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Apr 23, 2011 07:55 PM

Celebrity Cookware Lines: Rate 'Em!

Everyone on the Food Network and beyond seems to have their own line of pots, pans, gadgets, casseroles, strainers, utensils, colanders, knives, dishes, etc etc etc. I'd love it if we could have a thread where we rate any and all of these items as we CHers use them.

I know Giada DeLaurentiis has a Target line, Paula Dean has wares at JC Penney, Martha Stewart sells an extensive line of cookware and dinnerware at Macy's, Emeril Lagasse has some cutlery and has done cookware with All-Clad, Rachael Ray has some anodized cookware and very brightly colored casseroles, Mario Batali has items at Crate and Barrel, Jamie Oliver sells stuff on HSN... it goes on and on.

So sound off here with your reviews, please!

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  1. I was recently in the market for a new cookware set and performed a tremendous amount of research. What astounded me was that Royal Doulton's Gordon Ramsay cookware set was NOT "all that". I had read that for best cooking results multiply should extend up from the cookware bottom, into the sides of the cookware (i.e. as in the Lagostina). The Gordon Ramsay was ONLY multiply in the bottom and was very heavy as well.

    So I would have to give Royal Doulton's Gordon Ramsay cookware a bit of a thumb's down.

    I'm always leary about celebrity endorsed items, but I'm happy to be proven wrong when they turn out to be a good thing!

    20 Replies
    1. re: M_Xandria

      I avoid all celeb endorsed cookware like most in this thread. You can find much better pieces no matter what your budget. I do own ONE piece of celebrity endorsed cookware, and thats the emerilware deep fryer, and I got it because every site I looked at it was the highest rated deep fryer that fit my budget at the time. Ill be honest, it works great!

      1. re: twyst

        Le Creuset and All Clad ARE "celebrities" now too! I'm sure I am paying for their "names" -- just like Emeril or whoever. I'm happy with the few Martha Stewart things I've got -- looks and quality.

        1. re: blue room

          Huge difference between a company's reputation and paying for a brand, than paying for a celiberty name tag for recognition. Le Creuset and All Clad have built a reputation for quality products over a good number of years. Martha, just gets paid to let someone make something of what ever quality it may happen to come out and put her name on it. The same for all the other celebrity stuff. It's no different than buying a Willie Mays baseball glove, it has nothing to do with Willie Mays or the glove he played with, it's to get young kids to think they will be using the same type of ball glove Willie uses, but it's not. It's just marketing. What are you more likely to buy, a pot wth Martha Stewart's name on it that's made in China, or one that simply has made in China on it? More people will go with Martha, why, because they can make an association to the celebirty. It's marketing and it works, but it's not the same a brand reputation.

          1. re: mikie

            Yes, I know what you mean. But I'm willing to believe that some celebrities care -- if not about humanity haha, about their reputations.
            "Made in China" is impossible to rate as good or bad, it's way too complex/huge. I don't want to condemn everyone/every enterprise in the country!
            There are like 16 colors of Le Creuset now, and new ones regularly, hot pink next? If LC came in *one* color I can't help but think it would be cheaper. The extra colors and the little mini cutie cocottes etc. must add to my price for the basics. Very much like a celebrity name. My point is that some people hear "Le Crueset" and "All-Clad" and react in the same way as other people who hear "Gordon Ramsay" or "Paula Deen".

            1. re: blue room

              I understand and to a certain extent agree with what you are saying about Le Creuset and All-Clad. The difference, however, is that these brands tend to have years and years of results backing them up. However, the name creates a premium, which drives the price up. There is greater demand for quality, and as a result prices will go up (I mean, it'll never be as cheap as before with rising freight costs and inflation).

              One thing I will say is that SO FAR, Alton Brown has had a lot of integrity regarding branding himself. The only thing I saw with his name were the Shun knives, Alton's Angles, and those were literally just the Shun classics with a different angle for the handles. Those came out literally because AB was using a sheep's foot parer, and couldn't chop due to his knuckles hitting the board, and he asked them for a custom knife. He liked it enough that they ended up making a line (which didn't work out in the can't find those anywhere anymore!).

