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So, if All-Clad isn't the beat all end all, what is?

  • m

The previous discussion on All-Clad made me start thinking and investagating. My daughter is going to update her kitchen, new stove (gas) and new granite counter tops along with a couple of other upgrades. I'd really like to get her some new pots & pans to go with the update. I know, I know, don't buy sets, but the prices are so much better on the sets, if there's a piece she doesn't need (can't imagine what that might be, she has junck) it's virtually free anyway.

After looking at many different brands, AC does seem to have a few things going for it.
- They have been around a long time and seem to be well established, so the warenty has to be way better than what I have on the Viking pieces I recently bought, since these are no longer manufactured.
- They have a large assortment of pieces, so if she needs to add a piece, say a steamer insert or double boiler, that option exists without have to purchase another pot to support it.
- They hold up well and are well made, at least according to those here that have it.
- Expensive as it is, it's not overpriced when compared to other cookware of similar quality that's not made in the Pacific Rim. In fact a 10 pc. set with approximately the same components is about $200 less than the Zwilling Sensation. The WS Thermo Clad made in Italy is the same price.

Any great ideas?

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  1. Hi, mikie: "AC does seem to have a few things going for it."

    Yes, of course. It competes and compares favorably with like constructions.

    I have one piece of Thermoclad, a skillet, which I like. I know the aluminum is 2mm thick. I wish A-C would publish the thickness of theirs.

    Aloha,
    Kaleo

    1. DeBuyer au Carbone for high heat uses, a Staub casserole, and for the matching pieces (pretty much everything else) 3mm thick tin lined copper except for SS lining on the roaster. Happy shopping.

      On a serious note, I have no experience with Demeyere, Viking, or any other new high end lines; so consider my opinion based on very little by way of comparison and, therefore, likely suspect. Cheers.

      3 Replies
      1. re: tim irvine

        I don't plan on taking out a second mortage so the 3mm copper is out. Besides, I'm not sure she could take care of it anyway, hubby does the dishes and he's a little rough on equipment. (long story, but funny). Already bought her a couple of Staubs, a Coq au vin and a small round cocotte. The roaster may be the only other decent piece of cookware she has.

        Kaleo, I'm thinking about the Thermoclad, but I don't want the same thing to happen with it that happened to my Viking. BTW, picked up a lone Viking 2qt saucepan for half price at a kitchen shop, it was on the sale table, last piece they had.

        1. re: mikie

          Hi, mikie:

          What happened to your Viking? Just discontinued, or was there some failure?

          My understanding is that W-S is committed to the Thermoclad line. That's not to say it will be offered for decades, but I seriously doubt its tombstone will have "____ to 2014" carved onto it.

          Aloha,
          Kaleo

          1. re: kaleokahu

            Hi Kaleo,

            Well, the Viking cookware was made by Demeyere in Belgim, not really by Viking. I'm speculating here on what may have happened.

            Zwilling now owns Demeyere, and Demeyere has/had an exclusive with Sur La Table on the Industry 5 cookware. Zwilling wanted a biger piece of the action and introduced their own brand name version of the Industry 5, Sensation cookware. To do this they needed the manufacturing capacity that had been used to make the Viking cookware.

            Viking had good reviews from CI and has a much more comfortable handle than either Ind.5 or AC IMO. But I have no idea how well it was received by the cooking public. It was price competitive with similar construction not made in the Pacific Rim. My converse theory is that it didn't sell well enough and Viking dropped it along with their countertop appliances. Companies do this when times are tight, they change stratagies and go to "core competinecy", in this case making ranges. This would have forced Zwilling to make the Sensation line to fill the manufacturing capacity vacated by Viking.

      2. i think all clad is a great choice for a lot of folks.. and if she is updating a kitchen, she might like the look of a nice shiny new set. if i was buying a shiny new set, i'd buy the WS line JUST because i like the handles a lot more than all clad - they seem more comfortable to me.

        if it was me, and i was starting a kitchen again.. i'd probably still get what i have: a few stainless pieces, a few cast iron, a few le creuset... you get the idea. mostly i'd have a GIANT stockpot in stainless, a small stainless pot for sauces, a large and small cast iron, a good 12"sauté pan, a 6" egg pan, a large and a small dutch oven (either CI, enameled CI, or stainless - as long as it fit in the oven) and.. yeah, well, basically what i've come to use after 30 years in a kitchen!

