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All-Clad Master Chef 3 Quart Sauté Pan


Pros: Built Tough and Very Durable

Cons: Finished rougher than current All-Clad pans

Back around the time my wife and I moved into our first house, I was doing all of the cooking, and this was one of the first pieces, if not the first piece, of cookware that I bought, purchasing it specifically to make a chicken dish with raspberry vinegar sauce.  Someone had suggested that All-Clad, then fairly new to the market, was good cookware.  While I don't recall how much I paid for the pan, I do recall that my wife thought it was "outrageously expensive for a frying pan."  I'll never forget those words.

The Master Chef model was considered All-Clad's base model.  It did not have the outer layer of stainless steel, instead it had a thick layer of aluminum alloy, a somewhat different type of aluminum in the center, and a stainless steel cooking surface.  The handles, while in the traditional All-Clad shape, were roughly finished, unlike the handles on the more expensive stainless steel clad models, and they were certainly not as nicely finished as contemporary handles.  I sometimes wonder if people today would buy such a rough-hewn piece of cookware.

Over the years I've measured the thickness of several All-Clad pieces, and this sauté pan is the thickest of any that were measured.  That thickness probably contributes to the pans even heating.

When I got the pan, I didn't know much about cooking with stainless or even how to properly care for it.  Often it would be used over what would now be considered too high a flame, or with the electric burner cranked all the way up, throwing off enough BTUs to heat the entire house.  Sometimes food would stick, or even get burned on, and clean-up would involve techniques and cleaning agents that I would never consider using now.  I never heard of Barkeeper's Friend, used cleansers such as Ajax, rough cleaning pads, and maybe even steel pads like S.O.S. or Brillo.  When I think of how I treated this pan, I hang my head in shame.  Yet, no matter how poorly this pan was treated, it never failed to perform well, and the interior is still smooth and in great condition.

The outer aluminum has become stained over the years, and is far from pretty.  There were several times I put that pan through the dishwasher, never a good idea for aluminum - it is not recommended that this pan be run through the dishwasher, and yet here it is about thirty years later and it still performs like new even though it looks like it has been through the mill - and it has!

The pan has been over heated, put hot into cold water, or doused with cold water directly from the burner, and abused in ways I cannot remember.  However, there is not the slightest sign of warping, delaminating, or damage.  The lid still fits snugly, the handles remain securely attached, and even the exterior has held up well, especially considering the abuse it received.

The pan has been used on the stove top, both with gas and electric burners, and has spent a fair amount of time in the oven, sometimes at high (400-degree plus) temperatures.  Once, as an experiment, I threw some lamb chops into the very hot, pre-heated pan, putting the meat directly on to the cooking surface using no fat or oil.  I just wanted to see what the result would be.  Those chops smoked like a five alarm fire, but they didn't stick and the pan cleaned up well using a long, soapy soak followed with some Barkeeper's Friend to touch up what crud remained.

When people complain about the cost of All-Clad, I smile, because I know that, in the long term, the value is there.  Perhaps the newer pans will prove to be just as durable.  The sauce pans that I purchased around the same time are still going strong as well, and they too have been abused and treated badly.  I am very happy with the sauté pan, and would miss it dearly should anything happen to it requiring a replacement. 

If you're looking for a good, durable sauté pan, give serious consideration to spending the $$ for an All-Clad.  Maybe the newer pans will be just as strong and long-lasting as the original.
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All-Clad Master Chef 3 Quart Sauté Pan

This review is for one of the original All-Clad pans which I purchased in 1979 or 1980.

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