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Is Le Creuet worth the price?

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  • deki Nov 14, 2010 01:44 PM
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I need to buy 5 - 7 qt. Dutch oven. Is it worth it to bite the bullet and spend money on the Le Cruet or are there other brands of equal quality which are less expensive? Anyone have any luck at Le Cruet outlet in Clinton CT.?

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  1. This response is likely to get me flamed here, but as an owner of many pieces of LC over the years, I have to answer your question: "Not anymore." Sadly, the Chinese have knocked off the best French enameled cast iron so effectively, that there is no real functional difference anymore. World Imports has a great DO in the size you want for $50 or $60. The Chinese haven't quite got the aesthetic down yet, though.

    6 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu

      world market?

      1. re: lexusalhambra

        lex: Pretty sure it's World Market, but maybe World Imports. Like Pier One used to be. They also have good Chinese-made enameled CI skillets for $19.95. All of it heavy stuff. I'm in Seattle, maybe there is no store where you are.

      2. re: kaleokahu

        There is one functional difference (aside from the LC lifetime warranty). I've used LC, Lodge and Tramontina. The sides of the lodge curve in at the base, providing a smaller cooking surface that is not very flat. The LC and Tramontina have sides that are closer to vertical, resulting in larger (and flatter) cooking surfaces. This helps when browning stuff prior to braise.

        1. re: bkling

          bkling: I'm sorry, I don't understand. Are you saying LC's pan bottoms are flat and others are not? And my LC have bottom-wall junctures have quite a radius to them, so are you saying that the Lodge bottoms are a lot smaller and the radius larger?

          1. re: kaleokahu

            I'm saying the lodge bottoms (on the inside of the pot) are smaller than for an LC of similar capacity. Also, aside from size, the bottoms in my LCs are much flatter than in the lodge pots I've had.

            1. re: bkling

              bkling: OK, I think I understand. As to the "small bottoms", some folks prefer a bigger radius/smaller bottoms for easy access with utensils and less sticking in the "corners", witness the popularity of evasees and chefs' pans. You (like me, apparently) prefer straighter sides and don't mind the "corners". I wouldn't call that a performance issue, but one of personal preference.

              Re: flatness... Are you referring to the surface that sits on the hob or the inside of the pan? Either way, that IS a performance issue. I've only had US-made Lodge bare CI campware, all of which was dead-true flat. Maybe their Chinese "partners" have let it slide with the ECI. That's too bad.

      3. In addition to the aformentioned, try Lodge Color and the like. You can also get a discounted Le Creuset at a store like TJ maxx and the like sometimes. Both are IMO much better options then paying retail for a le creuset...considering it is made of cheap materials anyway (enamel? ceramic? cast iron? cheap, which is why it can be replicated and sold by competitors for much less). One of those gourmet magazines has surely done a comparison that will likely confirm this. Check whatever you buy for chips/blemishes before you purchase.

        1. I think it is. But I've never used one of the knockoffs. I hear they chip a lot.

          Sometimes you can find a good price on eBay. I found a brand new large roaster last month for $99. They usually sell for $189. Here's a used 5.5 quart round French oven. As I write this it's at $66 with 1 day and 4 hours left to go. It looks as if it's in really good condition.

          http://cgi.ebay.com/Le-Creuset-Dutch-...

          Overall, it depends on whether you're the kind of person who generally likes to pay as little as s/he possibly can for something. I have a friend like that. It would cause him great emotional pain to pay for something from Le Creuset when he could have bought a cheaper alternative. He prides himself on being a cheapskate. "Cheap" is his central shopping principle.

          He ends up replacing everything he owns every six months to a year, because his "bargain" crapped out on him. He bought eight pairs of the same shoes one day at K-Mart. He spent, let's say, $60. Without telling him, I bought one pair of shoes that cost $60. He had worn his way through all of his cheap shoes long before I wanted to replace my one pair. And I only had to break in one pair of shoes.

          He's constantly buying cheap computers that all crap out on him.

          The long and the short of it is that no one can tell you what you should buy. You have to decide what's most important to you. I couldn't say whether those Chinese Dutch Ovens represent value. I've never used one.

          I bought a set of Le Creuset in 1979 which, by 1999, I had cooked to death. When I discovered the internet around that time, I discovered Le Creuset had a lifetime guarantee. They replaced my entire 1979 Flame set with a brand new set in Jade. I really started cooking again after that. That's the kind of thing I find it hard to put a dollar value on.

          Here are more 5.5 qt round ovens on ebay: http://shop.ebay.com/i.html?_nkw=le+c...

