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Are you a Label snob when it comes to cookware??

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Are you the kind that buys only Williams Sonoma bakeware or cookware? or even small gadgets from brand names only? Do you only want a Le Creueset french oven instead of the "lookalike" at Costco? Or do you prefer KitchenAid/Cuisinart to Black and decker? Do your friends/famiyl think your a kitchen/cookware snob because you only want the best of the best? Do you think that a wal-mart baking dish or no-name cookie tray is reasonable or MUST you get the Martha Stewart baking trays? Just curious how people are on this board if theyre similar to the fashionista's and Christian Louboutin/Louis Vuitton lovers only foodie versions.

I myself like to buy high-end..if i can..not to say i wont buy a baking dish from walmart or loblaws but right now im eyeing a bundt pan and cant take my mind off the williams sonoma heritage swirly one!! Its soo beautiful but its 2x the price of a regular bundt pan. I think its worth the splurge!

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  1. Way back when virtually no one in North America had heard of induction, I started buying All-Clad Stainless because I wanted to eventually use induction and didn't want to season cast iron and carbon steel. It was one of the few induction-ready lines available that I could actually see and feel.

    Nowadays, I want to buy something that suits my needs and is 1) well-made enough that I will not have to buy it again and 2) is not Made in China. Demeyere and Kuhn Rikon? Sure - if they're the best at suiting the need. Vollrath? Also in there. EmerilWare? MiC.

    I don't have a bundt pan fetish so I'm not quite understanding the lust for the swirly.

    1. Pretty buy anything I will need. Anything which I see as reasonably made is good for me. I tend to shop at restaurant supply stores, and even Walmart. Williams Sonoma is not really for me. I do get Chicago Metallic and Calphlon bakeware, but nothing as expensive as the Williams Sonoma ones. I want cookware good enough to match my cooking skill, but nothing above that.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I take it your a knife cook not a pot cook. ;-))

        Like me any decent pot or pan will do. Knives on the other hand......

        1. re: scubadoo97

          :) Actually I am not that picky about knives either. Any knife of Tojiro DP or Chinese CCK level makes me happy.

          However, you are correct. I am more of a knife cook than a pot cook. I think that if I am to cook at most of my friends' homes, I will be more bothered by their knives than their pots. :D

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Same here and I own a bunch of Tojiros

      2. I've never liked Williams-Sonoma and don't understand their appeal. I've always preferred Sur le Table, but I started shopping there many years ago in Seattle. Now, it seems, they have become more like W-S, i.e. precious.

        Anyway, in neither case are these manufacturers of anything. The products bearing their name are manufactured for them, so it's hard to tell what you are getting.

        I do prefer well-established brands of high-end products when it matters. Sometimes it does, sometimes not. I love the few carefully-selected pieces of All-clad I have, for example, but I'm not about to go buy their version of everything just to have a matched set.

        1 Reply
        1. re: GH1618

          i agree! i don't like W-S and prefer Sur le Table, which I found, I could get some things cheaper than Target even. I'm not a label snob tho sometimes I rely on labels except when I'm lazy and if the brand has been consistently reliable. I consider W-S a tax on the rich, where in recent years they started selling stuff you can find from restaurant supply stores at a remarkable mark-up.

        2. I'm definitely a label snob, but I also buy nearly everything from thrift stores. So it's more about collecting over time than just going out and buying what I'd like or what I want. So, to answer the question correctly I'm a label snob, but the actual hunt is nearly as important as the find itself.

          1. I don't think I'm a label snob, but more of a country-of-origin snob. I'll always pick that unknown ceramic baker that's made in Italy/Portugual/France instead of any Le Creuset stoneware which are made in either Thailand or China the last time I checked.

            http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO...
            http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO...
            Priced right as well.

            People have reported that some of the dutch ovens sold in Costco are actually made in France. I don't mind taking a closer look at them if I need another one.

            I don't have to buy from WS, but I have access to a WS outlet, what can I do? LOL. Even when I'm shopping inside the store, I reject pretty much everything that's not made in EU/US. That set of All-Clad measuring cups doesn't do anything to me.

            1. Yes! I'm here aren't I? :-) What I hope describes my attitude a little better is I have a great respect for craftsmanship. I like to use and live with things that have been made by people who have a pride and belief in what they do.

              There is a quote I read that I can only paraphrase and not attribute alas but it said the things you bring into your home must meet two criteria; they must be useful and they must be beautiful.

              I am not a wealthy person btw, and yes the quality of my cookware far surpasses my abilities as a cook, I don't care, I just can't stand cheap rubbish.

