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Le Creuset... Am I paying for the name?

cookingal01 Feb 6, 2011 06:32 PM

Hello everyone,

To throw it out there I'm completely new to enameled cast iron, never owned one, no experience with them or brands, just want to be informed :) So today I went to my local Sur La Table with full intentions to walk out with the highly regarded Le Creuset Fennel Wide Oval French Oven, 3½ qt. for 129 bucks. I spent all last night reading forums and everyone seemed to agree that it would last a lifetime, was great, made in France great quality, etc etc.. While staring at them in the store and seeing the other brands, particularly the Sur La Table brand had a 8 qt oval French Oven for $109.00, it occurred to me that no one exactly stated "why" Le Creuset is the best. Is it the best cause its made in France compared to almost all the others including Lodge are made in China? And if thats the reason is French iron better then China iron? Is it because Le Creuset has been around the longest therefore other brands haven't had the time to gain years of ownership reviews? I'm just kinda confused on what exactly makes Le Creuset last decades longer then other brands. Does anyone have any experience with the Sur La Table brand or Lodge compared to Le Crueset that offer some insight? I love the idea of being able to pass this down to my daughter, and I'm a full believer of buy cheap buy twice, if Le Creuset is the clear winner Im not arguing and Ill be next in line to get one, if its Lodge ill be there too! If the Sur La Table brand is just as good then I'm all for saving money :) Here is 3 links to the 3 in debate, and ty for any help it is very much appreciated!! I'm all ears!




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  1. Chemicalkinetics RE: cookingal01 Feb 6, 2011 06:39 PM

    "everyone seemed to agree that it would last a lifetime, "

    I don't think that true. Most people would say that Le Creuset has good warranty. There are many posts about Le Creuset customers have broken Dutch Ovens and that they are able to exchange new ones for free or at a discount price. If anything these stories show Le Creuset cookware do not last a lifetime.

    "the reason is French iron better then China iron"

    It is definitely not the iron. If anything, the argument for Le Creuset is the enameled surface.

    "I'm a full believer of buy cheap buy twice"

    Except the Lodge Color cookware are sold at 1/4th of those of Le Creuset.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
      cookingal01 RE: Chemicalkinetics Feb 6, 2011 06:50 PM

      I think all 3 are enameled though right? And as far as lodge being 1/4 of the cost if it is of equal value in craftsmanship or close to equal I would gladly buy that instead that's what has me so confused on why Le Creuset is so much more then the others, what makes it so much more, the name? Am I paying for the Armani of cookware?

      1. re: cookingal01
        Chemicalkinetics RE: cookingal01 Feb 6, 2011 07:11 PM

        Yes, all three you showed are enameled cast iron. Let me argue for both sides.

        For Lodge/Tramontina/Chefmate:
        Lodge Color (enameled) is considered a very good product at a much lower price point. Lodge Color, Tramontina, and Chefmate are the three enameled cast iron cookware recommended by America's Test Kitchen


        I am also sure you have read the great reviews of Lodge Color on Amazon.

        For Le Creuset:
        Le Creuset enameled layers are (supposively) more chip resistant, and Le Creuset has a better return policy when the cookware is broken. (it appears people were able to get a free exchange for a broken Le Creuset, now the they are able to get one at a reduced price) So you are paying more now, but you may be paying less in the long run.

    2. srsone RE: cookingal01 Feb 6, 2011 06:44 PM

      lodge is not made in china.......and is over 100 years old and made in tennesee
      le creuset has been around since 1925
      and i dont know how old staub is...
      and yes u do pay for some of the name...le creuset and staub..for instance..
      but u are also paying for quality..like u said ..if taken care of correctly --your kids and possibly grandkids can use them...
      does that justify 129$ for the pan?

      12 Replies
      1. re: srsone
        Chemicalkinetics RE: srsone Feb 6, 2011 06:45 PM

        The Lodge enameled cast iron cookware are made in China.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
          srsone RE: Chemicalkinetics Feb 6, 2011 06:50 PM

          i did not know that...

