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Budget Conscious Disc Bottom Aluminum/Stainless Frying Pan

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This thread is pretty much what it sounds like. I want to buy a Christmas gift for a friend. 10 or 12 inch stainless steel frying pan, aluminum disc bottom. It doesn't have to be perfect, and I'm not interested in minute differences in heat conduction. It does have to be sturdy, oven safe to a fairly high temp, and come with a usefully thick layer of aluminum at the bottom of the pan.

It also has to be affordable. What's the best deal available in this type of pan? A lot of the cheapest deals on Amazon.com and such are pans that I have not tried out or seen reviewed.

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  1. I would have said one of the Vollrath commercial stainless pans. Sturdy, oven-safe but mot sure which models have that aluminum disc bottom. Should be around $40-50 in the US.

    4 Replies
    1. re: wattacetti

      Vollrath Tribute (tri-ply, rather than disk bottom) is available in the $40 range, with standard or silicone covered handle. I have a couple of these - they're not bad. Heavy duty, brushed finish inside, and after "seasoning" (using the procedure they recommend), it seems to have less sticking than some of my other stainless cookware, even though I wash with soap / water. Distributes heat pretty well, but not as efficient as higher end cookware (presumably it's designed for use on commercial ranges). If you have the natural finish handle, you will want to use a side towel to hold them.
      http://www.katom.com/175-69210.html?c...

      Eurodib or Update, or maybe Vollrath Optio will probably be the best deal in the lower price / disk bottom range. Most of the ones I found are 9.5", not 10". I think these commercial brands will probably "take a beating" a bit better than some of the consumer brands.
      http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/e...
      http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/v...
      http://www.wasserstrom.com/restaurant...
      [note: FSW is having a free shipping sale right now, which would make a big difference in the total cost of ordering one of these online

      ]

      I think Browne Halco should also be not bad.

      1. re: will47

        The Eurodib stuff looks nice. Have you ever ordered from that website?

        1. re: cowboyardee

          I have ordered from them before. Like most sites catering to restaurants, they're a little weird to deal with -- mostly they drop-ship everything from the manufacturer, so you'll get a billion different packages if you make a big order. But they have good prices, and they have some really good stuff. I like the heavy-duty Browne Halco and Polar Ware mixing bowls.

          I haven't used the Eurodib "Homichef" stuff, but basically, their line seems like a cheaper (and probably made in Asia) knockoff of the Sitram and Bourgeat stuff (which is some of the best disk bottom stainless stuff you can get, but probably more than you want to spend). I think they also distribute De Buyer and some other manufacturers.

      2. re: wattacetti

        Thanks wattacetti. These seem to have a good reputation. The larger pans are a little pricey though, and I'm thinking I want to go with an 11 or 12 incher.

      3. Emeril stainless steel fry pans are disc bottom:

        http://www.amazon.com/Emeril-Stainles...

        If you want to go with Vollrath, then go for the Intrigue line which has a thick disc bottom:

        http://www.vollrathco.com/catalog_pro...

        1 Reply
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Thanks Chem. It isn't so much that I'm dead set on disc bottom. It's more that disc bottom tends to be cheaper, and I didn't want this to be a thread where everyone tries to talk me into buying All Clad.

          Have you tried out the Emeril pans? How's the quality control?

        2. CuisInart Chef's Classic seems to fit your constraints:

          http://www.chefscatalog.com/product/9...

          1 Reply
          1. re: GH1618

            I believe I've used these and found them to be perfectly nice, functional pans. The pricing on Amazon is weird - the 14 inch is far cheaper than the 12 inch.

          2. http://tinyurl.com/75q9tx4 Wolfgang Puck Stainless-Steel 12-Inch Covered Omelet Pan

            I look at pans at Home Goods whenever I visit that store, and I've noticed that Wolfgang Puck pans seem very nice. I found this 12" pan on Amazon, I don't love the handle, preferring a fatter hollow handle, but otherwise I think these pans are very good. I've picked them up several times and thought they seemed balanced and had a quality feel.

            If I was looking for such a gift for someone, I'd probably feel safe choosing it. Comes with a glass lid too.

            1. Thank you all for posting, and sorry for the late reply.

              For anyone that's tried them - what are the supposed benefits of the Vollrath pans over the Cuisinart and Emeril and Wolfgang Puck offerings?

              Is this one of those rare situations where buying celebrity-endorsed cookware is actually a good idea?

              7 Replies
              1. re: cowboyardee

                One is that commercial kitchen stuff tends to be built to last, and, I would argue, is probably a better value. The other is that it will probably have less in the way of finish or comfort (i.e., the handles may not be built to use without a side towel or something) than the "celebrity" cookware lines made by big consumer cookware manufacturers.

