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Looking to buy an omelette pan from the Potshop of Boston. Would a well seasoned natural sand finish cast aluminum pan have any advantages over the nonstick cast aluminum pan?

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  1. I've lived in Boston for 35 years and never heard of this outfit, despite the fact that their original location is a block away from my office.

    There is really only one reason to have a non-stick skillet and that's eggs. So I'd vote for that. But I don't make eggs very often.

    If you are really into omelettes and are willing to put in the effort to season a "sand" finish into an egg pan then maybe that would be better.

    But $170 for an omelette pan seems really steep to me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: C. Hamster

      Im not put off by the price. I spend more money on haircuts. I can just skip a haircut lol.

      The fact that this pan is related to julia child probably bumps the price up but its made in america and i would be supporting a small america business. For something that will probably last a lifetime its a small investment. It also helps that its recommended by Cook's Illustrated.

      1. re: jaykayen

        Jacques Pepin did also, in his video. But I'm sure either one could have used a well-seasoned aluminum pan.

        1. re: GH1618

          Or a Carbon Steel skillet as JP mentions is his favorite in one of his videos. Heck, I bet either could have made a great omelette in an oval enameled dutch oven, or a plastic 6 gallon bucket, or in a . . . you take my point.

          What Julia uses in her videos should be understood in context. She always had plenty of copper on the wall and mentioned that they were the best for many tasks, but she never used them in the videos. Similarly, she shows the status pan in the beginning of the omelette video and proceeds to use the teflon. Her show was geared toward the home cook, who would not have had copper or a status pan. She used on the show what the home cook would have had in her/his cupboard.

          [EDITED to say that I see you have communicated this same notion below.]

        2. re: jaykayen

          I'm kind of surprised she was cooking on an electric stove too

          1. re: Atomic76

            That was a constraint of the studio space she was using.

            1. re: Atomic76

              I would guess Julia Child could have cooked an omelette over a camp fire with a rusty shovel and have better results than most of us could with a 200 dollar pan over the best gas burner money can buy.

              If money is no object the original poster should buy what ever pan makes them happy.

              The pan is not the critical element of an omelette. The skill of the cook is a much bigger factor.

              The biggest advantage to using nonstick is it browns food better, something I don't prefer in an omelette.

              Most professionals now use nonstick because it's easier and you never have to worry about the pan needing reseasoned in the middle of Sunday brunch rush. If you have ever had a pan start to stick while you are working a 8 pan omelette station, in a high volume restaurant, you would prefer nonstick too.

              Pans, like kitchen knives are a lot about preference and for some people status.

              If you want to be able to cook for family and friends and show them how you couldn't of done it without a $170 pan that's great.

              I am more in the camp of cooking for family and friends and have them tell me how great I am because i did it with a pan I picked up at a going out of business sale for ten bucks.

              Me, personally, if 170 dollars is not a problem for a specific use like an omelette, I would probably use my money to eat out and relax while someone else cooks my breakfast.

              I have worked in, owned and managed restaurants and if I never cooked another egg in my life I would be okay.

              So all I want to know is - when will will the omelettes be served and can I bring anything?

              1. re: JPatDyer

                As much as I love Julia Child, I think her omelets are sloppy.

                "The biggest advantage to using nonstick is it browns food better, something I don't prefer in an omelette."

                I think you mean the opposite. Nonstick is crap for browning.

                1. re: JPatDyer

                  We cook because we like such activity, it brings us a joy.

                  1. re: GalinaL

                    Well said. I cook because I want to, not because I have to.

                    Some people want a 10 point Buck or a 10 pound Bass. For me a great meal I made is where it's at.

            2. I think the only advantage would be that a plain aluminum pan would not deteriorate the way a nonstick pan might over time. But a nonstick pan can also last a long time if it's not abused.

              The heavy weight of that aluminum pan is an advantage over any pan which is too light, regardless of surface, in my opinion.

              13 Replies
              1. re: GH1618

                This is exactly what i wanted to know. I want my pans to outlive me so i'll go for the sand finish.

                1. re: JenniferLopez

                  I wouldn't pay that much, but if you are into omelettes and the price is not an issue, and you like that pan, then go for it.

                  One reason both Child and Pepin used a relatively inexpensive nonstick pan in their demonstrations is that they wouldn't have wanted to put off viewers by making them think that they needed a very expensive pan, and they wouldn't have wanted their viewers to have bad luck with their omelettes by using a poorly seasoned pan.