          1. re: srsone
            Chemicalkinetics RE: srsone Feb 6, 2011 07:03 PM



            Nonetheless, the Lodge Color (enameled) cast iron is considered a very good product.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
              cookingal01 RE: Chemicalkinetics Feb 6, 2011 07:13 PM

              Thanks Chem for your help so far, it is appreciated, I think I will look into the Lodge a little more. Thank you!

              1. re: cookingal01
                Chemicalkinetics RE: cookingal01 Feb 6, 2011 07:14 PM

                I post a for-and-against argument up above.

                1. re: cookingal01
                  905gasguy RE: cookingal01 Feb 8, 2011 09:30 AM

                  I have purchased a kitchen aid enameled cast dutch oven for a fraction of LC and it works very well

                2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  srsone RE: Chemicalkinetics Feb 6, 2011 07:41 PM

                  hmm..do they just assemble it in china?
                  or is it completely from china?
                  i have lodge regular cast iron...
                  and one le creuset 3.5 qt..(i got it at tuesday morning for 99$)

                  1. re: srsone
                    Chemicalkinetics RE: srsone Feb 6, 2011 07:48 PM

                    For the Lodge Color enameled cast iron coowkare:

                    The cast iron is made in China, the porcelain material is made in France and the final application is in China. I read that a long time ago, so I don't have all the sources right now, but here is something:

                    "chip-resistant, enamel, imported from France"


                    1. re: srsone
                      jayt90 RE: srsone Feb 7, 2011 03:36 PM

                      Chinese factories have been making cast iron for hundreds of years, possibly longer than LC or Staub, and definitely longer than Lodge in Tennessee.

                      The quality question revolves around the enamel coating. I have had LC for 40 years, and they have chipped or discolored, or become spidery.
                      I have had 2 Staubs for for 5 years, and one piece broke when it fell. No warranty there.
                      I have had Batali and Kirkland for 5 years, and both are excellent, and fully warranted against breakage or spiders or discoloration by the seller.

                      1. re: jayt90
                        mikie RE: jayt90 Feb 8, 2011 05:18 AM

                        "Chinese factories have been making cast iron for hundreds of years, possibly longer than LC or Staub, and definitely longer than Lodge in Tennessee."

                        The first china came from China as well, but that doesn't mean that the china coming out of China today is the same quality as what was produced 400 years ago. Its doesn't mean that if today you wanted the best china you would buy made in China, that's for the mass market. They may still be able to make Ming quality, but that's not what's being sold in stores today.

                        The same is true of cast iron, just becaue they cast iron first or sooner, doesn't mean they have developed the best technology over the years. Although I have more first hand knowledge in areas of cast iron not related to cookware, China had and still has to some extent, a lot of quality issues with cast iron. As American companies have moved production to China, they have brought some technology with them and that has made a lot of improvement, but the quality is still not there yet.

                        Manufacturing in China is all about economics, not about quality, as long as people will sacrifice quality for cost, the made in China model works. Once you hold those products to the same quality standards as those made in the US or EU, the economics start to crumble.

                        1. re: mikie
                          kaleokahu RE: mikie Feb 8, 2011 11:25 AM

                          mikie: Your points about the inventing country not necessarily being the standard-bearer of the state of the art are well taken.

                          "Manufacturing in China is all about economics, not about quality, as long as people will sacrifice quality for cost, the made in China model works. Once you hold those products to the same quality standards as those made in the US or EU, the economics start to crumble."

                          Agree with the first sentence. I'd like to agree with the second, too, but I can't. The technologies of "high standard" EU and US CI are old, and easily duplicated. They are **manufacturing** technologies, after all, and we don't do much of that anymore. The latest-generation Chinese CI stuff is like a Nissan compared to their older "Datsun". They're getting better all the time, and they're going to figure out the last few tricks to better quality. They keep their currency value 'way low, pay their workers dirt, and seduce our corporations with low labor costs and lassez-faire regulation.

                          Now, if they were held to the same wage, environmental and safety standards with a properly-valued currency, THEN the model is is finished.

                          1. re: kaleokahu
                            Chemicalkinetics RE: kaleokahu Feb 8, 2011 11:51 AM

                            "Now, if they were held to the same wage, environmental and safety standards with a properly-valued currency, THEN the model is is finished."

