Choosing Cookware

ICutUpMarch 19, 2005

Hi. I am trying to find some decent long lasting cookware for every day use on a glass top range. I love your forum, but am getting confused. If you cannot afford All Clad, what do you think is/are the next best? I have been looking at All Clad, Calphalon, Emeril and Cuisinart. I don't do any fancy cooking.I just want something decent. Thank you for your help.

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The following are BETTER than All Clad for the straight-sided pieces (i.e., sauce pans, saute pans, stock pots, etc.), and cost less: (in order of increasing price)
* Sitram Professerie
* Paderno Grand Gourmet
* Sitram Catering

    Bookmark   March 20, 2005 at 3:26AM
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We have a new glass cooktop, and have recently bought some KitchenAid 5-ply stainless clad cookware pieces. Some people here told me they liked it very much, and now we do too! There was a local store who had it on sale, so we picked up one piece there to try it out. Then we bought more at when they had a special sale (keep an eye out there for occasional good deals).

What we like about it is it's sturdy, has nice-fitting metal (not glass) tops, heats up and cooks things evenly, cleans up easily and was cheaper than (but I think just as nice as) All Clad.

My advice is don't rush into anything. Look around and read, maybe buy a small piece and try it out, and then buy what you like. A lot of folks like to mix and match according to their needs, and there's nothing wrong with that! Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchenaid cookware

    Bookmark   March 20, 2005 at 9:20AM
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Emeril ware is made by Al Clad, but I believe that is has a lower price point, so you may want to take another look at it.

I have a huge set of AC stainless and love it. One thing you could do is start with a small starter set (regular AC or Emerilware), rather than the larger set that they also sell. This would give you a price break on the basics, and then you can add to your set over time.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2005 at 3:41PM
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Any of the midrange clad on the bottom pans are fine for your purposes. The difference is really in how they feel in your hands -- do you like the way the handles are balanced - do you want glass or stainless lids -- what are the exact pieces included in a set.

Once you get into the mid level pans - Cuisinart, Emerilware, Kitchenaid, Calphalon etc., you are not going to notice any difference.

Don't drive yourself crazy -- go to a store like BB&B or Macy's with a good cookware selection and feel which ones you like best in terms of balance and looks -- then wait for the best sale.

I think people over think it :)

    Bookmark   March 20, 2005 at 5:30PM
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I purchased a triple ply/all clad set of cookware from Sam's Club about a month ago. It is manufactured by Tramontina and it's construction is the same as All Clad or similar clad brands, but is only a quarter of the cost ($130.00 for the 11 piece set). I have used All Clad, and I can say that it performs as well as All Clad. In addition, I have purchased other "open stock" pieces from various manufacturers, such as Calphalon and Tramontina. I have a few non-stick pieces for those times when only non-stick works for me (fish, eggs, etc>). Up to this point I have not been a fan of buying cookware sets, but the pieces included in this set are all usable/functional. Also, for the price, it would be cost prohibitive to purchase separate pieces and more than likely, you would end up with 80% of the pieces included in this set.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sam's Club cookware

    Bookmark   March 21, 2005 at 10:20AM
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I am posting this again (it's in another thread)...

Alternatives to All-Clad

There are a lot of tri-ply (stainless/aluminum/stainless), fully clad across the base and up the sides, stay-cool oven-safe riveted handles, tight-fitting lids cookware that are available, but that you almost never see in stores. People don't know about these other cookware lines because it's harder to come across them, especially if a certain store (like WS or BB&B) carries only one line of tri-ply clad cookware. At WS and BBB you can compare that one tri-ply clad line against lines like Calphalon One anodized aluminum, two-ply copper, single-ply stainless, nonstick, circulon and the like--which to me is not a true comparison at all. Organizations like CI/ATK also seem to product test in similar waysnot 10 or 20 different tri-ply lines against each other, but one tri-ply clad line (usually AC) against cookware made of different materials like anodized aluminum or single ply stainless-- again, not a fair comparison, in my opinion. I speculate that the source of this lack of easy comparables is because of the huge marketing muscle of AC, revealed in product placements on food shows, and exclusive distribution agreements with retailers, plus laziness/lack of shelf space on the part of bricks & mortar retailers, and the strong name brand recognition/word of mouth appeal of AC, which basically allows the product to sell itself.

So you won't see all the tri-ply clad lined up together and you won't be able to cross-compare them immediately or easily.

