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Feb 3, 2011 05:09 AM

Clad-what's the big whoop?

I spoke to a rep of Cuisinart and he said (pertaining to the Stainless Steel Chef's Classic disc bottom and Multiclad lines) that there is no difference in performance between the 2 lines, they are just different in appearance. It seems a bit strange because I thought clad's performance was supposed to be better?
Why pay double to tripple the price to use clad if disc bottom is just as good? Or when is it good to use clad cookware over disc bottom, and why?

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  1. Well on average, a fully cladded cookware is made to a higher spec than disc bottom. By design, I say a fully cladded saute pan is better than a disc bottom saute pan because you want the heat more uniform on the cooking bottom surface and the heat to travel slightly to the side. A fully cladded cookware will have a more uniform heating bottom surface. For a disc bottom, the very edge of the disc is meeting the side which is much colder, therefore the edge of the disc will be affected by the cold side...

    9 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      When do you cook on the pans sides for it to make that much of a difference?

      1. re: boobmoose

        When you're cooking solids on the stovetop: braises, stews, etc. You want to really minimize hot spots that will burn food (at the edges) and cook the meat as evenly as possible, with the interior a consistent temperature.

        1. re: boobmoose

          For many things, it does not matter much at all. For boiling water, making thin soup or foods which need to be move around alot, they don't matter because the foods will move and sample the entire cooking surface. For foods which you don't want to move a lot, then the difference matters. Thick and delicate sauce also matters because you don't want it to burn.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            I agree with Chemicalkinetics and need to add one thing. The cooking surface matters as well. A clad pan performs best on an open flame cooking surface. A disc bottom pan performs best on a radiant cooking surface. They type of cooking matters as well. Saute pan versus sauce/stock pot cooking have totally different heating needs.

            If you're going to boil water, the pot's construction doesn't matter.

          2. re: boobmoose

            I have to disagree with what the rep told you.

            While the heat of a pan will always be highest at the source, a disc is better for contents that have a low chance of burning. Clad allows more heat on the sides which I find very useful for sauces. Also a disc is going to retain heat for a longer period and will not reduce in temperature as fast as a clad pan. For me a stainless steel stock pot can have a disc, everything else I prefer clad if it's stainless steel.

            1. re: SanityRemoved

              Agree with you if the stainless steel stock pot is NOT used for braising or slow and simmer cooking like a stew. If you intend to use the stockpot for that, I would buy fully clad.

              If you use DO for those tasks and the stock pot is used for boiling water for pasta, steaming foods, or making stock, a disc bottom is fine.

              1. re: hobbybaker

                Yes, I should have been a bit more specific as to the intended use.

                "If you use DO for those tasks and the stock pot is used for boiling water for pasta, steaming foods, or making stock, a disc bottom is fine."
                Exactly. Thanks.

          3. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Hey Chem, those are generalizations that do not always make sense. A lot depends on the quality of the clad and disk bottomed pans you are comparing, your cooktop and what you are cooking. Please don't start sounding like the All Clad bigots out there -- I know you know better. I'd put a 5mm or 7mm disk bottom (Paderno Grand Gourmet, Sambonet, Sitram Catering) pan over most clad pots out there in terms of even heat distribution over most burners. Quality makes a huge difference. If clad were the best way to make a pot for all applications, there would only be clad pans.

            (Before the All Clad supporters attack, I own some All Clad and Demeyere clad and love both, but they are not the "best" for certain applications).

            I use both, and I have different reasons for choosing either at any given time. I agree with the poster who pointed out that the clad construction is often hyped by manufacturers. About the only manufacturer that doesn't hype its high end clad pots is Demeyere. That is because they make both types within the same line of pots (Atlantis and Apollo). Neither is inexpensive.

            1. re: RGC1982


              You are correct. My statements in the earlier post are really generalization and they don't apply in many cases. There are many good disc-bottom cookware which outperfom most triply cookware -- just like you said.

          4. boobmoose: The rep gave you a bum steer. As others have posted, fully clad has advantages in certain applications that benefit from getting heat into the food from the sidewalls. However, some disk-bottoms--if they have thick enough disks--have more even bottom heat than most clad.

            This tradeoff comes from the manufacturers' various answers to the question: "How are we going to get around SS's terrible conductivity and still maintain its convenience/look?"