          2. re: blue room

            Mr. Rat gave me a cute little red 3.5 qt. Martha Stewart enameled dutch oven for Christmas a year and a half ago - and while it is still cute the enamel on the inside of the lid started blistering and coming off by the following summer. That's what happened to a lot of people and that's why Macy's recalled her whole line of enameled cast iron. My Le Creuset pieces cost more even on sale to begin with, but years of cooking later and they're still holding up great.
            Not to bash Martha - but I think she's got entirely too many irons in the fire, so to speak, to really be able to do any kind of serious quality control on the stuff manufactured under her name.

            1. re: ratgirlagogo

              I have purchased two Martha Stewart enameled cookware and experienced almost no problems. I have a small chip in my larger piece which is not the end of the world, otherwise they work fine. Sadly a 3.5 qt and a 5 qt cookware togetherwhich is cheaper by far than one Le Creuset piece. I understand that quality matter to a certain extent, but sometimes I think it gets taken a little too far.

              1. re: atg106

                To be fair, there were a LOT of bad reviews leading to that recall. I've never seen worse reviews for enameled cast iron.

                1. re: atg106

                  Yikes! I never heard about the recall and I've been using my dutch oven with no problems. How do I return this? I don't have the box or anything else. Just the pot.

                  1. re: soypower

                    First of all, if you haven't been having any problems, maybe it's not urgent that you immediately return the pot. Second, I believe this line was exclusive to Macy's? They might accept it even without the receipt. Worth a try if you're concerned.

                2. re: ratgirlagogo

                  Ms Rat, I don't think the problem with the MS enamel ware has much to do with her directly or indirectly, beyond the stuff being produced for sale under her name. There is a step in metal enameling (bonding porcelain with ANY metal you can get it to stick to) in which "flux" is applied to the metal by dipping, coating, powdering (several techniques that all accomplish the same end result) to promote the bonding of the metal surface with the ceramic (enamel) coating before firing at very high temperatures in a kiln. It's not difficult to get a faulty bond (I've done it more times than I like to remember), but it's sommetimes very hard to detect. The flaw in the Martha Steward enameled cookware was simply a quality control problem with the firing process and the performance of the flux. When every piece manufactured is assigned a "lot number" when made, it's much easier to apply quality control when you find one or more pieces in a specific lot number have flaws. No lot number, BIG recall problem! I have no idea whether there were lot numbers or other inventory marking methods in use or not, but it's not something ANY manufacturer welcomes! I would not consider it a caveat against Martha Sterwart products.

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    I don't have any personal experience with any Martha Stewart products other than this one pot and therefore have no opinion about whether they're good or bad. I don't think anything I said implied that I did.

                    1. re: ratgirlagogo

                      Sorry. I didn't intend to imply that you did. My bad. I just wanted to clarify that the problem with the product was something that could happen to ANY manufacturer, including Le Creuset and Staub, though I feel pretty confident both of those companies probably have more sophisticated and expensive inspection and test methods at their disposal. Sorry for not being more clear.

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        From the complaints, this had to have been manufacturing specs... so many of her products get reviewed as shoddy. I don't think inspections had anything to do with it, but if it was that, it's a sign that quality control was not a MS priority. Her bedding line is kind of shoddily made, too, I noticed in the store, though not dirt cheap.

                        I've never heard of slabs of enameled coating flying off of any LC or Staub.

                3. re: blue room

                  blue room, just for the record, I bought my first Le Creuset cookware waaaaaaaay back in 1957. I just checked the prices I paid then (MUCH cheaper than today if you are just looking at the price tag) with what they cost today with the price adjusted with an "inflation calculator." Their prices have not changed through the years when you take inflation into account. Sealing quality cast iron in quality ceramics ain't cheap... Just for the record. '-)

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    "Sealing quality cast iron in quality ceramics ain't cheap..."