              3 Replies
              1. re: jhamiltonwa

                "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

                William Morris

                Great quote for this topic. One of my go-to principles for anything in the home.

                1. re: jmcarthur8

                  I'm not 100% there yet but that's my goal. I realized a long time ago that I would rather have less stuff and love the stuff I do have. It doesn't necessarily make me a label snob - it means that I buy what I love, I buy what I need and I buy the best I can afford that does the job I need it to do.

                  1. re: jmcarthur8

                    An important principle for me as well. I'll spend extra on quality and beauty, especially when buying items that will last me for the rest of my life. I don't have very much disposable income (I'm a graduate student), but I find it's more useful to calculate cost per use versus total cost. I have a Louis Vuitton purse too. Bought it years ago, it looks as lovely as it did the day I got it, and I never have to purchase another purse again. That doesn't sound like being a snob to me, it's being a smart consumer.

                    Another principle that I'd like to paraphrase is I'm too poor to buy cheap things. Skimping on quality usually means buying the same thing more than once. I definitely find it more economically (and environmentally) sound to keep from treating consumer goods as disposable. Makes sense to keep from buying the cheap things to save up for the really great stuff.

                    (I don't think expensive = quality or inexpensive = cheap. Quality is certainly more important than cost.)

                2. I don't think I'm a label snob, although I will spend a good penny on cookware that will last a very long time (pretty much outlive me.) I get a real thrill over buying something functional for very little money. I haunt the restaurant supply shops in town and cruise through them online. Some of my favorite utensils come from my mother - partly because they were hers and also because although they were inexpensive they were very well made way back when. I also haunt flea markets and thrift shops for finds. I guess I can't understand the need to buy Wm Sonoma bakeware when Chicago Metallic is perfectly fine.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: breadchick

                    "I guess I can't understand the need to buy Wm Sonoma bakeware when Chicago Metallic is perfectly fine"

                    The Williams Sonoma bakeware is supposed to be even better than Chicago Metallic, but at some point it is getting unnecessary. So I agree. I don't buy bakeware better than I need them, thus Chicago Metallic.

                    1. re: breadchick

                      FWIW, some of Williams-Sonoma's bakeware *is* Chicago Metallic brand (and sold as such, though of course one might get a better deal from a kitchen supply store). I think their private-label bakeware is made by another commercial cookware manufacturer.

                      1. re: will47

                        Sorry, I meant the All Clad brand of bakeware sold at WM. My goof.

                    2. I am a self-confessed label snob in that there are some things, like enameled cast iron, I have greater confidence in LC or Staub, but in most other traditional cooking items the quality, or lack thereof, is self evident. I can tell if a copper pot is decent by its weight, its handle, and its rivets. I don't care if it says Mauviel or Waldow or Dehillerin. However, labels are a way of knowing more, and if given a choice among three ostensibly equal pots bearing one of those stamps, I'd probably buy Waldow because it was made here. Some labels acquired cachet years ago. The badge has .stayed the same but the product has not. Good examples are KA and Cuisinart. If I were looking for an FP and one said Cuisinart and one said Robot Coupe, I'd take the Robot Coupe because it is the product that earned Cuisinart it's great reputation.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: tim irvine

                        Amen to the ridiculous change in quality with some products. I just tried to replace a KA blender that I've had for quite a long time and see that the new models are crap. Same with my electric pepper mill (I have joint issues.) I had my Peugeot model for 15 years or so, the current models are cheap crap. Really sad, because I would be willing to pay a bit more if they just kept up with the quality.

                      2. to answer the question in the title of your post: HAIL NO!

                        1. Nope. I just buy from restaurant supply stores. I'm more interested
                          in good food than pretty cookware.

                          1. I'm a proud quality snob. Usually, but not always, when it comes to cookware top brand names mean better quality.

                            I have no tolerance or respect for low cost items that don't last and have to be thrown away or, at best, relegated to yard sales and thrift stores.

                            After hearing Mark Bittman and people here extol the virtues of restaurant supply store cookware, I purchased some pans at one of those stores. They were complete cr*p. They warped, didn't clean well, and one of the handles came loose after a few months. They all ended up at Goodwill and were replaced with All-Clad (two new retail, one from the same Goodwill to which i donated the restaurant store junk), and i've been very happy with the quality.

