HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >

wife wants copper cookware. which to get?

chef7734 Apr 25, 2011 10:51 PM

Well today wife decided she wants a set of copper cookware to compliment my calphalon one set. What brands should I look at. Calphalon has a line as well as many other.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. a
    aguy239 RE: chef7734 Apr 26, 2011 06:23 AM

    Mauviel's line of copper cookware is excellent. They used to be made by the same French company that makes Dehillerin's copper, but I don't know if that holds true any more. http://www.mauvielusa.com/

    Williams Sonomo carry some Ruffoni, an Italian brand, which is also excellent. I have a Ruffoni risotto pan that I use for all sorts of things, and I love it.

    These are just two brands. The French company, Dehillerin, isn't sold in the US, but everyone regards them as among the very best.

    Another option, closer to home, is a new copper manufacturer in Brooklyn. They were written up in the New York Times recently, and they seem to be excellent. http://brooklyncoppercookware.com/

    The key to good copper pans is the thickness of the copper (2mm seems to be the minimum acceptable). Avoid thin-walled pans just as you would avoid thin-walled SS pans.

    A recent hiccup in all this is chef Jonathan Waxman's claim that all tin-lined copper pans are actually lined with a tin alloy containing lead. So you might want to think about this. I haven't been able to find any definitive information on this since I read Waxman's claim (to my alarm, I admit). No-one I have spoken to seems to care if this is true or not, so you can draw your own conclusions.

    Good luck. I love my copper pans (mostly Dehillerin).


    2 Replies
    1. re: aguy239
      stock is my muse RE: aguy239 Sep 14, 2011 08:35 AM


      Did you order from Dehillerin? What posts did you order? What thickness? I'm thinking about ordering but their catelogue and product list are vague and contradictory. I just want 2,7mm minimum copper for sauce pans and saute's and 2=2.6mm for a stockpot. I'd love to hear about your experience with Dehillerin if you ordered online. Please post your response to this thread: E. Dehillerin Copper Cookware

      1. re: aguy239
        kaleokahu RE: aguy239 Sep 14, 2011 08:03 PM

        Hi, aguy239:

        Waxman's full of sh$% on this subject. Tin is tin, its own element. Maybe his plumber supplied that alarmist misinformation.


      2. kaleokahu RE: chef7734 Apr 26, 2011 10:09 AM

        Hi, chef7734:

        aguy239 gave a good intro. Of the new manufacturers, Mauviel, Falk, Bourgeat, Ruffoni are all good. The Brooklyn stuff is great--Why not buy American?

        Waxman is nuts in saying tin has lead in it (tin being it's own element). If he persists, he's gonna get sued.

        Once you cook on the wife's copper, you'll be retiring the Calphalon.


        4 Replies
        1. re: kaleokahu
          blue room RE: kaleokahu Sep 18, 2011 11:22 AM

          "Once you cook on the wife's copper, you'll be retiring the Calphalon."

          If I wanted to prove that to myself, what would be a good dish to cook? Maybe a fish filet?

          1. re: blue room
            kaleokahu RE: blue room Sep 18, 2011 08:14 PM

            Hi, blue room:

            Fish, maybe halibut, browned in butter would be very nice for a 1-pan dish.

            If your wife is getting a set, you might want to try Ham With Leeks in Cream Sauce a la Wright & Paterson (The 2 Fat Ladies). Two saucepans and a medium gratin should do the job. Cherries Jubilee or Bananas Foster for dessert if there's a poelle or frypan in the set. The key to the ham is what the Ladies call just a "tremble" in the water.

            Let me say that Calphalon is very good--and lately undersung--cookware. I didn't mean to disparage it. If you have cooked on/in it long, the marginal improvement may not impress you enough to retire your aluminum.

            If you like the ham dish (Who, who is allowed ham wouldn't?), you might try if a few times both on aluminum and copper, just to compare.

            Hope This Helps,

            1. re: kaleokahu
              blue room RE: kaleokahu Sep 19, 2011 06:36 AM

              Ah, the word "marginal" slows me waaay down. "Markedly" or even "much more fun" would've pushed me further. I've spent lots of time on the Falk site, but I suppose I know I'd be buying for looks alone. I have a mix of ss All-Clad and original Scanpan, and really it's fine.

              1. re: blue room
                kaleokahu RE: blue room Sep 19, 2011 08:39 AM

                Hi, blue room:

                I had you confused with the OP there for awhile. I *do* think a discernible margin is there between Calphalon and copper, but I'll go "markedly" and "much more fun" with Falk over AC. Never tried Scanpan.

