I searched and did not find a thread on this (post-2005), so I apologize if this is a dupe. That said, simply put: best pot/pan set for the value? Cuisinart? All-Clad? I'd prefer something with clear lids, but that's not a must. Also, non-stick vs. regular, copper vs. stainless steel, etc? Thank you.
I'd say that is too broad — there is no "best" for the "value." For one thing, different people can have greatly differing opinions of value, depending on how much money they have to spend on cookware. For another, different people cann cook different things in different ways, which would lead to a different conclusion of which cookware is "best."
concur with GH1618, AND
even for myself, as i get older, the things that i like/want in a pan are different than the things i liked decades ago.
pans that i loved way back when are too heavy/unwieldy for me to handle/control/lift now
i find i no longer bake AT ALL, so pans that i used to like because they worked well for both baking and cooking are not as desirable now.
i tend to eat lighter fare now, such as roasted vegetables and no longer eat meaty stews at all. this changed my cookware preferences.
and on, and on.
The serious cook/hobbyist will be looking at All Clad, Le Creuset, and Staub as high end models to compare against at a place like Williams-Sonoma. That would be a terrific start. If you can't go there and walk around--go online, which might be the best place to start anyway. Then try a good department store like Macy's, then low cost alternatives at Target--or Walmart. The experience should be an eye opener.
Once the alternatives are clear, consider buying just one piece at a time while thinking through your energy source: gas, electric, or induction. Make some dishes that feature your new cookware piece and pieces, and start building your personal solution. It should be a wonderful adventure.
The term "best" can be kinda vague. Some of my "best" pans are yard sale cast iron pieces... Griswold/Wagner stuff that cleaned-up and re-seasoned just fine... and only cost a dollar or. IMO, "best" for non-stick is Calphalon. Treated correctly, lasts a long time. It's NOT big bucks AND C will repair/replace for just the cost of you shipping it to them... NO receipts required.
Unless you just HAVE to have all the same brand, I'd also pass on buying a set and opt for picking up a piece or 2 at a time.
Fair answers thus far and I guess I didn't leave enough detail. Here's what I'm looking for:
I have a 30" Bertazzoni gas range - quite powerful compared to what I was using, and also an impetus for me to replace my T-Fal (!) pans. I have a few cuisinart pots as well as a nice wolfgang puck skillet, but that's it. Otherwise, what I'm looking for is something:
*complementary to this unit - high BTU resistance, cooks well on gas.
*non-toxic. We have a newborn and now this is even more important than it was previously.
*cleans fairly easily. obviously there will be elbow grease involved and though I'm partial to copper, I see that in nearly every review they are absolutely demanding to upkeep and I really won't have the time or that level of dedication to keep them gorgeous.
*non-stick? I would assume that's ideal but from what I can tell they are actually subpar for cooking, outside of eggs. Is that correct?
I'm leaning toward Cusinart but this Analon Nouvelle caught my eye:
Any reports on this?
Otherwise, looks like Cusinart or All-Clad. Thank you again.
Taking your bulleted items in order:
complementary — everything works on gas. I don't think there are many pans which will melt on a high BTU range, but you should be careful not to overheat nonstick coatings or to warp or delaminate a pan by letting it boil dry. Even an ordinary range can damage a pan this way.
non-toxic — there is no need to worry about toxicity from any cookware sold in the US or Canada. I advise that you don't use aerosol cooking spray (or any other aerosol). My infant daughter would start coughing within seconds when we used a cooking spray, even though she was in another room. We stopped using it, of course.
cleans fairly easily — most pans do, except those that have bare aluminum surfaces. Copper needs polishing to look sharp. All stainless steel is easily cleaned with Bar Keepers Friend. Nonstick is easy to clean by hand. I would never put it in the dishwasher even though some claim to be dishwasher safe.
Non-stick — I am one who thinks Teflon-type nonstick is ideal for eggs, but there are those you prefer plain (seasoned) steel pans. Although I have and use a couple of nonstick skillets for other things, I wouldn't use nonstick for everything.
I have seen Anolon Nouvelle but haven't used it. It looks like one of the best lines that you'll find in a department store. It comes in a stainless version and a nonstick version, so you can mix and still match, if that's important to you.
You've gotten a lot of good advice so far, so I'll keep it to a point no one's addressed--"demanding" upkeep for copper.
I have about 50 pieces, maybe 15 of which I use regularly. I only polish 2-3x/year. This is the bright, mirror polish, and this *is* some work, if you must have that look.
However, you can attain about an 80% effect with very little effort using Barkeeper's Friend. If this "lightly-brushed" look is acceptable to you, don't give upkeep another thought. You still must hand wash, though.