                            I understand that some restaurants but this stuff. But they have different issues and priorities than most home cooks.. They have to worry about serious misuse and about internal losses (i.e., theft by employees). It's more cost effective for them to buy cheap stuff and replace it every few months.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: taos

                              Sorry to hear your restaurant supply venture didn't go well. I grew up with commercial cookware in the home and all of it outlived retail products. Some restaurant supply houses will sell anything whereas others will sell only quality pots and pans that will last a very long time in a home environment. It really isn't advantageous to a restaurant to buy the junk stuff either. In the long run the quality stuff is a much better deal.

                              Also if the employees can't direct you to the good stuff then it's time to shop somewhere else.

                            2. No, I am rather the opposite. I love a good thrift store find and some of my most useful gadgets are cheapo things from asian groceries. I think too often people who know little about cooking overspend on kitchen stuff when a cheaper option would have been fine, just because of the label.

                              However, I don't mind spending money on good quality where it counts. Knives, for example. Or where I can truly appreciate the craftsmanship (ie my lovely, expensive, salad bowl).

                              The best, most memorable meals I've ever had have been prepared using very humble equipment and facilities.

                              1. To some degree I am a label snob but that translates into the cookware being pretty. i can most about performance, but, things end up being out on display by default such as the pans that hand from the ceiling. I do care how that looks. At decent amount of good looking cookware is also nice performing. The main bulk of my pots and pans are Emerilware and I have a 9qt Le Creuset and would like to get a few smaller ones. I also trust Williams Sonoma to buy certain things because i knwo that if something goes wrong that i can return it. I find that priceless.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Astur

                                  Be aware though that the Williams Sonoma of today isn't the same as it was years back. Then, they would take anything back for any reason at all. You could also count on them replacing anything you bought even after the warranty period passed. That level of service is sadly no more. Now you have 90 days to return I think, even with a receipt, and they no longer take things back that break after a certain time. They have had to tighten their belt like everyone else, as too many people were abusing their policies.

                                2. I like my labels such as all-Clad and Le Creuset, but don't like the prices they command. Part of the fun for me is getting them on the cheap. All of mine have been bought for 60%-75% off regular store prices at various sales. That being said, I LOVE the $59 Pinzon stainless set I bought from Amazon years ago for my mom. Nice, heavy, disc bottomed cookware that is holding up very well. I could be almost as happy with that as with my A-C.

                                  I also love good design, and a lot of the cheap stuff is pretty ugly. The Pinzon stainless was nicely designed though. Just because it has a name doesn't mean I want it. For example, the new KA food processor is the ugliest thing ever. It might be great, but I don't want it sitting on my counter. The Cuisinart Elite one is so much prettier.

                                  1. I'm not a label snob, I'm a quality snob. Many of my favorite kitchen pieces are over 40 years old and still function as well as they did when first purchased. If some happen to wear a currently fashionable label, perhaps that speaks to their intrinsic worth but had nothing to do with their original purchase. I cannot recall when I last bought something at W-S but was an early customer when they were my easiest source for some French pieces. Without citing brand names, knives, porcelain pieces, enamelled cast iron, cast iron, blue steel etc have served me well. My stand mixer has seen a half century of use. They were expensive at the onset but have proven to be a bargain after years of hard use and good care.

                                    Having said this, brand name kitchen goods, that are currently popular, are not the same as they were 'once upon a time' (maybe I should have said "in the olden days" to cement my status as a geezer). In many cases, they are now made in countries other than their country of origin. Quality has suffered. It is our job to find the product best suited to our needs & budget and not follow (large) advertizing budgets of popular brands & mega corporations like mindless sheep.

                                    I must admit to a personal foible - I dislike labels on clothing, accessories or any other type of goods. A pair of eyeglasses, which suited me well, wore the insignia of a desired brand and I refused to buy them unless this symbol could be removed. It was and I did, much to the amusement of the staff. "Most people want everyone to know what they're wearing" I was told. I guess that I am not most people. When I see someone walking down the stree emblazoned with logos and brand names adorning their clothing, I think of nothing so much as a small yappy dog lifting it's leg on every surface, hoping mark its territory.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Sherri

                                      "I must admit to a personal foible - I dislike labels on clothing, accessories or any other type of goods."

                                      I feel the exact same way.

                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                        Quality snob. Thank you so much for that statement. I grew up with Revere ware. Our next door neighbor came home one night with examples of a great new line of professional cookware from his restaurant supply business. All-Clad. We lived 10-15 minutes from the factory.

                                        Once a year, the factory would sell all of their seconds and lines that did not sell. All lids were $1.00 and pots and pans went from $5.00 to $20.00. Any body else out there have a 40 Qt stockpot made in Cannonsburg?