                You like what you have, that's great. I'm sure there are people out there using Visions who cook circles around both of us.

                But if you've spent many hours at the Falk site, you know it isn't just about the looks. Their Try Me special is usually a good place to start...


        2. kaleokahu RE: chef7734 Sep 14, 2011 08:09 PM

          Hi, chef7734:

          If she wants to buy a new set all at once, I'd suggest either Matfer Bourgeat for tin-lined, or Falk for SS-lined. It's cheaper and arguably better to scrounge for thicker vintage pieces, but there's a learning curve in differentiating used pieces. Hard to go wrong with Falk or Bourgeat.


          1. t
            theculinaryquest RE: chef7734 Sep 15, 2011 04:39 PM

            I have 8 Mauviel professional pieces and I couldn't live without them. They're all stainless lined, except for things that require liquids to have no burn ring, like my stock pot or my reduction pan. E. Dehillerin only sells Mauviel, and it's also where Julia Child bought all her copper while in France. If it's good enough for Julia, it's good enough for me!

            PS I do think finding old pots for great prices at antique stores is a great idea, but many times the copper is much thinner than what can be bought today, and almost 100% of the time the pot or pan will need to be re-tinned. I've also never really found that many dinner-sized antique pots and pans for sale. Usually they're large enough to feed several families.


            3 Replies
            1. re: theculinaryquest
              kaleokahu RE: theculinaryquest Sep 15, 2011 08:10 PM

              Hi, theculinaryquest: "...but many times the copper is much thinner than what can be bought today, and almost 100% of the time the pot or pan will need to be re-tinned."

              I don't mean to be overy contrarian, but yours is definitely not my experience. True, there's no shortage of thin copperware available used, but there's also a superabundance of it new. And you couldn't be more incorrect about the opposite end of the thickness scale. The best, thickest copperware is *only* the vintage hotel-grade stuff, e.g., Gaillard, Jaeggi, Mora, Jacquotot, etc.

              Unfortunately, the Mauviel SS-lined copperware isn't the same level of quality Julia Child was buying. Mauviel/Dehillerin gets their bimetal sheetstock from Falk, all in <3mm gauge--it's proprietary and Falk Culinaire is the only game in town. Even Bazaar Francaise 666 and Williams Sonoma from the 1960s and -70s is generally better than anything now in production.

              "I've also never really found that many dinner-sized antique pots and pans for sale. Usually they're large enough to feed several families."

              There are plenty of "dinner-sized" vintage copperware vessels with good tinning available on eBay 24/7/365, but the premium pieces have a scarcity commensurate with their age and performance. If you're used to (and insistent on and therefore only interested in) bright, shiny linings, I could better understand your experience. But there aren't any freshly-painted da Vincis out there, either, FWIW.


              1. re: kaleokahu
                theculinaryquest RE: kaleokahu Sep 15, 2011 08:31 PM


                Thanks for the insight. I will look into the vintage hotel grade copper. My cousin has 15-20 large vintage pots, each of which could fit a small animal whole, so I'll ask her about the maker. My experience with thin-walled antique copper is from my experience here in the antique stores of New Orleans. True, they're all mostly furniture stores so they may be unconcerned with procuring the proper copper pot, but that's just what I've seen. If you know of a website where I can buy vintage hotel-grade copper like the brands you've mentioned, please pass it along!

                1. re: theculinaryquest
                  kaleokahu RE: theculinaryquest Sep 15, 2011 09:01 PM

                  Hi, theculinaryquest:

                  You're very welcome.

                  Aha! I see now the reason for your badexperiences: IME and in all my time collecting, I have found only *one* decently thick pan in an antique store (an Elkington). I still puzzle over the reasons for this. All I can come up with is that the profit margin for a thin, useless wallhanger is greatest there, or that the owners have no idea what jokes they're peddling (and usually at exorbitant prices, to boot).

                  The best stuff is rare both because of the scarcity I mentioned earlier, but also because knowledgeable cooks will be found dead clutching it their cold rigor mortised fingers--it is generally left to their well-fed, ungrateful and ignorant heirs to "dispose" of. Hence Craigslist and estate sales can be far better places to look than antique shops. (In their partial defense, if the pans are truly antique, i.e., pre-1850 or so, they will be thin and therefore beat up, 100% guaranteed. These very old pieces may well have high collector values depending on the maker, but IMO they are not worthy of serious cooking performance, at least in mortal hands).

                  Since you asked, the only quality-heavy vintage copperware site I've ever found is one in Jo'burg, South Africa, but I can't remember the name. Google should find it for you--slick website if I remember right. But they know what they're selling, so bring the long green. Otherwise, you need to scrounge like the rest of us. The good news is that, if you get bit, you'll actually enjoy the scrounging and the lack of instant gratification.