                            Of course, a poorer country will have a lower wage. Look at India, my company outsources to India. Indian's wages are not exactly higher than Chinese wages. If these conumer products are not made in China, they will be made in Indian, if not India, then Brazil, if not Brazil,.... The point is that these products/jobs are outsourced for good. As for environmental standards, that is the same for poorer countries too. China, India, Brazil... As for properly valued currency, well, I think our country lost some credibilities in the recent move to print a $600 billions to pay our debt while inflating the currency.

            2. c oliver RE: cookingal01 Feb 6, 2011 07:00 PM

              I'm going to let others address your main question but I'd like to suggest that 3-1/2 quart is awfully small. There's just the two of us but I wouldn't want that size.

              3 Replies
              1. re: c oliver
                cookingal01 RE: c oliver Feb 6, 2011 07:11 PM

                Yes I do agree hehe, but if the quality surpasses the others I am willing to let others starve.. Lol just kidding :) just thought I'd throw in some humor hehe.

                1. re: c oliver
                  KansasKate RE: c oliver Feb 7, 2011 10:17 AM

                  We use a 2.75 Qt Staub cocotte all the time. It's perfect for just the two of us. YMMV.

                  1. re: KansasKate
                    hobbybaker RE: KansasKate Feb 7, 2011 01:54 PM

                    I am with you Kate. The size highly depends on what you want to cook and how you use it.

                    I use my 2.0qt Le Creuset all the time for grains, rice, vegis, and a small amount of soup for two. It is almost used everyday. more than the larger 6.75 qt which is used twice weekly basis. I know I can use my 2.0qt SS All-Clad saucepan for those, but it is not what I reach out. DO makes difference .

                2. tim irvine RE: cookingal01 Feb 6, 2011 07:10 PM

                  I got an LC that is oval... Looks like about 6 qts . Yes, whoever got it for me paid for the name but I love the pan and will never wonder or wish for something else. It is in "flame" btw

                  1. kaleokahu RE: cookingal01 Feb 6, 2011 07:16 PM

                    cookingal01: IMO, yes, you would be paying for the LC name. And the guarantee. And the trendy/matching colors. And the wide product range.

                    Here are some other "reasons" most frequently given in threads here on CH to justify paying 3-5x more for LC or Staub, and my opinion whether each makes a difference in performance or longevity:

                    1. The enamel -- There seems to be a strong feeling here that the enamels of LC and Staub resist chipping better than Chinese-made, but both chip, and both cook just fine. There are a few alarmists who believe the Chinese enamels are somehow unhealthy, but I have seen nothing resembling proof.

                    2. The weight -- Some say the LC and Staub are thinner, and therefore weigh less and come to temperature in the oven faster. But thinner CI hotspots worse than thicker. There is really little consensus on how much this matters.

                    3. The fit and finish. Some say the lid/pan tolerances are tighter/closer on LC than Chinese, but I can tell no real difference. Also little consensus. No performance issue.

                    4. The knobs. Some say the Chinese CI comes with knobs that melt at lower temperatures. LC knobs melt, too, and if you plant to put them in ovens over 400F, you should replace the knobs with SS anyway (@ $10 each).

                    Of course, you may prefer not to support companies who ship jobs to China or further unbalance US trade, but those really have nothing to do with performance or value. Likewise, you might find more satisfaction from passing on a pan from a company with a long history, rather than a jobbed pan that might never be seen again after. Again, not performance issues.

                    In the not-so-distant past, like maybe 30 years ago, ECI was a much more special thing. As such it was often collectible, and held value. Since that time, it has been mass marketed, and so the values of new ECI are generally not what they once were, i.e., heirloom.

                    Depending on what you're cooking on now, you are likely to be very pleased with the oven performance of either LC or Chinese-made.

                    28 Replies
                    1. re: kaleokahu
                      Chemicalkinetics RE: kaleokahu Feb 6, 2011 07:20 PM

                      The best argument for LC is the warranty really.in my opinion.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        kaleokahu RE: Chemicalkinetics Feb 6, 2011 07:30 PM

                        Chem: It--the warranty--may be the only thing that saves LC. That and perhaps variety.