                                        I am use to having quality because I am lucky enough to have started out with it. I have owned Fiats and I have owned Porsches. Mechanical nightmares, but the most smiles per mile I have ever had. Since I don't bake, my bakeware is literally from my grandmother. Good enough for when I need it. Just like my Mercury Sable.

                                        My cookware is an amalgum of France, Germany, Italy, and Cannonsburg, PA. through the last three decades. Nothing matches. I have had a number of busybodies tell me why I should spend thousands of dollars so I can have a Martha Stewart Kitchen, as opposed to the industrial workplace I have created. It is a galley layout, not a entertainment area, and the only person allowed in when I am working is a friend who makes the finest Manhattans.

                                        Quality snob, That's me.

                                      2. re: Sherri

                                        You rock, Sherri! I'm the same way. No one is paying me to advertise a product. I much prefer not to show labels anywhere...except where it's funny. LOVE my Prada fanny pack that way.

                                      3. Not really. I like high end but I will shop around for the best deal. I have no problem buying seconds from Le Creuset or All Clad, or buying the great looking bakeware from Walmart. It's about looks and function for me.

                                        1. I suppose I've been buying a lot of brand names, but not willingly so; For example, I bought a staub when I went in hoping to get a LC dutch oven. I had never heard of Staub, I just liked it better in the store. Also, bought my first Sabatier Carbon Steel without really knowing the Sabatier brand. Most of my cast iron is un-labelled and I have no idea what make. I also bought my first All-Clad because it was on sale for cheaper than the other brands during a holiday sale.

                                          I guess you could say I have brand names by accident.

                                          J

                                          1. Euro snob. Made in France and Made in Germany is like ohmygod! I touch something made in China and I shriek. Im a partial brand snob as you'll notice with brands like Le Creuset that even some of their pieces are made in China or Thailand. So even if it says Le Creuset, I still have to check where its made. For cutlery im all about Made in Japan. USA is okay (sorry) but its european made that gets me. It just sounds more exclusive and the quality shows. Made in USA used to be the most coveted but their quality has declined over the years.

                                            1. I have to say, I'm more of a where it's made snob than a brand label snob. I don't care who sells it or who's brand name is on it, I want to know where it's made. I'm not going to buy something jsut because WS or SLT sells it and I'm not buying just because it says Le Creuset or Wusthof on it. I prefer to purchase items made in the USA, but I also really like items made in the EU, Germany, France, and especially Italy (Italian heratige thing). Although there are still some good kitchen items made in the USA, the number is dwindeling quickly. I'm at a point in my life where if it says made in China I can just put it down and look for something else. Not that I haven't been fooled into buying made in China by some formerly reputable company, but that's why I check labels closely. I'm always looking for well made items that function properly and should last a long time with reasonable care. For the most part I find those itmes to have labels and brand names that are well recognized. I hate buying stuff that breaks the second time you try to use it and I'm not a fan of cheap gadgets. I'd rather have a few quality items from the US and EU than a bunch of junk from China.

                                              1. Hi, fluffy...:

                                                For me, labels or marks are just one criterion of quality (fallible, inconsistent, variable, obsolete as it may be in a particular instance). A filter, if you will, in my buying/scrounging choices. The more experienced I get with cookware brands, their models and histories, the less important the label/mark itself becomes, except in non-culinary ways, e.g., owning and using a piece of history.

                                                Aloha,
                                                Kaleo

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  Hi Kaleo,

                                                  If you know enough about something, then the label is less important, because as you say, the label is only one aspect of potential quality. Unfortunately, there aren't many things I know enough about to purchase based on my evaluation alone. In your case, you have become an authority on copper cookware and you can evaluate the quality of the cookware rather easily by its consturction, thickness, handle type, etc. and never actually have to cook in it to determine if it will function properly. But take a knife for example, if you don't know the formulation of the steel that was used and even if you do, you probably can't determine how well it will sharpen or how well it will hold an edge unless you are an expert in that field. As such, you rely on the brand name, be it Wusthof, Henckles, Shun, Miyabi, Global, etc. Yes, it's a bit of a crutch, but in some instances, you really don't have much else to work with in regards to evaluating tools and equipment. When you pick up that Griswold iron skillet, you not only know you are using a piece of history, but a quality piece as well, which is why it's still being used.

