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Vollrath cookware anyone?

I am in the process of buying new pots and pans for my recently remodeled kitchen and haven’t looked at cookware in probably 25 years. My old stuff was crispy non-stick Circulon I got when my mom passed away. I was looking at Vollrath’s Optio and Intrigue lines. Does anybody know the difference? It looks like the Intrigue is very similar to the Sitram’s Profiserie line. The Optio is budget priced but has anyone have experience with either? I am looking for a good sauté pan, about 5 quarts, and I am not buying All Clad. I have looked at every line they have and I won’t pay for it. I am also not into sets. And what about aluminum? I cooked in restaurants when I was younger and we used Wear-ever and Leyse straight gauge aluminum pots and pans for everything. Do any of you use aluminum at home? I know about the aluminum reaction to acidic foods, but you know, about 99% of restaurant food in this country is cooked in aluminum so it can’t be all that bad. I have already bought a Debuyer steel pan, which I am in love with and a Tramontina non stick for eggs. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated, with so many choices out there it is a bit confusing.

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  1. Hi, inkman:

    I don't think you can go wrong with Vollrath. It's like a CAT dozer or a John Deere tractor--well-engineered (and reverse-engineered by others), coin of the realm. Won't win any beauty contests, but are you cooking or trying for Architectural Digest?

    I think you have the aluminum thing in exactly the right perspective.

    You might also look for Magnalite and Guardian pans on eBay.



    1. Vollrath works great. I've got the Tribute primarily because I use induction.

      1. I have a huge, maybe 30 quart, Vollrath soup pot that I picked up at an auction about 25 years ago. Has always done everything I have asked of it. No complaints.

        1. The only Vollrath I have are a couple of 13qt stainless bowls. Inherited one, and found the other in a thrift store. It is my go to bowl for potato salad--yea, I tend to make a ton of it, but my friends appreciate it when I do.

          1. Not to take anything away from Vollrath, but you might also want to consider this nice Tramontina 5-quart covered saute pan.


            1. In a newly remodeled kitchen, and already using inherited pans, you're probably not looking for used.

              But if you were... original All-Clad Master Chef (pre-2001) has the advantages of aluminum with a stainless surface, and is particularly good for a saute pan. The 4-qt size is 10.5 x 3.25 inches; the 6-quart is shallower (2.75") and more than 2 inches wider -- great for browning a lot of food at once without crowding, if you have a burner big enough for it.

              5 Replies
              1. re: ellabee

                Hi ,ellabee:

                To quote the OP: "I am not buying All Clad."


                1. re: kaleokahu

                  I took the OP to mean "new, current All-Clad". A used original MC saute pan can be had on ebay for $45-55.

                  I wouldn't buy new A-C, either, and not only because of the price. The MC2 line is "substantially re-engineered" -- which, given the difference in weight and thickness from the original, I take to be marketing-speak for "we made it thinner".

                  1. re: ellabee

                    Hi, ellabee:

                    After re-reading the OP, I can see how you took it that way ("new" = unused, therefore All-Clad = new production All-Clad). My bad.


                    1. re: ellabee

                      How do you distinguish "old" All Clad from "new"? (I never had any before 2009.)

                      1. re: Jay F

                        I don't know how to tell the difference between any eras of All-Clad lines except MasterChef. Original Master Chef, stainless-lined aluminum, was produced from 1971 through 2000; in 2001 A-C introduced MC2, which is marked ' mc2 ' on the base. [with the 2 raised as in em-cee-squared].

                        When A-C began selling cookware, the Master Chef line was all they made. In 1974 they gave it the name. From that point on, it was marked on the base, engraved in a circular pattern: MASTER CHEF- ALL-CLAD METALCRAFTERS - CANONSBURG PA. The part # is in the center of the circle [112 for 12" skillet, 403 for 3-qt saute, etc.] At some point [probably the late 1990s, when they were paving the way for the future MC2 line], they changed the base markings to an engraved ' mc ' encircled with ALL-CLAD etc.

                        The stainless tri-ply line had no markings on the base, even of part #s, and I know of no way to tell what era any given piece is from.

                2. I have been very happy with Vollrath products but all of mine are made in the US.

                  1. You may also want to look at Carlisle's range of professional cookware. I just purchased a 10" aluminum nonstick "Select" fry pan for about $25. It is well balanced, heats evenly, and is made in USA. Google "Carlisle cookware." They have both aluminum and stainless lines.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: al b. darned

                      Hi, al:

                      Thanks for pointing out this line; I learned something tonight! Carlisle looks like very serviceable stuff.


                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        oops! I noticed tonight while washing it..."Made in China." It's still a good pan, tho.

                    2. inkman,

                      I think Vollrath is the real deal here. Vollrath's Intrigue line has the 18/8 stainless steel (interior?) for a more beautiful look (not much functional difference). Moreover, it is made of thicker steel for the side and appears to have a base of 1/4" 6.6 mm thickness. So I am guessing the aluminum is probably around ~4 mm thick.

                      Tanukisoup pointed out something nice. If you want a fully cladded cookware as opposed to disk bottom cladded cookware, then Tramontina cookware is nice.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        old thread but happened to look at these and pick up a complete Vollrath catalogue today (it's a phone book, btw). They advertise a total base of 6.6mm with 6mm aluminum core. Just looking at the goods today I must say I was mildly impressed. Just a notch below Paderno Grand Gourmet as far as I can tell.

