Which is it? disk bottom vs. all clad for fry vs. saute pan

marys1000February 10, 2008

I did a search and have been reading a lot of older posts and I skimmed the egullet primer on cookware.

I came to the conclusion that for a

frying pan - a disk bottom was ok if not better because you want high heat on the bottom and nothing is usually touching edges of the pan, so why bother with heat up the sides. I.e.: Fried pork chops, bacon, sausages, pancakes etc.

And that for a saute pan where you may also desire high heat on the bottom to saute the veggies or brown meat you may still want to compromiseand get an all clad for heat up the sides because you more often add liquid and do a reduction utilizing the browned bits or like risotto's with sauteed mushrooms or a stir fry. If you are just carmelizing or sauteing veggies with no liquid use a fry pan with just a disk on the bottom.

These below posts are both the opposite and don't seem right to me.

#1 by JS Fox

For sauteing I'll always recommend a good disk bottom. For a good saute you need a ton of heat on the bottom which a disk bottom will give you. (marys1000 - by having to heat the bottom only to heat the entire sauce - don't you risk burning the bottom?)

Tri-ply will waste heat on the sides where you don't need it and the alum core is usually about half the thickness of the alum in a disk. Unless you have a 30k btu burner you really need a disk bottom for this. Similar for sauce pans and stock pots - the ply on the sides provides very little if any benefit and can be a drawback since it wastes heat up the sides (that heat goes up into the air and very little goes into the liquid) (marys1000 - goes up into the air? you mean on the outside of the pan - but the inside of the sides of pan is still heating the sauce which is a good thing right?)

and because the alum in tri-ply is thin - including on the bottom where you really need it.

For a fry-pan you want an even temp on the sides otherwise you can have problems with things sticking and uneveness of heat so tri-ply is a good choice here. (marys1000 - what is touching the side of a fry pan?)

#2 by gardenlad in response on a different post

Funny, I always thought of it the other way.

Disk on bottom makes sense for things that do not have to be surrounded by heat; such as when making sauces. It ok for the heat to be concentrated just on the bottom.

(marys1000 - What? Sauces go up the sides of the pan, why wouldn't you want a sauce or reduction to be surrounded by heat?)

For searing, pan frying, etc., you want the entire skillet to heat up. So I prefer the fully clad for those items.

(marys1000 - why when food in frying pans typically don't touch the sides? Unless your frying chicken in an inch of oil which is sort of a special case)

There may be technical reasons otherwise, but I feel a lot of this depends on your cooking style. For instance, with skillets I do a lot of shaking and flipping of the pan, rather than stirring with a spoon or spatula. So for me it's especially important that the whole pan be hot (marys1000 - but ultimately unless you really have a ton of food in the pan, don't they rest and cook on the bottom?)

. But I stir sauces and the like, so disc-bottoms are fine for pots and saucepans. (marys1000- the sauce is still always touching the side of the pan)

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After reading your post with comments, now I wonder if cladding even makes a significant difference at all. I have disc bottom pans, and I wouldn't want to touch the sides while cooking. They get plenty hot. Why would the little bit of extra heat radiating from cladded sides make a difference in cooking quality?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 12:45PM
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I think I would want cladding up the sides if I had any food or liquid touching the sides so that the bottom and sides weren't cooking at different heats. So it depends on what type of cooking you want to do with your fry pan(?)

But the above comments about which to use with different uses is what got me confused. Since I'm planning on investing what for me is a lot of money on a ss steel fry pan I'm trying to make sure I'm not thinking backwards/countintuitively.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 8:54AM
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I believe the egullet article suggests the clad or cast-iron for fry pans. He mentions that when cooking a fish-it might overlap the sides. Having used both, I prefer the tri-ply and the thicker the better.
However, I do have disc bottomed (non-stick) fry pans that I use for eggs and pancakes. Otherwise I use clad, copper, or cast-iron.

Part of the problem with disc bottoms is that the thin stainless sides get too hot-and stuff burns to the sides, or sizzles dangerously when you stir or pour. Maybe the best brands use thicker sides, but the average disc bottom stuff does not perform as well for me even for sauce pans .