                                                  1. re: mikie

                                                    Hi, mikie, and HNY:

                                                    IMO, knives are all over the board when it comes to judging by labels. A: There are tons of variables and minutiae that aren't necessarily discernible without actual use by a knowledgeable evaluator; B: A very high % of shoppers don't have the encyclopedic knowledge of what the makers *claim* are the features of their knife models, nor the conceptual familiarity and interest to look up the specific information. C: A lot of the "data sheet" type info on a given knife either makes normal people's heads swim, or doesn't make a lot of difference at the margin, even to the cognoscenti (except those who, like baseball statistics fans and high fidelity afficianados, may be more interested in the stats and specs per se). And the dirty little secret D: there are literally hundreds of custom knifemakers out there who can equal or exceed the performance of the $$ and $$$ brands for equal or less money (but good luck convincing a soon-wedded bride to ask for a custom over e.g., a Global).

                                                    So knives can be a kind of crapshoot any way you cut it.

                                                    Aloha,
                                                    Kaleo

                                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                                      Hi Kaleo,

                                                      I agree, and perhaps knives were not a good example, it just poped into my head as I was writing. There isn't much that's black and white, especially these days with big brand names moving manufacturing to China. In the "GOOD OL DAYS" brand names meant a lot more. Another example: back when Kitchen Aid mixers were owned and made by Hobart, you knew you were buying a quality product, now it's been dummied down to the point that the stand mixers are only slightly better than junk. But 30 years ago when my wife purchased hers, you could buy by the Brand Name and know you were buying quality.

                                                      I'm not sure the brand name guys worry as much about their brand names now as they used to. LC, Henckles, and others have all made moves toward lower end products that in my opinion dilutes their brand name. All I can figure is there is more money down there with cheap products made in the Pacific rim.

                                                      1. re: mikie

                                                        Hi, mikie:

                                                        I wasn't taking you to task; knives weren't bad examples.

                                                        "I'm not sure the brand name guys worry as much about their brand names now as they used to. LC, Henckles, and others have all made moves toward lower end products that in my opinion dilutes their brand name. All I can figure is there is more money down there with cheap products made in the Pacific rim."

                                                        I'm fascinated by this. You are absolutely right that many big brands in cookware seemingly no longer care much about maintaining their old quality standards; everything seems relentlessly driven by price and sales volume. Still, they are *fanatically* concerned about their brandING. Hopefully some Wharton or Stanford MBA can explain to me sometime why this very real quality-dilution is good for the brand, or even good for the business, mid- to long-term. It's as if the Biz Whizzes *want* to suck the history, rep and cred out of a brand for short-term profit, and don't really care if all that's left is a jobber of junk. Contrast W-S with Dehillerin. Rolls-Royce might hit a homerun with a minivan in the $30K range, but what devaluation of the brand would that bring? We may be witnessing the dawn of big brands meaning almost nothing, quality-wise.

                                                        Hau'oli Makahiki Hou (HNY),
                                                        Kaleo

                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                          Hi, Kaleo

                                                          It's not just with cookware either, many of the power tools and even hand woodworking tools I used to buy based on brand have now moved production out of the country where they were manufactured in the past and with that a certian amount of quality has suffered. Some have been bought by other companies and in some cases it appears to be a consious decision to lower the quality of a previously competing brand. But I sure don't understand why a previously sucessfull company would want to dilute their brand name for a short term profit. It would seem to me that decades of building a reputation for quality would have more value.

                                                      2. re: kaleokahu

                                                        I agree about knives. I bought a set of Tramontina knives many MANY years ago...I think at Target or Walmart, for something like $60. I have kept them in excellent shape - I use a steel everytime I put one away. I've had these knives for around 20 years or so, and they are to this day, one of the best tools of my kitchen.

                                                  2. I don't buy from Walmart but I have bought bakeware from the grocery store. I tend to buy middle of the road. I don't really expect my cookware to become heirlooms, but it might be useful to someone else after my demise. I've had decades to learn what I will use and what I will enjoy using. I am attracted to good design meaning clean lines and functionality. "Form follow function." Finding the right tool, hopefully at a good price, has more meaning for me than whether it has All Clad on the handle or whether it came from Williams Sonoma.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                      Sueatmo, people don't necessarily buy All-Clad because it has the name on the label. Most quality products bear the name of the manufacturer. I have a few A-C pieces because they are high quality pans which are the size and type I wanted, at a good price (most of them deeply discounted). And they are made in USA.

                                                      I'm not into Bundt pans, but the swirly Heritage pan mentioned by the OP is probably the Nordic Ware pan. This can be bought directly from NW. I don't see the point in getting it from W-S. If you have to pay more to get it with a W-S logo on it, I suppose that would be snobbery. If you get it thete at the regular price merely because it's more convenient, that's not.