          13 Replies
          1. re: Jay F

            Jay, I just wanted to compliment you on one of the BEST replies to anything I have seen on the cookware board. Thank you.

            1. re: diamond dave

              Why, thank you, Dave.

            2. re: Jay F

              Jay: You're generally right on things that wear out (like your friend's shoes). But LC's and its dealers' margins on these CI pots is HUGE. Witness the poster here in the last 24 hours who bought a LC oval DO on clearance for $40 that retails for nearly $300. Witness also the markdowns in Sur la Table's and W-S's 2010 holiday catalogues for LC and Staub of at LEAST 50%. They're still making money at HALF the price.

              I don't own one of the Chinese knockoffs (and I certainly won't defend their trade practices and industrial espionage), but I have examined the wares. There are really no salient differences anymore. If you pay 1/5 the price, and the piece lasts only 1/2 as long, even with no free replacement, you're probably ahead. This from a guy who recently bought a $75 copper pan and happily paid $275 to have it reconditioned.

              BTW, my LC chips just fine, too.

              1. re: kaleokahu

                In all this time, I've had one chip in a piece of LC, a 1/2" triangle that came out of a small saucepan a roommate let burn, back in 1979. The rest of mine got blackened on the interior bottom over time, but otherwise no chips.

                As for the current "sale" pricing, yeah, I noticed the W-S catalog with the Ocean LC. A 4.5 qt. is $200, with a MSRP of $355 (same for both Signature and Classic). I've only been paying attention to the prices again for the last few months, and every online retailer seems to offer the same price, across the board. Were things selling at full retail online prior to 2010?

                I'll be interested to know how many of the knockoffs are still in use in 2030.

                1. re: Jay F

                  JayF: "I'll be interested to know how many of the knockoffs are still in use in 2030."

                  Yeah, me too. By that time we'll probably be 100% owned by the Chinese. Not their fault. we let them do it.

                  1. re: Jay F

                    I will add this.. I have LC, One piece of Chantal.. and I had also tried to buy the Cuisinart version of an enamel cast iron pot to initially try and save.

                    The Chantal is still in nice shape.. but I don't bang any of them around.. it's been a decent pot though and purchased it at TJMaxx.

                    The two Cuisinarts I purchased, had both chipped and had enamel flakes in the bottom of the pot by the time I got them home from the store.
                    From the shelf into my basket they were fine.. at the register.. the lids were wrapped separately.. I drove home carefully.. I promptly returned those two and put the money into an LC. I've not had that issue yet (*knock on wood*)

                2. re: Jay F

                  I also thinkj Jay said this very well.

                  I'm the kind of person who generally likes to pay as little for something as I can - but this is a matter of necessity. If I want to have nice things, I have to stretch our dollars as far as they can go. I'm usually a very good shopper, I know prices, and I know a great deal when I see one.

                  That said, what I REALLY am is someone who likes to pay as little as possible for quality. I like to be able to keep my stuff for a long time and I know the value of paying for quality. I only own a few pieces of Le Creuset, but I love them and I'm glad I bought them. I've bought them all at outlets with a coupon, I would never pay full retail - but it's still worth the extra money to me.

                  1. re: flourgirl

                    +1. It is more fun to hunt brand products with discuount rather than replacing one cheap to another .

                    1. re: hobbybaker

                      Exactly. :)

                    2. re: flourgirl

                      Well said flourgirl!! I adore my Le Creuset and think it was worth every penny. My 1st piece of LC was a gift purchased from Williams Sonoma, but my other pieces of LC I've purchased from the LC outlet with coupons when they are having a sale. I've gotten some unbelievable bargains that way. My outlet pieces work the same and are just as pretty as the one from Williams Sonoma. Even bargain priced, they are still expensive, but knowing that they have a lifetime warranty and knowing that Le Creuset doesn't hassle you when you have to use the warranty , makes a huge difference to me.

                    3. re: Jay F

                      As they say, "Buy quality and you only cry once."

                      1. re: Jay F

                        Does this mean that LC have only a 20 yr lifespan?

                        1. re: paulj

                          paulj: "Does this mean that LC have only a 20 yr lifespan?"

                          No, what I meant was that in 1999, Le Creuset replaced an entire set I'd bought in 1979.

                      2. I've used the knock offs and feel they work pretty well for a fraction of the price. Even if you bought 2-3 pieces over you cooking career it's still cheaper than 1 LC.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          I spent $198 in 1979 for a

                          4.5 qt. round French oven
                          2.5 qt. round French oven
                          10" frypan
                          20 cm saucepan
                          16 cm saucepan

                          In 1999, Le Creuset replaced all except the small saucepan for free. I think this has been a terrific value over 30 years.