Some tri-ply fully clad lines include: Cuisinart Multiclad; Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad; Calphalon Tri-Ply (with glass lids); Calphalon Contemporary Stainless; KitchenAid; Henckels Classic Clad (with funky handles); Revere Total Tri-Ply; ChefMate; Le Gourmet Chef; Members Mark (from evil SamÂs Club); Sur La Table house brand; Fagor Commercial; Gourmet Standard, Anolon Commercial Clad (discontinued; but some internet retailers still offer it for sale, including on ebay, as of this writing March 2005; their roaster in particular is a pan of note); Farberware Millennium Clad (discontinued); and TAkum Ravenna (call the company for retailers/pricing, as this might be the least expensive of them all). Bottom line: the list grows longer with each passing dayÂ

I prefer those with brushed stainless exteriors--like the Cuisinart Multiclad (and you can get 10-12 piece sets off of ebay for ~$200), and the now-discontinued Farberware Millennium Clad. I also like the design of the Cuisinart Multiclad and Farberware Millennium Clad better since ALL pots and pans in the line have flared rims for drip-free pouring (some of the AC stainless line has flared rims, and some straight rims). I also like the handles on the Cuisinart Multiclad and Farberware Millennium Clad better than those on the AC. In my opinion, the handles have better balance, and are easier to control (they are not at angles as striking as AC and are thus easier to grasp, even if you are not 6Â6" tall) and have less potential for slippage. So there is much to be said for chunky (sometimes funky-looking), brushed handles set at flatter angles over those that are thin, elegant, gleamingly polished and perfectly smooth and set at striking angles.
The set of cookware that is the closest near-identical to All-Clad that I've come across is the Le Gourmet Chef set (Le Gourmet Chef has stores in outlet malls around the country), for about 35% cheaper than AC.

For the best bargain copy, you can get an 11 piece set from Sam's Club under their house Members Mark brand-- all tri-ply, all clad up the sides, tight-fitting lids, stay-cool oven-proof handles, and even the same inconsistency of some pans having flared rims and other ones not, for a whopping $130. The set is assembled in the U.S.A. (probably some guy in the south/Midwest riveting the handles to the bodies/lids, but the bodies, lids and handles themselves are made in China). Not sure if the exterior stainless is 18/0 like AC, so bring a magnet with you to test it if induction capability is important to you.

DonÂt worry if you are not a SamÂs Club memberÂjust make sure the store has it (you can audit the store, just tell them you are thinking of becoming a member) and that it looks OK to you. Then go over to the WalMart nearby and buy a gift card for yourself for the price of the set, plus tax. Then use that gift card at SamÂs Club. Or go through an internet retailer for a slight bit more (~$170 + shipping; do a web search for "members mark tri ply clad" and a couple of them will show up).
The two good things I can say about AC is that (1) usually the stuff is made in the U.S.A. (whereas the less expensive brands are typically made elsewhere, like China, Korea, Brazil, or Italy, among others), and (2) they are induction compatible since the exteriors of most of the line is 18/0 magnetic stainless. The 18/0 stainless exterior is useful to have if you have or are thinking of getting induction. But if you donÂt have or plan to have induction in the future, 18/8 or 18/10 exteriors are perfectly functional.

It's also worth mentioning that the TAkum Catania and Campania collections are very nice alternatives to the AC Ltd line, for a fraction of the price. (metal lids) (glass lids, slightly thicker aluminum)

The Takum Tuscany line is a very nice alternative to the AC Cop-R-Chef, Cusineart Copper, and Calphalon Copper lines, again for a fraction of the price.

And though a lot of folks claim that AC is "the best", here is an excerpt from a paper presented at the 2001 International Food Technologists meeting that suggests that the copper disk bottom cookware are superior in heat distribution
"A comparison between surface temperature distribution of different composite cookware show that the three-ply base cookware made of stainless steel, aluminum and copper performs best, followed closely by two-ply base made of stainless steel and aluminum, and the three-ply composite cookware made of stainless steel, aluminum and stainless steel."
But cookware is not ONLY about surface temperature distribution, and the paper does conclude "...Due to its consistent high performance, buying choice for composite cookware may be based on appearance or price rather than performance differences."

And finally, there is an even more interesting alternative out thereÂthe Daniel Boulud cookware, which is tri-ply, but the middle layer is made of carbon steel, copper, or aluminum, depending on which pan you buy and what it is used for.

Yes, AC is good cookware, but there are a lot of comparable (dare I suggest even better?) cookware out there, often for substantially less $$$.

