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Is All-Clad "All That"?

We read and hear phrases like "If you want All-Clad quality..." "As good as All-Clad" all the time. But what do they mean, really?

Cookware recommendations begin and end with All-Clad.

Somewhere, sometime, someONE decided that All-Clad would be forever more the best damn clad cookware in the whole wide world end of story.

When did this happen? And why?

More importantly, IS All-Clad "All that"? And if it isn't perhaps there ought to be a moratorium on making it the de facto baseline.

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    1. IMO, it's actually more like a Whustof classic knife: not the best you can buy, but reliably decent quality, and more importantly, enough people are familiar with All-Clad that it serves as a useful basis for comparison. I don't get the impression from reading threads that many people here consider it the epitome of good cookware. Rather it seems to be a useful and familiar standard for comparison.

      28 Replies
      1. re: cowboyardee

        <I don't get the impression from reading threads that many people here consider it the epitome of good cookware. >

        True. 'Hounds are a pretty cookware savvy lot. But what about the rest of the cooking universe? Visit other sites and a whole different tale is told. Also, consider the threads begun here by newly-minted 'Hounds and brides-to-be seeking advice. Most of them come in thinking they should buy or register All-Clad. Often without having seen the stuff.

        I think of the people I know who only care about one thing - nonstick. Pan weight and construction, for them, is not secondary, it's not even on their radar. But ask them to name the best, it's AC, almost every time. Where are they getting this? I don't see AC ads all over the place. Most people don't shop at high-end stores. Is it baked into our collective DNA? Was there an ad blitz years and years ago and now it's assumed mythic status?

        1. re: DuffyH

          Where do the majority of people shop, Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart? What's up-scale to most people, Macys, Dillards, pick a department store of your choice. What's the most expensive cookware you're going to likely encounter in a department store and it's likely All-Clad. Thus, it must be the holy grial of cookware.

          I also agree with cowboy, it's a generally well known bench mark, perhaps not the best, but good serviceable cookware, just like my Whustof Classic chefs knife.

          1. re: DuffyH

            < IMO, it's actually more like a Whustof classic knife: not the best you can buy, but reliably decent quality, and more importantly, enough people are familiar with All-Clad that it serves as a useful basis for comparison>

            I agree with cowboyardee. Many people do not see Wusthof makes the best knives and All Clad makes the best cladding cookware. It is just that these are good measure points. They are symbols of good quality cookware which most people are familiar with.

            <Where are they getting this? I don't see AC ads all over the place. Most people don't shop at high-end stores.>

            Yeah, but the kind of cookware which are better than All Clad are even less well known. Most people may shop at Wal Mart and Target, but at least they walk up to Macy's and Bed Bath and Beyond...etc, and All Clad is basically the top line cookware at these stores (Macy's and Bed Bath and Beyond).

            At the end, All Clad really does belong to the top tier. Its construction is very solid.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I agree that the construction is solid, but the handles, especially on large sauce pans, are the most uncomfortable things ever designed, IMHO. The day that I realized that AC was not "all that, " I felt like the first person to discover that the emperor had no clothes.

              1. re: MrsPatmore

                I HATE THE HANDLES!!! Whoever decides on those handles must have permanent pot holders as hands.

                But in the defense of AC I've had mine since 2007 and most of the pieces are in tip top condition. If you're weary of spending so much $ you can find them at TJ MAXX and Home Goods most of the time. Not full sets but pieces here and there. I did buy a Sur La Table 2 pt sauce pan for a 1/3 of the cost and I think the quality is just as nice. and did I mention that the handles are comfortable? I also bought a scan pan fry pan that's holding up nicely.

                1. re: trolley

                  I agree. As long as you are using a towel or something to hold the All Clad pots and pans, this is really a non-issue.

                  1. re: trolley

                    What's wrong with the handles? I have All Clad 2-qt and 4-qt saucepans and a 12" skillet. I find the handles comfortable enough to both lift the pots & pans, as well as being at comfortable angles for pouring liquids.

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      i like the curvature at the bottom of the handle but the top of the handle is where it falls apart for me. how it dips in and the edge makes it difficult to hold for me, especially when filled with water or other liquids. when I boil water i fill the pot then transfer by holding onto the pot part not the handles. i prefer more of a rounded handle or a flat handle.

                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        I'll try to explain, from my point of view. If I have a filled saucepan that's a bit weighty, I would like to grab the handle from underneath (palm up) as close to the pan as I can. Not only is it a more stable grasp, it will create less stress on my joints. Whereas if I hold the handle farther out, it creates more tension and bears more weight on my wrist. So - where does the AC handle get crazy narrow? At the base, where I need all the stability. What tends to happen, is that any wobble from the contents of the pan will make that handle want to twist around like a circus ride.

