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Engaged = FINALLY, GET WHAT I WANT! But I can't decide, help us!

Thank you for taking a look! I know there have been plenty of threads touching on "our dilemma" (ie. this vs that) but not many recently, nor in regards to our circumstances! So here we go....

Newly engaged....crafting our registry! We enjoy cooking, and do it quite a bit. I often say, if I didn't go to medical school, I would have gone to culinary school. So we have been using less-than-ideal, cheap aluminum for years knowing the time would come when we could "splurge" on what we want/need when enagaged. Now, we can't decide!

We have always "dreamed" of owning a great All-Clad cookware set with Le Creuset iron pieces. Lately, we are intrigued by the Le Creuset Stainless Steel cookware (which has nice weight, great feeling handle), but somewhat "turned off" that it is made in China. Which brings us back to All-Clad...but which one? The newly designed 3-ply? The Williams Sonoma D5 5-ply? Or the Copper-core???

Not going to lie... Bourgeat and Mauviel sound amazing, but I don't trust us with full copper. Too much maintenance needed, and if it is not always beautifully polished, it will drive me crazy!

Also, any recommendations on sets? Go smaller set (7? / 9?) and add on more important pieces? Maybe do cheaper, smaller 3-ply set and add on some copper core pieces?

Thank you for your help! Opinions and personal experience greatly appreciated!

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  1. I have all clad pots going back to the early 1970s, have a couple of all clad non stick pans more recently acquired (prob about 10 years old and the non stick is still in good cond.) My newest one is the 3 qt saucier which I am in love with - the aesthetics of it are beautiful! They are all great pots even the ones that are 40 years old. I think whatever level of all clad you decide upon you will be happy.

    1. First, Congrats!
      I got a large le creuset dutch oven as a wedding gift 5 yrs ago. It's one of my favorite cookwares. The set of All Clad I received, i rarely use them because they are so heavy and I hate the long handle! (I hate storing them too!) I especially don't remember the last time I used the All Clad frying pans(I have both 12 inch and 10in)
      I use Lodge skillet more than any cookware I own. It's so good!
      I have some old hard anodized cookwares I had for years that I still use and love them.

      1. There are many brands of high-quality stainless steel cookware other than All-Clad. For fully clad, you might also want to check out De Buyer Affinity, Mauviel M'Cook, and Viking V7. For a mix of fully clad and disk bottom, Demeyere. For disk bottom, Fissler. All made in Europe. All very nice. I don't mean to deprecate All-Clad, but there are a lot of other attractive choices out there.

        3 Replies
        1. re: tanuki soup

          So, what you're saying is... It's more overwhelmingly confusing than it is now! Ha

          1. re: KnowTheIdeal

            Well, I guess it depends on how you choose to look at the whole process. It can be an ordeal, or it can be fun. Hopefully the latter :-)

            PS. Getting a 5.5-quart Le Creuset French oven is a no-brainer!

            1. re: KnowTheIdeal

              Yes, it's more overwhelming and confusing than one would anticipate. And although copper is likely the best overall performer in this list, it's obviously not for everyone.

              As far as sets go, it's less expensive to buy in sets, but only if you know you will use all the sizes of pots and pans. Otherwise, you are better served purchasing what you need as you develop your cooking skills. Also, the best brand (technology) for one cooking process may not be the best for another cooking process. I know, this adds to the confusion. I'm there with you, and I'm only looking at one pan.

          2. You should compare these pieces side-by-side so you can feel how comfortable they are in your hands. Pay attention to the handle comfort and weight of the pans. IIRC the D5 and CC have the same handle which is still thicker and slightly bigger than the redesigned triply line.

            The main difference is as you move up the lines is the weight. Weight translates to heat capacity the higher the better IMO. But make sure you are comfortable moving these pieces around and you can handle the weight. No sense in buying CC if they feel like cinder blocks to you.

