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Stainless cookware choices

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Greetings, all!

My wife and I are looking to begin replacing our Calphalon anodized aluminum and non-stick pans with stainless steel. We'll likely start with a 10" fry pan, a 4qt and 2qt saucepan. We already have a big stock pot and a 10" covered saute pan in Calphalon stainless. We also have an 8" Le Creueset omlette pan (my favorite!), a Le Creuset French oven, and of course a 12" cast-iron pan (my second favorite :) ). Oh, we've also got an anodized wok that we're planning to replace with steel at some point.

I'd like to find a product that's made in the USA. So far, the only thing I've found is the All-Clad series. They seem like nice pieces, but I really don't like the handles.

Are there any other brands I should be looking at? Besides the chains (Bed/Bath, Linens n Things, Macy's, Le gourmet Chef) I've checked my local restaurant supply store, and they don't stock cookware.

I'm also open to suggestions for pieces to round out our collection of cookware. I'm trying to do the most with a minimum of pieces. All of the pieces I own now I use very frequently, and are versatile. I'm trying to stay away from very application-specific items, like crepe pans and such.

We cook on gas, if that makes a difference in your suggestions.

Thanks!

-Joe
post #2 of 33
Joe,

Not really. I understand your desire to want to purchase well made pieces that will last several lifetimes and even if something is not made in the USA, there are plenty of other countries that have excellent reputations for creating quality products so don't limit yourself unnecessarily.

I think you should re-visit All-Clad and read this thread. What exactly is it you don't like about the handle. You might be surprised how well you might appreciate it when you're using it on a daily basis.
post #3 of 33
Joe, I was going to ask the same thing as Mudbug. What is it about the handles that you don't like. If anything, I think the handles on one of the best features of All-clad. I have looked at lots of other cookware and find their handles to be either flimsy or not well attached. Personally I wouldn't ever give up my All-clad, though I would like to supplement it with a lot more Le Crueset!!!
http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #4 of 33
Thread Starter 
It's not that I think other countries make junk, I just prefer to support companies here when I can. A lot of people in the States complain about jobs going overseas, then will buy things Made in China to save $1. I don't agree with that.

That said, I'm not dead set on Made in USA. I will spend extra for it over a comparable Made in China product, but I will not sacrifice quality for it. If we can't make a quality product, then my money deserves to go elsewhere.

I will check out the thread you linked. What I don't like about the handles is the shape. They hurt my hand when I pick them up. While they'll spend most of the time on the stove, I don't want to be uncomfortable while lifting a scalding hot pan of molten sugar off a burner.

Thanks for the reply,

-Joe
post #5 of 33
I can relate to your dislike of AC's handles. I love the pans (as I've said here many times :blush: ), but find the handles too narrow close in to the body of the pot. I can't get good leverage.

But the heat doesn't bother me. Especially from the stainless-steel handles. Anyway, I always have a potholder/hotpad/dry towel at hand if necessary (such as when I've just taken it out of the oven -- one touch without and you never make the same mistake again. Kind of like Raiders of the Lost Ark :crazy: ).
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #6 of 33
Please don't go for brand names, you're paying for the name, not the quality. Before you buy, check out the local Restaurant supply shops, very good quality, very good prices, albeit no bragging rights to "X" brand.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #7 of 33
I also understand your concern with the All-Clad handle especially on the 10" pan. At least once a week I use it to roast coffee beans. The way I do that involves shaking the pan constantly and tossing the beans every 10 seconds for nine to ten minutes. That put a little strain on my wrist in the beginning but I've gotten used to it.

Although I would prefer a more ergonomic handle, I wouldn't trade the pan for any other I know of.
just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
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just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
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post #8 of 33
foodpump,
Normally I would agree with you, but sometimes some brands really do stand for the quality they create and the reputation they have earned. Yes, there are many, many, many brands of very good cookware on the market and restaurant supply places are excellent sources for them. But in the end, most professional chefs who have worked with many brands will conclude from years of experience that All-Clad truly is the best.

Nostalgia,
As with anything, it is impossible to please every human 100% of the time. The handles are designed for a thumb-on-top grip. This may work for most humans but not all, there are always exceptions.

You could consider adapting the handle with silicone grips or grips made of oven mit material. This may be a good compromise if you decide to go with All-Clad.

post #9 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the excellent replies, all.

Foodpump, I have checked out the local restaurant shops. One didn't carry any cookware (at least not to the retail customer) and the other only had a couple of odd pieces (like a stock pot).

I know I can adapt the AC's handles (I already have the silicone slip-over), but I was just wondering if there were any other brands worth looking at. And if I'm dropping that much money on quality cookware, it'd be nice if it was comfortable in my hands without having to doctor it up with aftermarket goodies.

Really, I was hoping I could compare to a few other companies of similar quality before spending money on it. However, it does seem to be AC is the best game in town. Around here, it's All-Clad, Calphalon, or Emerilware.