                                                      Addendum: I looked up the Bundt pan. It is the Nordic Ware pan, but is actually a little less on the Williams-Sonoma website. It isn't snobbery buying it from them at all, and it's not even a "splurge," since the price is modest from either source.

                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                        I didn't mean to imply that All-Clad bought from WS is an indication of snobbery. But I don't feel that I must own All-Clad, and that is a good thing, because it is really pricey. If I had the money and inclination, I probably would not buy All-Clad, because I don't like the handles. For me, the piece needs to functional and well designed. So--no offense intended.

                                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                                          No offense taken. I agree All-Clad is expensive, and only have as much as I do (six pieces) because I found most at steep discounts.

                                                          I must be the only person here who actually likes the original A-C handles.

                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                            Its a personal thing. I like fat hollow handles the best.

                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                              I like them. I didn't know anyone had a problem with them before I discovered chowhound.

                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                The handles? Its so personal. And you handle a pot for years and years. It should have a comfortable handle.

                                                                I've owned a large stainless cooking spoon that was so uncomfortable in the hand. The edges were too sharp.

                                                      2. I have a Wolf cooktop and hood, Viking oven, Demeyere LC and Staub plus a couple of All Clad cookware pieces, six Kramer Shun and 2 Global knives, MagiMix processor and a VitaMIx. I am a evil, evil, evil, EVIL! All is overpriced but .......they all work like a charm fro a home knitchen. I have no shame and love using them all. Not practical for a restaurant setup. Oh, by the way, my steal knives are cheap Victorinox serrated knives. They are great too, however ....... just goes to show 'ya

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: SpringRam

                                                          It is easier and faster for a good cook to make great food with the proper equipment. But that does not mean everything has to match, be one brand, or be new and shiny like in a magazine. No one company can make the best EVERYTHING, so pick and choose from everything that is on the market!

                                                          A real cook's kitchen should be equipped with the best equipment they can afford for the type of cooking they do. It should be configured in a way that makes for good working ergonomics. It should be comfortable for the cook, well lighted, with plenty of storage, and cheery.

                                                          A good cook's kitchen is used, so why should everything in it look pristine. If it is used, everything won't look pristine. Cookware is to be used, not looked at. That is why I don't care if some of my equipment have rough spots and look their age if they perform the job well and are durable. If I save money buying used things that are work-horses but whose finish is not "perfect", then I can concentrate on the meal, not the enamel.

                                                          Magazine kitchens are for paper people like June Cleaver. She never got her apron dirty, or her counters, so what WAS she doing in that kitchen? Real kitchens are for a good cook who likes to cook.

                                                          Now don't get me wrong. I'm not criticizing anybody. This is just my honest opinion.

                                                          I am willing to pay only what I have to for quality, and I STUDIED cookware so I could recognize the best even when it was in a junkyard. This was one of my bibles: http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y63/...

                                                          That means, I will do my research and find what I believe is the best quality and put it on my wish list. I research prices retail, then I buy my stuff as much as possible second hand for pennies on the dollar. Since I know what I am looking for, I am then armed to recognize the treasure amongst the trash.

                                                          I will pay more for something special I like -- but I won't pay retail or top dollar! My kitchen equipment was all bought used and some of the best things are up to 80 years old and was bought in thrift shops, garage sales, auctions, restaurant supply stores, metal salvage yards, etc.

                                                          1. re: Leolady

                                                            Amen, Leolady.

                                                        2. I'm not a snob as long as that label doesn't read "Made in China".

                                                          1. In Bill Buford's Heat, he describes a chef who buys cheap knives, beats the hell out of them, and replaces them regularly. I think I would rather be like that guy than the person who buys expensive, high-quality stuff.

                                                            I generally have a negative reaction towards cookware where I feel I would be paying extra for it to look pretty when all I care is how it functions.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                              This is where discount stores like Marshall's, TJ Maxx and Home Goods come in. I have built up a very impressive arsenal of excellent kitchen tools, bakeware, etc. over the years, much of it purchased at discount stores at fabulous prices. I love my stuff & paid prices I was more than comfortable with. Best of both worlds. And I don't buy expensive knives either. My chef's knife is a Victorionix and I have a bunch of small Kuhn Rikon paring knives, tomato knives, etc. that I got for a few bucks each at the aforesaid discount stores - and they're sharp as hell.

                                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                                It's amazing if you shop around what great deals you can find. We got almost all our Staub French Ovens on clearance from Dillard's for less than half regular price. Also got some Emilie Henry deeply discounted.

