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May 9, 2011 07:47 AM

Moved (Choosing Cookware -- Help?)

Posted in wrong section, moved post. Sorry...

Here's the question, by request of HillJ... Thank you all for being understanding of a first-time-poster blunder :)

I’m looking at purchasing all new skillets, pots and pans for my kitchen, but I’m not sure which brand to invest in. I am torn between T-Fal, Calphalon, Paula Deen and Le Creuset.

I realize this is a wide price range, but I was basing my options off of the best selling items on Amazon.

Speaking in terms of my budget, I've been saving up for this purchase for awhile and am braced to spend upwards of $1,000 on my new cookware set.

I already plan on picking up some un-seasoned Lodge pieces, as I have the most experience with cast iron. However, the Lodge pieces will be in addition to a nice set from one of the four above-mentioned manufacturers. Most of the items in my kitchen are black or chrome, so I would like whichever brand I go with to have a wide range of items in either color. But if it’s a matter of quality, color is not important.

Any personal experience, stories and advice involving these four manufacturers is appreciated greatly.

Additionally, I’m looking to purchase some clay cookware and I am leaning towards Romertopf. Does anyone know of a better company or have experience with Romertopf?

P.S. I apologize if this post is elsewhere, I am new to the site and not very acquainted with the search function.

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  1. This probably really belongs in "Cookware", but here goes...

    The brands you mentioned have a pretty wide price difference - all T-Fal and Paula Deen stuff I've seen is cheap junk, whereas Le Creuset is high-end. What's your budget? We need that first.

    Also, do you need to buy a whole set, or are you willing to buy individual items? My stuff is not all the same brand or line, because I liked some items from certain manufacturers/lines better than others.

    9 Replies
    1. re: phrekyos

      Thanks for your reply, I didn't realize there was a cookware section, I guess I got ahead of myself.

      I realize they have a wide price range, I should have mentioned that I was basing my options off of the best selling items on Amazon.

      I'm looking to buy individual items to put together a set, rather than purchase a 10-12 piece set.

      1. re: Levaeria

        Could you repost your ? or ask Mods to help you reset it. I have no idea what your post was and the heading left "as is" won't result in you receiving a wide range of comments.

        1. re: HillJ

          I re-posted it, already put it up in the cookware section as well. Uhhg, somehow I can never join a new form without making that first-post mistake!! LOL

          1. re: Levaeria

            Oh don't worry, we're a friendly bunch and even a fairly long timer like me is bound to make a few "oops" - welcome!

            Now, I'd like to share what I did some time back with my kitchen outfit budget. I made an appt with a buyer of Sur la Table I gave her my wish list, my budget and my goals. My appt. included about 40 pieces to choose from with a full discussion about pros and cons on each piece. My bulk purchase netted me top notch pots and pans, a few gadget buys and discounts I didn't anticipate.. and access to some special order piecess (bakeware, clayware) just for taking this approach.

            If you are open to a mix and match (which was my goal too) of the best you can afford, I highly recommend connecting with a buyer.

            1. re: HillJ

              That’s a great idea! I’ll keep that in mind and pitch the idea to my Fiancé. Thank you :)

              We had planned to purchase everything off Amazon. We both work from home and have become FAR too dependent on our Amazon account, to be honest.

              1. re: Levaeria

                While Amazon might have a few bargain prices the cost of weight (s/h) would be valueless for me. At the time, I preferred to spend all my money on the actual purchases! Plus, online ordering doesn't give you the weight & feel in hand of brand/pieces and that can vary alot. So, I'd go armed with the price list of Amazon and see if the local retailer/wholesaler will meet the price...once you know what you'd like to buy.

                1. re: HillJ

                  Good point. With any luck, I'll have this cookware for years to come and should take the time to purchase it in person... We don't own a car since we live across the street from Whole Foods, but I could find my way to a local store easy enough.

                  Thanks for helping us make the right choice here...

                  1. re: Levaeria

                    Happy shopping! You can always work out a shipping deal w/the no car.

                    1. re: Levaeria

                      Check out Le Creuset's outlet stores. Any of them will ship to you, and I think shipping is free when you spend over $100. They sell first and second quality merchandise at very good prices.


      2. Assuming you've got the budget (and Calphalon & Le Creuset aren't cheap), All-Clad is far and away my preference except for nonstick skillets, where the best move is to get inexpensive ones like Tfal or generic aluminum restaurant pans and toss them when they get scratched or lose their nonstickiness (which happens in a year or two if you use them regularly).

        Don't get Le Creuset frying pans -- porcelainized cast iron is the worst of both worlds for a skillet, though their dutch ovens and covered pots are great.

        7 Replies
        1. re: rjbh20

          Swiss Diamond and Chantal are both non-stick and have lifetime warranties, dishwasher and oven safe. I was testing an induction burner last week (the way cooking is (moving). Le Creuset and Chantal were the winners. Chantal was amazingly fast. All Clad did not do very well especially in comparison to Chantal. That aluminum core slowed things down a bit. Swiss Diamond is producing some induction cookware, i don't carry them at this time but can special order them.