                          1. re: scubadoo97

                            Has anyone had the cheap knock-offs examined in a lab for lead, mercury, and arsenic? Most Chinese products are at least somewhat contaminated with heavy metals as they are common in the soil and water, especially because industrial processes rarely use drinking water when water is required.

                            I have one piece of Le Creuset from 1960 which is perfect except for a singe mark on its wooden handle. I also have nine other pieces (all different colors), three of which are dragged into VERY heavy usage (my 26 blue skillet, my 24 black round roaster, and my 18 flame round roaster). I bought the black roaster in 1994 and have used it at least weekly and often daily since then, and it's the only piece that shows any wear (the enamel on the bottom on the inside is fairly worn; I'm considering sending it back for replacement but it is an old friend). I'm not especially careful but none of my pieces are chipped.

                            I think you get what you pay for and I'd rather spend my money with a French company with a long and honorable tradition (and an excellent warranty) than give it to yet another no-name, no intellectual property, crappy warranty, untested Chinese company. The potential for heavy metal issues in something I put next to food all the time over many years seals the deal for me.

                            My next piece of LC will be what we call the "baby bathtub" -- the 15.25 quart oval roaster... we roast lots of chickens, two or three turkeys a year, and I do a lot of canning... I'm not sure "too big" is in my vocabulary, though at 27 lbs empty, maybe it should be. LOL

                            P.S. I've gotten two pieces of LC at thrift stores for <$20. I always look in that section FIRST. I'm not wild about paying full price and shop sales, but over 20-50 years, a couple of hundred bucks is not that much for a thing that brings so much pleasure.

                            1. re: DiaFun

                              Lodge makes its enameled cast iron cookware in China. Lodge enameled cast iron cookware are in compliance with California Proposal 65 which is the strictest:

                              http://www.lodgemfg.com/use-care-help...

                              Le Creuset is also in compliance with California Proposal 65.

                              http://www.lecreuset.ca/Care--Use3/FA...

                              There is no difference. These tests are done for countless other enameled cast iron cookware. Enameled cast iron cookware sold in the US have been tested. There is no foundation for lead poisoning from enameled cast iron coowkare sold in US. It is a spectulation based on some preceived notions.

                              Conversely, it is known that lead is used in lipstick -- intentionally and acceptable. I don't remember people worry about lipsticks 1/100th as much as cookware. I keep hearing people say that they won't use enameled cast iron or whatever cookware because of the (unfounded) potential lead poisoning, yet I have rarely heard anyone said that they would stop using lipsticks. Why? You are putting the lipstick right on your lip and swallow it everyday. People need to put things in perspective and have a better idea of what is what.

                              http://safecosmetics.org/article.php?...
                              http://www.latimes.com/health/fl-nbco...

                              1. re: DiaFun

                                I would also be concerned about potentially toxic heavy metals in pots coming from China...especially those which carry an unknown label. Rightly or wrongly, I suppose I'd be slightly more confident if the Chinese product carried a known label such as Cuisinart.

                                Like many others, I have 2 LeC Dutch ovens that were purchased >20 years ago. I use them all the time, and aside from very minimal discoloration on the bottom, they're like new. They clean up easily with Barkeepper's Friend, and the minimal discoloration mentioned above can be pretty much eliminated by an hour bleach soak. If the op can afford LeC, and is not an obsessive bargain hunter, LeC is the way to go.

                            2. The other posters have done an excellent job with your first question, so I'll answer the 2nd. ;-) No experience at the outlet in CT, but I have shopped several times (via telephone, I'm in St. Louis) at the Foley, Alabama outlet. I heart them something fierce. I've ordered seconds, almost exclusively, and have been very happy with them. It's usually a microscopic cosmetic flaw that makes them seconds - they cook beautifully. This time of year, the outlet stores usually run a 30% off sale + free shipping, which when coupled with the second-quality pricing, puts the cookware in the range of a nice off-brand. (My 2 cents - I've tried some of the off-brand enameled and have had problems with chipping/crackling. Target, I'm looking at you.)

                              1. Is Le Creuset worth it? Well that depends. Although any dutch oven can cook a meal, probably with a similar amount of success as Le Creuset, and it that's all you're interested in, I suppose not. However when you look at other factors, perhaps it is. As I've stated on other posts about enameled cast iron, I've been told by the store owner of a gourmet cookware shop, that all the Chinese dutch ovens chip very easily. In her opinion, it wasn't worth carrying them as it is too much trouble dealing with angry customers when they chip. According to her, Le Creuset and Staub are the only two that don't chip easily. I don't suppose chipping effects cooking, so maybe the Chinese stuff is really just as good.