            "Why pay...tripple the price...?" Good question--most fully clad isn't any better than straight aluminum, and you've probably noticed how cheap AL is, right? The mfgrs want us to believe that the 3, 5, 7, etc. layers somehow synergistically make their pans greater than the sum of their parts. It's marketing hype and hogwash, IMO. At least the disk-bottomed pans are a little more honestly presented.

            24 Replies
            1. re: kaleokahu

              Well, it's either hogwash or there is some technoligical reason for multiple layers. We all know why there are either 2 layers (SS on Al or SS on Cu or Sn on Cu) or 3 layers (SS + Al or Cu + SS). Not being a metalurgest, I can speculate at some advantages of SS with layers of Aluminum Alloy sandwiched around an Al core and followed by a magnetic SS layer. The first thing that comes to mind is the ability to laminate the layers or make the composite more malable for forming. I doubt this makes them cook any better or transfer heat better, but it may make manufacturing easier or improve the quality of the composite.

              Although I agree with you, there is a lot of marketing hype, there may be technical aspects of the metalurgy that seem odd to us, that make perfict sence to a metalurgest. Just like there is an obvious reason to coat Cu (reactivity), they may see obvious advantages to multiple plys. This would exclude, however, claims of overall thermal superority.

              1. re: mikie

                Wait-so are you saying the clad thing is hype or it does, indeed, better peform the disc bottom?

                1. re: boobmoose

                  As was stated in a previous post, the performance depends on the task. Where as a clad may be better for a frying pan and a disc better for a stock pot. My point was that aside from cooking performance, there could be a technical metalurgical reason for more than 2 plys. In which the hype on cooking performance could be hogwash, but there could still be a reason it's utilized.

                  1. re: boobmoose

                    This link is a really good reference for understanding cookware:

                    Clad is not hype, but many cookware makers hype it up to get you to buy their cookware, or their more expensive line of cookware.

                    There are 3 main areas where clad (or straight gauge like aluminum or copper/SS) excels:

                    1) A slope sided fry pan where the food may run up the sides. Consider for example cooking a whole mess of bacon or a couple of big pieces of fish that extend up the sides of the frypan. The conductive layer up the sides helps the food cook more evenly to the edge of the pan.

                    2) For reducing a sauce, conductive material up the sides of the pan allows more heat to be put into the pan through the bottom and sides, speeding evaporation.

                    3) Some disk bottom pans have a small disk and as previously noted high heat on a gas burner may cause the flame to get the area just above the disk to be very hot and scorch the food, especially thicker sauces or solids.

                    An area where disk bottom pans can be better is heat capacity. Because the Al in the disk can be made thicker than a clad pan, it can hold a lot of heat, which is an advantage when tossing a big hunk of steak in a pan to sear it. But the clad pan is not too far behind; because it’s thinner its temperature can go back up faster, so for such applications the quality and design of the pan is as important a factor as disk vs. clad construction.

                    For many non-demanding applications like making stock, boiling pasta or vegetables, making a thin sauce, disk bottom pans work just as well and are often lower cost.

                    You mentioned double or triple the price for clad vs. disk bottom, but for that much differential in price the difference is likely to be more than just construction, and the higher priced clad would likely be heavier, stronger, thicker, better quality, have more comfortable handles, etc. If you read enough posts here you will hear over and over that a discerning cook will have a mix of different construction and materials including SS, plain CI, enameled CI, carbon steel, nonstick etc.

                  2. re: mikie

                    mikie: "'s either hogwash or there is some technoligical reason for multiple layers."

                    I think it's more accurately "hogwash AND technological reasons..." IT being what I called claims of synergy. 5- and 7-layer bars don't COOK any better, therefore the hogwash (7 being 4 better than 3, dont'cha know!). But you are right, there are tech reasons having to do with bonding. Many of these processes are proprietary, and rather than negotiate steep license fees--or buying the sheetstock like Mauviel and Borgeat do from Falk--competitors look for ways around patent infringement by sliding in intermediate layers that may help bonding but for sure will keep the patent lawyers away.

                    I'm not sure about the malleability theory. Maybe. Forming multi-layer bonded sheetstock of dissimilar materials sounds HARDER than forming straight-gauge or fewer layers, but you may be right about counterintuitive things making sense to a materials scientist.

                    Metallurgy aside, IMO from a culinary standpoint SS clad exists as a compromise between straight SS and better materials (pretty much every other metal; no plutonium jokes, please). You put a layer--or 5--of a better material in between bad layers, and it makes the overall performance better (read: less bad). What makes a lot of it charlatanism is that the "good" layers are often so very thin as to be jokes.