                  I would get the eight-inch pan, which is the right size for a three-egg omelette, and would season it well with Crisco before using it. Then I would use it only for omelettes and cook them in butter.

                  By the way, I have a Calphalon aluminum omelette pan which I seasoned with Crisco. (I don't use it for ometettes, though.) It cleans up very well with just hot water, the same as a seasoned cast iron pan.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    I agree I dont need a pan that expensive. I actually have an 8 inch nonstick already. tbh...I dont really make omelets often either. I just wanted to buy something. xD I will make sure to season it well and will probably christen it with
                    bacon to help move along the seasoning. Thanks for the help though.

                    1. re: JenniferLopez

                      If you want a seasoned pan, then why not a carbon steel pan? Aluminum does not hold on to seasoning nearly the same way as a carbon steel pan does. I also think the price is high for an aluminum pan. You can easily go to a local kitchen supply store and pay 1/3rd to 1/2th of this price.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        The OP wrote that price was no object. Some people probably wonder why you will pay so much for a Japanese knife.

                        1. re: GH1618

                          I understand that the OP wrote that price is no object, but I like to think additional price should return additional benefits. I am not sure if this particular aluminum pan has some special characteristics compared to other aluminum pans. If it is an triply pan, then it is cheap. All I can say is that I personally find the price high for an aluminum pan.

                          As for Japanese knives, you know I rarely suggest people to buy expensive Japanese knives anyway:

                          "...Hiromoto AS is known to be a very good value knife. Very good steel, good build, and not too expensive -- not much more than a standard Wusthof or a Henckels knife."

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9011...

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            There is always an intangible benefit in the satisfaction of owning something nice. This is entirely subjective, but nevertheless real.

                            1. re: GH1618

                              <There is always an intangible benefit in the satisfaction of owning something nice>

                              In this case, what is the nice part? I didn't read all the other posts, so I have no idea.

                              <This is entirely subjective>

                              The perspective is subjective, but the data behind can be objective. Let's say you are considering to pay more for a computer with more processor power. Now, the need for the faster processor is subjective, but there is an objective difference between a single processor and a dual processor.

                              Keep in mind that I wrote " I also think the price is high for an aluminum pan....." I didn't strongly object the original poster to get it. All I said is that I think the price is high for an aluminum pan. Realistically speaking, this is a point you made as well and probably in a stronger tone "I wouldn't pay that much....."

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                The nice part is that the OP likes a particular pan, that's all. Maybe it's the wooden handle. I have a few things which are a little extravagant, just because I like them. I don't need to do a cost-benefit analysis on everything.

                                1. re: GH1618

                                  <The nice part is that the OP likes a particular pan, that's all. >

                                  You are mistaking reasoning and conclusion. I was asking what is to like, what is the nice part. Having the original poster likes it -- is a circular reasoning. Moreover, the original post asks "...Would a well seasoned natural sand finish cast aluminum pan have any advantages over the nonstick cast aluminum pan? "

                                  How am I suppose to know the original poster has already made up her mind? I didn't know that. I gave my honest comparison between a nonstick pan and a bare aluminum pan. Please tell me what I have written was wrong. Is it because I said the pan is expensive? But you wrote that too. So what did I write was wrong? Please quote it. I am very confused about your objection.

                                  The original poster can get whatever he/she likes.

                                  < I don't need to do a cost-benefit analysis on everything.>

                                  No, you don't. Not normally anyway. BUT if you write a post and ask people what do they think of your extravagant things, then don't expect everyone to agree with your original decision. Here is a post asking for inputs, right?

                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Loving my new carbon steel wok so a carbon steel omelet pan is definitely open for speculation. Trying to look for one for comparison but would like curved short sides. Most of them seem to be a little sharp angled for my tastes.

                          On the flip side, I believe the high price for the Pot Shop of Boston pan is due to the thickness of the aluminum. I've tried looking for the thicker aluminum pans which omeleteers tend to favor but haven't found any as of yet. Most dont appear as thick.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            But an aluminium pan without coating does gets very non-sticky with use even without developing visible seasoning like CI does and perform very well as an omelet pan.

                    2. re: GH1618

                      I've never had to replace a nonstick skillet.

                    3. The bare cast aluminum pans can go up to much higher temperature than nonstick pans. However, for an omelette pan, I don't see the advantages here. I really don't.

                      1. Hi, JLo:

                        You are really going after some good pans.... Good for you.

