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Does the quality of the cookware make you a better cook?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

I'm always asked if I buy a better quality of cookware will my food be better. I just thought I would ask the professionals.  My thought is it will make life easier in the kitchen but  the quality of the food nope just asking too much from those pots. On another note you get what you pay for. .

post #2 of 20

That's a great and simple question with a complicated answer. My short answer is a good pan might help, but a bad pan will definitely hurt.

 

When it comes to cooking you've got three main variables: equipment, skills, and ingredients. If you want to make good food, you need at least one to be average, one to be good, and none to be bad. A good cook with an okay pan and cheap ingredients can still turn out something worth eating. Same thing with an okay cook with great ingredients and a cheap pan. A beginner cook with a great pan and okay ingredients might not make something you'd want to eat, but they'd have a leg up on a beginner with a cheap pan.

 

If you've got a quality pan, it will heat more evenly, perform better and stand up to more abuse than a cheap version. A steak is going to turn out better on a cast iron pan than it will on a flimsy aluminum, even if the treatment is the same.

 

Speaking of cast iron, when I was starting out 15+ years ago, I went for cast iron because it was high performance and low cost. Now I'm able to outfit my home kitchen with high-end cookware but it's telling that the two pieces that never leave my cooktop --a 6" fry pan and a 10" comal-- are both cast iron. In fact, everything I have on my stove right now is cast iron, since I'm reheating dinner in a Lodge brand 3 quart lidded enameled Dutch oven.

 

If you're looking to upgrade your cookware without punishing your wallet, I'm a big fan of thrift shops and flea markets, especially for cast iron. Look for brands like Lodge (cast iron) All-Clad (stainless) and Anolon (anodized nonstick).

 

If you're looking to buy new, I recommend Lodge for cast iron. No need to get enameled, just the cheapo unfinished will work fine for most purposes. I'd also take a look at America's Test Kitchen reviews and see what their best buys are. If you're not a subscriber you, might still have luck looking on Youtube. Plenty of their video reviews are available online for free.

 

Anyway, that's my opinion. I'd be glad to hear from other chefs!

post #3 of 20
Good answer.

I get in a lot of arguments over the fact that a $600 knife doesn't put better food on the plate than my $20 knife. That is, of course, as long as my knife is sharp. Now as for other equipment ... that's much different. Good quality cookware makes doing the job so much easier. Good quality doesn't always mean expensive is better than inexpensive. Good is better than cheap; inexpensive is not the same as cheap. LeCruset is much more expensive than Lodge, and it's much prettier. It does not put out better food though. Lodge doesn't cost as much, but it's not cheap. I use wooden utensils that come in sets of 3 for $4. Right next to them on the shelf-rack are the same single pieces from another manufacturer for $9 to $12 each. I like my Calphalon pans that I got from the grocery store for coupons. I would absolutely love to have the stuff they use on TV shows ... but it's expensive, and it won't make the dishes any better than mine. I'm sorry if I may be sounding confusing. Quality is always good ... just don't confuse quality with price. Skills trump everything else. As long as you're only answering to yourself, you can always buy more ingredients when you screw-up a dish.
post #4 of 20

As I cook with French tin lined copper pans and Le Creuset at work I can tell you that the food created is no better then that which is cooked in cast iron or Calphalon.

 

It's not the equipment.....it's what Queequeg mentioned...that being the ability of the cook to utilize what they have,where they are.

post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post
 

As I cook with French tin lined copper pans......

The has been an occasional post made at Cheftalk claiming that food cooked in a tin lined pan tastes a bit differently.  And one of my former professors from Morocco claimed that the well-water tasted better in a jug that was tin lined.  :suprise:

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #6 of 20

How about things that make it safer in the kitchen? Would anyone like to check out my kickstarter campaign for the smart pan lid? If you are interested you can just go there and check it out. I am not trying to spam or anything like that. I just want to know if everyone thinks its completely stupid. I am not even posting any links. You can check it out if you want. Thanks for your time everyone.

post #7 of 20

i hope the original poster hasn't left for good but even if he has, I'll throw this in just for the conversation. 

I think good equipment does make you a better cook for two reasons. 