I use disc bottoms only for big stock pots and those 2 fry pans (non-stick) that I use for eggs or pancakes.

Everything else, fry,curved, saute, sauce is either some type of clad, cast-iron, or Copper that's stainless lined.
Final point, yes, egullet liked disc bottoms for saute, because it holds heat and you're shaking it around.

Also I cook with gas, maybe electric is better on disc bottoms.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 4:18PM
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Final point, yes, egullet liked disc bottoms for saute, because it holds heat and you're shaking it around.

So....saute - you don't put liquid in? a saute pan is that specialized? - you only saute veggies and stuff in it? Because I always see the cooks on tv add chicken stock and stuff to what they saute - precisely when you would want a thicker side.

So... no good answer?

Ok - so if I stir my saute stuff rather than flip around - ?????which is best for me?

I prefer the tri-ply and the thicker the better.

By tri-ply do you mean clad all over? Which is what clad is right?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 6:28PM
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I've never had stuff burn on the sides of my disc bottom pans. I don't see how the sides could be hotter than the bottom, which is in direct contact with the heat source. This doesn't make any sense to me.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 9:02PM
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Any high heat that "goes around" that disc bottom (such as the flames on a gas stove or an over sized electric burner on a high setting) will cause hot spots to form on the sides of that type of pan. So this sticking/burning issue is a function of your style of cooking along with your heat source and the settings on your heat source.

If you were to take that disc off the bottom of your pan you would find it impossible to cook anything in that pot because everything would literally stick/burn to the stainless. Those hot spots are due to the poor conductive properties of stainless steel. Clad and disc bottom pans are designed to get around that sticking problem.

I cook with natural gas, propane, and electric. I can't cook with disc bottom pots using propane due to the higher BTU value of the burner. You would have the same problem with a Wolf high BTU natural gas burner. If you haven't seen that sticking/burning problem with your disc bottom pans it's because of your style of cooking and your heat source.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 10:14PM
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Yes, I meant clad all over- including the sides. Especially fry pans used for bacon. Or use cast iron.

There is a famous and expensive brand, Demeyere, that uses both styles (disc or fully clad) depending on their intended use. Their fry pans are thick and fully clad up the sides. I've seen their Atlantis fry pan and was impressed. Thick all the way up the sides to the edge of the pan. So are all their curved sided pans. However,their sauce pans are disc on the bottom with stainless sides. They claim they don't get a 'burn ring' in the pan because the disc is larger, and the sides are thicker? stainless. I don't know because I haven't used it. It's considered to be very good for electric and induction.

To get what's best for you may be dependent on so many factors- not just what you cook, but what you use for the heat source, and how you clean you pans...

Sides do get hotter on disc bottomed pans because the material (stainless) is so thin. Gas makes it worse. Here I agree with Dan that posted above. (except for my low/med heat- non-stick, disc bottomed, and fairly cheap, pancake/egg pans!)

And my expensive copper pans won't work on induction at all.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 4:40AM
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Well I'm looking for a house to buy or possibly rent. I could end up with a gas range that I cannot afford to replace but I prefer electric and I'm not a flipper, so.......I should be ok with a bottom disk pan.

Unless I want to be able to deglaze, add liquid make a sauce etc.
In which case I can do it all in an all clad.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 10:34AM
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Mary, I saw another post of yours asking about copper core pans. You might also consider the CIA Master series cookware set. It's recently been on sale for $499 for the 10 piece set and $399 for the 7 piece set. It works on everything and has a thin layer of copper (.6mm) as well as several layers of aluminum surrounded by stainless inside and magnetic stainless outer. I think it's hard to go wrong with this stuff and it should last forever. Lot's of online sellers. But not everyone has it on sale. BTW, that old Revere ware copper bottom is horrible stuff.

Here is a link that might be useful: CIA Master Series 7 ply cookware.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 8:38PM
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alexr - thanks for reference. I did a search for CIA here on the forum. They seem like a fine deal. However I was hoping to buy something not made in China. I do understand that lots of fine things are made there (obviously own lots of Chinese made goods) and don't hate the Chinese or anything. But for whatever reason, I feel like a high cost high end item from a European or US source is what I'm hoping to decide on.