            I think the D5 strikes a good balance in weight and handle comfort. Not to mention price. The 5-ply is more warp resistant. I would go for a smaller set so it leaves your doors open to try copper and other things you might be curious about.

            1. I've had great luck with the Tramontina set from Wal-Mart, and it has been reviewed as basically equivalent to AC by Cooks Illustrated... but if you are in the mood to splurge. I've always felt that copper's marginal improvement in heat transfer is very much outweighed by the enormous price premium that's attached to it. Maybe if you are aspiring to be a sauce boss..

              I have a 5.5 round Le Creuset - its a core piece I use a lot. If you plan to cook for tons of people, maybe get the next size up, but 5.5 has worked 98% of the time for me.

              A small set can make sense - gets you skillets and saucepans, and a big boiling pot. I'd think about whether you need a stockpot - basically, do you intend to make stock?

              There are specialty pans I'd recommend as well that you don't need to spend a lot on - I like a nice cast iron skillet, a cast iron grill pan, and a non-stick pans for eggs and rice.

              1. Hi, KnowTheIdeal:

                I am not going to offer any specific pan recommendations, only meta-ones.

                This is your registry, the one chance you have to ask for (and have a reasonable chance of getting) things you might not be able to afford buying yourselves for awhile. Many couples underestimate how generous family and friends are happy to be, and so undershoot. In today's registry game, giftors can easily join forces to gift items that frankly, few could afford to give all by themselves.

                So... Considering your cooking interest and ambition, I recommend that you pick a *few* pieces (not necessarily a set, or if so, a small set) of something *really* good. Fortunately, both bare CI and ECI are pretty fungible, so you can have relatively inexpensive options for the few pieces of that which are actually excellent applications (maybe one ECI Dutch Oven and a bare 10" skillet). Then, ask for an inexpensive stockpot, but make sure it is disk-bottomed. For your saute, saucepans, saucier/evassees and gratins (and you don't need many--1-2 of each would be great), shoot the moon and ask for the best.

                If you have other holes to fill, I counsel you to ask for a good Chinoise, a Thermapen, mortar & pestle, etc. (ancillary things).

                Plan B: Register at a place that carries both what you *really* want AND what you think you may get, so that you can exchange the latter for the former. Last thought: Falk, with its brushed finish, doesn't take all that much maintenance. You just should hand-wash.


                2 Replies
                1. re: kaleokahu


                  It's your wedding, you both want All Clad. Get the tri ply and enjoy. The Williams Sonoma price bump leaves me cold, especially in these days of the internet. Obviously you are going to need other specialised items, but you can pick them up as you go along. I would also recommend getting the largest set you think the market will bear. If it is going to be out of your price range for the near future, go for the gusto.

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    +1 on Kaleo's thoughts.

                    (Bonus points for use of "fungible"!)


                  2. I bought a bunch of All-Clad D5 5-ply a while back and I really love them to death, but they do get tarnished really easily, and don't actually come clean in spite of what some people may tell you. So if that's an issue for you, don't get anything from All-clad. I bought all of my pieces individually as I don't really like sets, but of all the stuff I got, I found that I still got way too much stuff, and I do actually cook quite extensively.

                    I bought

                    8 Quart D5 Stock Pot (Use for making Stock, Sous Vide, Large Amounts of anything that needs to boil)
                    12" D5 Fry Pan (Rarely Use)
                    10" Non-stick "Brunch Pan" (Use Heavily, Non-stick is still flawless, even after use under the broiler)
                    8" D5 Fry Pan (Also rarely Use)
                    2 Qt 3-Ply Saucier (My go-to pot, love it)
                    3 Qt D5 Saucepan (Heavy Use, love it too, use it for anything with more than 2Quart Volume that requires less stirring.)
                    11" 3-Ply French Skillet (Nice for anything that is to be fried then braised, also nice to bring to the table.)
                    4Qt D5 Saute Pan (Wide flat pan, good for boiling pasta because it's width and easier access than pasta pot. Also nice to bring to the table)

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: FatAndBald

                      I think I'm confused over your saying your AC is tarnished. I have quite a few pcs of AC from whenever and my pots, skillets and sautes have never tarnished. A short soak does the trick for anything that sticks, and if I want the original finish back I use Bar Keepers Friend. Could you give more details on that issue - it would be helpful. Thanks!