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      kaleokahu, I couldn't agree with you more. Cookware, as with most things in life is a compromise of desireable properties vs non desireable properties and our efforts to arrive at IT. (not I T) If there was one material that would do everything exceptionally well and cost less than dirt, we would have IT. The quest for IT is endless, in the mean time we line copper with tin, silver, or SS, or we clad SS with layers of copper or aluminum to improve on the undesireable properties while preserving the desireable ones.

                      1. re: mikie

                        mikie: Yes. The things that get to me about this phenomenon of compromise are: (1) From a culinary standpoint, the compromises are generally negative and a retreat from what has previously worked well, in some cases for hundreds of years (a major positive exception being the advent of straight-gauge AL, but that too is on the wane); and (2) Hardworking people are misled by decades of advertising to believe that these compromised pans are better cooking vessels than they are, and they pay extortionate prices for what can be mediocrity. I smile that there are different echelons or class strata of clad; one can feel entitled to buy La Cornue or feel responsible buying Tramontina, but it's still a bit of a false choice.

                        Care and maintenance "conveniences" play a role in this compromise, of course. But IMO we consumers are trained to value convenience ahead of performance. For instance, many people consider tinned copper anathema because they think, inter alia, it must be polished all the time. It doesn't, but it sure looks amazing when you do polish. Because of a special event tonight, I polished 11 pieces (including lids) last night. It took an hour. I probably do that 2-3 times a year, and the polish lasts quite awhile. I spend more time waxing my cars.

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          "But IMO we consumers are trained to value convenience ahead of performance"

                          Why do you think TV dinners (frozen microwaveable) is such a big business. Look at the aisles of them in your local supermarkets.


                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            No kidding, there are more frozen dinner isles in the store than fresh fruit and vegitables.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Chem: Because they're so nutritious, delicious, and bond the family together in a love of cooking good food?

                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                Look what I've been missing out on :-P

                                And think of the cost savings, no need to buy expensive copper cookware or LeCreuset, except for decoration, of course. Just think, a practically non recyclable container combined with about a weeks worth of Na in just one serving, what could bring the family together more than that.

                          2. re: kaleokahu

                            “But you are right, there are tech reasons having to do with bonding. Many of these processes are proprietary, and rather than negotiate steep license fees--or buying the sheetstock like Mauviel and Borgeat do from Falk--competitors look for ways around patent infringement by sliding in intermediate layers that may help bonding but for sure will keep the patent lawyers away.”

                            Kaleokahu, very well said.

                            Copper-Core Patent:

                            The above link is to an All-Clad patent for their Copper-Core cookware. It explains various methods of bonding SS and copper, and why All-Clad chose a 5 ply SS/Al/Cu/Al/SS construction for performance and ease of manufacturing. Yet Falk manages to make SS/Cu cookware apparently protected by patents to the extent that other copper cookware makers buy the sheet material from them. Patents are issued to things that are different, not necessarily better. It makes me wonder if the All-Clad patent is to work around other makers’ patents, or just to be differentiated in the market, or because they want to combine relatively easy care SS inner and outer surfaces with a Cu core for performance.

                            1. re: BruceMcK

                              BruceMcK: Thanks for the link--fascinating reading... Great observation that betterness isn't the province of the Patent Office.

                              The PO DOES reward different-ness and its inbred cousin, narrowness. Very narrow patents are short on protection, but equally long on advertising value.

                              I wish I knew more about the metallurgy. It seems common-sensical to me that if the Falk SS+AL bimetal is protected to them, then a tri-metal (SS+AL+SS) using the same process would also be protected. But maybe THEIR patent is not to the process but the product, or is narrowly drawn.

                              Common sense also tells me that the very, very thin "even number" layers in multi-clad can't be doing much from a performance perspective. I gatther from te patent app. that it's apparently all about bonding and cost of production (with a little aethetic thrown in for different-ness!).

                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                kalekahu: "Common sense also tells me that the very, very thin "even number" layers in multi-clad can't be doing much from a performance perspective."

