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Proffessional grade Stainless cookware options?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hey all, can someone help point me to the right cookware if it exists. I am looking for some nice stainless pieces built with professional like quality that may suit the following wishes...

1. Can't be similarly priced to 2.5mm copper cookware

2. Must be aesthetically pleasing for a home pot rack (Vollrath and Lincoln do not fit the bill with the commercial handles)

3. I would prefer a full Tri-Ply with the embedded aluminum through the sides.

4. I would prefer it to be not made in China...

Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 25

Stainless Steel Pans

I have a set of Cuisinart stainless steel pans with a composite foot that look nice and work well on my glass-top electric stove at home.

However, I wouldn't recommend stainless steel for a gas stove. In my experience, the intensity of the heat causes hot spots in stainless steel pans. I've used some of the cheapest, and some of the most expensive, and never like them on gas heat.

I prefer layered aluminum pans for gas. They're a lot cheaper, still look good, and can be easily replaced when they warp and scratch.

This decision may come down to price versus appearance, but think about how you plan to use them. What type of cooking will you do most? Don't forget about function. The pans are meant to cook, not just look nice hanging on a rack.

If you head to your local restaurant supply store rather than the shopping mall, you'll get a better deal, more selection, and better advise.
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks for replying. Just to clarify, when you say layered aluminum cooks more evenly than Stainless does that include the tri-clad aluminum/stainless I am looking for, what kind of layered pans are you referring to? I am talking about the tri-clads that have a thick gauge aluminum plate cladded between two thin sheets of stainless steel.
post #4 of 25
This is the type of thing I'm talking about.
Aluminum Saute Pans

I know the all-clad pans have a combination of aluminum, stainless, copper, something from NASA, etc. It's supposed to be superior, but it just doesn't work on gas for me.

Aluminum is a better conductor of heat than stainless. Stainless doesn't scratch or warp, though. It depends on the type of cooking you're going to do. In the commercial kitchen, we heat the pans very hot, then deglaze with cold liquids. It warps the pans, but they're cheap enough to get new ones. I find that stainless eventually turns black where the hot spots are.

This is my opinion based on years of experience as a large production chef. I'm sure someone else would tell you how stainless is the only thing you should use. For me, aluminum brings the heat much quicker than stainless on gas.

Put two chefs in a room, you'll get 5 opinions.
post #5 of 25
As Chef Tod said, two chefs = five opinions.

First, have some perspective: Once you get up from the level of bad to good -- you're not going to get a lot of help or hindrance from a pan. Great pans won't make you a good cook or your food any better than excellent or very good pans. You're balancing comfort and appearance even more than performance.

And appearance counts for a lot. Pots and pans are a part of your life, and you might as well enjoy the way yours (pots and pans, not lives) look.

Also, there are a number of good materials -- each with its own advantages. If I could have a fantasy set with an infinite number of skillets, I'd use (non-stainless) carbon steel for most purposes -- even though it doesn't heat as evenly as copper or aluminum, it has other wonderful properties which make up for that. The big problem is that it's reactive (although not highly) and you can't long-cook very acidic foods without affecting flavor and color. "I don't want to go off on a rant, but..." No, I really don't want to waste a lot of time on something that doesn't answer the question, but...

Aluminum is also highly reactive. It has other problems too, like warping. Most home cooks don't want their core set of pans and pots as plain aluminum. For awhile, anodized aluminum was very popular, and I don't really have many criticisms. It was good stuff, as good as anything else in my opinion; and most of my own set is old, anodized Calphalon. It's just not made anymore.

That said, aluminum warps, dents, scratches easily and so on. Restaurant cookware gets treated very harshly -- for instance it sees flames which go well up the sides and completely wreck the exteriors; it gets slammed, misused, abused, dinged, used for improper purposes, and probably used for immoral purposes too. No matter what a restaurant uses, it needes frequent replacement (or repair), and that cost money. For a restaurant, aluminum's primary virture is its price -- cheap. For a pro cook, it's the efficiency and relatively light weight considering its thickness. But for a home cook, it's hard to see a reason for plain aluminum.

