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Best pots and pans?

post #1 of 68
Thread Starter 
I am looking to buy the very best pot and pan set for my wife. The stores I have visited have sales people who have little or no cooking expierence with good cookware. I thought I would get the best advice here. I have been shown the All-clad and the Calphalon line. How do these compare and are there any other brands that are better? Any beifit to the stainless as compared to the other as we have very hard water here and everything gets spoted. Non-stick or stick?
While I am here what is the best knife brand?

Thanks
Steve
post #2 of 68
Unless you are obsessive about everything looking alike, don't buy a set. Different kinds of cooking work best in different kinds of pots. I have some cookware in various materials that work best with certain techniques and/or foods. Another drawback of sets is that most of the pieces are too small. You will wind up buying the larger more expensive pieces anyway and some of the pieces that came with the set may wind up collecting dust.

There have been numerous threads on this board and others (such as Chowhound and eGullet, Bouland's www.alacarte on copper) about the relative merits of the different materials and brands. If you do a search you will come up with more information than you know what to do with.

If you still have specific questions, I'm sure we'll all chime in. Be sure to let us know what sort of cooking techniques you use the most and whether most of your cooking is for 2 or a large family, etc. That way we can be more helpful.
" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
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" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
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post #3 of 68
Hi Steve, and welcome to Chef Talk. This is a topic close to my heart, ever since I bought my first All-Clad pan. I have an MC2 brasier and a 10-piece set of Emeril (All-Clad) I got for an irrestible price (just under $200). But I agree with Alexia: do not buy a set unless you see yourself getting good use out of all of the pans. I was hot for a set of MC2-even steeled myself for the credit card bill to come- only to realize I really didn't want it; too many of the pieces weren't right for my kitchen.

Go to a store and look at the pans. Lift them; handle them. The ergonomocs of the handles, the weight of the pan empty vs. full, whether special utensils are needed, and care considerations should all be part of your decision. Copper, for instance is not for everyone, but may be indespensible for others. Some run away from non-stick pans, others wouldn't dream of doing without them. Will you be the only one using them? Will children also use them?

It's a very personal decision.

By the way, please do stop in at the Welcome Forum to introduce yourself. We're a friendly community and want to welcome you properly.
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post #4 of 68
Well, at the minimum you will need a large dutch oven style pot and a straight side fry pan. Unless you're doing many individual portions for each member of your family you're not going to use that tiny 7" saute pan. Buy a good heavy dutch oven because it can go on the stove, go in the oven, and if the occasion permits, look very good on a picnic table filled with beans. Le Creuset comes to mind.

But then, the best thing is to buy her what SHE wants. :D

There's no best brand anything. For knives, Wusthof Trident for me. They don't farm out their production and the factories produce only Wusthof. Like pots and pans, an 8" cooks and paring knife will work 95% of the time.

Kuan
post #5 of 68
Kuan makes a a good point! What does SHE want? Personallly, I wouldn't want someone else picking out my pots and pans unless I'd given them a very specific list to pick from. Maybe you could go out together to look at everything and let the cook make the final decision, particularly if you both work in the kitchen.
" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
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" ...but in the spirit of 'stop, think, there must be a harder way, 'I figured starting from scratch might be more gratifying.'' (Judy Rodgers)
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post #6 of 68
I use All-Clad stainless, LeCreuset, and old Griswold cast iron. For knives - Wusthof Classic, though you might want to look at the Gran Prix line - try the feel of each. The steel is the same. (Or for that matter, you might like the feel of a completely different line of knives.)

As others have said - don't get a set. Think of what it is you want to cook and go from there. Also, once you've familiarized yourselves with what you want and need, check out Ebay for good prices if you're going to be buying a lot. Otherwise support your local small shop as you add one piece at a time.
post #7 of 68

No kitchen is complete...

without a good cast iron pan.

Lodge, one of the country's largest manufacturers of cast-iron cookware, has given us Lodge Logic. It has been electrostatically sprayed with vegetable oil and subjected to prolonged exposure to high temperatures.