                                I think that you are correct as to "horizontal" performance (spreading the heat evenly across a wide area), but a very thin layer can have a benefit for "vertical" performance (interfacing). Have you ever fitted a fan/heatsink onto a CPU in a computer? The bottom of the fan/heatsink and the top of the CPU are both flat and polished very smooth, and seem to fit as flush as can be. Still, the heat transfer from the CPU to the heatsink is greatly enhanced by spreading the thinnest possible layer of thermal grease on one of the surfaces. I am quite certain that similar considerations enter into, for instance, Demeyere's use of a very thin layer of silver between the layers of its copper disk bottomed Sirocco and Atlantis lines.

                                1. re: Politeness

                                  Politeness: I'm not sure what you mean by "vertical" performance or interfacing.

                                  No, no experience w/ computer heat dissipation. Is the thermal grease of higher conductivity than the fan/sink and the CPU? If so, it makes total sense to me, as does Demeyer's use of very thin silver layers--adding thin silver layers would be some improvement, even over SS+CU+SS. I am less sure if/how SS+thinAG+CU+thinAG+SS would be an improvement over CU+SS or CU+SN

                                  1. re: kaleokahu


                                    One of the brands of thermal grease used. It's use is two fold. One is to insure heat transfer by continuous contact between the processor and the heat sink throughout the thermal range of the processor regardless of the actual contact that could be achieved with bare items. The second is the powdering of another metal to various degrees that is mixed in a "grease" material to facilitate the transfer of heat. Zinc and silver are most often used. I'm sure a discussion as to why the materials are used can be found somewhere and why other metals were not.

                                    A lot of it has to be considered as trade offs and compromises within the realm of weight vs performance vs durability.

                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                      kaleokahu: "I'm not sure what you mean by 'vertical' performance or interfacing."

                                      It is a term that I made up for the post in question, and thought that I explained by the parenthetical. Think of two sheets of plywood stacked one on top of the other as an analogy to the layers in a clad pan. "Horizontal" would be something relating to the surface area of one or both sheets of parallel to the floor, encompassing a large area, while "vertical" would be the path a screw would take if one were to screw the sheets together: a short, but important, distance of travel.

                                      I think that we agree that a thin layer of aluminum or even copper in a clad construction is not going to make much difference in "horizontal" heat dispersion, but it could have a salutary effect on the "vertical" transmission between two layers.

                                      The interconnect cables in our stereo system are made of copper, sheathed in insulation that keeps oxygen away from the copper, but at the ends, the wires must be exposed to make contact where the wire plugs into the socket. If the copper at that point oxidizes, it does not make a very conductive path for the electrical signal, so it is common practice to coat the tips -- plugs -- of the wires with a thin layer of gold to ease the signal transfer inside the socket. Thermal grease on a CPU heat sink performs the same function for transferring heat from the CPU to the heat sink. Neither the gold plating on an audio wire nor the thermal grease on a heat sink is called upon to transport the electricity (audio) or heat (CPU) a significant distance; the substances are there simply to help the electricity or the heat to cross the very short interface between two separate physical objects that are touching each other but impaired in their ability to transfer.

                                      1. re: Politeness

                                        OK, so "vertical" is perpendicular to the pan's walls or bottom (up through the bottom, and in through the walls.

                                        "...but it could have a salutary effect on the "vertical" transmission between two layers." Sure, but again I think the thickness matters. Adding 2 (or 4) intermediate layers of AL tinfoil isn't going to be any improvement over the same overall thickness of copper. I thought we were just talking about these thin intermediate/bonding layers, not the main core.

                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                          kaleokahu: "Adding 2 (or 4) intermediate layers of AL tinfoil isn't going to be any improvement over the same overall thickness of copper. I thought we were just talking about these thin intermediate/bonding layers, not the main core."

                                          I think you do not understand the concept. Let us return to the computer CPU and the heat sink. The heat sink has only one function: to take the heat from the CPU and dissipate it. It is designed to fit as tightly to the top of the CPU as is physically possible; to that end, it is machined very flat and very smooth. The CPU, for its part, would fry itself by its own internal heat, so the CPU manufacturer, Intel or AMD or whomever, machine it as flat as possible and as smooth as possible so that a heat sink can make very intimate contact with it across its entire surface.

                                          Even so, the contact between heat sink and CPU can be improved; it is improved with thermal grease. The thermal grease is inserted between the impossibly flat and impossibly smooth CPU and the impossibly flat and impossibly smooth heat sink to make the intimate contact between them even more intimate. Intimate on a molecular level.