If I stick with the idea that a larger fry pan, which may be used on an electric burner smaller than the pan should have copper for better heat distribution out to the edge - so far all I've found is
All Clad copper core
and Mauviel Cuprinox (not induction capable)
I did some looking at Sitram but cant find any notes, I think I let it drop as an option but can't remember why.

If I forget about the copper I'd probably look at
and ?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 9:37AM
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O.K. That makes sense. Maybe check out Bourgeat copper pans. This place has the best price for a set. They use the thickest copper, and have curved pouring edges, and are made at Mauviel. I have a bunch of Mauviel Cuprinox Style- the style means that it has stainless handles, curved pouring edges and a slightly thinner copper. The bottoms are also slightly thicker than the edges. Mauviel makes the thicker copper pans, but they don't have the pouring edges (these edges also make the pot stronger) ...hence the recommendation of Bourgeat.

The other copper brand is Falk- they have the pouring edges and a brushed finish (and manufacture the stainless lined copper used by Mauviel and Bourgeat).
The Bourgeat set is selling for $849. at the linked website.
Everyone else seems to have raised their prices quite a bit.

I like the looks of my Cuprinox 'Style' but heft of the Bourgeat might be better for a fry pan. Holds more heat. That might be better on an regular powered range.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bourgeat Copper 2.5 with edges

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 3:02PM
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I was going to suggest Falk Culinaire, but Alexr beat me to it. In any case, I'll provide you the link. They offer "Chef's Sets" as well as individual pieces. The only cons: the price, and they're heavy. Falk Culinaire also has a discounted "Try Me" piece - a single item that is less expensive ($125 without cover, or $175 with cover) so you can buy that one before jumping into a whole set - look for it under the Products tab.

Here is a link that might be useful: Falk Culinaire Sets

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 5:38PM
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My questions follow your theme Mary so I thought of hijacking your thread.

Note: I have a brand new Viking gas stove. YAY. Time to upgrade my cookware. I do already have an amazing cast iron fry pan/skillet by creuset and cast iron grill pan and 2 sized NS pans but the rest is junk.

I need a 7 to 8 qt soup/sauce pot and a 2 qt pot. Is there any advantage to having disk (be it copper/aluminum interior & SS exterior or anodized non stick) VS all clad (up the sides) for these kind of pots? It seems the disk would provide great heat on the bottom, heating up liquids fast but does the all clad achieve the same? There are many negative comments about all clad w/r/t the heat escaping off the sides. I wonder if this is irrelevant for any cookware holding liquids and how it impacts sauce pots.
I was told the Eware SS copper/alum disk Line is so hot that it will burn anything in small surfaces so no good for a 2 Qt sauce pot BUT it would be fine for an 8qt size. Anyone agree/disagree from experience?

I was warned to stay away from the Eware SS copper and aluminum line for the following reasons; much too much heat in that disk. If cooking rice, cous cous, sauces etc. bad idea. The reason Emeril never uses it on his live show is b/c of its burn risk." I looked at the Eware and thought it would heat evenly and quickly. Also looks and feels good. Didnt think about burning! Any comments?

I am also replacing my current 5 qt NS cheap Sauté pan for a new one (I cook with solids and often finish with liquids a lot in this pan, like Mary). Should I go for the all clad up the sides even though I hear a lot of negativity about the heat escaping and not being able to sauté solids very well. I keep hearing for solids in a saute pan must go with disk as opposed to all clad. Is there a good all clad (up the sides) Sauté pan that still has a nice disk on the bottom for even heating sauté part? Any comments?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 5:39PM
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I'm not following - you keep talking about all clad which as far as I know means all the layers up the side - and then heat escaping out the sides - thats backwards. With a disk bottom you have thinner sides, ergo the heat escapes through the sides. But I understand the confusion because I keep reading that everywhere too but unless someone can explain it to me I'm just going to go with what my common sense tells me.

