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Oct 3, 2011 01:36 PM

Upgrading Cookware

I am planning to upgrade our cookware for my husband as his passion is cooking. He makes a variety of dishes (stews, cippino, pad thai, paella, meats and fish, searing, ect.). I already have the following cookware: Staub 4 qt. braiser and a Staub 9 qt. round cocotte.

I am debating on getting the viking 10 piece set or looking at select pieces of the copper cookware by Falk. I am interested in only buying the pieces we need not necessarily a 10 piece set. Is the Falk too much for everyday cooking?

I was thinking of purchasing the 1.5 qt sauciere, the 3 qt. saute pan, the 3.5 qt. sauce pan and the 12" fry pan from Falk. Are these the right sizes to do most of the cooking?

Any help would be appreciated.

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  1. Have you asked what he might like to have? That would possibly be a start since he'd know if he's spending a lot of time at the stove. Start with what pieces he uses the most (I'd say frypan) and add from there. There is no reason to get everything all at once.

    What brands also depend on you, but again perhaps your husband is lusting after a particular piece? In the cooking sense that is.

    1. I'd recommend this set from Matfer Bourgeat

      I added a 1.7 (I think) flared saute and I think the set is nearly perfect. I prefer the shiny finish to the brushed Falk and the MB worked out to be cheaper at the time I was purchasing.

      I agree that it would be nice to ask him what he'd like. I can only image what my favorite dining companion would have purchased for me!

      1. What are you upgrading from? And what piece does he complain about? That's the piece I'd replace. If the replacement works well, then you would have confidence to buy more of same. Have fun choosing really good pans.

        13 Replies
        1. re: sueatmo

          Thanks for all the suggestions. We are upgrading from a faberware set we got about 18 years ago for our wedding. This is why I know to replace several pieces, i.e. sauce pans and fry pans. I want to buy the right sizes and right pieces that are most useful. We normally cook for two with leftovers and entertain for 6-10 people. Just trying to decide if copper is worth it or to stick with the stainless steel. the copper looks like a great investment as i really do not want to buy cookware again after this. From reading other threads I need to decide if i want copper with ss or copper with tin. Again thanks for your suggestions.

          1. re: sjefferies

            If you are considering buying pans with copper sides, not just sandwiched copper in the pans' bottoms, then please consider how much time you are going to need for maintenance to keep that copper clean. That's why stainless is such a good choice for many of us. You can put it in the dishwasher. However, if copper is what you really, really want, then you already know you will have to spend time cleaning it.

            1. re: sueatmo

              For those of us who consider our cookware as tools as opposed to display pieces, a black tarnished pan heats faster then a shiny one. Remember your high school physics and black body radiation.

              Under normal wear, tinned wears away quickly, so please have somebody local that knows how to keep the copperware well lined. Clad eliminates that ongoing expense.

              Definately ask what he wants as well as needs. Nothing worse than a kitchen full of barely used cookware. Does he really want that beautiful copper couscous steamer?

              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                "Remember your high school physics and black body radiation. "

                How does blackbody radiation fits into this? A blackbody is a perfect and idealized object which has a perfect temperature and its radiation is of that Plank's distribution:


                As for a black tarnish pan heats up faster than a shiny one, that is not related of the concept of "blackbody". A black surface may heat up faster than a shiny object due to reflection and adsorption of photons. So yes, a black baking sheet heats up faster than a shiny baking sheet inside an oven. That is because much of the oven cooking has to do with infrared photons adsorption (infrared light). This is not the same on a stovetop. When you place a pan or pot on an stove, much of the heat conduction has to do with conductivity, not photo adsorption. So it is not clear to me that a shiny copper pot will heat up slower than a dark copper pot on a stove.

                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                  Hi, INDIANRIVERFL: "Under normal wear, tinned wears away quickly"

                  Not at all, unless you abuse it. I have much-used copperware that is >60 years old with what I believe is the original linings in beautiful shape. Yesterday I received a piece that is at least 125 years old, still with serviceable tin.

                  Now, if the OP (or someone else in the household) can't *not* use metal utensils, there will be accelerated wear, but even so, I'd expect at least 5 years in regular home use, maybe 2 in constant restaurant use.