Enamel over cast and enamel over steel can be very good pans, too. The problems of expense and weight are secondary compared to the fact that it starts looking crummy and stays that way. If you like stained, you'll like enamel.

Cast iron is too heavy and too slow for most things. It's also highly reactive. On the other hand, the things it's good for it's great for. Nice to have a few pieces.

And at last...

Stainless is not reactive, and it's durable too (as opposed to tin linings, non-stick finishes, and enamel). It's not an ideal pan interior, but none is. For most people, stainless is the best practical pan interior.

Exteriors are another matter.

Good, modern stainless comes in two basic flavors -- disk and multi-ply. With shallow, and other pans used with very little liquid, multi-ply construction really does make a difference; and is clearly superior. Once you get into sauce pans, larger pots, stock pots, and whatnot disks work as well.

Most good multi-ply pans spread the heat as evenly as any other good multi-ply pan. No matter what the number of plies, and what's on the exterior, most use aluminum to do the heavy lifting. If you're paying extra for a copper ply, with very few exceptions, that's what you're doing: Paying extra. Unfortunately, you don't get anything for it.

Lots of layers (like seven) has some advantages over a few layers (like three). It resists warping better, spreads the heat a little more evenly, tends to be a little more responsive, and so on. As a practical matter, these advantages -- other than warping -- tend to be slight.

There are a lot of multi-ply lines that will satisfy your requirements of "good cookware with nice looking handles," including All-Clad, Calphalon, Cook's Essentials, DeMeyere, Mauviel, Viking, etc. It all works pretty much the same. If I were buying stainless tomorrow, I'd buy Vollrath; but you don't like their looks, so don't buy it.

Since looks are important, start there. Look for looks.

Next look for comfortable handles. A lot of people HATE All-Clad handles.

Look for price. All this stuff goes on sale, and you can usually find one brand which is the equal of whatever it was you thought was your first choice for substantially less money.

Weight cuts both ways. Heavier pans are usually better pans, but for women especially, pan weight can be a big negative.

You don't necessarily want a huge set with every pot and pan known to man. It's nice to have a few other pans made form different materials -- or just because you like one maker's 10" saute pan with a helper handle, another's 10" skillet, and another's 2 qt Windsor.

There's a lot to be said for buying from Bed Bath and Beyond or somewhere else with that level of customer service.

Why don't you look around a little, and come back with some specific things you do like. I don't think you're going to get unanimous agreement about any particular line with a questions like "what's best." Everyone swears by what they like, and that's just the way it is. Better if you can ask, "what do you think about this?"

So, what do you think about that?

post #6 of 25
To add to what BDL said about price shopping, check TJ Maxx, Ross, and Marshall's. I've found loads of good pans, Calphalon and All-Clad mostly, for less than half of retail in those stores recently. If you haven't priced it recently, half off of All-Clad is a huge discount.
Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for the replies. Well If it was completely up to me, functionality comes first, however my wife doesn't feel the same way :).

So I am looking for a good balance here and I like the Capholon tri ply (nice)

I do like the DeMeyere that was mentioned very much. It looks like they use a copper core in thier Apollo series. That series is priced similar to Copper, can anyone speculate as to how much control and effectiveness you get with something like that when compared to pure copper?

Also, another thing that was mentioned was that Stainless is not the most ideal cooking surface. I agree there, not good for things like Sausages or pork chops but great when you can deglaze it. With that being said are there other options besides teflon or seasoned cast iron for pan frying?

I would like to share my current thought process on my plans to upgrade, I would love to here any opinions or advice that you may be willing to share about the specific choices for the application. I have been cooking passionately for many years, and though I'm no expert in the kitchen, I would like to hone my skills and improve much over the next few years.

My plans for cookware upgrades are as follows:

A few pieces of Copper for making sauces and sauteeing

Cladded or plied stainless with aluminum for stock pots and general use

Seasoned cast iron pans for pan frying

Cast Iron Dutch Oven for braising

Aluminum/teflon for pan frying, eggs

Carbon Steel Wok for Asian dishes or fried potatoes etc.