                                Personally I don't want a chipped piece of enameled cast iron, so I'll stay away from the made in China stuff. I also have other reasons for not buying made in China, some are concerns about manufacturing, some are concerns about the materials they use, and others are purely socioeconomic and political. For me the question becomes is the made in China stuff worth it.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: mikie

                                  +1.
                                  Want to stay with products built to last. I really don't care how many times I can replace those knock-offs for the price of LC or Staub. First of all I don't want to replace if possible.

                                  1. re: hobbybaker

                                    Your really can't compare LC and Staub to the cheap Chinese knock offs. I agree totally with Jay's post. I'd rather pay a little more for quality cookware that will more than likely pass on to my grandchildren that buy something cheap that i'll have to replace out of my pocket in a few years. The old adage - you get what you pay for and LC and Staub are definitley worth the money especially when you pay the outlet price.

                                    1. re: hobbybaker

                                      hobby: I'm no Sinophile, but there's presently no reason to believe the Chinese-made Ci is any shorter-lived than French. What we DO know is that LC and Staub have a good track record, whereas the knockoffs are too recent`to judge. Honda, Datsun and Toyota were once considered inferior knockoffs, too.

                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        Unfortunately Disagreed kaleokahu. They must be shorter-lived. so many people experienced those knock-offs chip easily not only in this borad but also my friends etc. Aret they unlucky to get one of the defected items? I don't think so. These anecdotal evidence is enough reason for me not to buy those. Life is short and I cannot wait for them to become better or help them become better by buying their product and replacing often.

                                        1. re: hobbybaker

                                          @ hobbybaker,

                                          I believe you're right. I initially purchased a Ruff Hewn enameled oval 7.5 quart cast iron casserole, which had a lid that wasn't quite oval (it had an indentation along the rim). I soon returned it for the Le Creuset (6-3/4 oval oven, cherry red) that I adore.

                                        2. re: kaleokahu

                                          kaleokahu

                                          "Honda, Datsun and Toyota were once considered inferior knockoffs, too."

                                          And I'm old enough to remember they were inferior knockoffs. Actually, they were worse than horrible, a friend had a Toyota that was only a couple of years old and the paint was almost entirely gone. Pealed, flaked, whatever, dissapeard from the body of the car. In part "we" the American Auto Companies and the American car buyers, helped, first as buyers we were impressed with their low prices, regardless of quality, and as manufacturers, we lowered our quality to meet that of the competition. In other words, if you want a cheap product with no quality, we can give that to you, was the response from GM, FOMOCO, and MOPAR. It took years for the Japanese auto manufacturers to make anything close to a quality product, and look at the price of a new car. How long do you think it will take to make a quality $30 DO?

                                          This isn't even made in China story, but it's about chips. My wife bought 4 eared porclin dishes to go "with" the Apilco dinnerware we have. We've had the Apilco for a couple of years now and not a chip on any of the 48 pieces that are used on a daily basis. The off brand 4 eared dishes "the MAIN" or something, already have one that is so chipped it's all but unusable, and these are less than 3 months old and not used as much as the dinnerware.

                                          I don't consider myself an environmental activist, but I do try to stay environmentally conscious. When your made in China dutch oven chips is it going to the dump? If you haven't been lately, I would suggest a field trip to your local land fill. It's astonshing how much we throw away. It's enough to make you think twice about buying "disposable" products when there is a "perminate" alternative.

                                          1. re: mikie

                                            mikie: "How long do you think it will take to make a quality $30 DO?" I think they already have.

                                            I'm sorry about your eared porcelain dishes chipping, but what's that got to do with enameled CI cookware? I personally don't own any of the Chinese CI stuff, having bought LC many years ago. So I'm not sure if enamel chipping is a common defect in all the Sinoware CI. All I know is that my LC is not immune to chipping, and when it does chip, I don't landfill it, I just keep it in service and bellyache.

                                            "If you haven't been lately, I would suggest a field trip to your local land fill." Really? LOL, you make it sound like the folks down at solid waste are up to their butts in chipped Chinese DOs, with nary a chipped LC to be seen. Maybe chipped LC is more likely to be kept (in the basement--because folks would rather gouge out their eyes than trash a piece of iron they paid $300 for), but LC is no less disposable, it's just not disposably priced.

                                            I'm no slave to low prices over quality. If I have a choice, I'll pay more to have an AMERICAN-made product, even if/when a little lower in quality. But we're past that point in CI cookware, Lodge now being made in China.

                                            The best reason to not buy Chinese-made goods has nothing to do with quality: we're in an economic war with them, and most of us don't even know it.

