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Old 10-06-2004, 11:04 PM   #1
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Help a new cook pick his first set of cookware

I just started living on my own and am looking for a good set of cookware. I am a new cook so I am probably going to get something nonstick. My preliminary choice is the calphalone one non stick. I have been in love with these pans since the first day I saw them at le gourmet chef. Any suggestions or opinions are highly valued. Thank in advance.

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Old 10-07-2004, 01:52 AM   #2
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just researched this for my cousin not too long ago - here's my recommendation based on Consumer Reports - America's Test Kitchen and epinions

start with Wolfgang Puck's Bistro Collection, you can get it on
Wolfgang Puck Bistro 20-piece Cookware Set on HSN
20 pieces for $159.98
then add Cuisinart non-stick fry pan - highlight, it can go in dishwasher!
(think that is available on Amazon)

The best cookware is a collection of different brands, but it takes years to accumulate. Le Cruset large pots and casseroles are among my favorites, also All Clad roasters. I'm sure Calaphone is good too, but if you are starting from scratch, I would get the Bistro Collection and then add on as time goes on. This gives you everything you need to do some serious cooking!

Good Luck!
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Old 10-07-2004, 05:37 AM   #3
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bienvenu, MockF1. Get at least one cast iron skillet.
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Old 10-07-2004, 07:42 AM   #4
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I bought the moderately priced Calphalon Kitchen Essentials set at Target for $200 2 years ago and am pleased with it. If the new One series is better, it should be an excellent set. I'm with mudbug, in addition to the set, get a cast iron (or stainless if you prefer) skillet for searing/deglazing and/or finishing in the oven under high heat.
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Old 10-07-2004, 08:42 AM   #5
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Thanks for the input so far
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Old 10-07-2004, 08:52 AM   #6
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Ditto, ditto, ditto here. I've had a lot of different makes and models of cookware over the years, but have never found anything with the weight, durability and versatility as Calphalon. And the Calphalon One is about as good as you can get, especially with their infused non-stick surface -- you'll never worry about scratches there. It's pricey, but if you can afford it now, the set will likely last you your entire life.

I have two rules with mine: Never use metal spatulas, spoons, etc. (I use wood primarily, but also use tools designed for non-stick); and ALWAYS wash the cookware by hand.

Cast iron is an animal I could not live without. Very inexpensive, generally, but when taken care of properly will endure many generations. I have a couple of skillets and a large pot (mean to be hung over a five) that are probably approaching 200 years of age, if not older. As noted, they're the best at searing, cooking at very high heat, and certainly for slow cooking for hours and hours. Love mine dearly.
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Old 10-07-2004, 09:28 AM   #7
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I really like my Calphalon non stick a lot. They are quite heavy so they do a good job at retaining heat. Plus they have a lifetime warranty so as long as you follow their rules (no metal utensils etc.) then they really will last you a lifetime.

Cast iron is great too and when properly seasoned it will be as nonstick as your best non stick pans, plus they are very inexpensive.
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Old 10-07-2004, 05:25 PM   #8
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Since your taste in cookware will change as you gain more experience I would suggest getting something good but not too expensive to start with. I would also suggest getting a good "set" to get started so that you will have a basic variety of pot and pan sizes since a set will usually be cheaper than buying each piece individually. Of course, you have to look at what you are getting in the sets ... some sets include 6 utensils (spatula, spoons, fork, tongs, etc) in the count - others give you all cookware, which I prefer since I wouldn't use the bundled utensils for anaything but wall decorations.

You might want to look on www.qvc.com and check out their Cook's Essentials line of non stick. http://www.qvc.com/asp/frameset.asp?class=7959&dd=/scripts/drilldown.dll?class=3344!frame=left&tmp=DE1&am p;cont=7 ... scroll down and look at the 20-pc set item number K0269 for $135 (you can put it on 4 flex payments so it only costs you about $34/month for 4 months). I've been impressed with Cook's Essentials non-stick enough that this is what I just ordered my kid sister for Christmas.