                                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                                  Yes, yes, yes. Home Goods--a favorite haunt of mine. Also Tuesday Morning, to a lesser extent.

                                                              2. I probably fall into the snob category. This attitude is somewhat fed by my better half who always feels it's better to buy the best you can and not have to replace it. Did I mention how much I love him?! So, my kitchen is stocked with high end cookware, knives and electrics. Having the right tool for the job makes my work so much more enjoyable. I also enjoy finding new pieces - I'm inspired by my tools to try new techniques and preparations, etc.

                                                                Now, I will add that I am a deal hunter extraordinaire. I don't think I've paid full price for more than 5% of my loot. I totally agree with others about shopping outlets, discounters, ebay, craigslist as well as garage sales, goodwill, etc. Another good tip is to shop for discounted cookware at places that don't specialize in it, say an apparel store that has some home wares - when the sales come, the discounts are usually steep. However, the best combination has been using cash back and deal websites. If you can buy on sale or price match, use a discount code, get free shipping, cash back and a rebate you'll be amazed at how low the price can go. I got my vitamix and kitchenaid this way and paid close to half of retail. (For example, some folks at slickdeals,net figured out a deal to get a professional kitchenaid for $128 this way over the holidays.)

                                                                I absolutely adore my kitchen; it brings me pleasure everyday. Finding all the goodies at a discount puts me over the moon!

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: olympia

                                                                  Yep - for me, it's all about getting the best stuff that will do the job I need it to do, for the best price I can get it for - even if it means waiting a while until I can hunt it down. I hate replacing stuff as well, would rather pay more for better quality if it means I'll have it forever, (or at least a very long time.) I won't pay MORE than I have to just because something has a fancy label on it, in otherwords, high price/fancy label doesn't always equal quality and as much as it's true that you usually get what you pay for, it's also true that there's a sucker born every minute. My mama didn't raise no suckers. I'm also adverse to paying for bells and whistles that I know I don't need and will never miss/use.

                                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                                    Sounds like we're kindred spirits! I think you're way more into baking than I am though. I will also admit that I'm a bit swayed by looks - I bought one of the metallic kitchenaid mixers! I got it for a great deal so I didn't pay the looks premium but looks do matter to me!

                                                                    1. re: olympia

                                                                      :) I will totally admit to being swayed by looks. I should have owned up to that. Most of the time, I have found that form follows function and many of the tools I like best in terms of looks are also the ones that function the best. I get a lot of pleasure out of using tools, equipment, bakeware etc. that are beautiful as well as functional. I also have a very nice collection of functional pottery in my kitchen that both looks beautiful in my kitchen and gets used on a daily basis. It makes me happy just being in my kitchen with my stuff - anjd I don't have a designer kitchen, just a comfy, cosy one. And I LOVE those metallic Kitchen Aid mixers! If I didn't already own one (in white) I'd be on the hunt for one myself.

                                                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                                                        Ha! There is something so pleasing and comforting being in a kitchen filled with beloved, beautiful tools thoughtfully collected over the years. I feel like heading into the kitchen - if not to cook, to fondle!

                                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                                          I have hand thrown stoneware in my kitchen. I love owning and using it.

                                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                                            Yes, most of our collection is hand thrown too. Really, works of art in most cases. I've slowed down on any new acquisitions in recent years because space is limited and I really don't have many holes in my collection at this point (my husband & I have been collecting for over 20 yrs now) but now and then I find something I just can't resist. My kitchen tends to be what I call contemporary country with a little bit of an industrial edge to it and most of our collection tends to fall into that vein, (although I do have quite a few pieces with a distinct Asian influence). But I just found this set on Etsy which I fell in love with, even though it's a bit more modern and minimalist than most of our collection. It's going to look terrific on our tall breakfast table and I'm sure i'll get lots of use out of it.
                                                                            I love that bright orange with the white porcelain and it will go nicely with the color scheme in my kitchen.

                                                                             
                                                                    2. re: olympia

                                                                      +1 My husband won't buy anything unless it is the "best" because he comes from a time when the best items lasted forever, so to speak, and didn't have to be replaced. Sometimes this means serious bargain hunting and sometimes it means waiting to be able to afford a specific item or waiting for a great sale somewhere. My kitchen is full of high end knives, electrics, gadgets, etc. too and I love them all! My family, all non cooks, think it is ridiculous but hey, I love to cook. I really appreciate items that work when I want them too, how I want them too and look nice in my kitchen. At my house the kitchen is akin to a family room as everyone gravitates there so looks do matter to me when I purchase something that will be on a pot rack or on my counter. I have rarely ever gone the route of full price on any item in my kitchen, including the new appliances we installed 4 years ago (took a bit of negotiating there though) but I got the high end range/fridge/microhood that I wanted at a price that was doable for us. Right now I am in the process of hunting down good deals on Mauviel 250 copper cookware....we will see where that takes me :)

                                                                    3. I care about functionality and quality, not about brands.
                                                                      I research a lot before buying expensive kitchen appliances, and buy the ones that best suit what I intend them for.