                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                              I beg to differ, I don't believe they make an equal quality product, not from what I've been told by the gourmet cookware store owner and not from what I've seen posted here. Granted you can chip any enameled cast iron piece, but not nearly as easily. I watched the sales clerk at WS bang a Staub teribly hard (by accident) and was ducking for fear of flying chips of enamel, nothing came flying off. I joked it passed the bang test and she just laughed, it happens all the time.

                                              The porcelain incident was just an example of the difference in quality of a name brand vs a no-name brand. Granted it has nothing to do with cast iron.

                                              I didn't mean to imply the land fill is full of cast iron, just that it's already overly full, no need to add any more to it than necessary.

                                              I'm all too aware of the economic war with China. Global economic theory is that each country does what it does best, this quits working as soon as one country thinks it can do everything best. There is a great BBC expose on "The Changing World" series about China and their desire to be manufacturers to the world. The problem here is that if you're filpping burgers at McDonalds, even a $40 dutch oven is too expensive.

                                            2. re: mikie

                                              This discussion about shoddy Chinese workmanship reminds me of how Japanese electronics were viewed in the early '60s. A gift of a transistor radio stamped with "Made In Japan" back then would be enough to ruin a friendship. Today that is not the case with Sony and other Japanese brand. Perhaps it will be like that for China down the road, but it certainly isn't the case today.

                                      2. I do not buy this stuff new. I shop flea markets, antique malls and estate sales and buy Le Creuset for $15-$20 per piece. This does not give me the lifetime guarantee you get when you buy at retail, but on the other hand I've never had a piece that's been damaged beyond usefulness. I do have one that my father-in-law cooked black, how I do not know, but I'll just use that as a planter or something; the ones I've bought promise to last forever.

                                        In addition to the Le Creuset pieces I have some Belgian ones that seem to be of equal quality. I also have an oval Chinese casserole I bought from Cost Plus ten years ago for $18; the knob on its lid would come loose when it was hot, but I fixed that with some JP Weld and it hasn't been a problem since.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                          Just out of curiosity, have you tried to take advantage of the lifetime guarantee? Or do they require receipts or some sort of registration? I know some companies will replace whatever broken product you send back to them.

                                          1. re: Heatherb

                                            You do have to register your cookware at the Le Creuset website, where you are asked for the date of purchase, type of DO and color, along with your personal information -- Name, email address, etc.

                                          2. re: Will Owen

                                            Will, try bringing a baking soda paste to a boil for 30 seconds in the blackened pot. It may lift the burnt crud with a little scrub on your part. It has lifted burnt brown sugar out of mine.

                                          3. Hi deki

                                            Seems people have strong opinions on this but many don't have experience with both LC and other brands - only one or the other.

                                            I have several pieces of LC and haven't had any issues with any of them. I didn't pay full price for any - most came from an outlet place and were items i picked up off the second shelf and received extra discounts on during their sale. You may want to try that if your heart is set on LC itself as you can get good deals, particularly if you don't care about color. I've bought mine in person but have read here that people have had good luck calling and having the salesperson carefully select for them. Most seconds at the outlets have very minute issues that in my experience neither affect the function nor the aesthetics of the pot.

                                            that said...

                                            if you don't want to buy the LC due to price....

                                            My experience with cheap no name knock offs has been poor. My mom picked up a large 8 qt oval a few years ago from TJMaxx. I don't remember the actual brand, it was one I hadn't heard of before. I had to get rid of it within in a year due to the ridiculous chipping we experienced with the pot. Both inside and outside the pot the enamel would chip anytime we touched it. My mom replaced it eventually with a 8qt LC oval from Costco when they were carrying them(I don't htink thye sell these this year but if so they were a great deal if still available!)

                                            But...all "knock offs" aren't created equal. I worked at SLT for many many years. We sold the Mario stuff which is half the price of the LC. These are solid and I recommend to anyone that 1) doesn't like the LC or is attracted to the colors used in the Mario line. We NEVER got these back for any reason and never heard of any issues with chipping, etc. I bought one for my mom to keep at her house when I cook there and it's held up well after 6 years. I'm not sure if they still sell this line but if so I'd recommend looking at it(Crate and Barrell also sells/sold it as well as amazon and others). I wouldn't recommend the new SLT private label as it just came out and my experience was that there were often issues with first iterations of their private label products. Wait for a later version if interested in that as they do typically a great job of fixing issues(ie their triply cookware which went through several revisions but is now a really great line for the price)

                                            I also bought my MIL a Staub piece off QVC for little money ($55) two years back. this has proven to be a nice piece of cookware as well with no chipping. I think they still sell something similar if you check there.