                                          The very thin silver layer in the disk base of a Demeyere Atlantis or Sirocco pot is not, I suspect, a layer of silver foil; and I suspect it was not put there to provide heat dispersion across the base of the pot. The silver layer is too thin for that. Rather it probably is painted onto the copper layer or the stainless layer to provide the same kind of molecular level transfer of heat between dissimilar materials that thermal grease facilitates between a CPU and a heat sink.

                                          If my assumption is correct, the "extra" layers in a 5-ply or 7-ply or whatever-ply pot are not there to spread heat around the large surface of the pot, but instead are there to act as catalysts for the transmission "vertically" (my term) between the metal layers of the pot.

                                          1. re: Politeness

                                            A CPU generates a lot of heat that must be taken away or else the computer chip will fry itself. Thus CPUs have a flat piece of metal--a "heatspreader"--that is then covered up with another flat piece of metal--a "heatsink." The reason why manufacturers use a thin layer of thermal paste is because of microscopic air bubbles between those two layers of metal. No matter how well machined, those two layers will not be perfectly smooth at the molecular level. Thermal paste is a HORRIBLE thermal conductor compared to most metal, but it's MUCH better than air. So that's why people use paste.

                                            Cookware may be different, because unlike swapping CPUs or heatsinks, nobody can "upgrade" their cookware by swapping one material for another. The temperatures and machinery needed are way too much for that. Thus with cookware you can simply fill in the gap with something better than thermal paste, like solder, because you don't need to make things upgradeable. (You see something similar inside of the CPU, where the silicon chip is soldered to the heatspreader, because nobody upgrades just a heatspreader so it is not necessary to make the heatspreader removable. You only need paste if you are trying to make things modular.)

                                            I'm not a metallurgist, but it's possible what you say is true, that a thin layer of Ag may fill in microscopic gaps that would otherwise lead to air bubbles, and then you fuse that Ag to something else in a multi-step process.

                                            It's also possible that there are other reasons, like patents. Falk owns the patent for bonding copper to stainless steel in sheetstock, though apparently not in pressure bonding or other methods. So if you wanted to make a SS-Cu or SS-Cu-SS sandwich, you'd presumably have to go through Falk. But if you made a SS-Ag-Cu-Ag-SS sandwich, or SS-Al-Cu-Al-SS sandwich like in All-Clad Copper Core, that may be a way to circumvent the Falk patent.

                                            Whatever the case, I agree that the layers are probably not there for heatspreading reasons, but rather some other reason. Maybe not even a technical reason, but just marketing!

                                      2. re: kaleokahu

                                        Here, Demeyere says that the silver layer helps "connect" the copper with the surround layers, from 3:01. So is this a point about temperature ala the thermal grease point. OR is it a point about metallurgy?

                                        Note too that he addresses bringing up thicker layers up the sidewalls starting at 2:14, saying that that would make the cookware into radiators. Which is the issue of debate in various places here.

                            2. re: kaleokahu

                              kaleokahu said: "Why pay...tripple the price...?" Good question--most fully clad isn't any better than straight aluminum, and you've probably noticed how cheap AL is, right? "

                              I am not sure the poster was recommending aluminum cookware but personally, I do not want to put anything I eat on an aluminum surface. There is to much research coming out about potential health issues related to aluminum. I don't think it is conclusive yet but why take the chance. Stainless of cast iron for me.

                              1. re: InspectorJon

                                InspectorJon: You are right, the OP wasn't recommending AL, but was asking about the performance differences between disk-bottom and fully clad. My point was that both are a step down, performance wise, from straight AL, and therefore not worth the price.

                                People have different ideas about the health aspects of cookware materials. I'm a deep skeptic when it comes to the safety of PTFE, but far less so about AL. The problem with avoiding foods cooked in AL 'ware is that, if you check, there won't be very many restaurants left on your list that eschew AL.

                            3. boobmoose, as others have suggested, your apparently simple question actually resolves into several questions.

                              First, as to clad, it is only as good as (if that) its inner conductive layers. Most clad pots have thick sides, most of which comprise the two outer stainless (and therefore poorly conductive) layers, with a layer of aluminum foil in between. Put a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil on your burner and grab the edge of the aluminum foil say, 3" outside the radius of the burner. Do you burn your fingers? Not likely: the heat is lost in transmission. You will note that on disk bottom pots of reputable manufacturers the aluminum bottom disks are 5mm to 7mm thick. Do you ever see that kind of thickness up the sides of a clad pot? Never. Also, aluminum disks at the bottom are always considerably thicker than the copper disks from the same maker, because copper conducts heat so much better than aluminum and therefore needs not be as thick. But the aluminum middle layer in most clad pans is much thinner than -- only a fraction of the thickness of -- the copper layer in the disk bottom of copper disk bottom pans. In your heart of hearts, can you bring yourself to believe that the thin aluminum layer throughout the sides of a clad pan is up to the task of performing serious chores in the sidewalls of the pan?