                                                                      With little kitchen utensils, I check material, functionality and design.
                                                                      No plastics to be used with heat, no teflon pots, etc. I like beautiful looking kitchen utensils.
                                                                      Because they are cheap, I don't bother much about how long they will last.

                                                                      I couldn't care less about brands.

                                                                      1. I think brands are a good way of helping me buy kitchen tools and appliances.

                                                                        For example if it says:

                                                                        Master Chef, Willams Sonoma, Martha Stewart, Jamie Oliver etc I keep looking for a more generic brand which will preform better and is often cheaper.

                                                                        However if it says:

                                                                        Bamix, Magimix, Demeyere, Staub etc

                                                                        Then I know that if I choose to by that item it will last 20+ years

                                                                        Having said that I do own a set of measuring spoons by Martha Stewart, stainless steel, squared narrow ends that fit small bottles, and they sit up nicely on the bench when in use.

                                                                        Sometimes you just need to go to the Dark Side

                                                                        1. I'm a label snob only in that I never buy products with the name of some celebrity chef (or in the case of Rachel Ray, TV personality) attached.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Zeldog

                                                                            Same here.

                                                                          2. Well, I kinda divide my kitchen acquisitions into "disposable--don't care" and "should last forever--do care."

                                                                            Ceramic, glass, other stuff which breaks if dropped? Disposable--don't care. Whatever I bump into at a reasonable price when I need it is fine. I will never own Waterford crystal in my life, nor will I own any kind of ceramic baking or serving (or eating) dish that will send me into mourning if I drop it.

                                                                            On the other hand--pots and pans and cooking knives that I will rely on in my kitchen every day, as well as table cutlery (knives, forks, spoons, serving pieces), deserve a little more of my time and attention, because I will probably be living with them for a long, long time.

                                                                            I went through a lot of cheap cookware for a lot of years before I finally decided that I was tired of all the drawbacks. I considered carefully what what I wanted, thought that the stainless All-Clad might fit my requirements, tried a piece, then gradually replaced the cheap stuff. I also found a few "waifs and strays" in the Mauviel 2.5 stainless-lined copper which met my needs. At this point, my family would definitely say I'm a cookware snob.

                                                                            As to knives, I discovered long ago that one good knife outweighed a whole rack full of cheap stuff. For the longest time, I had one excellent German-made chef's knife (from a now-defunct company) that I kept carefully separate from the bunch of awkward "choppers" that the rest of the family used. When I finally assembled the cookware set I wanted, I started prowling for knives, and I have a nice selection now. I still have a few that I reserve for myself--and I still have my first favorite. I'm a knife snob, too.

                                                                            On the other hand, my daughter has been known to hide my cheap blue and white porcelain teapot when she's trying to impress her friends.

                                                                            1. No. ("Label" is not the same thing as "high end.") But I'm certainly aware of labels when buying any kitchenware as a gift, depending on the person and occasion.

                                                                              1. I am when I think it's important. I read up a lot when I bought my kitchen stuff, and got a great deal on a Le Creuset dutch oven and enamelled cast iron saucepan.

                                                                                similarly, I decided that spending good money on a high-end chef's knife was a good move (and I say I've been vindicated in my decisions).

                                                                                However, when it came to pans, I was more interested in specs than names, and when I found my Anolon set, it was just a quick check to make sure they weren't terrible, and in the basket they went.

                                                                                Since then, it's been a case of either seeing a need for something (like a pyrex measuring jug for gravy) or seeing something that would fit in just right (a wonderful wooden spoon I still get a kick out of).

                                                                                So I think for a specific item that costs a lot of money, I'm going to do more research and make sure it's going to last.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Soop

                                                                                  Soop. Have you finally gotten your waterstone? I still remember your girlfriend bought you a nice smooth honing steel.

                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                    I actually haven't :# Still a bit nervous about it.

                                                                                    I still have the steel, and it works, just two or three strokes, but the knife is getting duller. It has to happen soon.

                                                                                2. Definitely not a label snob here, but I like quality vintage kitchen items, because I know they'll last. None of my pans match, but they're all wonderful.