"Best" usually carries with it some extraneous concepts, e.g., convenience, aesthetic, status, etc. If you focus exclusively on performance, it's hard to go wrong choosing thick copper or very thick aluminum.
By the way, the stainless steel version of Anolon Nouvelle is available from Overstock.com for only $300. I would call that a "value" if that's what you decide you want. You could then supplement it with a couple of Nouvelle nonstick skillets.
Note that Overstock has erroneously described this set as being "nonstick."
I'm not sure there is a "best bang for the buck" when it comes to cookware. The really great cookware comes with a really great price (assuming you are buying new). A more appropriate question might by what's the best $500 9 piece set of cookware, or $1500 9 piece set. I think you can find a thread on the best $200 set of cookware, the point is these are totally different answers.
As long as you are not on an induction range, thick (2.5 - 3 mm) copper is the best for sauté pans and skillets, because of the even heating. But new copper of that thickness is very expensive. Next would likely be thick multiply, typically SS/Al/SS combinations with 3 to 7 layers. These conduct heat very well and are usually induction compatable. But here's where bang for the buck gets really tricky, does a $250 Demeyere Proline cook better than an All-Clad or an even much less expensive Cuisinart French Collection, or and even less expensive made in China pan of similar construction? With this type of cookware, thicker is almost always better.
Then there are disk bottom cookware, and these too run the price gamet from over $350 for a Demeyere sauté to $59 for a Calphlon. This technilogy is also used in many sauce pans as well. The emphisis is on even heat on the bottom of the pan.
Clear lids, is another issue. Most of the higher end cookware does not utilize a glass lid. The obvious advantage is that you can see in without lifting the lid. Since you don't see these on "high end" cookware such as Mauviel, Demeyere, All-Clad, etc. I think one can determine the disadvantages outwheigh the advantage.
If I had to pick a best bang for the buck right now I would say the Cuisinart French Classic collection: http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-FCT-1... This is a really great deal right now. I've seen and held the pots and pans and the quality looks to be there. They aren't the thickest available but thicker than most low cost cookware. And they are made in France.
I agree with everything mikie wrote, except for one little thing. He did well to advise heavy copper and thick multi-ply clad like the Demeyere. Here's where we part - if you're going to purchase any of the clad stainless pans, I would not buy anything, even the Cuisinart FC, that is thinner than All-Clad tri-ply. I just don't think the value is there, in the long run. I used to, but now I know better.
I've recently purchased some thick (same as or better than AC) clad sauté pans and sauciers. They are performing leagues beyond my old Calphalon Tri-Ply, which was pretty comparable in thickness to Cuisinart FC. There is simply no comparison. On your range, I think you will especially appreciate the responsiveness and control you get with the thicker pans.
I'd recommend AC if you like the handles and flat rims. You should definitely handle- test them first. Otherwise, I'd recommend Mauviel M'Cook/M'Elite, Zwilling Spirit Stainless or Williams-Sonoma Thermoclad.
Mauviel and Thermoclad are thicker than classic AC. The Zwilling is about equal. Also consider Demeyere Industry5/Zwillling Sensation, which are 5-ply clad clones on par with the Mauviel and Thermoclad.
We don't really depart there as I agree thicker is definately better. Compared to "standard" Cuisinart that was mentioned in the OP, I think the French Classic is a better deal than most, and if one is looking for bang for the buck, this is a fairly good bang for a very small buck.
I think my Demeyere saucier and Viking saute, frying pan, and sauce pan are thicker than either All Clad or Mauviel M Cook. But, since I don't have the other two and measurements on this type of surface is difficult to do accurately I'm only speculating based on my visual determination. Personally I would buy the thickest cookware I could afford and/or lift comfortably. These options are not always within the budget restraints or available. If one is copper phobic (afraid of copper maintaince) heavy ply like Demeyere is probably the next best alternative.
<I think my Demeyere saucier and Viking saute, frying pan, and sauce pan are thicker than either All Clad or Mauviel M Cook.>
No question. Yours are definitely thicker. Of this I am certain. And the 11" Demeyere skillet, when it's on sale, is a killer deal.
<Personally I would buy the thickest cookware I could afford and/or lift comfortably>
I bought a couple of Mauviel M'Stone HAA pieces when I went induction, because I do have weak wrists. I was thinking that the aluminum would give me the response I want with a lot less weight, and they do.... but they're nonstick (ceramic) and thus not right for everything. When it comes to stainless, I do like nice thick pans. I used to be a dedicated pan shaker, hardly ever even using a spatula or spoon for pan frying and sautéing. I've learned to use utensils and leave my pans sitting on the hob, but can't say I like it. *sigh*