                        1. re: kaleokahu
                          hobbybaker RE: kaleokahu Feb 7, 2011 05:26 AM

                          So what happend to the warranty on your LC disscussed in other thread ? I am curious. Please keep us posted on your experience.

                          1. re: kaleokahu
                            Chemicalkinetics RE: kaleokahu Feb 7, 2011 06:01 AM

                            It is odd. I read all these wonderful stories about LC lasts for 50+ years, and then I also read stories like "OMG, my LC enamel has cracked within a month!"

                            kaelokahu. I wonder if you are just too rough with your cookware. :P

                        2. re: kaleokahu
                          cookingal01 RE: kaleokahu Feb 6, 2011 07:23 PM

                          Very informative thanks!

                          1. re: kaleokahu
                            hobbybaker RE: kaleokahu Feb 7, 2011 04:48 AM

                            I don't know anything about Lodge but LC is lighter than other knockoffs and Staub. Any less single lb matters when I put into/out from the oven for cooking as I am a small and weak person. LC is easier to work with especially when the pot is big as 6.75 qt or so.

                            EDIT: I don't have any hot spots problem with my LC. How do you know Staub has ? or other knock-offs don't?

                            1. re: hobbybaker
                              KansasKate RE: hobbybaker Feb 7, 2011 10:39 AM

                              We have a few pieces of Staub: 2 cocottes, a braiser, a fry pan and a grill pan. Haven't noticed any hot spots or other problems. In fact we love. The semi-nonstick interior is easy to clean and seems to become more nonstick with use.

                              1. re: KansasKate
                                hobbybaker RE: KansasKate Feb 7, 2011 01:43 PM

                                Thank you Kate. That is what I thought with Staub because Staub is heavier than LC.

                                I disagree with Kaleo and I think neither LC or Staub has hot spots problems.

                                I am interested in buying a small staub if I see a good price :) Hopefully dark green (basil) or light green (pesto).

                            2. re: kaleokahu
                              mikie RE: kaleokahu Feb 7, 2011 05:10 AM

                              "LC knobs melt, too,"

                              Actually, according to the Le Creuset web page, their knobs are phenolic plastic. Phinolic, or as some oldtimers may know it Bakelite, is a thermosetting plastic and therefore will not melt. It will however experience thermal shock and degredation and can blister and crack if exposed to temperatures above about 350°F. That preheated oven thing (thermal shock) really gets it.

                              Just trying to keep all the facts technically correct.

                              1. re: mikie
                                kaleokahu RE: mikie Feb 7, 2011 08:53 AM

                                mikie: I stand corrected on melt-vs-blister&crack. This may come as a shock to those who think I slam LC at every turn, but I have actually never had any problem with the phenolic knobs on my LC. But I don't put them in the oven at 400+, either.

                                Speaking of which, mikie, if it's the thermal shock that does the damage, would the knobs do better if you preheated your lid along with your oven?

                                1. re: kaleokahu
                                  escondido123 RE: kaleokahu Feb 7, 2011 09:03 AM

                                  We put the LC lids into 500 degree ovens on a regular basis and have had no problem with the knobs.

                                  1. re: escondido123
                                    foreverhungry RE: escondido123 Feb 7, 2011 09:15 AM

                                    I cover my knob (!?!) with a double layer of aluminum foil when baking the no-knead bread recipe, and it works fine, no knob issue. One time I had the pot in the oven (for a reason that escapes me) and turned up the oven to pre-heat at 500. Knob was uncovered. Stank up the house for a couple hours. But the knob itself wasn't much worse for wear - a little shiny on one side, but that's it.

                                    1. re: foreverhungry
                                      escondido123 RE: foreverhungry Feb 7, 2011 10:13 AM

                                      I think whatever coating there was on mine burned off years ago so no smell or problem of any kind. Do you really think the foil makes a difference?

                                      1. re: escondido123
                                        grnidkjun RE: escondido123 Feb 7, 2011 10:46 AM

                                        I've wondered about that .. seems the tin foil would amplify the heat to me. but I'm sure there is a scientific explanation around here about tin dispersing the heat or something.