        1. "So, if All-Clad isn't the beat all end all, what is?"

          Vintage copper. No brands--just old, thick, French, hammered copper.

          - It's been around a really long time. Even at 100 years old, it's probably not even near half its life cycle.

          - Unbelievable assortment of pieces. I've even seen saucepans I could sit in!

          - Re-read the first point.

          - Costs less than All-clad.

          (jokingly done point for point against yours.)

          To me the benefits of All-clad are really that (1) it is made in the USA, (2) and it carries a fantastic warranty. There is other new cookware out there that performs as good at lower cost, but it is not USA made with A-C's warranty. None of that changes the fact (IMHO) that the best cookware out there is generally used.

          21 Replies
          1. re: jljohn

            Hi Jljohn, you have forced my hand here, I have to tell the SIL story.

            As mentioned up thread, he does clean-up duty. One evening after dinner I watched him attempt to put a large glass pitcher into a small space. With total disregard of the laws of physics, in particular the one that states that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. When it didn't fit, he just pushed a little harder. Suddenly it fit, although it was no longer capable of containing fluid. He then turned around and stated he had no idea what happened, it just broke. Now he's a smart guy, advanced degree and all, but he does come from the get a bigger hammer school of making things fit.

            I'm not sure I trust him with copper, no matter how thick it is ;)

            1. re: mikie

              By that logic, nothing will last long. You might as well get cheaper cookware.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Chem, you have a very good point. It has been a thought that I've been dealing with, but her pans are sooooo bad. Not a flat bottom in the house. Most jsut spin on the glass top she currently has. Just a guess, but I think heavier cookware will be more resistant to warping and will make cooking more of a pleasure. I do think he's intelligent enough to be taught but copper is soft by comparison to other metals used for cookware. It might not make it through the learning curve. So far he has not been able to chip the Staubs and he has learned to keep the knives I bought out of the dishwasher.

                1. re: mikie

                  What about that Cuisinart French thing?

                  They are made in France, and they are less than half the price as All Clad.

                  http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-FCT-1...

                  You won't feel as bad if they are damaged.

                  I actually have no idea if they are good or not, so you should check them out.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    If I was buying a set, and if I like the handles better, I'd buy the top of the line Cuisinart. I am sure they are great pots and pans.

                  2. re: mikie

                    If 'heavy-duty' and 'durable' are the keywords, head for a restaurant supply store and get heavy aluminum.

                    1. re: mwhitmore

                      I have a lot of Cuisinart chef's classic NS that works fine. It doesn't state country of origin, so I presume it is manufactured in the USA. If from another country, it will state so.

                      Ultimately, the differences are marginal, and technique trumps all else. Julia Child once got to cook on a pan made from solid gold and found it superior but for the weight! As I have posted before, when I was at L'Acedemie, the word was to choose something without holes as a good cook can make a gourmet meal in aluminum pots over a camp fire.

                      Choose what is fun, feels good, you like to look at, and move on. You will rarely find any expensive stuff even in the better restaurants.

                    2. re: mikie

                      In addition to better pans, they probably need to learn to turn the heat down. IME, most people (including me) begin cooking thinking that high is the default setting on our cooktops. We heat cans of soup and the like. High is perfect! So fast.

                      Eventually, some of us learn to read cookware instructions and discover that medium heat will heat a pan just as well as high heat will. Not as fast, but the pan gets as hot as we need it to be.

                      The day I discovered "medium" is also the day I began to see that nonstick cookware can last longer than 12 months and that thin frying pans don't always warp. Surprise! Who knew? ;-0

                      1. re: DuffyH

                        Hi DuffyH,

                        No doubt you are correct. I believe part of the issue is the glass top electric stove, they are slow to heat, so people tend to turn them to high and then, if they remember or are paying attention, turn them down some for cooking. But, as a parent of young children, when do you ever cook without interuption. The thought is that when the new gas stove goes in, the cooking skills will and patience will improve and some new cookware will make that transition easier (better).

                        1. re: mikie

                          mikie,

                          After only 2 days cooking on my new induction range, I'm taken back to all the things i loved about gas stoves. I'd been hoping for faster response, but my memory must be faulty because I don't ever recall gas heating as quickly as this range, although I'm sure it must have, or been so close as not to matter. My point is that yes, electric ranges, especially radiant ones, are pure evil and cultivate terrible cooking habits.