     First, to paraphrase Julia Child, copper pots don't make you a better cook but they inspire you to cook. I think the same is true for good quality equipment of any kind. Not expensive, just good quality. I find nothing less inspiring than those cheap commercial aluminum pots so ubiquitous in restaurants and any cheap cookware found in homes. On the other hand, the sight of good quality pots, pans, bowls and hand tools makes me want to dig out whatever's in the fridge and get started. 

     The second reason is that good quality tools remove all excuses and focus the mind on the task at hand. There is no opportunity to say "Well, if I didn't have these cheap pans/knives/whisks/bowls/ I could have…."

Using good tools increases the chance of success and makes it much easier to recognize that the poor quality food isn't the result of cheap cooking equipment. 

     Of course, this belief may be the reason I have far too many pots, pans, dishes, knives and other hand tools of every description. So many that half my attic is filled with them. But I do enjoy finding reasons to use them. 

post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post
 

i hope the original poster hasn't left for good but even if he has, I'll throw this in just for the conversation. 

I think good equipment does make you a better cook for two reasons. 

     First, to paraphrase Julia Child, copper pots don't make you a better cook but they inspire you to cook. I think the same is true for good quality equipment of any kind. Not expensive, just good quality. I find nothing less inspiring than those cheap commercial aluminum pots so ubiquitous in restaurants and any cheap cookware found in homes. On the other hand, the sight of good quality pots, pans, bowls and hand tools makes me want to dig out whatever's in the fridge and get started. 

     The second reason is that good quality tools remove all excuses and focus the mind on the task at hand. There is no opportunity to say "Well, if I didn't have these cheap pans/knives/whisks/bowls/ I could have…."

Using good tools increases the chance of success and makes it much easier to recognize that the poor quality food isn't the result of cheap cooking equipment. 

     Of course, this belief may be the reason I have far too many pots, pans, dishes, knives and other hand tools of every description. So many that half my attic is filled with them. But I do enjoy finding reasons to use them. 

 

 

Very good point that I never considered.

As I said, there is no difference, to me, in the quality of the finished product using copper over something else, however I do choose some pots over others depending on what I'm cooking.

Pasta, for instance, does not cook well in LeCreuset,  and I must watch the heat very carefully with copper.

post #9 of 20
Heavier is better. I dont care if youre talking stock pots or skillets or grills. More mass means easier more stable temp control.
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post
 

i hope the original poster hasn't left for good but even if he has, I'll throw this in just for the conversation. 

I think good equipment does make you a better cook for two reasons.

     First, to paraphrase Julia Child, copper pots don't make you a better cook but they inspire you to cook. I think the same is true for good quality equipment of any kind. Not expensive, just good quality. I find nothing less inspiring than those cheap commercial aluminum pots so ubiquitous in restaurants and any cheap cookware found in homes. On the other hand, the sight of good quality pots, pans, bowls and hand tools makes me want to dig out whatever's in the fridge and get started. 

     The second reason is that good quality tools remove all excuses and focus the mind on the task at hand. There is no opportunity to say "Well, if I didn't have these cheap pans/knives/whisks/bowls/ I could have…."

Using good tools increases the chance of success and makes it much easier to recognize that the poor quality food isn't the result of cheap cooking equipment. 

     Of course, this belief may be the reason I have far too many pots, pans, dishes, knives and other hand tools of every description. So many that half my attic is filled with them. But I do enjoy finding reasons to use them. 

 

I agree that good cookware can be an inspiration, at times, but I don't agree that it makes you a better cook.  Sure, I love to use good cookware, knives and utensils.  They feel good in the hand, look pretty, and can make things easier, but they are not needed to create awesome foods.  A great example of this is my camping cookware-a couple of old pots, a couple of cheap fry pans and a few pieces of cast iron.  We camp with a variety of friends, with many different levels of cooking skills.  Most of our meals are good, boarding on great, despite the crappy cookware.  We've even had couples make Eggs Benedict on a campfire, using those crappy pans and utensils.

 

In recent years, it has become trendy for professional photographers to do shows where they display work that has created using cell phone cameras.  Their point being there is more to their craft than high end equipment.  I have seen works, taken by simple point and shoots, or cell phones that is beautiful and I know people that own thousands and thousands of dollars worth of photography equipment that can't take a decent picture.  It's what's behind the equipment, not the equipment.