                      1. re: breadchick

                        I've never had anything tarnish either. I have had burnt on oil that was very difficult to remove but that's about it.

                        1. re: breadchick

                          My small All Clad pot is tarnished because I left the pot on high flame for overnight.( I was boiling water for something and completely forgot about it)
                          the incident permanately tarnished the pot and the shape has changed a bit but I can still use it.

                          Also, never ever cook sugar in AC pots...I once tried to make caramel in a AC pot and it took me literally 4 days to clean the pot....soaking after soaking. Bar keepers friend didn't work..nothing worked!

                      2. I wouldn't register for a set of anything. All sets contain at least one pot or pan you just never use. So why not look at the pots and pans you already own and use frequently, and register for their All-Clad analogues? And if there's something you always lament not owning, such as a dutch oven, then put that on the list as well.

                        And definitely go to the store and pretend to cook with each piece. Sometimes the way the handles feel when you're lifting or pouring is a real deal-killer. And for me, so is the made in China label for anything that comes into direct contact with food. I just don't trust their government enough to regulate things safely.

                        1. I'm not a fan of sets in general, but I think if you stay with a small set where you know all the pieces meet your needs it can be a good way to go. I really like my D5 and don't have problems with tarnishing or cleaning them. I would absolutely include a good size Le Creuset or Staub oven. Out of my assortment I use my LC 7 1/4 qt the most.

                          I agree with previous posters, this is your opportunity to get items you may not otherwise be able to afford so I'd ask for what I know I want. People will go in together if they need to.

                          1. So much good information. Thanks you so much ! We agree with taking advantage of this opportunity to get what we really want.

                            As of now, we are thinking about doing the 7pc D5 set, then adding copper core 4 qt sauce pan and a copper core fry Pan... Throw in the pasta insert.. Maybe one or two other pieces. Definitely the 5.5 or 7.5 LC. Maybe the staub grill pan with press.

                            What else you hounded got? Any essentials? Any "wish I thought about those?"

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: KnowTheIdeal

                              Well, I'd probably get a couple of copper pieces rather than the AC CC. I've got several D5 pieces that I really love. One thing I wish I'd known earlier on is that I prefer sauciers to sauce pans. It's good to think about what you're going to be doing with the pans. This is a great resource to learn more about pans and their functions as well as the best materials:

                              I've got copper, clad stainless, cast iron, enameled cast iron, carbon steel and really enjoy them all. It took me some trial and error as well as a bunch of research to build my ideal collection! One thing you don't have listed but I'd recommend is a pressure cooker. I love mine and got a big size so I could use it in place of a (smaller) stock pot. Also, on the staub grill pan, I seem to remember that Staub and LC grill pans don't have great reviews on here. I've got a Lodge grill pan and it's been really great for me. I got the oversized square verson (and I keep meaning to get a press).

                              Good luck, we'll be excited to hear what you settle on!

                            2. Do you entertain? A copper and brass chafing dish screams to be on your register. Don't think of it as tarnished, but as an antique patina in the making.

                              Enjoy whole fish? Fish poacher, as long as you are comfortable with.

                              My grandmother's sterling has been my every day ware for over 35 years. It's not for just the holidays.

                              Got wok? An 80,000+BTU wok fire ring is a decadent pleasure. Plus a 75 cm wok to go with it.

                              12 foot dining room table. Trust me on this. Once you have done a gross of inches, you'll never go back to a fathom of a table.