Before some people think I've been taken over by the dark forces - I'm only suggesting this as a starter set. I have some All-Clad stainless steel, Emerilware stainless steel, Calphalon anadized, Calphalon commercial non-stick anodized, cast iron, enameled steel, some anodized made by Forever Ware (they're no longer in business and NOT the same company using that name now), and plain old aluminum.

Of course if money is no object - you can forget everything I just said.
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Old 10-07-2004, 06:18 PM   #9
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Money is really no object as I just want something very nice to start off with.
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Old 10-07-2004, 07:30 PM   #10
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If money is no object then get yourself some All Clad and forget about the non stick. It is pretty easy to learn how to use regular stainless steel and All Clad is great stuff!
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Old 10-07-2004, 08:00 PM   #11
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If I could get anything I wanted right now it would be a Viking set. With several pieces of Le Crueset, cast iron pieces and some non-stick for eggs and such.
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Old 10-07-2004, 08:13 PM   #12
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There is no one set that does everything as well as a collection of things. I like stainless for some things - especially for searing meats where I want the fond in the bottom of the pan to deglaze to make a sauce - but cast iron does that equally well. And, cast iron is cheaper - but heavier. Nothing else can ever make cornbread like cast iron.

And, you'll have to pry my cold dead fingers off my non-stick Calphalon for eggs and such. As for LeCrueset ... just give me a well seasoned cast iron pot - might not come in designer colors but cooks just as good.

As for blanching vegies or boiling eggs - plain old heavy commercial kitchen aluminum works better than anything else. Not bad for rissoto or polenta, either.
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Old 10-07-2004, 10:02 PM   #13
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My personal preference is for stainless tri-ply. The LeGourmet Chef line is really decent. I have several pieces as well as some All-Clad.

Stainless has the advantage of being virtually bullet-proof (literally and figuratively). No special care requirements and they'll last forever. The metal core ensures even heat distribution with no hot spots.

If you follow some basic procedures, they can be non-stick, too.
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Old 10-08-2004, 02:29 AM   #14
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One probelm Andy is that not all Tri-Ply is created equal.

For some brands, like All-Clad, it means one thing - for another brand like Martha Stewart/Emerilware/WolfgangPuck - tri-ply means something else.
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Old 10-08-2004, 10:30 PM   #15
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I too own a mismatched collection of pots and pans. My favorites are the stainless steel pots with encapulated bottoms and good lids, the cast-iron frying pans (have made everything from deep-dish pizza, to cherry cobler in those pans, and are non-stick due to being very well seasoned), and my steel wok. If I can't make what I want in those pans, then it can't be made.

Of course for baking breads, cakes and such, a whole different set of rules exist. I have a ten-inch Kaiser spring form pan that is abosolutely indispensible to me. it makes the most phenominal cheesecakes and layerd cakes. Steel laof pans are good but need to be seasoned, just like carbon steel or cast iron. A good jelly-roll pan makes so much more than helly rolls.

And you can't beat LE' Crueset for baked beans (though my stainless stell and my slow cooker work well for those as well.

All in all, check out swap-meats and garage sales for the best deals in cast iron (look for Griswold or Lodge. There's a lot of cast-iron juck out there that is just worthless).

The biggest thing you can do for your kitchen is to treat info-mercial cookware like they're tryng to sell you cyanide in a vitamin pill. Don't buy it! Can you tell that I detest info-mercials?

A word of caution with even the highest quality tri-ply steel. Though it can be nearly stick free, and is nearly indistructable, if used wrong, things will stick like crazy and the cookware can be very hard to clean. But then, if you treat cast-iron improperly, well, do you own a sand-blaster ?

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Old 10-13-2004, 10:45 PM   #16
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I just got another promotional copy of "Cook's Illustrated Magazine" - and they had a couple of interesting articles on cookware (skillets).