Originally posted on GailÂs March 17, 2005; tweaks made along the way afterward.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 4:03PM
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I just bought a set of Calphalon Tri-Ply and I love it. I can't believe I have cooked for 40 years on the junky pots and pans I had in my cupboard. Believe me, they are no longer there, Calphalon is in its place now.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 11:54PM
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ICupUp, I was also looking for some decent cookware. I was in TJMaxx the other day and they had several pieces of Calphalon. Has anyone bought cookware from TJMaxx?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2005 at 9:50AM
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I purchased a 5 qt. dutch oven/chili pot made by Tramontina from TJ Maxx. You need to check the pieces out carefully, since they're usually piled on top of each other, which means they're prone to scratching, denting, etc., or even worse, have the wrong lids with them. I buy alot of things for the home from them, but cookware...I'm picky about. I don't want to buy anything that looks like it's been through the mill, since you can usually find very good bargains on-line for competitive prices ( for one). And, when you buy on-line, they're not seconds. Just MHO.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2005 at 2:19PM
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I have been completely unimpressed by the prices at TJ Maxx/Marshalls et al regarding the cookware. The pieces I've seen have been no lower priced (in some cases higher priced) than I was able to purchase elsewhere IN A BOX.

You REALLY have to know the various grades each manufacturer puts out -- Calphalon makes a number of different lines of pots at VERY different price points for example.

If you REALLY know your cookware, you might find something but I've done much better on the internet, department store sales and at places like Bed Bath & Beyond with coupons.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2005 at 10:43PM
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Hi, I was told that TJ Max Marshalls it the best place to find these "off brands" at super low prices. I hate digging threw the junk to find the pieces I want. I don't mind waiting but I want to save $$$. I have found the site below that has everything I want. Has anyone had experience with this vendor? Does anyone know of a chain store that I can just walk into and pickup the complete set, and some open stock?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 12:16PM
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Potguy, Life is full of little trade-offs. >grinTJM doesn't have a regular inventory of this stuff, so it may take several trips and you might even have to visit more than one store. Still, there are good buys to be had...

Guess it's a matter of how much (and long) do you want to search around to save money vs. how quick and easy do you want to get this stuff. What's your time and effort worth?

Before I'd decide on the site you linked, I'd at least spend some time and Google "Tramontina tri ply" to see what other online vendors might have.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 1:20PM
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Help has arrived....Traamontina, you ask? I purchased the Sam's Club 11-piece tri-ply clad set, which is manufactured by Tramontina, for $130.00. I have posted my experience researching this cookware, along with my results after purchase on the "Cookware" forum. If you don't belong to Sam's Club, another poster to the forum sites suggested going to your local Wal Mart and purchasing a gift card for the price of the cookware plus tax. Then you go to Sam's and use the gift card to purchase the cookware....pretty nifty, if I do say so. I belong to Sam's, which is where I first saw the cookware set. I am very impressed with the quality and features, along with the actual performance results.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 1:36PM
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I'm bumping this thread, mainly for the information in Anne in SF's post. I've found it invaluable.

I'm sorry to report that Takum seems to be out of business. I really wanted high-quality, clad SS cookware, but with brushed exterior finish and GLASS lids, and their Compania line seemed to be the only thing that fit the bill.

Thanks, Anne, and if you have any updates, please please post here.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 2:22AM
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Anne_in_SF, thanks so much for taking the time to post that great article. Yes, a disk bottom base of steel, aluminum, and copper might be better than just a clad steel and aluminum base, but the problem is some food is going to come in contact with the sides of the pan too. Where it does, food is more apt to burn, as those pans usually have single ply steel on the sides. That's why I think fully clad is superior.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 7:16PM
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Hello all, I've seen several people mention in regards to clad cookware. I live in Temecula, where the store is based. I've bought a lot of stuff from them, inculding shun knives and various knick knacks. I sometimes find cheaper prices on ebay but their customer service is great. Anyone looking for cookware can feel totally safe buying from them. The owner is a jovial guy and really knows his stuff.

Also, be sure to check them out on ebay, sometimes they sell their overstock stuff for great prices. They also cary all-clad and le cruset. In fact, they carry all kinds of really cool tools and such for cooking. They even employ a chef to help people decide what they need.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 10:22PM
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I've had very good luck at some of the Corning/Revereware outlets with pots and pans. I got mine about 10 or 12 years ago and they are still going strong. I got my daughter some a couple of years ago and they are doing well too. They have a number of styles and weights of cookware and worth a look.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 11:53PM
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