Lodge Logic can be found locally at many stores that carry traditional cast-iron cookware, including Bed Bath & Beyond, Bloomingdale's, Strosniders Hardware, Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma stores. Lodge Logic is also available by mail from www.lodgemfg.com
K

«Money talks. Chocolate sings. Beautifully.»
«Just Give Me Chocolate and Nobody Gets Hurt.»
«Coffee, Chocolate, Men ... Some things are just better rich.»
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K

«Money talks. Chocolate sings. Beautifully.»
«Just Give Me Chocolate and Nobody Gets Hurt.»
«Coffee, Chocolate, Men ... Some things are just better rich.»
Reply
post #8 of 68
Kimmie -- sounds like a marketing brochure! ;) Have you actually used one of the Lodge "pre-seasoned" pieces? They cost twice as much as the regular ones! :eek:
"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 #9 of 68
Got a griddle, Suzanne. Well, I'm worth it! ;)
K

«Money talks. Chocolate sings. Beautifully.»
«Just Give Me Chocolate and Nobody Gets Hurt.»
«Coffee, Chocolate, Men ... Some things are just better rich.»
Reply
K

«Money talks. Chocolate sings. Beautifully.»
«Just Give Me Chocolate and Nobody Gets Hurt.»
«Coffee, Chocolate, Men ... Some things are just better rich.»
Reply
post #10 of 68
Ah! Do tell what it's like!!! Inquiring minds want to know. :D

I bought a regular 12-inch skillet (I'm cheap) about a week ago (already have a grill pan, which I ADORE!!!!!) but when I got home I discovered I didn't have any Crisco in the house. :( So it's waiting until I can get some. And then ... :bounce:
"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 #11 of 68
It's pretty much "stick-less" and easy to clean. What's the Crisco for?
K

«Money talks. Chocolate sings. Beautifully.»
«Just Give Me Chocolate and Nobody Gets Hurt.»
«Coffee, Chocolate, Men ... Some things are just better rich.»
Reply
K

«Money talks. Chocolate sings. Beautifully.»
«Just Give Me Chocolate and Nobody Gets Hurt.»
«Coffee, Chocolate, Men ... Some things are just better rich.»
Reply
post #12 of 68
That's what I use to season cast iron. Yeah, I know there are other veg oils one could use, but that's what I'm used to.

But since that's the ONLY use I make of Crisco, and it eventually starts to look weird in the can, I don't have it in the house sometimes when I need it, like now :(
"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 #13 of 68

Lots of info:

Hello rfamliy1st,

You may find the following thread informative, Buying Cookware

For information on knives, check here.

If you have further questions after browsing these discussions, feel free to post.

:)
post #14 of 68
What does everyone think of the Demeyere (sp?) line?
Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

M.E.A.T.
Mankind Enjoying Animal Tastiness
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Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

M.E.A.T.
Mankind Enjoying Animal Tastiness
Reply
post #15 of 68
25 years ago I sold Salad Master Stainless Steel Waterless Cookware and I've owned my set for longer than that. My parents set was purchased in 1967 and is still looking great. Pots and pans are what you have when you have a combination of types. When you get into paying THAT much money, it's called cookware ;) Stainless Steel pays for itself over the long run if it's good quality.

I'm into "Slow Food" and try to keep cooked foods to low-temperature cooking and that's something I can successfully do with Waterless Cookware. I consider it the most nutritious cooking method and it creates a vacuum seal and oxidation is practically eliminated.
post #16 of 68

Pots and Pans/Cookware!

I'm resurrecting what appears to be a VERY old post!

I remember my parents buying the cookware I am now using back in the early 70s in someone's home in Sheboygan Wisconsin. Volrath I believe is the brand/company name. Every 13 years or so my Mom would order replacement handles since these are a resin of sorts that would grow brittle and brake around the screws that held them on. She passed them to me in the 80's and I later ordered handles as well.