                          30+ years with gas - 3 years with radiant + 2 days with induction = Duffy's got her groove back. :)

                          1. re: DuffyH

                            Oh, goody gumdrops!!!!! Sounds like you're pleased.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              You've no idea. Well, I guess you do. :)

                              Honestly, I'm completely gobsmacked by how fast the cooktop (and cookware) respond. Dude even finds it fascinating, and he has zero interest in the mechanics of my kitchen.

                              I warmed 2 cups of leftover split pea soup yesterday in one minute flat. Take that, microwave! If we only used our MW for liquids, I'd get rid of it in favor of a real vent hood. Alas, it heats up lots of leftovers that won't do well on the cooktop.

                              I boiled some eggs for salad and found that they need to spend extra time on the boil before coming off the heat. Following my normal routine they were soft boiled. Oops.

                              Pleased? Yeah, I guess. ;)

                              1. re: DuffyH

                                We live at 6200' elevation so my HB eggs take longer but I've found with the induction that I need to bring it up to a boil at a lower setting. Like you say, at HI or Boost, it's SO fast. I'm looking forward to reading about more of your adventures. Congrats.

                          2. re: mikie

                            my wife does this constantly. she ruined Hazan bolognese I spent all day cooking when she reheated it for supper the next night on high. she's like the Rex Grossman of temperature. limits be damned, shes going out blazing.

                          3. re: DuffyH

                            Well said, friend. Went through that learning curve myself many moons ago.

                      2. re: mikie

                        Geez. This is exactly why I am content to do the cooking AND the cleaning at my house.

                        Is your daughter really INTO nice cookware? I know you said downthread a bit that her husband can probably be taught to care for it properly, but.... I mean, I just don't see the point in getting her something really expensive if she's going to keep allowing him to abuse it.

                        I know this is coming off as harsher than I mean it, and I don't mean to be offensive. But that just seems like quite a waste for everyone. Buying American- or European-made is obviously a worthy goal, but I don't think it's worth it unless she's going to be caring for it herself.

                        I say this as someone who just got a lot of new cookware for Christmas that my fiance won't touch because he knows he will ruin it.

                        1. re: mikie

                          Mille - I swear I am married to his brother. I bite my tongue 99% of the time but occasionally I freak out over his clean up efforts. He seems to think he has a magical ability to defy the laws of mater as it relates to loading a dishwasher or jamming large serving pieces into cupboards.

                          The one time I was brought to tears was when he used my great grandmothers linen hand towels to clean the gas grill.

                          1. re: cleobeach

                            I'm constantly telling my husband what he is holding is a dish TOWEL, not a dish "rag"!!!!!

                            And yet he has 3 different types of garage towels, which I can't tell apart, but he can. (Note, though, I always ask which one I should use for X, Y or Z).

                            So sorry about your heirloom :(

                        2. re: jljohn

                          Copper is gorgeous, but "costs less than All-Clad"? Where are you buying it? Alas, I now have an induction cooktop & can't use my 2 gorgeous copper pans, but they still occupy revered spots on my pot rack!

                          1. re: bevwinchester

                            Copper is cheaper than A-C if the former is scrounged and the latter bought new. I think that was what Jeremy meant.

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              Precisely. I was referring to old copper--the kind of stuff you would dig up on craigslist or ebay. Ignoring the unusually thick (4mm) stuff or the rare collector's piece, it is less expensive than a new All-Clad piece of similar shape and size.

                        3. Despite a lot of the naysayers, I do think that All-Clad is still a good choice for many of the reasons that you list.

                          Sure, there are some other manufacturers that can make pans with similar materials and that may have similar performance. I'm not so sure, however, that they will have as cohesive of a product line or a warranty.

                          I can't say that I've had a pleasant experience with Cuisinart's (which is sometimes suggested as a cheaper alternative to All-Clad) warranty service. Furthermore, you aren't able to get individual pieces (e.g. the roasting rack from a roasting pan set) separately even if you offer to pay for it. All-Clad, on the other hand, sent a friend of mine a replacement head for some device (I forget what, maybe an immersion blender) for free.

                          Handle ergonomics are a perennial debate. Personally I don't mind them at all.