Large stovetop griddle for cooking for the masses
post #8 of 25
As a practical matter, the performance is identical. But that's also true for any good multi-ply -- copper or no.

A moderate amount of copper is more responsive than a lot of aluminum. A moderate amount of copper spreads the heat more evenly than aluminum. A moderate amount of aluminum, is very responsive and almost as even as coppper; while a lot of aluminum is just as even as copper if not as responsive. However, even though there are differences, they're pretty darned nuanced.

A lot of layers resists warping more than a few.

A thin sheet of copper as one of the plies is usually more for consumer appeal than actual performance; but it does make an actual difference. Just a small one.

If money matters, don't spend it on copper. If money doesn't, well why not?

Other surfaces beat stainless in terms of non-stickness, and are better for searing too. When it comes to properties like responsiveness to changes in burner heat, temperature stability, and even heating, those are more functions of the exterior cladding than the stainless insert.

I'm a little unsure of the term "pan frying." Do you include searing and sauteing in the term?

In any case, don't use teflon. Non-stick surfaces like teflon do have limited uses. But there are better alternatives, seasoned carbon steel for instance.

Cast iron is good for pan frying, but only from the standpoint of heat stability. While it also acquires a good non-stick slickness when seasoned and appropriately maintained, it's way too heavy for almost any type of saute work. I prefer seasoned carbon steel (buy it "raw," season it yourself) for sautes and searing -- anything where you have to move the pan a lot.

Seasoned carbon is also best for eggs.

OK. But I'm going to be blunt.

As do we all.

'Twas brillig and the slithy toves...

Buy copper for its unique combination of looks and performance. If you're buying it for performance, don't waste your money. It doesn't do anything a well made multi-ply doesn't. Also, what's copper on the outside still has a stainless or tin liner.

Nice to have a core set with stainless interiors.

Get one large, cast, chicken fryer; and a skillet in whatever size you want for cornbread. Otherwise, if you're not forced to use a non-reactive insert, the first choice is carbon steel.

By all means. Quality enamel over cast or steel is good. There's some nice, heavy stainless that works well too.

Promise me you won't. Buy carbon steel. Did I mention that it's cheap? Lasts forever. Doesn't need bogus tools which melt? And that you can use all your metal tools? How about that you can build a fond on it? Won't poison you?

Don't buy an expensive wok, expensive isn't better when it comes to woks. Do buy good wok tools of appropriate size for your wok.

Get the Lodge, 2 burner cast-iron griddle with a griddle on one side and a grill on the other. Didn't you say something about sausages and pork chops? Anyway, Lodge. Grill/Griddle. Two-burner. Accept no substitutes.

Good luck,
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you this was very very informative!

By Pan Frying I meant trying to cook something that doesn't permit stirring such as fillets or browning a bone in chicken breast skin side down (nightmare with Stainless :eek:). But, I do like the way the carmalization occurs when sauteeing onions or mirepoix for example

I actually am very fond of the idea of using seasoned steel and cast iron. The problem I saw with using the carbon steel was even heating over my gas burners. Do they heat even enough as they are? Or are there aluminum pans with carbon steel inserts that exist?

I have purchased a Lodge 7 qt. Dutch oven (non enameled) is this a good choice?

I have also purchased a steel 4 burner griddle from Ace restaurant supply assuming I would be able to season it. Was this a good choice?
post #10 of 25

You wrote: That's searing, not pan frying. One charactersitic searing and sauteing share is the use of very little oil.

Pan frying is something else. I.e., using a frying pan or skillet with enough oil to go about half way up the side of whatever it is you're cooking, and turning to cook both sides evenly. A good for instance is southern fried chicken, while another is schnitzel. It might help to think of pan frying distinct from deep frying -- which is it's contra-positive to use a term of art.

By the way, there are a couple of things you can try with your stainless to minimize sticking. Making sure the food to be cooked is completely dry. Preheating the pan to an appropriately high temp before adding the oil. Preheating the oil to an appropriately high temp before adding the meat. Not attempting to turn until the food has cooked to its "release" point.

