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Jan 23, 2011 07:05 PM

Non-stick pans, metal utensils, and TV chefs

Every time I go near a non-stick surface with a metal spatula, spoon or tongs my wife gets upset that I'm going to scratch and ruin the surface................... yet I just saw Jacques Pepin use a metal spoon on his non-stick pan. So.................... what's the deal?

My wife says the TV chefs get a new set of cookware for every show (or something close to that) so it doesn't matter if they use metal on non-stick. I suppose that's possible, but it's hard to accept that these chefs would be so correct in their cooking and just ignore the cookware issue.

What do you think?

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  1. I agree with your wife. Many nonstick pans advertise that you can use metal utensils (Circulon, Swiss Diamond, and Excalibur come to mind), but in reality, the nonstick surface will last longer, work better, and look nicer if you use plastic, silicone, or wooden utensils.

    1. Modern non-stick cookware is much sturdier than in years past. Many manufacturers now say that their nonstick surface have a MOHS scale rating of 9.0 or greater (diamond is a 10), which would certainly withstand metal utensils.

      1. Tanuki is correct. Most nonstick cookware are still made of Teflon and its forumla is still exactly the same. There are tricks which companies use to "more or less" partly burying the Telfon coating, as such only small portion of Telfon is scratched up. This includes the infamous Circulon which uses the low-high geometry design, the Swiss Diamond which uses diamond dust to separate the utensils from the Teflon. Excalibur which uses stainless steel spray for separation... etc.

        Most importantly, most nonstick cookware are still made with plain Teflon surface with no physical enforcement. Unless your nonstick cookware specifically state that metal utensils can be use or/and they are with enforced surface, don't even try. Even if they do, like Tanuki said, softer utensils are prefered.

        1. Before this topic slips into obscurity....... I'm wondering if black anodized surfaces are different with regard to tool use.

          3 Replies
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              ?????????? Yes, they're different! No, you shouldn't use metal on them?????

              1. re: Midlife

                Yes, anodized aluminum is very hard. Yes, it is very scratch resistent. No, it will still get scratched if you try hard enough. No, although anodized aluminum is very hard, the plain aluminum underneath it is still softer than steel, so you can dent it if you are too rough.

                Overall, you can use metal utensils on an anodized aluminum surface, but it is still not the same as a stainless steel surface.

          1. I just figure it's not worth the risk. I've seen some of the pots and pans that my husband's bachelor friends have, and they're some of saddest things I've seen. Maybe nonstick is better now, but I don't really find a need to test it, certainly not considering the cost of decent cookware.

            I've gotten to the point now where I don't say something the minute he approaches the stove with a metal object and have even turned a blind eye when he carefully picks out a piece of whatever it is with a metal fork, but I'm very convinced that if I hadn't made a fuss about it earlier, he would've gone blithely about his "bachelor ways," and our cookware wouldn't be in nearly as good shape as it is.

            On a somewhat related note, I do think that restaurant and TV chefs are much more cavalier about the state of their cookware. The chefs I know guard their knives with their lives, but pots and pans are somewhat interchangable, a sort of unavoidable casualty of a restaurant kitchen (and probably a deductible expense). It also wouldn't surprise me in the least to know that the higher-profile TV chefs do get a new set for every show (or near to it). When you consider the cost of a television production, even a relatively low-budget show like a cooking show, cookware is a nominal expense, even if they were paying for the products (which I can't imagine they would be).

            1 Reply
            1. re: Mestralle

              Maybe I'm just cynical, but I wouldn't be surprised if the companies that supply the cookware to such cooking shows actually encourage the chefs to abuse their pots and pans. Since the damage wouldn't be noticeable to the viewers, it would give them the (mistaken) impression that the cookware is indestructible. You know, "Wow, I just saw a celebrity chef chop onions in a Swiss Diamond frying pan using a big cleaver! Those pans must be fantastic!" Next show, new pans.