Also - IF you cook with your flame to high - HIGHER THAN THE POT, which you shouldn't , you will be putting flame on the thin sides of a disked pan. So......with gas I would get all-clad.
UNLESS of course you cook with a low flame that sits just under the bottom of the pan in which case you might burn the bottom - IF your disk is too thin.

Frankly I'm beginning to think there is no right answer. I guess (no expert here for sure) it depends partly on your cooking style and modifying your style to your BTU's, cookware and what your cooking. Like I know I'm impatient and tend to cook on high (but I'm doing better!!!!:)

One thing I'm thinking though is for all those people out there getting high end gas ranges - maybe getting restaurant cookware is important - why do so many cookware websites have the two lines if its not important?

OK - back to me:) Alexr - do you have the Cuccina? the copper with the stainless steel handles? How do you like them if so. And more importantly - where is it made?

The other lines all have cast iron and that's just plain to heavy. Which leaves me back to my above post, Cuccina, Sitram, Demeyere (remembering I'll probably usually have electric and want primarily a fry pan that can double as the occasional non-flipper style saute).

I was searching for something I ran across called Spring which is made in Switzerland but it doesn't seem like they have a distributor in the U.S.
Although - and I thought this was really strange - Dr. Weil, the longetivity guru - has his name on a line of Spring. Don't know where its actually made though.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 9:19PM
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Yes, I have the Mauviel Cuprinox Style. Made in France. Mauviel has 6 different levels of copper cookware, so it can be confusing. Mine is the one that has the stainless handles. The key word is "style"(it means stainless handles and a curved pouring lip). And I love it. Copper is heavy.

If weight is a concern, I'd get the thickest aluminum that is lined with stainless on the inside.

Yes, the cast-iron handles do weigh more. But that is usually what's used. If you want the stainless handles, it's has to be the Mauviel Cuprinox 'Style'. It's expensive, and not quite as thick of copper (approx 2 m.m.) as the thickest (2.5 mm).

The brass handles found on some copper pans sucks. It will burn your hand. Stainless is the best for handles, with a close second being cast-iron.

Copper pans cannot be put in the dishwasher. Occasionally they need to be cleaned with some vinegar and fine ground salt, or lemon and salt. (or copper polish). Won't work on Induction.

Some copper is lined with tin instead of stainless- avoid this. Stick with the thickest copper you can lift that is lined with stainless on the inside. (The stainless is only 8 thousandths of an inch thick- super thin) . Again, if you want good copper lined with stainless AND with stainless handles, it's got to be Mauviel Cuprinox Style.

I've used disc bottom pans, and frankly, for cooking anything but soups/boiling water, or shallow pans for eggs/pancakes, I avoid them. Just my opinion.
The good is that they provide a thick even heat ON THE BOTTOM. Overheat them and they might fall apart. Yes, even the encapsulated ones if left on high will start crackling where they are bonded to the main pan. If you've seen this, it's pretty ugly. (O.K. you have to forget you left the pot on the burner).
Also while the thick disc bottom of aluminum and sometimes aluminum and copper can hold a lot of heat, the thin stainless sides will get unevenly hot enough that food sticks and oil and grease 'polymerizes' - its hard to clean afterwards. Not the bottom, just the sides.

Maybe Demeyere is better in this context on their disc bottomed pans. If so, it's because they use thicker stainless sides. But remember, on their fry pans, and all their curved cooking pans, they don't use a disc bottom. If it's curved they use an all-clad multi-ply. This makes sense. Most straight sided sauce pans are not used for high heat, or reduction of liquid.

I don't think that much heat is lost on the sides with tri-ply or multi-ply or whatever you want to call the stuff that is completely clad up the sides.

Disc bottom pans are better on the bottom than multi-ply all clad is on the bottom- because it's thicker. The problem is where the disc ends and the sides begin.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 1:37AM
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You might want to consider a restaurant type skillet. (see link below)


    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 9:11AM
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There are so many comments about all-clad (up the sides) and heat escaping I can't be the only one who's seen them on really old posts??