 

I won't deny that having good cookware can remove some obstacles, but moving obstacles is much different from being able to make someone a good cook.

post #11 of 20

Great comments here directed at the OP question. I should re-iterate what MK says, weight (thicker material) keeps the temp even and consistent. 

 

I just want to say that the more expensive pans will last longer than the cheapo ones. Handle, lids, etc. Cast Iron will last a lifetime. 

 

I have al clad stainless and they are in tip top shape, and will last my lifetime (and more) so I won't have to continually spend more money replacing cheap ones. 

 

Just make sure when you buy, insure the rivets that attach the handle to the pan are sturdy and well made.  Spot welding handles are ok it they are done right. Cheapo sopt welded pans from your five and dime (likely imported from china) run the risk of becoming detached. 

 

As has been mentioned, you can get great cookware without spending obscene amounts of money. 

post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by jake t buds View Post
 

Great comments here directed at the OP question. I should re-iterate what MK says, weight (thicker material) keeps the temp even and consistent. 

 

I just want to say that the more expensive pans will last longer than the cheapo ones. Handle, lids, etc. Cast Iron will last a lifetime. 

 

I have al clad stainless and they are in tip top shape, and will last my lifetime (and more) so I won't have to continually spend more money replacing cheap ones. 

 

Just make sure when you buy, insure the rivets that attach the handle to the pan are sturdy and well made.  Spot welding handles are ok it they are done right. Cheapo sopt welded pans from your five and dime (likely imported from china) run the risk of becoming detached. 

 

As has been mentioned, you can get great cookware without spending obscene amounts of money. 

 

I totally agree.  Except for my camping cookware, most of my cookware is high-end, with most of my pans being All-Clad.  I own these things because they do make cooking easier, but that is different than making someone a good cook.  I also own high-end cookware, because, in the long run, it does save you money.  High-end cookware is built better, out of better materials and as such they will out last cheaply made cookware (for the most part).  So sure, the up-front cost is greater, but if your All-Clad outlasts 3-4 other pans then you have probably saved money, over time.  And let's face it, a nice, heavy sauté pan just feels much better, in the hand, than some crappy, flimsy sauté pan with a plastic handle attached to the pan with a single screw.

post #13 of 20
Day in ... day out, all things considered ... "Skills trump everything else".
post #14 of 20

Basically, pros have the tools they need, and hobbyists have the tools they want.

 

Which might explain that every decent professional cook in N. America uses a p.o.s. aluminum saute pan that has warped to a bowl shape, with a loosey-goosey handle and rivets that dribble liquid , and can still put out wonderfull dishes.

...."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 #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post
 

Basically, pros have the tools they need, and hobbyists have the tools they want.

 

 

:)

 

I'll carry this thought even further.

 

I am a home cook who tries to use professional equipment and techniques as much as possible.

 

I also am my own housemaid, so I use professional cleaning equipment and techniques as much as possible.

 

When I was a professional secretary, I used the best available equipment which was necessary for my profession.

 

Any chore that is REQUIRED (i.e., an occupation - paid or unpaid) is worthy of the best equipment and best practices.

post #16 of 20

From personal experience, better quality can make someone like me who's OK at cooking into someone who's good at cooking. The right set of pots and pans, and a good set of properly sharpened knives can make for a lot less frustration in preparing a meal. Of course the willingness to master these tools makes the biggest difference.

post #17 of 20

It's like an expensive Italian sports car... It doesn't make you a better driver, but it does let you make the best use of your talent and skills.

 

And then there's the Kochvergnügen.  If you're inclined to enjoy cooking, might as well enjoy it as much as you can, right? (That's a word, btw. I thought I just invented it, but I duckducked it, and it's already out there)

post #18 of 20
I sincerely apologize for my unnecessary wisecrack.
post #19 of 20
You're a better cook, a pan cooks better. Simple enough?
Hire a cook buy a pan. English S.V.P.
Good pan, good cook; better.

Answers Yes BYW.

Haha good luck, semantics
post #20 of 20

Owning either a Stradivarius violin or the most expensive Leica camera and lens won't make you a better musician nor photographer.  Rather it's a question on how to bring out either instrument's best qualities for expression.   Therefore possessing either instrument will give you the potential for excellence.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
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