updates. Especially when what you make lasts a long time.

                                  It was every car other company making multiple car lines of their own SUV designs during the SUV craze, that finally killed off the classic boxy Jeep Cherokee.

                                  Enamel coated cast iron is popular now, and everyone from Rachel Ray to Wal-mart has cheaper product lines competing with LC & Lodge now.

                                  Improving the quality of their materials is a good way for LC to stay competitive.

                                4. re: blondelle

                                  "This means that they have developed a superior enamel but aren't using it in their regular collection. Basically they are saying that their standard collection which everyone has is sub par. Boo to you...LC!!!"

                                  ^^^This was my exact first thought when I read your reply! So they're admitting that their old line was sub par in terms of the enamel if the new version if stain resistant and finish. I hated the way my old Le Creuset stained with use (not abuse) and became less and less no stick over time. This is why I switched to Staub, they use a different kind of enamel that is porous and made to get better with use, also Staub has a tighter fitting lid and staining is not an issue since it's a dark interior. This is also my experience after 2 years of owning many different pieces with lots of use. No wonder Williams Sonoma started pushing Staub this Fall. It's a great product that doesn't need an upgrade unlike Le Creuset.

                                  I agree BOO to you Le Creuset!!!!!

                                  1. re: beauxgoris

                                    They are going to start using the new enamel in their standard line they said. The Staub enamel has been upgraded too. It's now advertised as containing quartz which it didn't before. Not sure when they made that change. I have a Staub coq au vin sitting in my kitchen that is to be a gift, but I just can't get into the weight and dark interior for myself. It's gorgeous, but so ornate and formal I feel I need a crystal chandelier in my kitchen and a butler to go with it. Can't see making pork and beans in it...LOL! Looks more like a showpiece than a cooking tool.

                                    1. re: blondelle

                                      You should give it a shot - really! It's too great a piece of cookware not to be used. My Staub's are for soups, stews, gumbo and pot roasts or roast chickens. They sear beautifully and they cook gently with a super tight seal plus the spikes that allow for basting. Simply amazing. Don't let that gorgeous cookware go to waste, put it though it's paces! ; )

                                      1. re: beauxgoris

                                        Hi, beauxgoris:

                                        You roast in enameled cast iron? Do you do integral sauces?


                                      2. re: blondelle

                                        I have 6 pieces of Staub and never thought if them
                                        As formal appearing. I live the glaze and like to
                                        Just look atvit. I had friends who were
                                        Potters back in college and while all tried to pull
                                        Off that glaze-- not many did. It is do day to day
                                        Practical with such ease in cleaning I use it several times a
                                        Week. Yes I still do use my LC but. I think
                                        Of the cleanup as I am cooking and watch the heat
                                        Like a fiend so I am not into cleanup 4hrs
                                        I use both I saw the WS line and while I like
                                        The Ocean as green us my fav color I do not care
                                        For the new style and these new colors will go
                                        Away and in 10 yrs. Be unavailable so I am
                                        Moving to a classic color as I buy now(red)
                                        I do feel your pain though

                                5. blondelle, I haven't seen the new LC yet in person, but I found this picture from Japan's Yahoo Auction. Did the ones you saw look like this?

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: akehost

                                    Yuck - that thing looks like Yoda.

                                    1. re: akehost

                                      "Hey, someone get Big Ears out of the cabinet and stick him on the stovetop."

                                      1. re: akehost

                                        No, it doesn't look like that thankfully. The handles are similar to Staub but without a logo on them. The lids are the same except the small raised, rounded rings are now flat and about 1/4" wide. The handle looks more like Lodge colors plastic knob. It's more functional and easier to hold, but it looks cheap to me and it's ugly. Looks more like the Lodge colors handle. It's still black plastic but can go up to 480 degrees in the oven.

                                        People buying LC want the classic that has endured all these years! People want their LC to LOOK like LC!!! I think they just should have left it alone and cast the old knobs in this new plastic, and quietly upgraded the enamel. Collectors might not buy this as it won't match their other pieces, and new buyers might not buy it thinking it's a temporary design and might get discontinued. Bad move for LC, as well as their FOURTH new dreary color, counting their Slate color. The blue WS replaced their gorgeous Azure with is Cobalt, but it doesn't seem to have the shading of the other Cobalt everyone sells.

                                        1. re: blondelle

                                          'Looks more like the Lodge colors handle. It's still black plastic but can go up to 480 degrees in the oven. '

                                          I've worked as an engineer in the plastics industry for over 35 years with plastic material manufacturers, always in the area of high temperature plastics. The companies I have worked for have sold to the appliance industry, automotive industry, and others and there is no reasonably priced plastic material (under about $10 a lb.) that will withstand 480 degrees without suffering ill effects. This price point makes a metal knob a much better economic deal. Don't be fooled by this marketing ploy, you'll be disappointed.

                                      2. So I can still buy Original Recipe Le Creuset at retailers other than Williams-Sonoma? Thanks for that at least - I'll keep looking. I too, was shocked and disappointed to see the new Signature line when I went into W-S yesterday to buy a birthday present for a friend. I wanted to get her a 6 3/4 quart oval in azure, like the one I have that I know she wants. Imagine my surprise. Aaaarrrgghh!

                                        "As far as changing iconic products is concerned, be darn glad they didn't move production to China, leave the price the same, and provide no customer service."
                                        Amen. That's what happened to Dr. Martens, and I may never get over it. I wore their boots happily for thirty years, and now I not only can't wear their overpriced ill-fitting substandard Chinese-made boots, but I've never found a really satisfactory replacement boot. Sigh.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                          They discontinued the Azure blue which is gorgeous. You should be able to get a deal deal on it now in the outlets as someone said it was there already.