"Don't bother with All-Clad, it's overpriced and it's the wrong kind of pan for what you're doing. If you're mainly cooking solid foods on high heat in a sauté pan, you don't want a fully-clad pan, because it will conduct the stovetop's heat up the sides of the pan, radiating it into the kitchen instead of into your food. Clad pans are good for some situations, like a sauce pan that's half-full of liquid. A disc-bottom pan will concentrate the heat where you need it: on the bottom of the pan!"

I don't know...so many comments seem to contradict I think I should stop reading this stuff...I'll try posting a separate message and se eif anyone bites...

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 5:03PM
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A cast aluminum skillet is an excellent choice for anyone wanting a versatile, cheap, not heavy, low maintenance skillet. Cast aluminum cooks differently than rolled or stamped aluminum cookware. IMO cast aluminum cookware works much better.

The cooking properties of thick cast aluminum are very similar to that of cast iron. There are very few cooking instances where cast aluminum skillets are a poor choice. The restaurant skillet listed above is made of an aluminum alloy (cast aluminum?) specifically designed for the heavy duty, and high temperature use in a restaurant environment. One can't go wrong with one of these.

Stainless steel has virtually no maintenance and is practically non reactive. This is what many cooks want. However, cookware made from only stainless steel is really lousy stuff. You have to either clad it or disk it to make it work properly. Either way you go there will be some compromises in cooking performance. Some of the disks that I have seen on disk-ed stainless are made of cast aluminum......again because thick cast aluminum has many of the good attributes needed in a versatile cookware product.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 5:59PM
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alexr - hope you check back. What size Cuccina fry pan do you have? And could you do me a favor and weigh it?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 10:21AM
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I don't have any Cuccina, which seems (from my search) to be a copper coated tri-ply pan imported by Frieling and made by Sitram. They also sell a version called Maestria. It appears that Frieling has this made specially for them. It's no longer on their website, so perhaps it isn't being made anymore. I think the Maestria version is more interesting. They claim its tri-ply sides, with a disc encapsulated bottom-and induction capable.

I have 8 copper pans. Most are Mauviel Cuprinox Style. I have their 11" fry pan. I don't know the weight, but it's the one item I wish I had gotten in the Bourgeat. Because in a big fry pan you might put in a big hunk of meat, and the more metal, the better. It's not a problem for me, because I've been broiling my steaks/ chops with a powerful infrared broiler. And someday I'll get a Griswold skillet. I have a couple 9" copper french skillets with the Sur La Table name on them. I bought them at a sidewalk sale, they are made in Italy with a stainless inside and stainless handles. They are 1.6mm thick copper but work great. They are still fairly heavy. No longer made.

All my Mauviel copper is 2.0 thick, stainless lined and has stainless handles. It's great, but for the big fry pan, knowing what I know, I might have gotten the 2.5 mm thick fry pan by Matfer Bourgeat. It would be a good match to what I have.

I also have a piece of All Clad copper core, and two copper core copies made by J.C.Penny that was called Cook's Elite (no longer made-probably similar to the CIA stuff).. I used to have some Macy's disc bottom stuff, (Tools of the Trade), but I couldn't stand using it and gave it all away, except for the non stick egg pan, and larger pancake pan (essentially I use them as griddles) and the big stock pots and they work great for their intended purpose.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 7:42PM
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Whoops, sorry, I meant the Cuprinox! So you don't like the fry pan? Because
"the more metal the better" what do you mean? the sides are too sloped and there's not enough bottom surface? or the copper isn't thick enough?
There's just no way I can do cast iron handles with thicker copper. Its the Cuprinox or Atlantis. What do you think of your All Clad copper core?
is your Curpnox 11" heavy?

danab z9 - - not sure where your going with cast aluminum thing, whats the difference between cast and rolled and what are some examples? Those Kohl pans look like your standard aluminum/"teflon" (nonstick) pans sold everywhere. I want a non - "teflon" pan.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 8:39AM
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Cast Aluminum cookware is produced in a similar fashion as cast iron products. The metal is heated to the molten state and the liquid metal is poured into a sand mold to form the cookware product. Magnalite and Club aluminum are examples of cast aluminum products. Rolled products are produced by sheet metal STAMPED into the cookware shape by a heavy machine press. Both cast iron and cast aluminum cook much better in certain applications than their counterpart rolled/stamped products. A Meyer aluminum skillet is an example of rolled aluminum.