                But, I think some of it also is just that some people prefer a no-frills / bare bones aesthetic, and those are the kind of people you'll see buying a lot of "no-name" commercial cookware.

                As far as the Vollrath Tribute line (which, if it matters to anyone, is not US made)... personally, I do slightly prefer tri-ply / fully clad cookware over disk bottom for skillets and sauté pans, so one advantage is that you can get the tri-ply Vollrath for around $40 (OTOH, the well-rated Tramontina is only $30, and will probably perform as well, or better than, many of the things mentioned in this thread); I do slightly prefer the brushed finish of the Vollrath stuff to the mirror finish of Tramontina.
                http://www.walmart.com/ip/Tramontina-...

                1. re: will47

                  I was at Bed Bath and Beyond today and handled a pan that I've seen used at a local restaurant - it's a 10" Calphalon triply stainless, and it's $40 for the 10" and $30 for the 8". I am not usually that big a fan of Calphalon's stainless line, partially because of the glass lids, but this pan looks and feels great - really comfortable in the hand, well balanced, and has a brushed interior finish. So this is something that's not only fairly well priced, but also should be easy to find at various retail stores.

                  http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/produ...&

                  1. re: will47

                    Thanks. I'll look into it.

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      I have Calphalon triply cookware. It is not bad if you don't mind it is fully cladded. Brushed interior finish is good because they "allows the cookware to remain looking new".

                  2. re: will47

                    I know some of the Vollrath lines are imported but last time I checked the Tribute fry pans were US made: http://www.vollrathco.com/catalog_pro...

                    1. re: SanityRemoved

                      Oh - looks like you're right. And according to their site, the stockpots and other items are too.

                      The 10" skillet and 8 qt stockpot I have both say Made in USA on the bottom.

                  3. re: cowboyardee

                    Honestly, I don't know. I suppose it depends on what you can easily lay your hand on. If I was choosing for a family member, It would be easier to go get the pan locally. If I was sending it across the country, I'd order it. I doubt that any of these is far, far superior to the other. But, I really don't know. I do like being able to handle the pan I choose, though. You can always go handle pans at Bed Bath and Beyond or Home Goods and another cooking store for research purposes. Then, trust your instinct. That's what I do.

                  4. As others mention, Vollrath is a great buy. But note that you can
                    get a fully clad Vollrath pan for less than a typical department
                    store brand with only a disc bottom (compare Tools of the Trade).

                    Here's one Vollrath outlet I've bought from:

                    http://www.webstaurantstore.com/2749/...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mpalmer6c

                      Webstauntstore only sells those 8" and 10" Tribute pans in quantities of 6, though.

                    2. I have to put a good word in for Ikea's 36 line and its slighly heavier Favorit line. It worked like a champ for 2 years when I first started on induction cooking. The prices are incredibly low even at full price and the modern Swedish design I like. Even though I've upscaled, I still fall back on the Ikea stuff.

                      http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/cat...

                      Some other consumer quality SS cookware I tried was awful. The Calphalon Tri-Ply stainless steel I tried was obviously reacting with the food, discoloring and leaving a zingy taste.

                      http://store.calphalon.com/calphalon-...

                      The food service quality stuff others have linked in look like they might be great as well.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: AsperGirl

                        AsperGirl,

                        Interesting that you have a bad experience with Caphalon triply cookware, my experience has been good.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Maybe it was poor quality control re: the metallurgy for that batch of cookware? The rimmed edges seemed particularly reactive, with maybe some electrolysis going on. I can send you a pot in the mail. (According to my husband I never throw anything out, and he's right). I'd enjoy getting an answer to this one because I like the science side of things. I didn't complain to the company or anything.

                          My starter cookware, years ago, was anodyzed aluminum Calphalon, which worked really well for me.

                          1. re: AsperGirl

                            Asper,

                            Maybe. That is horrible that you got such a bad experience. Why didn't you try to return the items and get some store credits? Anyway, please don't take criticisms of what I wrote to you. I mostly wrote to you for the initial weblinks, and I wanted other people to see the items you were suggesting. Anyway, at least you have a great experience with the 365+ cookware (disc bottom).

                            *Edited* Also the Favorit cookware which those seem like fully triply

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              No problem, ask away. I've been learning a lot lurking this forum and I like reading your posts. I'm feeling a little trepidation posting, since there are so many knowledgeable people on here!

                      2. I'm a big fan of the Macy's private label "Belgique" series. I've used mine for years and they're a great value.

                        Some of the open stock pieces seem to be on sale every week; don't ever pay full price.

                        1. Could someone summarize the different lines of Volrath's aluminum fry pans, and perhaps their pros and cons?

                          I've seen the words "5-ply." Does that mean anything in aluminum pan specs?

                          Thanks,
                          Rob

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: rbraham

                            I'created a new thread to help consolidate the cross-postings :
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/849058