                  "Does he really want that beautiful copper couscous steamer?"

                  Maybe he does if he cooks couscous. Or a Pommes Anna. Or a pommes vapeur. Or a turbotier. These specialized vessels exist because they excel at their specialized tasks. Equating these single-specialty vessels with all copperware is a nonsensical disparagement. A saucepan or two, a marmit and a saute in heavy copper are about as utilitarian as it gets. And add durable, enduring, beautiful, even and efficient.



                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    "And add durable, enduring, beautiful, even and efficient"

                    Efficient like induction cooking?

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Hi, Chem:

                      Even more so, I believe. But we must await further tests. Tanuki?


                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        I am thinking of getting the four saucepans from Rocky Mountain Tinning. I am just worried about how often they will have to be retinned with regular use. We would not use any metal on this cookware. It seemed like a good price to try out some saucepans. Then I just need to find a good source for a 12" fry pan and maybe a saute pan. I am hoping tinned copper can last about ten years before retinning. Can you fry fish and steaks in a tin lined copper fry pan without the tin melting?

                        1. re: sjefferies

                          "Can you fry fish and steaks in a tin lined copper fry pan without the tin melting?"

                          Mostly like yes for most cooking, except for blacken dishes. Many high temperature cooking (like blacken steak or blacken tuna) will likely to be above the workable temperature of tin. Metals like tin soften before melt, so one needs to be concern of the temperature where it starts to soften, not just the melting temperature.

                          1. re: sjefferies

                            Hi, sjeffries:

                            I have the Rocky Mountain set, in fact. It is a fantastic price, and IMO there is no comparable set made anywhere in the world today.

                            Three of my four pans are still pristine. The fourth I have boiled dry on a HI electric coil hob THREE TIMES. The first two times, basically nothing happened, and I KNOW the temp went 'way past 450F. The third time, there was some flaking, but there is still no copper showing through. Definitely no melting on the bottom or sides of the pan. If you have seen these pans, you can see that Peter hand-wipes the linings on *very* thick, and I think this is at least a partial explanation of why I haven't had to retin the one.

                            I think 10 years' longevity is a reasonable expectation, if you take care of the pans and use wood utensils. Maybe a bit less if you're a compulsive stirrer. Remember, too, that this level of quality pan basically lasts *forever*--paying every decade to retin is still cheaper (and more responsible) than puchasing a new set of clad every so often.

                            Yes, you can fry in a copper frypan. Countless numbers of cooks have been doing it for centuries. I think truly hi-temp searing (i.e., as hot as your hob will get an empty pan after 10 minutes or more on HI) may be pushing it, but oil in the pan greatly moderates the heat, as does food (i.e., not waiting quite as long to flop), but with copper, you don't have to wait as long to begin with to come up to heat..

                            With regard to melting tin, tonight I am going to oven roast potatoes in a vintage tinned copper roaster whose lining is already 20% shot. My expectation is that a 450F high oven will not faze it, at least with the spuds in the pan.



                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              THANK YOU, Kaleo!! For pointing me at RMT - I did not know of their existence. There is a "Tin Man" here in my part of LA County, but while his work is exquisite, and he picks up and delivers, his rates are at least twice those quoted on the Rocky Mountain site. Besides, he's very old and really fat, and I've been afraid he'd drop dead before all my stuff got re-tinned. Okay, that's selfish, but it was a real worry.

                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                "Remember, too, that this level of quality pan basically lasts *forever*--paying every decade to retin is still cheaper (and more responsible) than puchasing a new set of clad every so often."

                                Wow.... wait there, what makes you think people purchase cladded cookware every so often?

                        2. re: kaleokahu

                          Kaleo, that copperware she's looking at is almost certainly not tinned, but lined with stainless steel. I personally would not touch stainless with a bargepole - it sticks like crazy, exactly the opposite to tin, which is pretty much nonstick. I was staying out of this since I almost never buy a new pan, but scout the antique malls, flea markets and estate sales. But if you want tinned copper nowadays that's where you'll find it, unless you go to France.

                2. If you are looking for the best, consider Demeyere. I myself don't have any pieces by them (with the exception of their smoker), but I would if I could afford them.