                        IIWY, I would skip the nonstick. The PTFE is going to degrade within a few years, and then you either throw it away ($170) or you pay at least that much to have it bead-blasted and/or polished.

                        I would choose between the polished and sand. If you've never cooked in a pan like this before, the term "seasoning" is a little misleading if you're expecting a process like that used on cast iron. Unlike with CI, there really is no built-up layer of anything.

                        I chose a vintage pan of the same thickness (about 6mm) and great renown, about which I posted here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/875513 It started life as a highly polished pan, and still is far more polished than not. My experience with it is that it holds the "seasoning" well--and long, so long as it's used as a dedicated omelet pan, and you just wipe and rinse to clean.

                        The thing about seasoning and cleaning these pans that many people miss is that if you toast the seasoning (e.g., Aunt Em scours it out, spouse fries bacon in it, or you overheat while seasoning) the seasoning is restored much more easily than with CI. So when PSB says the sand cast texture "holds seasoning better" that may be true, but the margin is smaller than one would think from reading their copy.

                        Whatever you buy, enjoy!

                        Aloha,
                        Kaleo

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          I've seen that post while looking up omelet pans and I am jealous. Looked up Randolph Stanish omelet pans but the pans I find aren't nearly as thick and have plastic handles. Guard your pan with your life lol.

                        2. I have a sand finish aluminum omelette pan from the Pot Shop of Boston, '60s vintage, and it makes wonderful omelettes.

                          1. I was given a cast aluminum crepe/omelet pan for graduation decades ago, and it was a wonderful thing: no sticking ever, just wiping out for cleaning. It was similar to the Boston Potshop pans, but with more modern styling.

                            Then it was left behind in the midwest in a move for which I had to strip posessions way down. Last year, I had the eerie experience of seeing it on ebay, offered by someone a few hours from where I left it. Got it for $23. and I would swear it is the identical pan -- I mean numerically, not just the same model/maker (which I've never known; it's completely unmarked).

                            Anyway, I wouldn't spend $170 for one when Copco cast aluminum skillets are regularly offered for $25-50. There's not any special magic about the BPS pan that makes it worth the extra money -- but I heartily recommend thick cast aluminum as an excellent alternative to PTFE and other nonstick finishes. Even heating, easy care, eternal. What's not to like?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: ellabee

                              Out of curiosity, I looked over the ebay listings; there's a 10.5" polished-finish BPS omelet pan now going for $35. I bet they show up pretty regularly.

                              My unknown-name pan, the same thickness and shallowly flared shape as the BPS, is the 'sand' finish. My guess is that either finish will work beautifully once seasoned, only needing to be wiped out after use. It's just a question of esthetic preference. I'm absolutely sure either version will last longer than one with a nonstick coating, while being just as non-stick in practice.

                              Copco cast aluminum skillets have the polished finish; they appear to me to be the same thickness as the BPS and my omelet pan, but I don't know that for sure. They were manufactured in Japan.

                              1. re: ellabee

                                Update on my cast aluminum crepe / omelet pan, recovered from the 1970s: It has a smooth finish, more like the polished than the sand cast option on the Boston Pot Shoppe pan. The s.o. and I have been using it much more often lately, for pancakes, crepes, and omelets, and I am truly grateful to have it again.

                                Just a few days ago I was looking up something else in the Cook's Catalogue, a 1975 guide to cookware by Burt Wolf et al., when my eye was caught by The Pan. It turns out to have been a product of Gourmet Inc., a company based in suburban Chicago that sold several kinds of cast aluminum pans (which may have been manufactured in nearby Wisconsin, a center of aluminum fabrication).

                                From looking idly on ebay, I'd estimate this pan turns up every couple of months. I don't think vast quantities were manufactured, but the ones in use have lasted. If used only for crepes and omelets, their functional life is pretty much forever.

                              2. If you are happy with the price, and happy with the pan, then by all means buy it. There will always be those who got a comparable product cheaper, or cannot understand paying so much when you can get something "almost" the same for a lot less. And I respect their position. Because sometimes, that is I.

                                If you would please, after your purchase and a breakin/ learning curve, please post your pan versus a cheapo Teflon thrift market special. I would enjoy reading that.

                                Thank You

                                1. Aluminum cools quickly, wouldn't that result in uneven cooking? (hot spots and cold spots within the pan)

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Atomic76

                                    Hi, Atomic: "Aluminum cools quickly...uneven cooking?"

