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Cookware Decisions

Posted by bob_mcbob (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 21, 08 at 13:43

I'm trying to decide between some cookware options, and I was hoping you guys could give me some advice. I have a reasonably budget for kitchen equipment, and I don't mind spending money on expensive items if they are really nice.

What I'm primarily interested in is a nice set of All-Clad stainless or something similar. I'd been planning to buy some seconds from Cookware & More and supplement them with a few other pieces, but the rising US dollar has really put a damper on ordering stuff from the States. However, I was browsing around the other night and found an All-Clad set that has pretty much everything I'm looking for, at about the same price as the seconds, and it is quite tempting. I know buying sets is generally frowned upon, but picking up individual pieces over time would cost me a fortune. All-Clad and other high-end brands are VERY expensive in Canada, and shipping multiple heavy pieces from the US would end up costing quite a lot. This is the set I'm interested in. It has the major items I'm looking for -- two sauce pans, 10/12" fry pans, a reasonably-sized saute pan, and an 8qt stock pot. I'd supplement it with a cheap 16qt stock pot. After shipping, tax, and the piss poor exchange rate right now, it would come out to something like C$1100.

On the other end of the scale, there is this Cuisinart MultiClad Pro set. At this price, it's not worth NOT buying the set. I would supplement it with one or two open stock pieces (like a 12" fry pan). Other than that, it is a reasonably solid line-up for my needs. However, Cook's Illustrated reviewed one of their pieces (a fry pan) and rated it as "recommended with reservations": "A respectable performer with ample space for large batches, but required some attention to control the saut speed. Plenty of space and a helper handle, but you have to watch the heat and take care with the handle, which ran hot in some tests." This set would cost C$339 with tax.

Somewhere in the middle is a Canadian brand called Cuisinox. It's a fully clad stainless range like the other two, and appears to be somewhat more high-end than the MultiClad set. They like to tout how a kitchen magazine rated their 3.5qt sauce pan over the equivalent All-Clad, but I cannot find much in the way of actual reviews of any of their stuff. They have a good selection of open stock pieces, and I can order from Quebec and pay less sales tax. Some nice features over the All-Clad are a rolled rim, pouring lip, internal volume markings, and that sort of thing. Here are some representative prices. 2/4qt sauce pans, 4.5qt saute pan, 9.5/11" fry pans, and an 8qt Dutch oven comes out to something like C$720 with tax. I'd also have the option of substituting one or two pieces of something really nice like Falk if I found myself in a moment of insanity... I'm just concerned about the lack of real reviews out there, given the price. Here is the article I mentioned, not that is is a lot of help.

Really, the only other option I've been considering is buying some Falk pieces. Considering the C$1800 cost for a couple of sauce pans, a fry pan, and a saute pan, that seems like a fairly stupid idea for someone like me. They sure are pretty, though :)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Cookware Decisions

I still think it's best to buy individual pieces rather than sets. Different companies excel at different types of cookware. Also there are some pieces you would want to spend top dollar on (fry pan, saute pan), and other pieces it's not necessary to spend a lot such as nonstick fry pan or a roaster (I realize there are many people who think you need to spend a lot on a roaster, but I have been happy with my Calphalon Classic not-non-stick roaster for $60). Saucepans are somewhere in the middle for me price-wise, and Cooks Illustrated has found a Tramontina stock pot for cheap that they said is quite good.

Also, have you actually held the All-Clad in your hands to see how it feels to you? I have an 8" All-Clad fry pan, which is fine. But any bigger size than that in the All-Clad KILLS my hand. It's not the weight, it's the shape of the handle. I can't handle All-Clad handles LOL! I have a Gourmet Standard Tri-ply 12" fry pan and it is so much easier to pick up, despite its heavy weight. Make sure you like how the cookware feels to you before buying an entire set of it.

For fry pans and saute pans, I'd get the Demeyere Apollo's and spend The Big Bucks. If you don't want to spend quite so much, the Gourmet Standard brand I mentioned above is good (and recommended by Cooks Illustrated). For sauce pans, I like the Calphalon Infused Anodized or Calphalon Stainless Steel.

If you really want that All-Clad 10-piece set you linked to, look on eBay Canada (eBay.ca). Right now, I saw several 10-piece stainless All-Clad sets there, some for auction, and some for "Buy it Now" prices in Canadian dollars of course. Check it out, do a search there for "All-Clad set", and see if you can buy a set for less than the C$1100 you mentioned.


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RE: Cookware Decisions

I was interested in the Cuisinox article, but your link (where you say "here") just takes you to the website selling Cuisinox.

I too have to vote against buying a set, regardless of the brand name, for the reasons you seem to know already. But I do hear you when you cite the convenience of just buying a set and being done with it. For me, I have an issue with storage, since my storage space is limited, and the last thing I want is to buy a cookware set which might have unused pieces taking up room. If you instead buy the individual pieces you'll really use, and mix high-end brands with cheaper pieces, I think you'll be ahead price-wise from the, gulp, C$1100 you mentioned for the All-Clad set.