                                        1. re: grnidkjun
                                          Chemicalkinetics RE: grnidkjun Feb 7, 2011 11:18 AM

                                          The foil does not change its final equilibration temperature, but it changes the time it takes to get to the final temperature. The foil (being a good reflector) slows down the heat exchange.

                                          The aluminum foil basically is a heat reflector. If the outside is hotter, it keeps the object cooler. If the outside is colder, it keeps the object wamer.

                                      2. re: foreverhungry
                                        mikie RE: foreverhungry Feb 7, 2011 10:49 AM

                                        I'll try to answer several of the above questions here.

                                        First kaleokahu, yes it would help some to not have the thermal shock, but you would still get thermal degradation. Thermal shock is one of the tests required by the metal cookware association for pot and pan handles and knobs. The continous use temperature for phenolic accoringing to Underwriters Laboratories is only about 300°F, but your DO knobs will not see that many hours at that temperature in your lifetime.

                                        escondido123, my spouse has put pots and pans with phenolic handles in the oven at higher than 350°F and I've replaced just about all of them. If you haven't had a problem, you've been darn lucky. Search the net and you'll find 350°F-375°F as the maximum recomended by cookware manufactures including LC. Just an example: http://www.worldkitchen.com/faqPrinte...

                                        foreverhungry, the smell is amonia, it's a byproduct of the catalyst that crosslinks phenolic and it's the first sign of thermal degredation. Even though the knob may not have looked physically deformed, there is internal damage to the polymer structure that weakens the part. The Underwriters Laboratories thermal rating I mentoned above tests the mechanical strength after thermal ageing and looks for the point of 50% strength retention, so the knob is becoming more fragle every time it's exposed to those kinds of temperatures even if you don't see blistering.

                                        Lastly, odly enough, covering with foil does make some difference.

                                        1. re: mikie
                                          escondido123 RE: mikie Feb 7, 2011 11:45 AM

                                          Mikie, we've been putting them into a 500 oven for at least 20 years with no problems...are we that lucky?

                                      3. re: escondido123
                                        sedimental RE: escondido123 Feb 7, 2011 11:56 AM

                                        I am curious about that issue too. I typically use the dutch ovens for "low and slow" braise. But, I routinely bake the "no knead bread" in them at 450. At least several times per month (maybe 3 or 4 times). I have no problems, so it's just "luck"?

                                        I might be wrong, but I thought my LC book said don't bake over 500.

                                        1. re: sedimental
                                          escondido123 RE: sedimental Feb 7, 2011 12:06 PM

                                          The website says 375 for phenolic handles--ours are definitely not cast iron. 500 periodically, 450 every few days for that no knead bread.

                                          1. re: escondido123
                                            cutipie721 RE: escondido123 Feb 7, 2011 12:16 PM

                                            They started installing plastic knobs on DOs since more than 20 years ago? I thought it was a more recent thing, like within the past several years. Wow...

                                            1. re: cutipie721
                                              sedimental RE: cutipie721 Feb 7, 2011 12:24 PM

                                              Mine are really old (20 to 30 years old I think). The knobs are black and "plastic y".
                                              I never thought about putting them in an oven over 500 degrees. I can't see why I would need to? I will have to check to see what they are made out of.

                                              1. re: sedimental
                                                cutipie721 RE: sedimental Feb 7, 2011 12:30 PM

                                                Wow I just did a simple Google search. The mystery continues.

                                                "Yes, my cover has a thick plastic knob – but I did call Le Creuset’s customer service and they said while their literature says safe to 400F, it is still fine at 450F."

                                                If only LC can decide whether it is 350F or 450F!!!

                                            2. re: escondido123
                                              mikie RE: escondido123 Feb 7, 2011 12:35 PM

                                              I did technical service work for two different phenolic manufactures for a period of 17 years. We sold to every pot and pan manufacturer in the US back when they were all made here. Revere, West Bend, Rival, Farberware, I can't remember all the companies. Before they could use a product we had to test it for thermal shock and I don't remember the exact temperature but it may have been 375, I know it was below 400 °F. The only thing I can think of is that the cast iron pulls so much heat that it takes longer for the the knob on the top of LC to get hot, so it doesn't see the thermal shock, but there is still thermal decomposition, but that could go unnoticed given the texture of the LC knob. Smoth shiney knobs get dull after a few hours at those temperatures.