                        This is just my experience. I love AC, and have a LOT of it, but in my opinion, this should be an easy fix that I wish they would finally address. I hold hope that I win the lottery too.

                        1. re: breadchick

                          I see. I hold my handles towards the middle or end and I grab it from above, not underneath. I'm a big guy so I don't have a problem handling the pots using this leverage, but I can see how that might be an issue for others.

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            Like my friend Ms. breadchick (Happy New Year, bc!) I prefer an underhand grip. The edge of an AC handle cuts into the fleshy pad below my thumb. Using an overhand grip the same thing happens. No matter how I hold it, it hurts.

                            OTOH, my new Vollrath Optio pans with big, fat, ROUND handles are very, very comfortable. Me like.

                            1. re: DuffyH

                              In terms of ergonomic design there is certainly something to be said for design that allows for flexibility and choice in how the consumer uses it (what ergonomists refer to as "affordance".)

                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affordance

                              So AC pot handles offer low affordance, since it appears they are intended to be used in one specific way. It doesn't affect me, since I hold and pour from above, but I can see how adding extra ergonomic versatility would only add to the value of these pots.

                              One item to consider is that they do offer a model of saucepans with a loop, to allow for two-handed pouring. That would eliminate the need to pour with the underhand grab, since the second loop would give you a more stable leverage to pour (you could grab both the loop and the handle overhand). Of course, that doesn't really help if you've already got a pot that you're using, but it does at least show that AC does make some attempt to offer variations.

                              Mr Taster

                              1. re: DuffyH

                                EXACTLY DuffyH! I figured a Mr can handle it. Perhaps All Clad is meant for the manly cook.

                                1. re: trolley

                                  Hi, trolley:

                                  Duffy is onto something about the narrow-at-the-base A-C handles. A girl vs. boy distinction only makes sense with smaller, partially-filled pans. With weak wrists and a full, heavy pan, a thick handle base is a real boon for lifting and pouring.

                                  I think A-C does this to save money and to try to further insulate the handle. The problem, as Duffy indicates, is that they're very turny when grabbed there--precisely when you need more leverage.

                                  Aloha,
                                  Kaleo

                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                    yes turny is exactly the way they become when pot is filled with liquid. it takes a pot holder and two hands for me to manage.

                                    1. re: trolley

                                      Hi, trolley:

                                      That skinny little neck adds insult to injury. IME, the base turns even more easily inside a potholder.

                                      Classical saucepan handles are:

                                      --solid, thick and wide at the base
                                      --tapered *down* in both dimensions toward the hang-loop
                                      --flat on top their whole length
                                      --rise at a steep angle and then curve back down.

                                      It's as if someone, long ago at A-C decided to do the exact opposite on ALL fronts.

                                      I suppose you get used to what you use, but these really are bass-ackward handles.

                                      Aloha,
                                      Kaleo

                                       
                                       
                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        actually, when trying to pour/drain the Falk pans the neck allows for a grip that keeps the pan from turning in your hand.

                                2. re: DuffyH

                                  And a very happy and healthy New Year to you, as well, my friend! :)

                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                    "Like my friend Ms. breadchick (Happy New Year, bc!) I prefer an underhand grip. The edge of an AC handle cuts into the fleshy pad below my thumb. Using an overhand grip the same thing happens. No matter how I hold it, it hurts."

                                    EXACTLY. It gets worse as the pans get bigger, filled fuller, and then you grab the handle in the middle or end to avoid the heat.

                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                      I don't see how the edge could touch the base of your thumb with an underhand grip. Try rotating your wrist more, until your fingertips go into the recess on top of the handle. That's the underhand grip.

                                      1. re: GH1618

                                        In my view, an underhand grip is one in which the handle rests in the palm of my hand,and my fingers curl up over the top. Using that grip, the edge of the handle absolutely digs into the fleshy part of my hand below my thumb. And yes, my fingers curl into the groove.

                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                          That is how I hold my pots and pans.

                                           
                                            1. re: DuffyH

                                              Hi, Duffy:

                                              And when the pan turns clockwise (or you try to turn it counter-clockwise) that's where it bites.

                                              IMO, the only marginally comfortable grip with A-C is "handshake"--aka Bill Clinton's ridiculous speechification thumb-point.

