CIA Masters Collection cookware

deanbMarch 10, 2008

Ok, I admit it, I'm a cookware and cutlery junkie. I have way too much cookware and way too many knives. I recently got the 10 piece CIA Masters Collection cookware set. No doubt about it, this is very good cookware. I got the set for $500 and at that price it's a steal. I bought it on an impulse and now I'm having some second thoughts.

I couldn't find anywhere on the packaging or cookware exactly where this stuff is made so I called CIA (Culinary Institute of AMERICA) and was redirected to Robinson Home Products. They are the folks who actually distribute the cookware and they told me it was made in China.

The marketing is clever. They call the cookware pieces by their French equivalent names, e.g. saute pan = sautoir, chef's pan = saucier. The suggested retail price for the 10 piece set is over $900 but you can easily find it on the net for $500. It is advertised as 7 ply with a pure copper core but the copper is only .6 mm thick.

All that said, I really do like the way this cookware performs. It's quite hefty and the fit and finish really is good. The design is very good. Heat distribution is excellent and it's easy to clean. So "What's the problem?" you ask? I wish that the marketing was a little more honest. If I had known that the stuff was made in China I probably wouldn't have bought it.

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No doubt about it, this is very good cookware. I got the set for $500 and at that price it's a steal.

I guess I just don't understand the problem. You like the cookware very much, and you think it's an excellent value.

Why, then, would you be at all concerned with the marketing or the country of origin? The former may be annoying, but that's true of so many products that we still like and use. The latter, without getting into a big debate, just seems overblown to me. Surely you have other merchandise from China?

Seems to me that the main criterion should be quality. If it passes that test, I'm personally not so concerned, in this global economy of ours, that my purchase came from China or elsewhere.

I know that others may disagree politically, and if that's the case with you, then I do understand your second thoughts.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 10:39AM
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The key with an item made in China is the brand. If the manufacturer has strict quality controls, employees onsite, etc.. there isn't anything bad about it being made in China necessarily. There are SO many items made there now, including (from rumors I hear) products that technically count as being from European countries when in fact they were made in China and perhaps just finished in Europe.

The CIA cookware is very good cookware, even better now that there has been a large reduction in prices. A nice bang for the buck for a copper/aluminum core pan. BTW, the .6mm is not bad at all, considering that standard solid copper cookware is only 2mm.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 12:29AM
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Suzy, an example of what concerns me about the country of origin is what's going on in Tibet right now. By trading with China we are, in effect, supporting this behavior. It also bothers me that we (the U.S.) can't compete with products like this. The only U.S. product I can find that is comparable to the CIA cookware is the All-Clad Copper Core cookware. The All-Clad is way, way more expensive. Question for chefsresouce: How does the All-Clad compare with the CIA?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 9:33PM
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All Clad copper core is better than the CIA in my opinion. It feels a little heavier, I believe off the top of my head it's thicker. I have used both, but it's not like I've tested apples to apples formally. I like both.

If you want to buy the best cookware you can while minimizing support of China, a few good choices:
All Clad (lids are made in China, pans aren't)
French copper cookware (very expensive, but the highest performance)
Viking - made in Belgium
demeyere cookware Belgium (we don't carry)
Calphalon One
Kuhn Rikon Circolo

These are some of the choices, there are others. There are European brands. We're probably going to add Chantal copper fusion, it's made in Germany. You can avoid China for cookware if you wish, there are choices, but it takes work.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 12:00AM
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Regal Ware is coming out with a USA made line of clad cookware. The retail for the 10pc set is $500.00. Yes, even the lids are made in Regal Ware's facility in West bend WI. IMHO the line is stunning.

Then again, my opinion is slightly biased. I am the retail sales manager for Regal Ware. But we are all very proud to bring a true USA made line of cookware to the market place.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 9:48AM
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I know this post it old but I just came across it on my search for a new cookware set. I agree with deanb. I avoid products from Asia for many reasons. Try to buy American first, then European. Quality control or not the material and build quality from Asia is not going to be better then the alternatives chefsresource has mentioned. And you should feel good about not supporting a country that does this ""; Personally, I find it heartbreaking for both the earth and the people.
On that note I am purchasing my cookware set form All-Cald

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 10:41AM
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All-Clad lids and certain other All-Clad pieces are manufactured in China. So, the company is trading upon its made-in-America reputation, yet creeping into the China manufacturing syndrome. I think the company is being misleading in this practice because I do not see any announcement to the effect that some pieces are, in fact, not made in the U.S.. Notice, even on this thread, people persist in thinking that by purchasing All-Clad, they are avoiding purchasing something manufactured in China. Certain "special" pieces, lids, tall stockpots, and, I believe, certain utensils come from China. Le Creuset, that venerable French company, manufactures its enamel on steel stockpots and some of its bakeware in China and Thailand. I have seen some pieces so labeled.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 9:30AM
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