                        1. re: randallhank

                          Hey Randy,

                          Does your catalog list the thickness for Optio? I know the steel is thinner than the Centurion and Intrigue lines, but the base looks almost the same. Still, photos can be misleading.


                            1. re: DuffyH

                              Hi Duffy,

                              The catalogue doesn't say -- it only give specific base thickness for the Centurion and Intrigue lines. The Centurion is listed as 1/4" thick, which would be 6.35mm. I believe this is identical (literally) to Paderno Grand Gourmet. The Intrigue line is listed as 6mm. I saw a stocker from this line that said "made in China." Still I liked the build and the look.

                              The catalogue merely says the Optio line features "an aluminum-clad bottom for quick and even heat distribution," and "optio Cookware is an economy line designed for lighter duty cooking." Intrigue and Centurion are marketed explicitly as professional.

                              I handled the Intrigue and Optio lines right next to each other, and though I must admit I was more impressed with Intrigue, I was seriously thinking about buying a four quart Optio saucepan for $27. I think for home cooking the Optio will give perfectly good results, especially in saucepans, and likely last a lifetime. The other two lines are better suited for commercial use, though, in terms of durability, and I think they want their consumers to recognize this distinction.

                              I think this is reflected in the warranty as well:


                              Hope this helps.


                              1. re: randallhank

                                Thanks, Randy.

                                I know the Centurion and Intrigue lines are made with thicker steel than the Optio. I think i'll go measure my Optio base....

                                ETA - Odd, the Optio base measures at 5-6/16", which computes to 7.9mm minimum. Visually, I can see that it is easily more than ¼", without measuring.

                                Is this possible? That the cheaper line has a thicker core? That makes no sense to me.

                                1. re: DuffyH

                                  Possible? Of course. Likely, no, I don't think so. My Silga Ekologa has a base that appears to be 15mm, yet they "only" claim a 9.5mm aluminum core. Same thing with Demeyere which has enormous looking bases, yet only 2mm copper.

                                  I don't think it matters much over 4mm on saucepans except for a very few applications.

                                  Happy Thanksgiving!

                        2. Another suggestion: Matfer Excellence, a line of good-quality restaurant cookware in the stainless-with-aluminum-disk design. The 5-plus quart sauteuse (two-handled saute) pan is around $90., 11" x 3.5". http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/m...

                          They probably make a regular long-handled saute pan in the same size.

                          1. Wow…Thanks for the responses! I just happened to find this site while surfing and I think it's great. I'll be back often. I think I'll go with the Vollrath Intrigue. I can order it through a local supply house and not have to pay for shipping. They didn’t have any sauté pans in stock but the Intrigue fry pans were indeed built like tanks and are built to last.

                            1. After conducting rather extensive tests at home, I
                              settled on Wear-Ever for frying pans. The standar d
                              W-E non-stick didn't wear well at all, however. so I got the
                              ceramic version, which is doing fine. For pots. I have anodized
                              aluminum, which still looks good after 20-plus years. You'll save a lot of
                              money, of buyingcourse by buying from a restaurant supply outlet.

                              1. I have several Optio items and I couldn't be happier. The line started with Lincoln, but passed to Vollrath when they were purchased. As far as I can tell, Optio became Vollrath's budget stainless line, but rest assured they aren't built cheap. I have a 18 qt. stock pot, 12 in fry and a 6 qt. saute. All are built like tanks are are holding up great. The value is outstanding. As my aging copper bottom sauce pans reach the end of their life, I'll likely replace them with similar items from the Optio line.


                                1. I use nothing but aluminum, with the exception of
                                  one carbon steel pan for blackened dishes, and have found
                                  it works great. You're right to be suspicious of
                                  All-Clad. Yiu can by clad cookware from a
                                  restaurant supply outlet on the internet for
                                  literally one-fifth the price.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: mpalmer6c

                                    mpalmer: "You're right to be suspicious of
                                    All-Clad. You can by clad cookware from a
                                    restaurant supply outlet on the internet for
                                    literally one-fifth the price."

                                    Links, please.

                                    1. re: Jay F

                                      I'm assuming mpalmer6c means "clad" as in clad (disk) bottom, not "fully clad", i.e., multi-ply. However, there are some good deals out there on tri-ply stainless / aluminum cookware -- maybe 1/2-1/4 of All-Clads prices, if not 1/5. For example, using a stockpot, which is probably going to be the most extreme example:

                                      All-Clad MC2 12 qt stockpot, $240-250
                                      (I know the link says 8 qt; click the option for 12 qt to see the 12 qt price)
                                      Or standard stainless, $300+
                                      Tramontina @ ~ $80
                                      Vollrath Tribute @ ~ $90 (but without lid).
                                      (I have one of these and like it. And yes, I've seen Vollrath Tribute used in restaurants, including restaurants that don't use induction).

                                      I think you'd have to buy a disk bottom pot to get it at 1/5 or less; at that price point, there are plenty of options around $40-50 with lid.

                                    2. re: mpalmer6c

                                      The 2-qt Volrath Intrigue saucier goes for $40 to $50 and seems to have only stainless steel on the sides, and aluminum in the base. The 2-qt All-Clad MC2 saucier is an aluminum pan with SS interior and sells for a little over $100. I have the 1-qt MC2 saucier (since discontinued) and I think it's worth the higher cost. It depends on the pan.