          I had Calphalon when it first came on the market. With time and a lot of use the annodization wore off. You will find a few pieces of it in my kitchen I still have along with Chantal, Le Creuset, a variety of cast iron that has been handed down and Swiss Diamond. Swiss Diamond is our #1 seller, All Clad and Chantal follow and then Le Creuset

          1. re: Candy

            Ooh... Swiss Diamond and Chantal products look lovely! Thanks so much for your recommendations :) You've given my Fiancé and I so many more products to look at tonight.

            He just brought to my attention, we're also in need of some general bakeware. We need cookie sheets, spring form pans, cake pans etc. Any manufacturers you would recommend here?

            Do you own a website? I'd love to take a look :)

              1. re: Levaeria

                For cookies and other baking, you should consider several restaurant quality 'half sheet pans'. These are heavy duty baking sheets, 18x13, about 1" deep, that work for everything from roasting vegetables, baking cookies to baking jelly roll cakes (and catching drips under the sink).

                1. re: Levaeria

                  Chicago Metallics Professional baking pans, cookie sheets etc. are very good products. Panisse makes springform pans in a range of sizes.
                  Some things bake very well in silicone. (Bite sized brownies, I just discovered.) Not all silicone is created equal, however. Wilton and Lekue silicone are examples of the good.
                  If you really like baking, I recommend looking at if you don't already. There are equipment recommendations on the site. I love Rose's books, but they're not for everyone.

                  1. re: pericolosa

                    Thank you for the website! I appreciate it :) I haven't gotten a chance to look around much, it's been a long day, but I'm sure it will prove useful.

                    I was looking at some silicone brownie pans, I might have to try them! Brownies are a must around my house, along with peanut butter cup cookies.

            1. Be sure to use the search function here - there are many great posts on this very topic. Lots of great information and specific recommendations to read here.

              I'm feeling like a broken record but the most useful recommendation to me was to consider what I wanted to make in my new cookware. The second most useful pieces of information was to think about what it was that I didn't like about my current cookware, e.g., I wish this pot could go into the oven, I wish this pan was a little more squat, etc.

              If you want to see what my personal preferences are I started a thread on cookware collections (which was wildly unpopular)!

              I also highly recommend this piece on understanding cookware shapes, materials and purposes:

              1 Reply
              1. re: olympia

                Yes, now that I'm more acquainted with the site, I've figured out the search function. It's a great help, I just used it to find a good recipe for the pork tenderloins I picked up today.

                Thanks for the advice and the link. I've been cooking my whole life, but I only really started to take it seriously here recently.

              2. I agree with those who say you should work in terms of how you wish to cook. It's a rare person who'll buy a large set from one maker and find that they need all those things equally. But a set of All-Clad cannot be very bad. I'd just be careful that the included skillet isn't too small to do your main work.

                I'll add that the May 2009 Cooks Illustrated wrote up an ideal starter cooking set list in "a la carte" fashion, picking the best gear from different brands:

                12" Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
                7.25 qt Le Creuset Dutch Oven
                All-Clad: 2 qt saucepan, 4 qt saucepan; 12" inch skillet (all stainless)
                12qt Cuinsart Chef's Classic Stockpot
                a 10" non-stick skillet like Wearever Premium

                6 Replies
                1. re: Bada Bing

                  Here's the illustrated version of the list from 2005 (was longer then!)

                  1. re: olympia

                    Handy guide. I recall two bridal registry's that included this guide with their shower invitations....

                    1. re: olympia

                      That's a great resource for me, thanks! I get carried away, wanting one of EVERYTHING, when I really only need the basics. I'll put that to use when picking out my cookware.

                    2. re: Bada Bing

                      I have enough cooking basics that I don't need to purchase a set. I'm definitely looking to piece things together for my style of cooking. I already purchased a nice wok and bamboo steamer that get a lot of use in my kitchen. Now, I'm looking to replace my cheap pots and pans with something I love.

                      Thanks for the list, it's good to know that I was right about purchasing Lodge cast iron, though I can't bring myself to get the preseasoned ones... I just feel like I should be seasoning it myself.

                      1. re: Levaeria

                        I don't like the Lodge pre-seasoning myself because they do it with oil, which leaves a tacky residue. I just take it off with baking soda or oven cleaner and then do my own because most of their pots only come pre-seasoned now, it seems.

                        1. re: pericolosa

                          I didn't even think about removing it... Thanks for that :) That opens up a much wider range of products from Lodge that I'll consider buying.

                          I grew up cooking with cast iron, but when I moved out of mom's I never purchased any for personal use. About a month ago, I realized I must own at least one or two good cast iron skillets again. I was so out of the loop when I looked them up I didn't know they came pre-seasoned! What a shocker... 0.o