Thick cast aluminum skillets are very lightweight and are comparable to cast iron skillets in cooking performance. They can be seasoned just like a cast iron skillet and will develop a non-stick black seasoning if so desired.

Have you considered enameled cast iron? Or have you ruled that out also? Maybe I just don't understand what you are looking for.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2008 at 9:39AM
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I would disagree that cast aluminum pans are lightweight. They are certainly not as heavy as cast iron or a heavy gauge of copper, but not what I consider lightweight. I've had anodized Magnalite since the early 80's & I'd say the weight is very similar to All Clad's LTD.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2008 at 2:49PM
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I was comparing the weight of cast aluminum to that of cast iron. For anyone wanting cooking performance similar to that of cast iron without the weight, then cast aluminum is a viable option. Too, a couple of years years ago "pressure cast" aluminum cookware products have become available on the market. These can be made lighter in weight than your Magnalite pan. The restaurant skillet link that I referenced above is one such product.....but the OP does not want a Teflon-like skillet.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2008 at 4:11PM
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Mary, I'm very happy with my 11" cuprinox style fry pan. But like you, I've spent time reading all the cookware articles. If there is one pan in your arsenal that you want to be thick and heavy, it would be the frying pan, (at least for some cooking). I think the Demeyere Atlantis skillet would be a great choice because it is lighter,(than copper or iron) but still thick and would never warp at high heat-thanks to the stainless.

Good cookware will sometimes make up for a less than perfect heat source. I have a powerful gas range with nice big star shaped burners, so I don't really need the thickest pan. But if you were to sear a steak with a weak burner, you would like a nice thick pan to hold more heat - once you preheat it. Otherwise, the meat would 'suck' the heat out of the thiner pan, before the burner could catch up and supply enough heat to get it hot again.

I remember you saying you weren't sure on what you were cooking with, but wanted a good fry pan that's not too heavy. I think the Demeyere would be a good choice, I don't own it but I've seen the fry pan and it looks good.- should be easy to clean and is induction capable. I like the inside silvernox finish as well. Price is tough to swallow, but I saw one on sale that was the floor sample at a Sur La Table store...- so if you look long enough?

What do I think about the All Clad copper core stuff? It is bomb proof, and I'm really impressed with it. It's not induction capable, and it's not particularly light (because of the copper). Total thickness at the edge, even with all those plies is not very thick. My guess is that the Demeyere Atlantis would do better as a fry pan, even without the copper, because the aluminum is so thick, - while remaining fairly light. Sure copper heats a little faster.. but the race isn't always won by the fastest and fry pans are one item that thickness and therefore heat capacity is just as important.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 12:39AM
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Here is my take and my experiences.

I am a pro cook, and we have gas at work. Most pots are aluminum, period. Not great pans, but cheap.

At home, I cooked on electricity and had a variety of disc and all-clad stainless cookware. Not much difference, except that the disc pots were less expensive than the all-clad.

Then I remodeled and switched to gas and induction (one large induction burner plus a 36" Bluestar range). Tried all my pots and pans on both. Result-I got rid of my disc pans.

Why? two reasons:

1. They were not induction capable (minor reason)

2. The disc pots did not work as well on gas as they did on electric. What happened on gas was that the area on the sides just above the disc got extremely hot and would burn sauces, and other things that were more than just a few mm thick.

In my opinion (I have read the very good e-gullet posting several times and agree with 99% of it) disc is better with electric than gas, because with electric, almost all the heat enters through the disc. With gas, more heat and flames dance around the edges and sides of the pan and overheat the area directly above the disc, causing burning, uneven cooking, etc.

It's my opinion and I am sticking to it.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 11:03AM
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Thanks cpovey .

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 12:03PM
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