You don't mention whether you already have experience with All-Clad cookware and that is why you want it. There has been some discussion on the 'net that when you buy All-Clad, sure, you're definitely getting quality cookware, but your money is also covering their advertising, packaging, PR campaign, and status-symbol premium. You might get equivalent cookware for less money from other manufacturers. Search this forum, Amazon, Cooks Illustrated reviews, for other recommendations for less money. That Cuisinox you found looks good, sorta hits your checklist--can you go see it somewhere to check it out? You'll be able to tell a lot once you pick it up and handle it.

BTW, Falk Culinaire is amazing, the kind of cookware you hand down to your grandchildren. They also weigh A TON. Cleaning them is also hard. Just a heads-up.

Re eBay: I have to say, I have been very happy with various purchases I have had on eBay. As long as the Seller has a good rating, you can get great bargains.


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RE: Cookware Decisions

I, too, vote for buying individual items that do specific tasks instead of a set. Just my opinion.

The link below has been posted several times. It's by far the best summary of cookware qualities I've ever seen, and while a tad lengthy, has a ton of good info.

One other comment: this forum is really quite good with a lot of posters giving honest appraisals of the items they have used. Lately, though, there have been a few spammers trying to influence buying decisions. It's a shame, but be on the lookout for anyone trying to say 'You absolutely need this' and linking to a commercial site.

Here is a link that might be useful: understanding stovetop cookware


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RE: Cookware Decisions

Juliet, there are a couple of problems with buying individual pieces. First, the prices of cookware in Canada are ridiculously inflated. Even with the current terrible exchange rate (1.25, lower than it's been 3-1/2 years), All-Clad is significantly cheaper to purchase from the US. Second, while I can order from the US, paying for shipping each time really eats up the difference, so the only economical way to buy stuff like this is to get it all at once.

I agree that most sets are pretty useless. I looked through every All-Clad set available, and the one I linked is the only one that is reasonably well thought-out and doesn't contain stupid filler pieces that I would never use. If I were buying open stock, it's essentially exactly what I would get. It's not a matter of convenience -- Cuisinox makes a $600 set that has silly small fry pans and other stuff I don't want, which is why I made a list of open stock pieces to compare with the All-Clad.

I can buy the same set as open stock seconds from Cookware & More for around C$940 total. I would run the risk of receiving unacceptable pieces and having return shipping eat up the difference, though they assure me all their seconds are functionally perfect with only minor cosmetic defects. This would also give me the option of changing the 4qt sauce pan to the one with the helper handle, and maybe getting 1.5/3qt sauce pans instead of the 2qt, but that is a pretty minor issue.

Here are a couple of links for the Cuisinox stuff:
An article that briefly compares sauce pans, but is essentially useless.
The Cuisinox brochure that has lots of nice photos of their tri-ply line-up.

I am pretty wary of spending $750 on the Cuisinox, given the extreme lack of reviews and owner opinions. I can barely find any mention of it on cooking sites, let alone in-depth information. There is ONE brief review of a single sauce pan on Amazon, and maybe a couple of "I bought a Cuisinox fry pan and it's pretty good" or "my local cooking store says Cuisinox is as good as All-Clad for less money" messages on eGullet and the like. I'm afraid of spending $750 on a set of cookware that may be no better than the cheap Cuisinart set. One benefit the Cuisinox certainly has over the Cuisinart is that their tri-ply is induction ready, though I don't think that will be much of an issue for me any time in the next 10+ years...

I do have to wonder whether the shape and extra features of the Cuisinox/Cuisinart is preferable to the All-Clad straight sides and sharp edges. Gourmet Standard is another brand with similar features that sells a very similar set that comes out to about C$640, but their selection of open stock is really lousy.

So many choices! It is pretty overwhelming. I'd just like to decide whether I'm going to order from the US before the Canadian dollar tanks even more.


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RE: Cookware Decisions

You might also check in on the Cooking forum, and ask the question. There are a number of great cooks there from Canada, and they may have some opinions to share.


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RE: Cookware Decisions

It sounds to me like you really want that 10-piece All-Clad set at Williams-Sonoma. You are citing a bunch of reasons not to buy your other choices, and saying that the All-Clad Set has just what you want, so I think you actually have already made up your mind. And, I notice that right now, Williams-Sonoma has that All-Clad set on sale for US$700, which is about C$876. I don't know if that sale was there when you first posted. (Not to mention the "bonus" with your purchase - an Au Gratin, a 5.5 Qt. Round Oven, AND the red cotton oven mitts - awww c'mon! that's a deal!)

Where in Canada are you, as there are Williams-Sonoma stores in Canada, and perhaps you could just go pick it up and avoid the shipping charge. Given the sale price, and if you can pick it up, the set looks to be just what you want.


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Yes, I did convince myself it was exactly what I wanted until I started considering the cheaper options available to me in Canada. The $1100 figure I stated is after ~$80 shipping, currency conversion, and tax. ($700 * 1.13 tax + $80 shipping) * 1.25 USD to CAD * 1.025 Visa fee comes out to around C$1115. The exchange rate is really killing me right now. Our dollar is at under 0.80 US dollars, which is lower than it's been since early 2005. Really hard to get used to after being at parity (and up to 1.10) for so long. A few months ago, the same set would have been $200 less!