Yes, indeed.

They work well for a lot of purposes. You can't long-simmer tomato or wine sauces though.

Not really a problem. The "trick" such as it is, is to preheat the pan long enough so that it's fully preheated.

Not that I know of.

Wonderful dutch oven. Could you do better? Actually, as long as you're not cooking something very acid, probably not. You'll want another rondeau, oval casserole, or whatever for cooking with tomatoes or a lot of wine. Good to have two from different materials.

Quite possibly not. It will only work with a commercial, or commercial-type stove. If you're not using a commercial stove where the four burners are the right size and have "continuous grates" (set together so that all the grates touch), you're SOL. In other words, the four grates must form a square, and not two rectangles.

If you do have a space on your stove between the burners on the left and right, try and cancel the order; or if it's too late, try to turn the package around as soon as it gets to you.

Alternatively, if you do have continuous grates and four contiguous burners, give it a try. Quien sabe?

That said, most people prefer cast iron for griddle/grills to thinner, lighter steel. They take a long time to preheat but once you've got the temp right they're very stable -- which is what you want for either. You can order the Lodge cast iron two burner grill/griddle combo for about half the price of the four burner griddle -- there's a link to it on Acemart's four burner griddle page. However, you can probably find it more cheaply somewhere else, we paid less than $30 at Walmart. They are fantastic as grills too -- remember those pork chops? If you really need the size, buy two. Still easier to store than that four burner monster.

post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Uh oh, are you sure about the griddle?

It's not a commercial style stove it's separated, but I thought this would be plenty rigid, it's supposed to be 3/16" thick and 25 lbs with a 1" perimeter brace. If it's been confirmed that it does not work right, I suppose I better try to cancel when they get there in the morning.

Griddle for 4 Burner Stovetop, Each
post #12 of 25

Pots and Pans Video

Perhaps my Pots and Pans video will help also.

YouTube - Pots and Pans - Cooking Coarse 5
post #13 of 25

Hoping this finds you before the Whoops (UPS) guy. One good check would be to measure the distance from the right side of a right-side grate, to the left side of a left-side grate. If you've got a 30" stove, that measurement will almost certainly be 27" or greater. The griddle you ordered is 22-9/16 wide total; and that distance is meant to go over the grates entirely.

Not a good thing.


PS. The griddle dimensions are given on the bottom of the page, and would be easy to overlook if you weren't actually trying to find them. Griddle for 4 Burner Stovetop, Each
post #14 of 25
Did you actually handle them yourself in a store? Many of those DeMeyere pans are SUPER heavy. I mean, like, really, really heavy. TOO heavy, if you catch my drift.

Anyway a year or two back I came to this board asking for advice on pans and followed BDL's advice to get carbon steel pans. Got two of those: Bourgeat Black Steel Round Frying Pans - (Matfer Bourgeat) SKU314

Couldn't be happier. Tricky to season and use right, but once you get the hang of it, they're virtually non-stick without the negatives of a non-stick pan. Perfect for eggs, pancakes, crepes, searing a steak, pork chop or sausage, fried rice, sauteed potatoes, etc...
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the video link. I can't watch it at the moment because I'm on a phone, but I look foward to watching it when I get back to my computer.

B laze the burners were 23 inches to the outsides. If it doesn't work out though I have a plan B to give as xmas gift. Also, what kind of carbon steel pans do you recommend? Which finish to choose? Are there any with handles that stay cool?

post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
I haven't handled them yet but I might be able to overlook look the weight if it has performance like copper. I am looking forward to collecting some carbon steel. Those are some nice ones you linked too.
post #17 of 25
Re: weight. The problem with the Demeyere kind of weight is that there are a lot of things related to moving the pan that become harder to achieve. I didn't think much about weight at first but when I picked up a Demeyere I realized I couldn't easily swirl the pan around (for example to spread out oil for sauteeing), or move the pan on the burner to shake the food, things like that.