                                    No, in pans such as these, the aluminum is very thick. Aluminum has--by weight--a very high heat capacity, three times that of copper, and twice that of cast iron. My 10" pan weighs 3.3 pounds.

                                    So very thick aluminum is an ideal combination of high conductivity, heat holding, and (relatively) light weight. At these thicknesses, there is a small tradeoff in *responsiveness*, but even, constant and stable heat is what omelets and dedicated omelet pans are all about.

                                    Aloha,
                                    Kaleo

                                    1. re: Atomic76

                                      <Aluminum cools quickly, wouldn't that result in uneven cooking? (hot spots and cold spots within the pan)>

                                      Not quite. First, an aluminum cookware really does not cool down much quicker than a steel pan -- if they are the same weight. Now, aluminum is lighter (less dense), so it may give the impression of cooling faster. Even than, cooling does not result in hot spots and cold sports. There is a difference between spatial unevenness (temperature difference in space like hot spots and cold spots) versus temporal unevenness (temperature difference in time)

                                    2. Actually, my Adcraft heavy duty polished aluminum pan bought in a restaurant supply store for $23 looks pretty similar to the polished aluminum pan in the link, minus wooden handle ,+ silicon sleeve. It was rather sticky before I seasoned it, but not now.

                                      1. An expensive pan is not a substitute for a good cook. Go to a restaurant supply store and buy what chefs use, a good 10 inch nonstick pan and a high temperature spatula for 1/4 the price, take it home and practice making omelettes.

                                        I promise you, if after a little work, your omelettes still aren't good, all the fancy cookware in the world is not going to help.

                                        16 Replies
                                        1. re: JPatDyer

                                          Why non-stick? A heavy duty 10 inch aluminum pan from a restaurant supply store even a better choice - it will get better with time, not worse. It will have to be seasoned first, of course.

                                          1. re: GalinaL

                                            From what I've seen, this aluminum pan would be more heavy duty than any pans sold today. Dont see any aluminum pans made in this thickness (especially at 7mm), even in restaurant supply stores. Things like cookware were just made better back then.

                                            1. re: PrinceZuko

                                              Yes, my heavy duty aluminum 10"pan is 3.5 mm thick, I just check it - it weights 2lb3oz., the same size Grishwold CI - 4lb1oz., so if the thickness doubled, 7mm thick aluminum pan would be more heavy, that a cast iron the same size. It doesn't feel like it need more volume. I wouldn't say that the 3.5 mm aluminum is flimsy or lacking in a performance. I saw 7 mm pans in Russia, but I didn't like their poorly designed plastic handles, or I would get one just for collection purposes.

                                              Initially, I decided to get a naked aluminum pan (together with a pitted Griswold) for my son to use in a college because it would be impossible to kill, and the seasoning is less easy to destroy than on a CI (sort-of a fell-back pan when Griswolds gets out of shape).The deal was - to get two with a free shipping, so I got one for myself as well. I grew-up with such cookware in Russia, it performed very well, probably because we had a natural gas.

                                              1. re: GalinaL

                                                I just weighed my 8" PSOB pan at 1.9840 lbs so I dont find it heavy at all. That being said, I also found faults with the PSOB handle. I always get a little scared about others using my pan as they may wash it and that may lead to wood shrinkage in the wood handle. It survived over 4 decades before making its way to me. Lets hope it survives another another 4, hopefully my whole life. Though it cant be denied that the wooden accents lend some charm to this pan.

                                                1. re: PrinceZuko

                                                  What is PSOB? I also think that 2 - 2.5 lb is not too heavy, but close to 4 would be sort-of uncomfortable for an omelet or crepes pan.

                                                  1. re: GalinaL

                                                    Pot Shop of Boston. sorry about that. It is 7mm thick and not heavy at all. Though I dont think it would work well as a crepe pan due to the sloping sides. I have my Debuyer blue steel pan for that. I use this pan exclusively for omelets.

                                                    1. re: PrinceZuko

                                                      May be it is a different alloy- so it is not heavy. I have no desire to criticize a beautiful pan somebody has. Enjoy it! I get more joy of cooking when I like and appreciate my tools.

                                            2. re: GalinaL

                                              Non stick is a preference mostly because it's care free. If someone over heats it or cooks Ramen noodles in it or puts it in the dishwasher or........ can you tell I have four kids?

                                              If I was confident the pan wouldn't be used for anything but eggs I would go with a plain aluminum pan. In fact don't tell my kids but I have a couple of those hid and my non stick pans are just decoys.