I've e-mailed Williams-Sonoma Canada to see if they carry the same set, but I can almost guarantee it will be significantly more expensive than ordering from the US.

I am actually still pretty interested in the other cookware I mentioned. I don't want to just buy into All-Clad hype and pay a fortune for stuff that might actually be functionally worse in some ways. On the other hand, I don't want to spend almost as much as I would have on All-Clad seconds and then wonder "what if...". I am quite keen to read more of what others think of the All-Clad design vs. the alternatives.


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I think it will really help you to see and feel the All-Clad and the Cuisinox. As I mentioned earlier, I myself can't handle the All-Clad handles. They may be no problem for you, or maybe they will. If you can find Cuisinox to see in person, that might help you make up your mind instantly. Then you won't have to be on the fence so much. Any possibility of seeing these choices in person?


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RE: Cookware Decisions

I agree with akchicago about the All-Clad handles. I don't know if it matters to you, but All-Clad lids and certain other pieces are made in China. Also, all CIA Masters, which I like better because of the handles, is made in China, too. I am leery of anything related to food made in China (and other things as well).I tend to use Mauviel and Bourgeat copper, but neither is particularly easy to clean. Mauviel also makes stainless. Also, have you looked into Viking? I'm interested in these (made in Belgium). I suspect they are at least as effective as All-Clad and more comfortable. When it comes to fry and saute pans, you'll want the best. Also, for slow cooking, I prefer Le Creuset to anything.


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RE: Cookware Decisions

Have you looked at Calphalon? It is not as expensive as All Clad, but just as good in my estimation.


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I have a similiar set of All Clad. I didn't start out wanting a set but I wanted 4 of the pieces in that set. ( I wasn't interested in the one non stick fry pan that came with my set) While watching a near by TJ Maxx for any of the pieces I jumped in on ebay bidding and ended up with the set for considerably less and didn't have to wait to find each individual one. I do love the pans including the non stick. I am careful with the non stick but it has been in use for 6 yrs without a scratch. All the rest of the set goes in DW daily.


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RE: Cookware Decisions

Bob Mcbob - Did you decide which to get? Was Williams-Sonoma Canada store helpful? Did you check out eBay, or eBay.ca?


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Yes, I ended up ordering the set from Williams-Sonoma along with a discount 1.5qt saucepan ($75!) and having it shipped to a friend in the States. It's now on its way to me.

Williams-Sonoma Canada got back to me after a week and said they had one of the sets in stock somewhere in BC, but the price was significantly higher than the equivalent exchange rate.

I'm not sure the All-Clad stuff was the most sensible choice, but I'm pretty sure I won't be disappointed.


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RE: Cookware Decisions

Bob McBob - please post back when your receive your All-Clad set and cook with it. I am certain that readers on this Forum (and me!) will want to know your impressions of the cookware.


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RE: Cookware Decisions

I have had my Cusinox Elite cookware for the past two years.I love them. There is a wide choice of pots available and they are very heavy. I started with the 7 piece starter set and have added pots to it. They transfer heat very well- all the way up the isdes of the pot! I know this because I have burned my rice in it before. It crusted all the way up! It was quite funny. They wash up nicely due to the surgical stainless on the inside.Just a little bit of soap and soak for half an hour and the food just peels off. I am looking at an induction cooktop and these pots are induction ready as well. You will not be disappointed with this purchase.
PS The only piece I have not been happy with is the pasta insert. It makes a mess of your stove top and if I was going to the sink anyways, I'd use a strainer!

Here is a link that might be useful: Cusinox homepage


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mcbob, I am canadian also and I ordered my all-clad set from goldaskitchen.com,
which is a canadian site so the shipping was minimal and the price was reasonable. If you add pieces, you might want to check out their site for pricing.

I will be completing my 10 pce set soon with other pieces ; we have a local shop that carries cuisinox, I'll drop by and see them first.


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RE: Cookware Decisions

update on my purchase, I'm very impressed with the performance of the all clad stainless, it's a dream to cook with. I paid 745$ on sale for my 10 piece starter set but it's now $1080. regular price.

I found a local store who seems to have old prices on their all-clad and I'm completing my set now that I know what I'm missing.


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I know someone that has had Cuisinox Elite cookware for about 10 years and it still looks new. And this is a person that cooks a LOT... daily. I think it is very good cookware and as good as All Clad. It is really a pleasure to use.

I have used Cuisinart Multiclad. It seems nice and good value, but just not as solid as Cuisinox or All Clad.

I have Calphalon One Infused Anodized. It is OK, and I guess in theory the higher conductivity of Al should make it cook better than clad SS for a lot of things, but I don't know how much difference that makes in real life cooking. It does sear things wonderfully. On the other hand Aluminum is softer (despite the hard anodizing), needs more care, and definitely cannot go in the dishwasher.

Of the 4 brands I mentioned, I like Cuisinox the best.


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