The Stainless Steel, however, is still going strong and I've been using them with my kids and husband cooking with them as well over the last 23 years. The handles are all just about gone now, and the company seems to have sold out to another and I've lost the trail. I'm finally realizing I need to leave them behind, (unless someone out there knows something I don't.) I use cast iron skillets of every size, so buying a set would be silly. My Stainless Steel Small and Large saucepans and my dutch oven, however, are necessary to my kitchen.

I'm not wealthy, nor do I care to be cheap. What is the best midgrade purchase for my money. I know I'm looking at buying maybe two large saucepans, and two small, (with the medium in my inherited set rarely used.) A Dutch Oven is mandatory as well.
post #17 of 68
For a non-stick pan, I suggest having your wife take a look at Swiss Diamond. It is more non-stick than any non-teflon non-stick pan I've used (better than sitram, for instance). In addition, unlike teflon, you can use any utensil you want on the surface -- that includes metal spoons!
post #18 of 68
Earlier this year, or maybe last fall, on a sunday morning I was working on preparing for a dinner party later that day. As I was filling a saucepan with water the handle fell off. It was a fairly old stainless steel set that served us well for years, can't remember the brand. The attachment for the handle was NOT stainless, it had rusted away. The rest of the pieces in the set are still in daily use, I did check the handle attachments.

Anyway, for whatever reason I really needed a 2 quart, covered, oven proof pot for something I was preparing. Ran down to someplace like Shopko or K Mart, since none of the real cooking stores around here are open on sunday. I purchased a 9 piece Farberware set for something like 45 bucks, rather than just getting the one pot I needed for $25.

A few of the Farberware bits are still untouched and unused in the box somewhere in the basement, a few of them actually get fairly regular use. I'm pleasantly surprised that such flimsy stuff has worked longer and better than I expected.

mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #19 of 68
Mainah,

I'm pasting this from Vollrath's website:

Hope this helps.

OTOH, If you're looking for new high-quality, mid-priced cookware your best bet is to search for sales and seconds of the really good stuff at the big box stores, internet sites like QVC, discount stores, etc. With the condition of the economy, there will be lots of sales as Christmas approaches and passes. Otherwise, there are quite a few fairly high quality, mid-priced cookware lines around like Emerilware and Wolfgang Puck, to name two. But again, wait for the holiday sales. Discounts will likely range from substantial to panicked hysteria.

By the way, Vollrath is still going strong making the best professional cookware. If I were buying stainless, I'd buy their tri-ply Tribute in a heartbeat.

Hope this helps,
BDL
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http://www.cookfoodgood.com
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What were we talking about?
 
http://www.cookfoodgood.com
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post #20 of 68

What type of pots and pans work well with the new smooth, electric cooktops... not the magnet type? We care about good cooking and preserving our new surface.

post #21 of 68

You probably ought to avoid uncoated cast iron. It will scratch up your glass. Otherwise, aluminum, disk bottomed or clad ware will all work fine and be good to your glass top.

 

Do you have any particular preferences for one type over another?

 

 

post #22 of 68

Lodge cast iron may cost more than no-name, made halfway across the world stuff, but I like it.  Have a growing collection of CI... EVERY piece came from a yard sale, thrift store or flea market.  Many were crusty beyond compare, but cleaned up nice.  I stick to Lodge, Wagner, and Griswold and have to SERIOUSLY restrain myself from adding pieces that might produce duplications.  My grandmother always used bacon grease on CI.  If a piece hadda be "washed", it went back on stove burner until HOT HOT, then a dab of BG wiped around with paper towel.

 

 

post #23 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef Geoff View Post

What type of pots and pans work well with the new smooth, electric cooktops... not the magnet type? We care about good cooking and preserving our new surface.


Much as I hate to say it, Geoff, the answer is "nothing much." These surfaces are pretty terrible. Still, the #1 priority must be solidity: if the bottom of a pan warps even slightly, it will only make point contacts with the surface and you will have enormous hot-spot problems.