Carbon steel is already heavy - I have a big 12"+ size that I can still shake and swirl around. But it's not as heavy as a stainless steel Demeyere!

Another brand BDL recommended to me for carbon steel pans was Vollrath again. I'm happy with Matfer so I'd buy them again.

The handles stay cool for a bit then heat up. It takes a while for the pan to heat up (maybe about 5mn for most tasks) but you can still use the handle with bare hands. Then after a while it heats up. For most tasks that's fine, but if you leave it on the fire for a while the handle becomes hot.
post #18 of 25
I recently was shopping for cookware too.

I narrowed it down to All Clad, Mauveil and Viking

I saw a piece of copper/stainless Mauveil and eliminated it because of it's weight. Also, I heard there was a possibility of bootlegged pans going around and I don't know enough to make an evaluation.

I purchased a pan of All Clad and a pan of Viking

The All Clad had a steamer basket and the veggies came out great. However, there were water stains the exact pattern of the steamer basket that could not be removed, even with Bar Keepeers Friend...and that was after just 1 use.

I returned the All Clad the next day

I made potatoes simmered in milk in the Viking. It scaled a little but cleaned-up as though it just came out of the box.

I preferred the look of the Viking too because there is less worry about the wear marks on the surface of the Viking than the All Clad

My husband bought me some Viking pieces for Christmas and we are looking for a pot rack for them

Here is a video from from Viking. I hope it helps (click the VIDEO button):

Cookware - Viking Range Corporation
post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 
Well thanks for the info everyone. Ok, so I have an update... B Laze, I received the stove top griddle and here is here is how it went: It did manage to get reasonable coverage over the stove, however it did not transfer heat to the center as well as I thought it would. Even with a center burner, it still may have some cold spots. Therefore, I could not recommend this to anyone as is. I do have a plan to fix this problem and improve the coverage over the burners as well as increase the efficiency to the center by gluing a 3mm aluminum plate to the bottom of the griddle. The plate will extend out to the width of the stove and will be glued with a thin layer of ultra high temperature conductive aluminum-epoxy based adhesive. Hopefully it works.

The Wok I bought from the Wok Shop on Amazon was a burn deal. It was the poorest craftsmanship I have seen in a while. There were grind marks all over it, terrible welds, and it was a very thin gauge. It was not the one advertised in the picture. This one had faux hammering marks on it that look ridiculous. I'll be contacting them, maybe there was some kind of mistake.

The Lodge Logic Dutch oven I bought was a burn deal also. The one I got had obviously been returned once before because the box was double taped. Upon opening it, I realized that somebody had dropped it on something very hard which cracked the entire side of it. I can't see how Ace Mart would overlook such a thing but they did. Maybe round two will be better.

I have pulled the trigger on some Demeyere Atlantis for a good price. Sorry French Fries I know they are heavy, but Copper and thicker gauges make it so. I also got two Proline skillets with the sloped sides and they have a little less weight with the absence of Copper and should allow more maneuvering.

I am also looking at some Falk sauciers. I like the idea of having the sauciers having maximum heat transfers up the sides. I hope a couple of these guys wouldn't take too much to be polished?

Still looking at the Carbon steel pans...Do they still make those insulated handle covers that slip over?

Thanks missyjean, for the info, already gave my heart away though :)
post #20 of 25
You are welcome. I'm glad you found what you were looking for

As for the Lodge..I'm sorry you were sent something returned. I have a 6 qt Lodge cast iron w porcelain I purchased from Amazon in cafe' color. I love it. I was considering the Le Cruset but for $200 less the Lodge is great. It cleans up beautifully with a little help from my new best friend, BarKeepers Friend
post #21 of 25
"my new best friend, BarKeepers Friend"

Barkeepers friend is great isn't it? If you do decide to go with a LeCrueset enameled pot in the future check out Costco. I paid $170 for a 7 quart oval. About $50-60 less than other stores. ;)
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
post #22 of 25
It really is great. We have a well. The water-treatment system froze and broke during a cold spell a couple of weeks ago. Before we could get it replaced, our toilet turned orange from the iron in the water. I sprinkled some of the Bar Keepers Friend in the bowl and the orange disappeared.