                                            Good luck whatever you do! And enjoy the first thing you make once you do buy something!

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: ziggylu

                                              Ziggylu, thank you for your info on all the knock-offs are not created equal. I think if I would buy one of those, it is for a non-kead bread. Because I don't want to abuse my LC. For that your feedback is very helpful.

                                              1. re: hobbybaker

                                                How is the No Knead Bread abusive to your LC? If my LC can't withstand 500 degree oven then it's worthless crap!

                                                1. re: pabboy

                                                  It can withstand it easily but after a while it just won't look as pretty. Hardly worthless crap.

                                                  1. re: blondelle

                                                    I've made the bread many times. My LC still looks almost new. Only part that's scratched is the bottom where it comes in contact with the stove grate.

                                                    1. re: pabboy

                                                      pabboy, I baked the breads so far handful of times but I just want to have one exclusive pot if I bake it very regulary based on my friend's experience who bakes it almost weekly and now notices some minor discoloration. Nothing like heat tolerance etc. Not a big deal.

                                            2. I absolutely love my LC DO. I received it for a wedding gift (4 years ago) and have since bought several pieces. Although they are heavy, they are a breeze to clean and although my DO is discolored inside (too many tomato-based stews!) it has no chips. Personally, I'd rather buy one LC and not think about it after that than have to repurchase chipped enamelware.

                                              1. In this household, Le Creuset and Descoware from the 1960s and 1970s has held up impressively well under regular use during the past 30 to 40 years. If you buy those on Ebay, you'll pay much, much less than you'd be paying for new LC. You'll be re-using -- sound environmental practice. You'll be assured of a high-quality product.

                                                You won't be supporting make-it-in-China-ism to at least that small extent (but neither will you be supporting the current remaining production in France [LC stoneware and the cast iron gratins now being made in China]).

                                                9 Replies
                                                1. re: ellabee

                                                  So LC has outsourced some of its line to China? Thanks for the heads up.

                                                  1. re: GibsonGirl55

                                                    I know the LC try-ply stainless steel and most utensils are made in China.

                                                    1. re: pabboy

                                                      yes... and it appears really a good quality even thouth it is made in C. by the way, I liked your discussion to use All-Clad stockpot 6t or 8qt to do braising. I use my 6 qt for the purpose, too especially when I am tired of the heaviness of DOs. but now that I bought 6.75 wide round LC, I might not use the stockpot anymore for braising. it is kind a waste because AC stockpots are heavier than other stockpots and made of very thick SS try-ply. It is a overkill to just use it as a stock pot. However, I still like LC better if braising/simmering time is longer than 2 - 3 hours in oven even though AC SS is just fine in the oven. LC 6.75 wide round has larger surface than the 6qt AC stockpot ....I don't find anything simlar to the LC 6.75 qt wide round shape from any knock-offs or staub. That is maybe another reason for me to stick with LC - More choices in shapes. It surly has a more than $150 worth for me which I paid at the outlet.

                                                      1. re: hobbybaker

                                                        Chowhound Admin didn't think the AC discussion was appropriate. Dunno why.

                                                        Anyways, why would you prefer LC over AC in 2-3 hour braising/simmer?

                                                        1. re: pabboy

                                                          I was a bit short. I prefer the LC 6.75 Wide round bette than the 6qt AC because the LC 6.75 wide round has a larger diameter and a larger bottom surface but it depends on the size of the roast and recipes. I have 6.75 oval LC too, so with the oval and wide round, I think I can cover most of the type of the roast.

                                                          1. re: pabboy

                                                            The lid on the LC seals better and the LC provides a more steady, constant heat at low temps. People who have made the same recipe in both LC and A-C say that it tastes better made in the LC. Go to www.egullet.com and find the whole braising test they did, braising the same meat in all different pots. Many people participated in this, and you can read their results.

                                                            1. re: pabboy

                                                              I don't know why my reply was poofed. I was just mentioning the article below that compares all different pots as to how they braise. Are we not allowed to mention another forum here? Scroll down a bit.

                                                              http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/...

                                                      2. re: ellabee

                                                        Ellabee: "LC stoneware and the cast iron gratins now being made in China."
                                                        -------------------------------------------
                                                        I think the cast iron au gratins are made in France, the stoneware au gratins in Thailand or China.

                                                        http://www.centralchef.com/storefront...

                                                        http://www.centralchef.com/storefront...

                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                          You are correct and I was mistaken. The "Heritage" line of enameled cast iron gratins are still made in France; the "Heritage" stoneware pieces are made in China.