                                              If there wasn't a potential problem at these temperatures I'm sure LC and other cookware manufacturers that use phenolic knobs wouldn't list maximum temperatures of 350 to 375 °F. So, yes, I guess you are that lucky.

                                              1. re: mikie
                                                kaleokahu RE: mikie Feb 7, 2011 12:40 PM

                                                mikie: Is it possible LC changed the phenolic some time ago? Mine are old and haven't been degraded.

                                                1. re: kaleokahu
                                                  mikie RE: kaleokahu Feb 7, 2011 01:45 PM

                                                  I'm just going by what's on their web site. They claim the new knobs on the WS Signature is more heat resistant, but I don't know what plastic that is. It could still be phenolic and they have just upped the rating. Or they could have switched materials, the plastic I work with now has a melting point of about 545°F, but is much more expensive than any phenolic.

                                                  One other possibility that hadn't occured to me is that perhaps at $235 a pop, unlike the $35 a pop for the brands I did tech service for, perhaps they are using a more expensive and therefore more heat resistant phenolic. There are grades that hold up better than others, but usually, because of cost, a general purpose mineral filled phenolic is chosen for knobs. If they are using a more expensive and more heat resistant grade, that would likely be another reason why they would be prefered over a less expensive made in China DO with a plastic knob.

                                                  I should take a picture of my wife's InKor handles I took off and replaced several years ago. They are phenolic, I sold to those guys, and they did not hold up well in the oven. That's what used to go in the oven for pot roast, before we bought the enameled cast iron.

                                                  1. re: kaleokahu
                                                    sedimental RE: kaleokahu Feb 7, 2011 08:13 PM

                                                    I dunno. But mine are old and are holding up perfectly -even at routine 450 degrees. They might be different material. I would hate to tell others that- then have them try it and ruin them. Yikes.

                                      4. re: kaleokahu
                                        BiscuitBoy RE: kaleokahu Feb 7, 2011 10:29 AM

                                        Is there a source for stylish knobs? I wouldn't mind treating my enameled ci to something nicer

                                        1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                          Chemicalkinetics RE: BiscuitBoy Feb 7, 2011 10:36 AM

                                          Pick a fancy draw knob from a furniture stores.

                                      5. e
                                        escondido123 RE: cookingal01 Feb 6, 2011 07:18 PM

                                        I sold LC for two years. Of course you are paying more for the name and people posting here tend to support that idea that they are the best. Whether that is true is another story, but I think how much you spend on a Dutch Oven or other large pot should be related to what you can afford to spend. There is no magic in LC, it's well made and has a good warranty, but it won't make you a better cook. We did not sell Lodge so don't know how it compares.

                                        1. c
                                          cutipie721 RE: cookingal01 Feb 6, 2011 07:19 PM

                                          First off, LC is not the only one who makes enameled cast iron cookware from France. Staub is another French brand, and is slightly less expensive. Fontignac (available at Bed Bath and Beyond) for way less - 6.5qt for $140 before coupons.

                                          Second, if you want to get similar characteristics, cast iron is not the only option. Check out Emile Henry's flame top line made of clay. They are much lighter than cast iron.

                                          Finally, depending on what you cook most, maybe you don't even need to get enameled cast iron at all. Bare cast iron may work just as well for you, and lodge is a fine choice.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: cutipie721
                                            Chemicalkinetics RE: cutipie721 Feb 6, 2011 07:21 PM

                                            "Finally, depending on what you cook most, maybe you don't even need to get enameled cast iron at all. "

                                            Good point.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                              c oliver RE: Chemicalkinetics Feb 6, 2011 07:44 PM

                                              I honestly use my enameled LC and Staub and Lodge interchangeably. The choice is based upon size.

                                            2. re: cutipie721
                                              cookingal01 RE: cutipie721 Feb 6, 2011 07:38 PM

                                              Would be used for stews, pot roasts, chicken, I think i swayed to the enameled version because i read it handle acidic foods better like tomato based soups and stuff. But i simply read that off a review come to think of it, would that be correct that is handles better or could i go with a non-enameled? Thanks!