                                              Aloha,
                                              Kaleo

                        2. re: DuffyH

                          < Where are they getting this? I don't see AC ads all over the place >
                          .
                          If you watch (or have watched) cooking shows, there's a good chance you've seen more advertising for major brands then you are consciously aware of. Many of the major brands pay for advertizing directly and/or by supplying equipment to be used on the show.
                          .
                          Repeatedly during the shoot when someone's tossing something in a pan, putting a pot on a burner, loading an oven or getting something from a refer or freezer, there's a close-up shot showing the brand name, be it tools or equipment.
                          .
                          Most people see the branding without giving it a second thought because there attention is focused on what's being done rather than what's being used. This is subliminal advertising in that we see these brand names over and over again (often times without even being aware of it), over time these names creep into our subconscious.

                          1. re: Master

                            Oh yes, especially during any episode of Top Chef! :) (It even extends to the cars they drive.)

                            I admit, I purposely look at what cookware is being used because it's a good way to see the different lines in action.

                            1. re: breadchick

                              < I admit, I purposely look at what cookware is being used... >
                              .
                              Intentionally looking at the brands of cookware and equipment used is how I became aware of how much advertising is done in this manner, and it doesn't stop with products related to cooking.

                            2. re: Master

                              I'm not aware of any branding at ATK. I recognize their choice of T'fal because of the distinctive red spot (thermal indicator), not because of subliminal display of the name.

                              Food Network goes out of its way to avoid branding, especially of the free kind. Food labels are always replaced with home made ones. I had to ask here about the brand of the non-stick pans they use on Chopped. The color is distinctive, but they don't display any names.

                              Cooking shows taped in restaurant kitchens give an idea of what types and brands of pans are used professionally. I just watched the 'Leftovers' episode of The Mind of a Chef.
                              http://video.pbs.org/video/2365133708/
                              and noticed the use of pans, though I can't name any.

                              The nonstick (at 5:00) looked like what I have bought at a restaurant supply (or that section at Samsclub) (who uses the bright blue handle cover?). Chris Cosentino had a big stack of stainless steel pans on a shelf above the stove (8:20). (At least I think they were stainless steel; they were too shiny to be used aluminum). In Fergus Henderson's kitchen (20:00) it was some sort of nonstick induction compatible pan. In Brandon Jew's kitchen there was a wok (for steaming), and a little (1.5 qt?) copper sauce pan (14:00).

                        3. I don't know if it's the best, but I'm happy with mine. I boiled my MC2 saucepan dry once and overheated it. It didn't warp or delaminate, and that's what I mean by good quality.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: GH1618

                            Exactly! You don't necessarily get to try and to own everything but if you've bought All-Clad you've got dependable, lifetime stuff that's a pleasure to work with.

                            I have incinerated my roasting pan on the BBQ, tied it up in a bag with some ammonia and you couldn't tell the difference between it and any other pan that's been in constant service inside my kitchen. Not a bit of the grime remains after temps up around 500˚ and there isn't a tiny bit of warping in the bottom. You pay for that quality -- whether it's All-Clad or something manufactured to the same standards -- but you get utility that won't let you down.

                            1. re: rainey

                              When I got my first All-Clad pans, my SO remarked, "These thing are freakin' Medieval!" He was referring to their solid construction, and I agree. After an apocalypse, all that will be left are cockroaches, Cher, and All-Clad pans. I love mine.

                              1. re: team_cake

                                <After an apocalypse, all that will be left are cockroaches, Cher, and All-Clad pans.>
                                .
                                LOL, love that.

                            2. re: GH1618

                              <overheated it. It didn't warp or delaminate, and that's what I mean by good quality.>
                              .
                              At one point in time all the cookware in my kitchen was clad cookware, both AC and an Italian brand from Costco (don't recall the brand) that was of the same quality @ 1/5 the price. After 15 years of daily use and abuse it was in the same condition as when I bought it.

                            3. I really like my d5 fry pans, I think they're easy to use and produce great results while standing up to wear and tear. That being said, I haven't compared them to less expensive clad cookware.

                              I think All-Clad is just a very reliable choice. I think it is also more affordable relative to companies such as Mauviel and Demeyere. I actually would love to get my hands on Demeyere, but unless I suddenly start making drastically more money than I currently am I don't expect to own any of their things any time soon.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sancor

                                I really like my D5 too. I only have a few pieces of All Clad and admit I mostly bought the D5 over the tri ply because I liked the aesthetics more.

                              2. In the 2013 season ATK (or was it CC?) looked at 12" skillets below $100. All-Clad has been their long time favorite, but it is well above $100.

                                In this less expensive category Tramontina was their winner. It sounded like all their test choices performed about the same. The differences had more to do with things like weight (for some 2 lb is better than 4) and handle length/shape, and rim shape.

                                In this category of multilayer stainless steel, as long as the layers stay bonded, what is there to wear out?