I never heard of the stuff until I joined this forum.

I really have learned so much here. I am not new to boards but this is the most informative board I have ever been on.

I will definitely go to Costco for the Le Creuset. I didn't know they carried it. I will be needing a 7 qt down the road.

Thank you :o
post #23 of 25

Some useful links:
Cookware: Sources of Ratings

All-Clad Cookware



JB Prince

You could also try: Iron Out, or Super Iron Out

The next time that you need a plunger, try the Master Plunger MP100[Made in USA!].
Perhaps you could find them at a local hardware store.


Edited by TheUnknownCook - 12/16/10 at 11:38am
post #24 of 25
That Iron Out looks great. Thank you. It is sold in WalMart and Bed, Bath and Beyond-two stores I shop in often. I'm adding it to my shopping list.

Thank you for all the great links. I'm bookmarking this thread :smoking:
post #25 of 25

I have purchased a Le Creuset 5.5 French oven and I am looking forward to learning how to cook in this.  I also threw out an old inexpensive 11 inch stainless saute pan with lid (Wolfgang Puck).  This worked really well, but I just recently noticed that the rivets were corroded so do not know what has been leaching out of them and for how long. Also, have thrown out a 2 qt stainless saucepot with lid (WP) that I have used a lot - same problem with rivets.


  After doing online research and asking questions I purchased an All Clad steamer set, pot and insert, and realized when I got home that the insert was made in China so I returned it the next day. 


  I then bought an All-Clad 40th anniversary American stainless steel 10 or 11 inch pan with lid and two helper handles (love that).  It looks very nice and I was eager to use it.  The first time that I used it was enjoyable and it is small so washing up was easy.  However, when I had soaked it for a while and then washed and rinsed it, I noticed white spots and colors on the bottom of the pan.  I used 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar and boiled and this removed the spots and color and it looked good again.  Should this have happened on the first use?  I used it again yesterday and the same thing happened.  It looks ugly at this time untill I do the vinegar and water again. This is going to make washing up a long process if I have to wash it, boil vinegar and water, wash it in soapy water again, rinse it and dry thoroughly.  If I return this (hope that I still have receipt) will I find the same problem with all stainless steel?


  On the day of buying the All-Clad American pan I also picked up an All-Clad stainless steel 4.5 pot for pasta and for oatmeal.  I do not cook a lot of pasta so I got the 4.5.  Again, this looks very nice.  I did get white spots again after the first use, although not as much as in the AC American pan.  Wondering if I should hang on to this or get something better. Can you boil water for pasta in a Le Creuset pot?


   I have not bought cookware in years and wanted to get just a few very good pieces.  Would I have made a better choice with a different kind of stainless steel or getting a Le Creuset skillet for making things such as fajitas, sauteeing veggies, meat for tacos, etc?  Perhaps the stainless is okay for pasta.


   Because of past medical issues I do not use nonstick and have heard that Le Creuset is a healthier way to cook.  I am also not sure of anonidized cookware since I have not heard that it is healthy.  I will read more about this. 


  ** Pretty much just need French oven - have that.  *11 inch skillet with lid.  *Pasta pot - have that, but may change it.  *Small saucepan with pour spout for making steel-cut oatmeal and for boiling water for tea (prefer to do it in a saucepan) - about 2 qt.  *A wok with lid.  Not carbon steel, probably stainless and about 11 or 12 inches.  Nothing made in China.  Healthy cookware. Very good quality.  Prefer helper handles on both sides if possible.  Do not like the All-Clad 2 qt saucepan as it has just a long handle and actually feels heavier than the 4.5 pasta pot because the 2 qt has no helper handle.  I do not mind lifting the 5.5 Le Creuset oven - good workout especially if you hold in the belly at the same time you are lifting.  I do not move it far and it has the helper handles - makes a lot of difference.


  Some suggestions would be most welcome.

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