                                              1. re: JPatDyer

                                                I gave my son at first a new thick non-stick pan, from how it looked after the first semester, it got destroyed with over-heating. The bare aluminum lasts already more than two years. It tried to warp (detective mom suspects more overheating), but I waked it back in a shape.So far it shows more resilience than a CI. I restored seasoning on a Griswold couple times due to the damage caused by some forgotten food, and it was in a dishwasher for sure.

                                            3. re: JPatDyer

                                              Most people already know that an expensive pan isn't a substitute for a good cook. No one needs to be told that. Just because someone is good cook, it doesn't mean they dont want nice cookware. And just because someone wants to splurge on nice cookware, it doesn't mean they're a bad cook. In fact, I've seen this pan selling for a lot less on ebay so its actually quite affordable. Even bought one. I can make French classic omelets perfectly fine in my 8" Tramontina nonstick pan. But as nonstick doesn't last forever, I was looking to make the transition to seasoned aluminum for my omelet pan. I agree that you cant go wrong with a restaurant supply store. But others like to do their research and check out their options. I am one of those people. Every time I buy a pan, I think about its longevity and functionality and to some extent aesthetics. This is a pan you'll possibly have the rest of your life and may even pass on. Might as well find the best pan I can. The PSOB pan was actually the thickest aluminum pan I could find. Had I been able to find a thicker pan or even an old aluminum torpedo head, I would have had a handle attached and used that instead of this pan. Could I have used any old cheap pan? Yes and I have successfully. But anything that makes cooking more efficient, in my opinion, is definitely worth the extra money. It can only make a good cook better and makes cooking an even more pleasant experience.

                                              1. re: PrinceZuko

                                                What would be the advantage of the thick cast aluminium pan over cast iron or carbon steel of the same size? Genuine question.

                                                1. re: Sirrith

                                                  Hi, Sirrith:

                                                  Weird, I posted a reply, but I don't see it--apologies if I duplicate...

                                                  The advantage is the unique combination of high specific heat (heat holding), high conductivity (heat recovery) and relatively light weight.

                                                  Omelets require extremely even heat. Omelet pans are on and off the hob constantly, and so need to both retain heat and recover it quickly. And they are almost constantly in motion, so they need to be easily manipulated. IMO, 7mm of copper would be better, but unless you have blacksmith forearms and money to have one custom-made,...

                                                  Also consider that a large % of omelets made are individual dishes that must be turned out rapid fire and in some volume. In many omelet bar/buffet setups, the chef is cooking on a small hotplate or rechaud, which exacerbates the needs listed above.

                                                  Aloha,
                                                  Kaleo

                                                  PS: Cast aluminum is generally a marginally better heat conductor than spun or stamped, as well

                                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                                    Thanks Kaleo, so would a 3mm carbon steel pan be just as effective?

                                                    1. re: Sirrith

                                                      Well Kaleo stressed the importance of extremely even heat. Aluminum is 4-5 times as thermally conductive as carbon steel. Copper is 8 times as thermally conductive as carbon steel. You can do it but will it be as effective? no. It also doesn't hold as much heat as aluminum. But then again, Im aware that Madame Romaine de Lyon who was famous for her omelets advocated using iron pans and was heavily opposed to aluminum (forgot why...but I find her silly when she even stressed never to buy used pans as it wont work well. I dont recall her ever giving a good reason as to why aluminum was bad). Anyways, iron is quite comparable to carbon steel in terms of thermal conductivity and its ability to hold heat. If you dont eat omelets often, feel free to use it.

                                                    2. re: kaleokahu

                                                      A tin-lined copper tamagoyaki (Japanese omelet) pan is actually something I always keep an eye out for. But they are often made in thicknesses I would normally designate for hanging rather than cooking with. Wonder if there are any 3mm+ ones out there.

                                                      My only issue with using copper pans (particularly tin-lined) for omelets is if you were to use them for a classic french omelet. Small curds are achieved with the tines of a fork along with vigorous shaking. I dont think a proper classic french omelet can be achieved in tin-lined copper without damaging the tin lining.

                                                      1. re: PrinceZuko

                                                        Hi, PZ:

                                                        I have yet to see a tamagoyaki that is not very thin.

                                                        I wouldn't hesitate to "work" an omelet in a tin-lined copper pan, but I'd either gently use the flat of the fork or a small birch whisk. I'm pretty sure the original omelet pans at Mère Poulard were tinned copper.

                                                        Aloha,
                                                        Kaleo