First - the review of Calphalon One. Unlike most nonstick which has a problem with developing a fond (those brown bits in the bottom of the pan) this rivaled their favorite All-Clad stainless in that catagory. But, as nonstick - it sucked. As in - don't buy this for it's supposed nonstick function. To quote, "Calphalon's new pan did not fare well in the nonstick catagory. .... This pan's only likeness to a nonstick pan appeared to be in the sink, where it cleaned up as easily as a nonstick if given a brief soak."

Next, they had a test review of 8 12-inch skillets. They were evaluated on Price, Materials, Weight, Diameter of the bottom surface, Performance, Saute Speed, and User-Friendliness. You really would need to be able to look at all of the data to understand how some of these got rated as they did. For example - the 2 pans with a disk base heated up the quickest - but they felt they sauted too quickly (hey, turn the heat down stupid). Anyway - without going into all of the details ... here are their picks ...

Favorite Pans:
All-Clad Stainless
Viking 7-ply Stainless

Best Buys:
Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless
Farberware Millennium Stainless

Recommended with Reservations:
Emerilware Stainless
Cuisinart Multi-Clad Stainless
KitchenAid Hi-Density Hard Anodized (stainless interior)
Le Creuset

When you read the test protocols - and study the specs - it's easy to see that it's not easy to say which one brand is better than another. The disk bottom pans heated up to the test temp of 361-degress 15% faster than the clad pans (4-5 minutes) - Le Creuset took a little over 10 minutes. If you're doing a "flip it in the pan - look like a TV chef" it would certainly be easier with All-Clad (at 2 lbs. 14 oz) than Le Creuset (6 lbs. 9 oz). This might explain why Emeril used his nonstick on TV but uses All-Clad stainless - since it weighs about half as much.

I wish Cook's Illustrated (aka: America's Test Kitchen) would do a real comparison of ALL cookware instead of pick and choose of seemingly similar but really dissimilar products.
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Old 10-15-2004, 11:35 PM   #17
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if money isn't an issue, you MUST try some all-clad. it is the best out there IMO. that is what i cook in almost exclusivly. if you use it correctly, it will not stick. cop*r*chef is my favorite. i am very attached in particular to my smallest saucepans and my littlest pan. not even scrambled eggs stick if you use a good wooden spoon and plenty of butter. :D
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Old 10-16-2004, 01:40 AM   #18
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I just change my range to ceramic top last February and decided to get new cookwares to go with it. After some research I decided to go for Le Creuset cookwares. I have always longing for this cookware but could not justify the expenses years ago but now I think I deserved them. I am so happy with them, I have the omelet pan, 2 of the 5quart French oven, 5 of the 2 quarts. a large Karahi pan, a grill pan an 6 1/2 quart oval to name some. I love cooking and these cookwares just make me wants to try something everyday! I think I will start collecting Le creuset cookwares! I am so passionate about them and tried to convert my friends to use them but so far I cant convince anybody! The usual excuse is that they are too heavy, too expensive, too slow to cook etc! well if you love cooking then these attributes actually pays in the long run.
Well I hope you do get some Le Creuset pieces. I forgot, among the main reason I choose this cookware is the fabulous colors: I love all the colors!
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Old 10-16-2004, 10:15 AM   #19
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Welcome to the boards puteri and congratulations on your Le Creuset purchase. They sure are great. I personally would not want to use them for everything I cook (hard to do the cool food flip in the fry pan with cast iron), but you sure will get a lot of use out of them and build your muscles at the same time :) Enjoy them and take good care of them and then your children and their children will be able to enjoy them as well!
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Old 10-16-2004, 01:36 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Michael in FtW
One probelm Andy is that not all Tri-Ply is created equal.

For some brands, like All-Clad, it means one thing - for another brand like Martha Stewart/Emerilware/WolfgangPuck - tri-ply means something else.

No, not all are created equal. I recommended the Le Gourmet because I have used it and like it. I also have and recommend All-Clad

The Puck and Emeril stuff aren't tri-ply, they have a disk on the bottom and are single-ply on the sides. A different product all together that I don't like or recommend.
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