My cooks are brutal on pans. We're a small cafe who specializes in pan omelets and fried eggs. We do between 80 to 250 per day. The cheapo, 10 dollar 8" nonsticks last maybe 3-4 weeks. The 35 dollar versions maybe 2-3 months. The cooks do a great omelet but kill both types of pans. Should I step up to higher grade or is it just the cost of doing breakfast eggs in a pan? Do you have a fave pan of which you care to share details?
Omelet production: Cheap pans o' plenty or sparing high quality cookwear?
Jacques Pépin once talked about carbon steel pans for eggs on his show. He said he generally doesn't use them because stuff sticks, and stuff sticks because they don't get used. It was a little witicism that hits the mark. With carbon steel you really have to season the crap out of them and then work to keep them seasoned. But if you do they're about as nonstick as teflon and not vulnerable to heat.
If I could find a truly durable nonstick pan, one that would last for years of high volume cooking and be durable enough to withstand normal cleaning and utensiles I'd pay almost any amount of money for one.
Thanks for all the thoughtful replies, which honestly, run the gamut from "Buy expensive pans and make them take care of them," to "Keep buying the cheapos, it's the cost of doing business," and everything in between.
That's why I love this place! A great cross section of a wealth of knowledge. And as expected, there is no correct single answer as I think they are all right.
(I do think I'll throw a few carbon steel in the mix and see if they can keep them properly seasoned.)
I agree with using seasoned pans and also with Chef Billy on caring for them. I used the same seasoned pans for years. Keeping a pan seasoned is a learned skill but worth doing. Never to the dish room. I hand scrubbed the back to remove carbon deposits but only rubber spats and occasionally salt on the inside to clean ( and then rechecked the seasoning). I'd suggest working with your cooks on learning to keep seasoned pans rather than buy non stick.
Carbon steel all day. Take a slow Tuesday and get everyone in on seasoning them. It takes about 15 rounds to get a good solid season, so they'll all have practice. After that, they'll stand up to all sorts of abuse and neglect and are easy to bring back to life (the pans, I don't know about your line cooks.)