                                              1. re: cookingal01
                                                kaleokahu RE: cookingal01 Feb 6, 2011 08:00 PM

                                                If you're debating enameled vs. barenaked CI, you might want to read this: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/762906

                                                1. re: kaleokahu
                                                  cookingal01 RE: kaleokahu Feb 6, 2011 08:35 PM

                                                  Hmm, interesting read thanks.

                                            3. m
                                              mikie RE: cookingal01 Feb 7, 2011 05:02 AM

                                              To answer specific questions: Are you paying for the Le Creuset name? Sure you are, you are also paying for the Le Creuset reputation, a reputation of years of quality products and a good warenty.

                                              Is French iron better than Chinese iron? Well I can't say with 100% certianty, but I can say that in the tool (large pwer tools with cast iron parts) industry, that Chinese cast iron was/is definately inferior to American cast iron in terms of strength and flatness. One could take the extra weight and thickness of the made in China enameled cast iron as a sign of inferior castings. Again, this is a bit of speculation, but that is typically how one overcomes such issues.

                                              Of probably more importance is the enameled surface. As has already been stated, they can all chip, however, I have it straight from a store owner that the made in China stuff chips so much more readily than either Le Creuset and Staub (the other quality French made enameled cast iron) that she hates to carry it and has many more customer complaints. In her opinion, the Lodge is the better of the made in China brands. Granted she may not have access to all other brands, such as the Sur la Table house brand.

                                              All brands will cook about equally well, the difference is in the quality of the product.

                                              Of the two French brands Le Creuset and Staub, there is little difference in the quality, the two main differences are the interior color, Le Creuset is light tan and Staub is black, there are plusses and minuses to both, and the Le Creuset has a phenolic plastic knob that stays cool on the stove top but is restrictive in the oven temperature, Staub has a metal knob that gets hot on the stove top but is oven safe to 500°F, it's a personal choice. There is a huge thread here on LC vs Staub if you have a day or two to read it.

                                              Le Creuset has been around a long time and has a faithfull following, I don't think purchasing one of them or the Staub is a waste of money. But then, I don't like cooking or serving in a chipped pot and that is likely where the French and Chinese products differ the most.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: mikie
                                                cookingal01 RE: mikie Feb 7, 2011 09:18 AM

                                                Thanks, nice info.

                                                1. re: cookingal01
                                                  grnidkjun RE: cookingal01 Feb 7, 2011 09:56 AM

                                                  It's very good info. LC does sell stainless steel knobs as an extra.
                                                  Some here have gone to the hardware store and purchased drawer knobs instead and use those.

                                                  I like my LC Doufeu.. it is all cast iron.. no knobs.. handles on the side.
                                                  However, like all of these pots, it is heavy.. this one maybe more so and of course you can't forget to use a pot holder.

                                              2. f
                                                foreverhungry RE: cookingal01 Feb 7, 2011 05:50 AM

                                                I have a Le Creuset that my mom brought from France when she immigrated to the US - in 1963. She used it about once a week before giving it to me. I've used it about once a week since. According to my calculations, that roughly 2,500 uses. It has some stains on the exterior that are permanent, and the interior is a gradient from almost virgin creme at the top, to almost pitch black at the bottom.

                                                Is Le Creseut worth the hype and the price? To me, Heck Yes. I own 3 Le Creuset pieces, all 3 came from mom (one gift, two hand downs). They perform beautifully, and no matter what I throw at them, clean up is pretty easy.

                                                My oldest one is almost 50 years old. I'll call that lasting a lifetime. My goal is hand it to my daughter. I have a good 15 years to go for that, but then Le Creuset can make the claim it's cookware can last three generations. I'm a believer.

                                                1. grnidkjun RE: cookingal01 Feb 7, 2011 09:53 AM

                                                  You've got a lot of info here on Warranty, mfg site and so forth..

                                                  For what it's worth, I love the LC.. I have not paid full price for a piece.
                                                  I've found seconds or sales anywhere from 30-50% off at the LC outlet or other vendors. So far, I love them all.