-Joe
post #10 of 33
Sorry Mudbug, have to disagree with you. Having worked in Europe, I've been spoiled with some really excellent cookware: Heavy guage s/s, sandwich bottoms with copper plates, with aluminum plates, tubular welded handles, cast s/s handles.... and then there's copper-clad s/s ware as well, best of both worlds, then again, almost as expensive as one world...

Most of these items I can get here in Vancouver as well. The "regular" s/s ware, about 8 pcs, made in Asia, has held up now for over 10 yrs in a professional setting, and still perform great. The European stuff, a braisere, and a marmite haute of the same age, look and perform perfectly, inspite of 10 yrs of cooks coming and going, harsh cleansers and oven cleaners, and ignorant d/washers....
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #11 of 33
Foodpump, no need to apologize. What you need to do is be specific about brands and where they can be purchased in the USA. Also explain what you liked about each brand and piece. Feel free to go to the link above, vote and provide your input at that thread. That's what the forums are for.
post #12 of 33
Oh please!. iCook is part of Amway??

Phil
post #13 of 33

America's Test Kitchen

You might want to check them out. I've been extremely happy with the suggested items based on their ratings. AC Rocks! But, suprisingly, the Wolfgang Puck cookware (at least the 12" skillet) is a great one, especially for the price. It was a nice addition to my collection.
post #14 of 33
Don't limit yourself based on that either. The jobs that should go overseas do. We simply don't have enough people available to be the factory line workers and similar that are needed to produce the goods we want to buy -- our workforce has outgrown the un/semi-skilled stage and is on to higher incomes and consumerism (follow the baby-boomers' career paths, big lump in our demographics that they are).

My suggestion is to be sure you are comfortable with the feel of the product. You'll use it for a long time. One of my favorite stores for kitchen stuff, although expensive, is Sur La Table.
post #15 of 33
Unbelievable!
just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
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just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
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post #16 of 33
Why so unbelievable? I happen to be an economist and I look at these data day in, day out.

As for Sur La Table, you haven't stated what you find unbelievable about that. It's just an online store.
post #17 of 33
Well I have been trying to avoid this thread cuz I tend to be too chatty about everything...like Pannni say I just gonna have to tilt down my brim and take a siesta one day..but..just happen to have got a big whopper of an All Clad stock pot as a designated chili pot for Daddys Day a few years back..and I just luv that thang. If the handles was any mo bigga I dont see how it would fit in the ice box too well. That is very impotent to degrease large amounts of brick chili which might be put up for sale. Yups dont like grease ya know? Guess they figger it make their coat's too shiney or something. It must be the 32 quarter or whutever is the big one from Williams Sonoma. Know it cost 150 and it be just like the one one of my old chili cooking pals caught on sale at Foleys in the Mall for 40 bucks. Now that is enough to really piss a person off huh? Now I got the 15 year old chili cooking grandson a Pierreir Ricard Saucier pot from Linens and things which is hard anodized aluminum on the outside and Teflon on the inside. It seems to cook real well but do not come with a lid. Now whut is the point of an anodized outside? Wouldnt regular old aluminum work just as well? Whut am I missing here? Whut are they figgering the outside is gonna react to? Thanks. If you just got to spend a bunch of money All Clad is a good choice in my book. I would not dream of using anything made by puss cake **** ****** ******* such as but no limited to La Cruset garbage. They do not like Americkans over there ya know? Now dont let this interfere with your buying decisons. The Pirrier Ricardo pot is made by the ***** *****I think. They are our pals right?

bigwheel
post #18 of 33
How did you leave out "I'll have you know?"
just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
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just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
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post #19 of 33
All I tried to do was reassure the fellow that his buying decision re cookware was not going to harm the American worker... that he should be relieved of any guilt he feels from buying what he feels is best... that he should maximize his utility/pleasure.

As for Le Creuset, I agree with Bigwheel in that it is over-rated. I find it too heavy and one must be very careful with the coating. Although it is not a problem like non-stick, it still is a problem. I've been very pleased with the various stainless steel/copper combo pieces of cookware that I own.
post #20 of 33
Bigwheel, raw (un-anodized) aluminum shouldn't be in the kitchen. It oxidizes, leaves your counters black, your shelves that you store your pots on black, your clothing, etc. Many soaps and acidic foods (tomato, wine, vinegar) react to it, and if you ever made a cream soup or sauce in a raw aluminum pot with a whisk, you know the soup/sauce it will turn grey. Long time back I once made whipped cream by hand in an aluminum bowl, the cream turned very gray with metalic flecks, and I got a week's worth of morning shift duties and the Chef's clog between my cheeks for doing something that stupid. Aluminum pits easily, warps even easier, and since alot of people don't like to weld it, (but it is commonly done) most of the handles are riveted on. If a pot holds 10 qts and a qt is about 2 lbs, those handles take alot of stress, especialy as you jerk it loaded from the sink to the stove. The rivets work themselves loose, and then you got a pot with a "built-in overflow protection device". At every new place I worked at there would almost always be a stack of warped, rounded-bottom aluminum saute pans with loosey-goosey handles, and I would take them out back and peen the rivets over the sidewalk curb and flatten the bottoms with a meat hammer...