                              1. One thing that might be helpful is keeping a list of things that really annoy you in the kitchen now, and registering for things that solve those problems. It's all going to be quite personal: some people think 2qt saucepans are fairly useless, but I use mine almost daily. Register for things you need and will use, not for stuff that you feel like you should get. I absolutely would not purchase a set, as they always seem to have a piece you don't need, and have left out a piece you do need.

                                Don't let the people at the store talk you into buying a set, or buying from all one company so that everything matches. It's okay to mix and match.

                                Quality cookware is fantastic, but it's also nice to have little nice things like quality mixing bowls, sets of ramekins, baking dishes, and storage containers. As a guest, I've always appreciated smaller things on the registry, especially when I'm expected to buy something for the bridal shower and the bachelorette party and the wedding.

                                Also, nice serveware makes a big differences. Platters and serving bowls aren't really optional if you plan on doing any entertaining (as I recently discovered when I scrounged around trying to serve Thanksgiving dinner with a small collection). Ditto for bar glasses and accessories.

                                Make sure to check out the handles to see how well they fit in your hands. This goes for knives and silverware as well pots and pans. If you don't like holding it, you won't like using it.

                                Cooper is seriously annoying to clean. Seriously, seriously annoying. It looks so pretty! But it's not worth it. I'm groaning right now just thinking about polishing up my (small) collection of copper.

                                This is a tiny aside, but I think it's a bit funny that so many of us think that we must wait to get married before purchasing quality cookware. I'm unmarried, but I just went ahead and got the Kitchenaid stand mixer, Le Creuset Dutch oven, and Henckel's knives. I'll be adding an All-Clad sauté pan sometime in the next few months. Who knows what I'll put on the registry, but I'm in favor of treating yourself regardless of your martial status.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: caseyjo

                                  Haha! I'm with you, Caseyjo! I am getting married in a month, but I already had my All-Clad, Le Creuset, Kitchenaid stand mixer and Rosle utensils. I like to cook, and saw no point in waiting to get married so I could put that stuff on the registry. Now that i do have a registry, I'm using it to get my beautiful Fiestaware!

                                2. Still paying attention to your responses! You guys/gals are seriously amazing! Such incredible information and recommendations! Will keep you posted! Keep the suggestions/comments coming!

                                  1. First off, congratulations on your engagement! I know some posters go around the bend with sets, but I think they are a great idea for basic cookware. You know you need two or three pots/sauce pans with lids. You know you will want a two or three saute pans. And you will want at least one nice large pot to cook pasta/corn/soup in. So get a set that has that stuff, and you will have what you need and your cookware won't look like it came from the land of misfit toys. You will have to decide whether to keep or donate the skillets, since the ones that come with sets are.usually not ideal. I would not go for the "soup to nuts" sets because they are usually bloated with lots of stuff you truly have no use for (they seem to like to put in utensils to get the "count" up).Can't help you with brands...so much stuff is made in the PRC that excluding their stuff cuts you out of a lot of what's available, and some of that is actually very good. A nice medium size dutch oven is a nice addition...a round 5 qt/4.5l is a good size. Good luck!

                                    1. If you are equipping a kitchen you might want to take a look at the current CH thread on exploding Pyrex.

                                      1. Just as an update to all you awesome CH-ers...we ended up registering for the D5 7-pc, which we received...then actually went on sale, so "upgraded" to the 10-pc!!! Picked up some copper core pieces. The next decision was Staub vs LC, registered for a little of both. All in all, we are very happy and ready to cook away!

                                        Thanks again for all your help!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: KnowTheIdeal

                                          That's awesome - congrats to you! I've loved my D5! I also adore my copper (matfer bourgeat) too. As for Staub vs. LC. I've decided I'm a lover not a fighter so I just love both ;) Seriously. I've got pieces of but and I love them both - I think you will too! Years of happy cooking to you!

                                          1. re: KnowTheIdeal

                                            Congratulations on your engagement and your cooking gear. I have both LC and Staub... love the Staub the best, especially the 5.5 qt, now hardly use the much larger LC. Enjoy!