                                                      3. No. See: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/515126

                                                        1. I assume you mean Le Creuset? It is probably not worth the price. Get a Tramontina, it's also cast iron covered in colored enamel. Probably cost you $65 for a 6-8 qt whereas Le Creuset would set you back hundreds. I don't think the extra cost translates into performance or even looks.

                                                          1. http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product....

                                                            I am planning to buy this Costco dutch oven, $50. It has good reviews. Made is China, comparable to Le Creuset but heavier, can chip, but so can Le Creuset. I see it was discussed here on CH before.

                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/667414

                                                            I don't know why the link looks like that O.o?

                                                            1. LC worth the price? Heck no, but always great thing to add on gift registries.

                                                              1. While we have my mother's chipped LeCreuset pans (1960s?) my answer to the question is no, Le Creuset is no longer worth the high price. We have a ceramic top stove so we don't use the 6 quart cast iron enamel dutch oven too often but the one we have is Chinese made that came from a dollar type store, new for 4 bucks. They had 7 of them and I bought them all and gave them away to family and friends.

                                                                9 Replies
                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                  I would never ever buy chinese-made cookware in a dollar type store.

                                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                                    flourgirl: Why not? Is it the country of origin or the discounter that bothers you? Maybe both?

                                                                    Would you feel the same way if you could get a $400 MSRP French-made piece at Marshall's for $7? See, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7496...

                                                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                      Yes, it's the country of origin that bothers me. You have no guarantee that the materials used to enamel that piece are safe for food preparation. And China has repeatedly proven themselves to be unconcerned about niceties like food safety and the health and welfare of the masses.

                                                                      If it IS a name brand product with a well-regarded company, it's possible that the pieces were inspected and the facility subject to regulation but it's still no guarantee.

                                                                      Furthermore, I believe we are in an economic war with China and I do my absolute best NOT to buy anything produced in China. I'm not 100% there yet, but I'm damn close.

                                                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                                                        flourgirl: I respect your opinion, and agree that we are in an economic war with China. Less sure about the dangers of Chinese enamel relative to the safety of French (French formulations changed not all that long ago to omit cadmium).

                                                                        Like you, I'm trying to weed out everything Chinese-made from my life, but it's practically impossible. American corporations are slaves to the bottom line (and some French, too), and these days that means moving manufacturing to China.

                                                                        Do you ever buy vintage American and European?

                                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                          I stand by my conviction that buying and using most items made in China intended for food prep/use is potentially risky and just unnecessary when there are so many other choices available. China has made headlines way too many times recently regarding these kinds of issues and I'm just not willing to take the risk with my family's health when there is absolutely no need to do so.

                                                                          I know it's probably not completely 100% possible to avoid buying any items made China - but I have actually been finding it easier and easier to do so. There is still a surprising amount of stuff made in the U.S - and I am willing to pay a little more to do so. And there are a whole lot of people making wonderful things by hand that are available on sites like Etsy.com, often for very reasonable prices (although I doubt you'll find enameled cast iron cookware on there, unless it's vintage.)

                                                                          "Do you ever buy vintage American and European?"

                                                                          Not much. And I have no concerns about the items I do own and use for food prep/serving.

                                                                          1. re: flourgirl

                                                                            Folks, we'd ask that you let this sub-thread go. 'Economic warfare' with China is definitely off-topic for our site, and the concerns about the safety of the cookware are just vague and speculative. We'd really rather not see the conversation take this path, thanks.

                                                                      2. re: kaleokahu

                                                                        And no, kaleokahu, I wouldn't feel the same way about buyiing a french-made piece at Marshall's,.

                                                                      3. re: flourgirl

                                                                        Why not? It might have been misleading when I said dollar type store. It was more like an independently owned overstock or liquidation type store. Either way, why not? I bet if I did a google search I could find the brand name from the logo (CC) on the handles. It doesn't actually say China on it but I'm sure that's where it was made. You sound like my SIL that wouldn't use Mexican vanilla.

                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                          http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/Consu...

                                                                          The link that details FDA concerns regarding the safety of some Mexican vanilla.,

                                                                    2. If you have your heart set on a LC, Macy's is having a Friends & Family 25% discount now which includes LC cookware. Use promo code MACYSFF

                                                                      The 6.75 qt oval DO at retail $270 is discounted down to ~$200 and free shipping.

                                                                      1. I've skimmed thru and don't think any of the previous posters have been to the LC outlet at Clinton Crossing. I have many times and have picked up some pieces. I love my LC but would never pay full price. All of my pieces are red, and they've all come from the Clinton outlet store. I think you may even be able to find some "blemished" items there for even less than the perfect ones. I'm pretty certain I've purchased an imperfect item and it is nearly impossible to find the imperfection. Of course, it does make a difference where it is - I wouldn't want an imperfection on a cooking surface, but say, on the lid, no big deal. Hope this helps!