                                                  I have one enameled cast iron by Chantal. It has held up just fine as well.
                                                  I have no reason to knock this line.. I just personally wanted an LC or Staub.
                                                  LC was where I found my better pricing during shopping around.

                                                  I did attempt to "save money" and purchase the cuisinart line.
                                                  However, after being wrapped and carted home.. and carefully bringing them inside.. I found from store to house they were already chipping and enamel coming off. Right back to the store they went.
                                                  I'd rather spend the money I spent on two of their pots on one LC or Staub.
                                                  And that's what I've done ever since.

                                                  1. s
                                                    sedimental RE: cookingal01 Feb 7, 2011 10:13 AM

                                                    I have all LC. I really love them. I won't give you some big scientific answer why. I just love the look and feel of them. I encourage you to go out and handle the different brands if possible. My LC's are decades old and they age well. I think they look better aged and well used. You might really like another brand -but I bet you will know it more when you touch them. They all kinda look alike over the internet or in a catalog, but they feel different.

                                                    1. i
                                                      InspectorJon RE: cookingal01 Feb 7, 2011 10:43 AM

                                                      I have a Lodge, about 6 qt. I have used it for several years now. The enamel is chipped at the handles and rim from washing is a cast iron enameled sink; there are no chips inside the pan. My mom has a LC about the same size I have used several times. It seems a bit lighter and has no chips. She has a Corian sink. Both cook well and clean easily. The LC just "feels" nicer but I don't think I can tell any difference regarding cooking function. I have had no handle issues and I put the Lodge in the oven for braising regularly. The inside of the Lodge is stained pretty dark, but then I think it gets a lot more use than my mothers nice clean LC does.

                                                      1. TrishUntrapped RE: cookingal01 Feb 7, 2011 11:28 AM

                                                        My only experience with LC is with a friend who has a dutch oven. The interior is stained, she said she can't get it 100% clean. With that in mind I bought a Staub 4.5 quart cocotte and have never looked back. It's wonderful. This winter I've made Beef Burgundy, Short Ribs, Osso Buco and Coq Au Vin, using a lot of different wines, tomatoes and such, and braising for hours in the oven. No stains, easy to clean, cooks beautifully.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: TrishUntrapped
                                                          kaleokahu RE: TrishUntrapped Feb 7, 2011 11:38 AM

                                                          TrishUntrapped: "No stains..." Unless your cocotte is quite new, there is probably some darkening and/or staining there. Staub's dark enamel hides it well, though. Others say they prefer the LC lighter color, despite the discoloration, because the fond is easier to see. To each her own.

                                                          "...she can't get it [LC] 100% clean." Clean does not mean shiny-new or free from stains or discoloration.

                                                        2. c
                                                          CharlieTheCook RE: cookingal01 Feb 7, 2011 12:50 PM

                                                          Staub is better.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: CharlieTheCook
                                                            blondelle RE: CharlieTheCook Feb 7, 2011 02:55 PM

                                                            Staub is better.

                                                            DING DING DING ---What round is this? I've lost track...LOL!

                                                            1. re: CharlieTheCook
                                                              foreverhungry RE: CharlieTheCook Feb 7, 2011 04:09 PM

                                                              There are great advantages to both. That said, I have a Le Creuset that's almost 50 years old, and has been used about once a week. Do the math. It probably needs a new knob. The interior is dark. The exterior is stained. 50 years old and still cooking. I wouldn't buy anything else (then again, I haven't bought any of my Creusets, but if I had to....).

                                                            2. srsone RE: cookingal01 Feb 7, 2011 03:37 PM

                                                              everybody has opinions on all of them..
                                                              as for u...
                                                              buy the best u can afford and like ...
                                                              in the end its up to you..

                                                              1. m
                                                                malkazanie RE: cookingal01 Feb 8, 2011 11:45 AM

                                                                I have both a Lodge pot (5 qt Round, Red) and a Le Creuset (3.5 qt, Flame). I love them both and have noticed little difference in quality between the two. Got the Lodge first, and then decided to buy the Le Creuset for myself... just because I *wanted* to. And I think that's ok sometimes too. :)

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