                  BTW, you have an excellent retinner in NOLA who might have leads for you. Search him out. And if you're interested in saucepans, visit Rocky Mountain Retinning's site--Peter has been selling NEW planished 3mm tinned pans very affordable prices. To educate yourself on marks, you might want to also visit oldcopper.org--Vin Callcut is a planetary treasure.

                  You Have Fun,

            2. tim irvine RE: chef7734 Sep 15, 2011 06:35 PM

              I'd talk her out of a set and buy a good sized sautoir (10"), a medium saucepan, a small saucepan, and a fry pan. I'd get whatever is 2.5 mm thick or thicker. As for lining, I prefer tin. It sticks less and is a little more responsive. I prefer the shiny finish of Mauviel to the Brushed finish of Falk, but that is just a taste issue IMHO. Iron handles, not brass. It is usually a tip off of a heavier pan and it is Way more user friendly. Any more copper you buy will match...you will buy more (and you will forget or sell the Calphalon. You will be infatuated with copper awhile and then you will start adding some blue steel because seared chops are really good. Have fun.

              4 Replies
              1. re: tim irvine
                kaleokahu RE: tim irvine Sep 15, 2011 08:22 PM

                Hi, tim:

                Excellent, insightful advice, as always.


                1. re: kaleokahu
                  tim irvine RE: kaleokahu Sep 17, 2011 05:15 PM

                  I wonder what I will discover next. I always like the fact you advocate looking for old things. I figure my copper and steel pans have a decent shot at outlasting cooking on gas! And as for the folks who fear maintenance issues with tin, my first heavy piece was a 10" sautoir I bought at Yankee Kitchen in Bellevue. Someone had bought it, bubbled the tin a liitle, and returned it. The proprietor said "you know what I am going to have to do with it ?". I said "sell it to me at half price.". Nearly forty years later, with it's slightly bubbled tin, it still gets a lot of use!

                  1. re: tim irvine
                    kaleokahu RE: tim irvine Sep 17, 2011 08:17 PM

                    Hi, Tim:

                    Will you be my Confessor? I have a little "maintenance" story to tell along the lines of yours...

                    Three times in the past 7 months, I have boiled a 3mm saucepan dry (making water for tea) on a full-tilt resistive hob. We're talking HOT--i.e., the smoke detector going off without any smoke kind of hot. The first two times... basically *nothing* happened, maybe a little darkening, but no bubbles, flaking, or anything. Not even any difference between the bottom and high up on the wall. The third time... a little bit of flaking at the bottom, but still no copper showing through (after 4 more months of steady use), no green copper salts, nothing where food goes except some ugly mottling.

                    It was after the second mistake that I started wondering about the supposed 437F "red line" and the physical properties of tin on copper. The memories of all those 3-4mm 19th C roasters I'd passed up came crashing back... "Who would risk THAT in a high oven?" I used to think. Why *hadn't* Escoffier or some other master whined about tin being oh-so-delicate? Were 60% of Pommes Anna attempts in wood-fired ovens across all of France for 200 years pan-destroying disasters? Did no one ever sear in tinned copper?

                    I can now confess that my thrice-neglected saucepan got hotter on my stove than I have ever intentionally heated a cast iron skillet. It is darker inside than its sisters, and has that mottling, but is otherwise no worse for wear.

                    Here's the weird part: The *only* discernible "bubbling" occured at the tippy top of the rim, i.e., the 3mm ring surface perpendicular to the wall--on this pan maybe 3.5" off the deck.

                    I'm starting to think the mountain of heat-ruined copper pans must be right next to the mountain of prostheses from Lourdes...

                    Forgive Me,

                    1. re: kaleokahu
                      tim irvine RE: kaleokahu Sep 18, 2011 09:49 AM

                      I have read and agree with your various posts on this subject. I also relate to the boiled dry pan syndrome, which prompted me to get a Russell Hobbs years ago. If the only variables were tin and temperature there is clearly some melting point, but in cooking there are way more variables and the laws of physics tell me they sure won't make the tin melt at a lower temperature! Just as Farenheit 451 is etched in my mind, I have used parchment to bake bread in my BBQ with a wood fired temp of 800 and the parchment was still there when I slipped the peel under it.

                      On the bubbling at the top phenomenon, it is counterintuitive so there is clearly a mystery variable involved. That is why I enjoy cooking and this site.

                      Cheers! Tim

              Show Hidden Posts