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: DMW

                                                                          Was at the Le Creuset outlet near my hometown for their midnight Black Friday sales, and they had the 4.5 qt dutch ovens in every color on sale for $99. I was seriously tempted, but I already have a stainless steel Cuisinart that I like a lot and couldn't justify buying another one (also lack space!).

                                                                          Then I got a Martha Stewart 3.5 qt enameled cast iron dutch oven at Macy's sale Saturday for only $20...

                                                                        2. Can't tell you much about Le Cruet. I guess if your not too old or are strong it's ok. Too heavy for me when I can get excellent results with something else. Generally, though, I do believe that with cookware as with anything else, if you get something cheap, you will be sorry. My personal preference is something with a copper core or an Italian or French-made copper. (I have some of each). They cook great without feeling like I'm going to the gym to use it or need a chiropracter visit to lift it out of the drawer.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: mangiamamma

                                                                            What's this about needing to be strong? Cruets are by definition small: " a small flat-bottomed vessel with a narrow neck". :)

                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                              Sorry, but the original post said a 7 quart vessel and 7 quarts when it is full of food and coming out of an oven and is made of iron is heavy. However, judging from your name "Paul", it sounds like you may not have a problem with this. I do and think most women over 60 would also!

                                                                              1. re: mangiamamma

                                                                                Yup, my mom is currently having some arthritis issues and the main thing she looks for nowadays is that the equipment she uses isn't too heavy. She understands that everyone keeps telling her that Le Creuset is the best, but it (and any other enameled cast iron, really) is just too heavy for her.

                                                                          2. I get the weekly ATK emails and this week's has a link to reviews of Dutch ovens. The results:

                                                                            Best Lighter Choice: All-Clad Stainless 8-Quart Stockpot - While this pan runs a little hot, it produced "golden and gorgeous" food. The best choice for cooks who prefer a lighter pot.

                                                                            Best Heavier Choice: Le Creuset 7 1/4-Quart Round French Oven - This is the "gold standard" of Dutch ovens, a kitchen workhorse that's heavy but not excessively so.

                                                                            Best Buy: Tramontina 6.5 Quart Cast Iron - At under $50, this oven, crafted from enameled cast iron, is hard to beat. It passed all our kitchen tests with flying colors.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: DMW

                                                                              I too have arthritis. I agree with the all-Clad Stainless. I bought one because of the weight and love it. That and my copper one that was hand-made in Italy. Wish I could remember the name of the manufacturer, but that has gone the way of the good joints! I do have one I got from Napa Style that I love. Tin bottom. Also have some Mauviel with the Stainless bottoms, but I enjoy cooking in the tin bottom ones more. I don't bother polishing them to a new penny between uses as I prefer the old, weathered look. Reminds me of a certain fantastic little restaurant in the south of France that was also a little hotel and took my soup from a big old copper pot sitting in the fireplace. But that's another story.

                                                                            2. If you have a Tuesday Morning in your area, check or call there. I happened in to my local TM in the spring and a couple of months ago and they had the small LC for $30 and the large for $50 - prices are approx, but they were phenomenally low. It's my understanding LC is intro'ing a new line, so these were probably the old model - the one we're all used to having seen for years.

                                                                              (Don't recall the qt size and they have so many sizes, but I'd guess the small one would manage a 2-3 lb roast with small amt of vegetables and the large, maybe a 6-8 lb-er???)

                                                                              1. What is the size pot you always see on cooking shows when they are making pasta sauce or stew? ty !

                                                                                1. Yes, as is Staub and Denby. The cheap copies have a very thin coating that begins to flake off with use. Save up and spend the money. If you are over 60 you might want to go to one of the lighter and less expensive. As you age lifting a full pot gets arduous.

                                                                                  1. Just letting you know that the Le Creuset sold at outlets aren't the same as the Le Creuset sold in regular stores. The ones in outlets are second choix and are slightly flawed in appearance. So before you make the purchase, please look inside the box and inspect the product and make sure you are happy with it.

                                                                                    That being said, they're definitely worth it. Its a lifetime investment and they're not only functional but they're beautiful pieces. I would buy the oval pots just because you can fit longer pieces of meat in there. Unfortunately, the inside will change color with use so if that is a concern, I would get a Staub . I bought my 6.75 Le Creuset oval dutch oven from an outlet and I had it for 2 years. It still looked new but after I found out that the light colored enamel has a tendency to discolor and stain with use, I put it up on ebay and actually got more for it than I paid for it. :D