                              Second, whenever you are cooking anything in a pot that comprises liquid thin enough to support convection currents within the liquid, by far the most efficient method to get heat from the cooktop to the top of the pot is convection inside the pot. In that kid of cooking, conduction up the outside of the pot never gets out of the starting blocks for conveying heat to the top of the liquid inside of the pot. And the heat that IS conducted up the sides of the pot has been stolen from the bottom of the pot where it otherwise could have gone to heating up the liquid inside the pot more quickly.

                              Third, when convection inside of a pot is doing its job to make the contents of the pot heat up, then a conductive sidewall's main function is to steal heat out of the liquid -- which is warmer than the air outside of the pot -- and to convey that heat to the outside of the pot (as in a classic steam heat radiator) to warm the room. You would be better off with a fully insulating sidewall, in such instances, to keep the heat inside the pot where it can do some cooking.

                              Clad cookware is better in some instances, as other have noted. Mainly, clad is useful for frying or sauteing where the experienced cook can make good use of the drop off of heat up the sloped or curved sides of the pan farther from the heat source to move already cooked portions away from the main source of heat and to move undercooked portions from the sides toward the center, where the clad pan's interior surface will be hotter. In that regard, the clad pan gives the cook one more dimension of control. That is why responsible makers like Demeyere use clad construction for their sauteuses and disk construction for their vertical-walled saucepans and stockpots.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Politeness

                                Politeness: Agree totally as to your first paragraph. Very well written, too.

                                As to the rest, we've been down this road before. Therefore, I don't mean to debate you fully, but instead to express my disageement for the OP's benefit and consideration.

                                As to your second paragraph, while convection currents within the cooked liquid may be the most preponderant component of heating, they are not the ONLY one. In a full saucepan (your casserole) of good conductivity, the sidewalls do convey meaningful heat (and contribute their own convection currents) to the top surface. In such a pan, the longer distance is often top to bottom, except at the very "core" of the center-top (In some fine old tall saucepans, it is the shorter distance, period). And what you call heat "stolen" from the bottom by the walls, I call heat "evened" from the bottom and wrapped around the contents.

                                Your third point is true yet short of the whole story. If the pan's walls are hotter than the contents AND the surrounding air, they will continue to heat BOTH to varying degrees. As you observe, since aqueous liquid is such a greater conductor, convector and reservoir of heat than is air, it is misleading to suggest that all the heat in a conductive pan's sidewall is only heating the room.

                                As to your fourth paragraph, it appears to me an instance of making a purse of a sow's ear. A 15-inch cast iron skillet on a 6-inch hob would also give "the experienced cook" a cool place to rest cooked morsels while undercooked ones can be brought up by being moved "where the clad pan's interior surface will be hotter", i.e., onto a hot spot. If you had even heat to start with, this musical food wouldn't be necessary.

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  Well said, Kaleo. While Politeness is certainly just that, I disagree on many of the stated points and their reasoning.

                                  1. re: mateo21

                                    mateo21: "I disagree ..."

                                    There are disagreements of opinion and there are disagreements of fact. The former are a matter of degustibus; the latter are verifiable. Two people may disagree whether the inclusion of merlot spoils a cuvée of a blended red wine, and there is no way that one of them can say that the other is wrong. (Not that that would stop _me_.) Two people may disagree whether spiders have the same number of legs as ants do, and only one of them can be correct (they _both_ could be wrong if the person who says that ants and spiders have different numbers of legs says that ants have eight lens and spiders have six legs).

                                    Now, lets take a saucepan that is about six inches in diameter and about 5 inches tall with straight vertical sides. (_I_ call that a "saucepan" and the French call it a casserole; kaleokahu calls any pan in which one makes sauces a "saucepan," even if the pan is what the French call a sauteuse; kaleokahu's point is an excellent one, but it complicates discussions.) Assume that this saucepan is sitting on a burner about six inches across and has a non-viscous liquid in it.