                    I thought enamel used to coat cast iron is glass based not ceramic.

                    1. re: unprofessional_chef

                      You are correct. An in fact it is all pretty cheap if you do it in China. They certainly have several thousand years experience with these techniques.

                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        I always crack up when I read stuff like this. "They certainly have several thousand years experience with these techniques." The people and plants that make the new stuff aren't the same artisans that made these things thousands of years ago. The only connection is they are in and from the same country. It only takes a generation or two for that artisanship to dissapear. Think of the skilled craftsmen that made furnature in the early days of this country, you'll be hard pressed to find that level of craftsmanship in the furnature you buy now. Same for China, they have made some marvelous things in the past but the situation there has changed a lot in the past couple of thousand years. Present day China is all about making the products as inexpensively as possible for overseas companies, most of whom are only interested in the lowest cost, not quality.

                      2. re: unprofessional_chef

                        Ceramic and glass are both silica compounds and both are vitreous (non-porous). What that means is that they're "basically" the same thing. Both are formed at very high temperatures, sometimes the surface temperature of the sun. Your tiolet is made of "porcelain" or"vitreous china." Exactly the same thing most fine table china is made of. Off hand, I can't think of any porcelain or vitreous china that is transparent. Translucent when thin enough, but not transparent. Glass, on the other hand, is most commonly transparent or at least tansluscent. It's why we can see out our windows. So "enameled" cast iron is cast iron that has been sealed inside a coating of vitreous china, aka "enamel." It's what makes it fire proof and gives it a smooth cooking surface. In this case, the term "enamel" PROBABLY (I'm guessing) comes from the very old art form of "metal enameling." If you've ever seen cloissone, it is one technique of metal enameling, and related to the process of coating cast iron with ceramic to create cookware.

                    2. re: blue room

                      I'm pretty sure the OP means cookware associated with a well-known individual, not merely a well-known brand. My All-Clad doesn't have anyone's name on it.

                4. That implies that one actually buys celebrity cookware lines.

                  1 Reply
                  1. No way in this world would I spend the money to buy cookware with a celebrity name on it. The celebrity has sold the licensing rights to that particular manufacturer and that kicks the price up a notch (sorry Emeril). The hype is what sells the product not the quality. Buy cookware for it's own merits and leave the fancy names to the Food Network.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: The Drama Queen

                      DQ, I don't actually own any celebrity cookware, but recently I was looking on line for casseroles. I wanted to send my daughter a large casserole of my own sweet potato souffle for Christmas that she loves so much and never gets any more because we live 600 miles apart. I was really surprised at how attractive Rachel Ray's casseroles are, and how VERY competitive price wise. I didn't buy one. I'm not particularly a RR cooking fan, but you can't cut her short on her presence in the market place and in the media! So I DO like the design of the casseroles. Now, if they just made them in simple white, I'd be there! Based on this I have to assume there are no "rules of thumb" when it comes to price for celebrity cookware.

                    2. I do not buy any cookware with celebrity names attached. To be fair though, I can't think of a celebrity that would want cookware with my name on it either.

                      1. Wolfgang Puck has a line too. I've read something favorable about the stuff, but can't remember where. I see some pieces at Home Goods.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: sueatmo

                          I try to avoid celebrity-branded cookware (and indeed, celebrity-branded anything) whenever possible, but a few years ago I ended up buying several Wolfgang Puck pieces for my weekend house because they seemed like the most reasonable choice at the local HomeGoods. They've performed just fine on the basic electric-coil stove that we have there, and they're fairly easy to clean. In fact, except for the glass lids (which I hate), I really have no complaints. I also like the fact that you actually have to turn the pans over and scrutinize the bottoms in order to see the celebrity name, which becomes less and less visible as as the pans get more and more use.

                          1. re: Miss Priss

                            I got some Wolfgang Puke santoku knives at Walmart - cheap and I have no complaints about them