Teflon... great for smaller pans that wear out, but when you fork out big bucks for a big pot and the Teflon wears off, you won't be a happy camper. Since Teflon is one of the most slipperiest substances in the world, applying it to a surface takes some doing. If the surface is smooth, the Teflon won't adhere, so most surfaces have to be roughened up to accept the coating. And Teflon doesn't last the lifetime of the pot. Soaps will kill it, as will high heat. It's great for omelette pans though.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #21 of 33
A few months ago we purchased a enamelled cast iron casserole with lid. From its specked green outside I am thinking it would have come from the 20s or 30s. It weighs a ton for its size, a real little beauty.
post #22 of 33
$NZ 12. hehehehehe....
post #23 of 33
Well thanks for the info on the evils of raw aluminum. Knew it wasnt a good plan for the inside of a pot just didnt know why it so bad for the outside. Feels like I am much mo highly edumacated about it.

bigwheel
post #24 of 33
Thread Starter 
I agree with that post completely. That's why we're replacing all of our anodized / non-stick pans with SS. Except, of course, for my 8" Le Creueset non-stick omlette pan. Have I mentioned that it's my favorite pan? :lol:

The search still continues. I visited a third restaurant supply house, but they dealt mostly in used appliances. They only had 3 types of pan, all 12" fry pans: SS, raw aluminum, and non-stick.

Thanks for the good discussion, all. And for keeping it mostly civil :) I'm always fascinated by all of the different points of view. I'd definitely be interested to hear more about how buying Made in China product benefits the American worker, but that's for a thread in a different forum :)

-Joe

Edit for poor quoting skills :)
post #25 of 33
I would go with the All Clad. Virtually everything else on the market is Chinese made.
Boy, I sure don't understand the "minimalist" approach to cookware though. Last count, I had upwards of 70 pots, pans, stock pots, roasters, crepe pans, saute pans, and skillets. I know I have added some since then.
I like my copper best, but I also love the older Calphelon, my cast iron and some of the stainless pieces.
post #26 of 33
Thread Starter 
Mostly it's an issue of storage space. Our kitchen is small enough that some of our appliances live in the basement and the office. I built a poor man's pot rack, and that has helped quite a bit, but things are still tight.



I found a site selling AC seconds at a huge discount, plus an additional 20% if I buy 4 pieces. So here's what I think I'm going with:

1qt sauce pan - to replace 1.5qt nonstick saucepan
4qt sauce pan - to replace 3.5qt nonstick saucepan
5.5qt saucier - to replace 4qt nonstick chef's pan
12" fry pan - because I don't have one
2.5qt Windsor style sauce pan - because I always seem to need one more saucepan

Any feeling on the straight-sided saucepan vs. the Windsor style with the sloped sides? 90% of the time, we're cooking for just my wife any myself. The other 10% I'm entertaining. Any other pieces I shouldn't live without? I've got saute' pan, stockpot, French oven, omlette pan and wok covered.

-Joe
post #27 of 33
And that site is?

Phil
post #28 of 33
Thread Starter 
I'm not tellin!

:)

Cookware & More

Incidentally, I was walking around in Costco today, and found these:

Kirkland Signature Stainless

They're stamped Made in Italy. The seem to be very nicely made, with 5 ply stainless/aluminum/copper bases. The handles are riveted, and very comfortable. I do like the flared lip on the saucepans. And the Costco warranty is basically, "We'll take anything back, for any reason, after any length of time, receipt optional."

So I took the set home to evaluate.

-Joe
post #29 of 33
Nostalgia, Thanks for the link. I would also want a 10" pan but maybe that's what you meant was covered with your saute pan.
just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
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just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
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post #30 of 33
Thread Starter 
No problem, enjoy! Yep, I already have a 10" Calphalon SS saute pan. I can always fill in a 10" fry pan later.

I'm a little annoyed at the Costco pieces. The ones one display were clearly stamped "Made in Italy", but the ones in the box are stamped "Made in Thailand". The ol' bait n' switch.

I'm strongly considering them, anyway, since I really like the handles and the flared lip. They pour really nicely. The overall shape is a little goofy, though.

We just have to decide if we like the AC enough to pay more than 2x the money. The set at the link above was $200. That got me an 8" and 10" fry pan, 1.5, 2, and 4 qt sauce pans, a steamer basket for the 2qt, 8.5qt stockpot, and a 3.5qt saute pan. The 5 pieces of AC listed above will cost over $400.

So it begs the question, what more are we getting for the money? I know a few hundred dollars now won't seem like much 10 years down the road, but it's still a few hundred dollars that I could put to good use elsewhere at the moment.

-Joe
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