 

For this reason, cast iron is terrific if it's very flat to begin with. On the other hand, as already noted, it will scratch your surface.

 

I have had good luck with Matfer sauce pans and carbon skillets, but one of my skillets did warp very slightly -- and now it basically just doesn't work on the surface except for super-high heat.

 

All-Clad seems to work pretty well -- no warping that I've seen, except for the big saute pan.

 

What little Calphalon I have doesn't seem to warp, although I hate it for most things. Admittedly the one piece I use much is a big stock pot, so that may not be much of an indicator.

 

My advice is either to go very strong and stop worrying about the surface, or else go cheap and plan to throw pans away with some regularity. Or, better yet, get a new surface. I can't say enough bad things about mine. (I hate the whole stove, actually, a pretty high-end JennAir that came with the apartment, but the surface problems seem to be a function of the style of range rather than the basically awful quality of the stove.)

 

Good luck!

post #24 of 68

I had read online that when you take a pan from the heat to the sink it warps no matter how good the pan is. I always wait for the pan to cool before I wash or rinse off. I have a friend who bought a new glass top stove for the looks. She was told to buy a pan with the induction bottom on it for a better connection because they sit flatter against the stove. She likes it so far and she went to Macys to look and found a Circulon brand in nonstick, a anolon steel brand, but that one is online only. They had a sample in the store weird for a online purchase and a Emerilware brand, made by all clad.

post #25 of 68

Even a 1 inch grill will warp if hot and placed in water. You are correct let it cool first. Inductions are a must on an induction stove, but I would not say they are flatter then other quality pans. I have circulon for my wife, as my commercial pans are to heavy for her. Macy's overprices  there pans. Try Home goods or Bed Bath Beyond , better prices same thing. Emiril ? you are paying for name.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #26 of 68

It is soo true about buying sets, some pieces do end up collecting dust. 

post #27 of 68

I agree, but I like calphalon for most cooking

post #28 of 68

I guess it depends on your setup really.

 

In the restaurant we use high power induction stoves, and the cheapest pans we could find, a combination of Ikea pans and some other low-grade pans. They heat up really quick, and are made of thin steel, this means that their ability to retain heat, and continue cooking off the heat is also extremely poor. But that's fine - When we need to fry stuff during service, they're constantly on a high heat, and things are getting thrown on and off, with oil going on the pan every now and then - No need for a big expensive pan.

 

At home, different story - I have an old electric stove, and I use Demeyere pots & pans - They're brilliant - just maybe not for the stove that I have. I have trouble keeping them at a good temperature while frying. They tend to go just a tad to cold or hot. This is obviously not the pans fault, but more the stove. That being said, I might be better off using cheaper, thinner pans.

That being said, they are nearly indestructible. They've hardly warped (They are not perfectly flat, nor do they heat completely even) - But that is as much down to the stove as it is the pan - But it's not as good as when I bought them. They haven't been treated kindly though, I often throw them under running water when I'm done using them, and I reckon I'm much, much tougher on them then your regular home cook would be. They are really expensive though, and I haven't regretted buying them one bit, I'm actually looking to buy some more. But keep in mind that they may not be the best choice for you and your kitchen.

 

Basically, cheap kitchen = cheap pans, expensive kitchen = expensive pans.

 

If you have a gas stove, or a step less induction stove, you're able to take advantage of the better, more expensive pans. However a cheap ceramic or a regular electric stove, might not be powerful or flexible enough for you to get the most out of those pans. Take that into consideration when choosing cookware.

post #29 of 68

Can you beat Le Creuset?

post #30 of 68

Whilst I still use my Le Creuset casseroles, ridged grill pans and omelette and pancake pans, I sadly had to give away my large collection of LC saucepans to my daughte.   They were far too heavy for me to move around easily when filled, as my wrists and elbows have become increasingly arthritic as I age.    She received them gratefully!

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