                                    The external heat from any conductive energy source will be applied only at the base. If the clad pan is going to convey any heat up the sides, the heat must be conducted through the metal. We all agree (I think), that very little useful heat will be conveyed by the stainless steel cladding that comprises both the interior surface and the external surface of the sidewalls of a clad pot, because stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat. So the burden falls on that thin layer of aluminum in the middle of the cladding to perform the chore. But -- remember the heavy duty aluminum foil example of my earlier post -- where the layer of aluminum is thin, there are not insignificant transmission losses. Why would a thin layer of aluminum do any better conveying heat vertically up the sidewall of a pot than it does horizontally when you lay a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil on a small burner?

                                    Oh, and what happens to the heat that _does_ get conducted up the sidewalls of the pot? The middle aluminum layer does not "see" water on one side and air on the other; its interface is with stainless steel on both sides. Typically, the liquid inside the pot, already being heated by convection from below, will have heated up the stainless steel layer of the sidewall on the inside of the pot, while the stainless steel layer on the outside of the pot, facing the much cooler room air, will be cooler than the stainless steel layer on the inside of the pot. There will be a greater temperature differential between the aluminum layer in the middle of the clad sidewall and the outer layer of stainless steel than the temperature differential between the aluminum middle layer of the sidewall and the layer of stainless steel toward the inside of the pot. If the heat in the aluminum layer, insulated by the stainless steel on either side, flows across an aluminum-to-stainless steel interface, it will flow preferentially toward the interface that has the greater temperature differential, that is, toward the room air.

                                  2. re: kaleokahu


                                    My gut tells me you are right on the points about the second and third paras.. Which interestingly makes the Demeyere philosophy on sauté pans (and others where they don't bring the cladding up) wrong. They take great pride is fashioning cookware to purpose, but if I'm sautéing, why not have the side walls as hot as possible? I see your logic, but not their's - unless their real issue is cost. They could keep copper on the bottom, then run thick aluminum up the sides, for best of all worlds. Why would I want my food hitting cooler surfaces on the sides as I move it around?

                                    One counterargument might be that even a thick side will only bring heat up only so high. But even then, one would want to insulate the higher parts of the side walls to keep the heat in. Where is any discussion of how high the burner heat may go w/any given material, or of intentionally insulating?

                                    As to the fourth para points, you made me think of grilling/bbq. It is often very helpful to have a hot side and a warmer side. You can do a searing, then go low and slow for the cooking, which might be a fun way to think of a super large skillet on a small hob. Or, a cook might not be using uniformly sized pieces, so an even cooking surface would result in uneven results....

                                    1. re: danlind3

                                      Here's some interesting insight on all this:

                                      " Demeyere matches function to construction method. For instance, the frying pans and conical saucepans are clad because they are designed to reduce moisture and use the entire surface of the pan to cook the food. The saute pans, casseroles and straight sided saucepans are made with a copper disk bottom, because these are intended to have extremely even heat and preserve moisture."

                                      If true, this means that the thin straight sides do indeed act to cool, and that a thicker side does indeed carry heat up and will help heat the interior.

                                      But.... this also means that one wants to kep in moisture when sautéing. Sure I use a sauté pan for many things, but if the function is sauté, then I want to brown and sear things. Which means less moisture. So if this is true, Demeyere or others should offer cladded AND uncladded sauté pans, because that would be true to the mission of design following function. And as sauté pans can be used to braise or sear, that would dictate two designs... Thoughts anyone?

                                2. Long and short, really THINK about how you cook. For most people, even, dare I say, most chowhounds, paying a premium is a waste of money. Proper technique and quality ingredients will trump fancy equipment every time.

                                  Really need uber-even heat up the sides? Double-boilers are old-school, slow and sort of a pain, but work well for the couple of times you are actually doing a delicate sauce or a candy where it's critical. The only reason the pros do stuff like that on direct heat is they have to crank out in quantity -- you can take your time.

                                  1. I have two items of AC. One is a small frypan, and the other is a saucier. They both better than the revereware mom had but in the performance area they both fall way short of steel for high temp or heavy tin-lined copper for most other stove top tasks. They heat ok and cool ok. As long as they are on the right hob all is well if tended. They are way to clean because you can attack with Brillo. So they are used for things that are either messy, like frying a hot dog, or easy, like boiling rice. They have not been called up for serious cooking since the time my two favorite saucepans were at Atlantic for half a year. As regards disc bottoms, I guess that is what my generic WS stockpot is. It works well. No complaints. It holds well at a "smile" on low flame.