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Old 09-04-2006, 06:39 PM   #1
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ISO Advice for building up my cookware/bakeware collection

Hey guys, I'm a 24-year-old who loves to get cooking as often as possible, making a wide variety of food types, entertaining guests, and just enjoying using my kitchen. I am looking for some advice in building my cookware (and perhaps my bakeware as well) collection up. Essentially, where I stand now, I have the same cheap cheap cookware set I got as a freshman in college. While it gets the job done fairly well, I can't tell you how many times I've been stuck not quite getting things right cooking due to hotspots in my pots and pans and uneven cooking, among other things... and aside from that, the stuff I'm using isn't exactly the most attracive looking stuff. I've finally decided that it's time to get rid of my old cookware and get some QUALITY items.

I will also be upgrading to good knives over the next couple of months, and while I will be spending a lot of money (relatively) on the knives, I am aware that getting basic cookware can set you out a LOT more money than will getting 3 or 4 good knives, due to the need for at least 8 pieces and also due to more expensive materials when you're talking about quality pots, skillets, and pans. I certainly have no qualms with putting up a decent chunk of money on my cookware, but I don't wont to spend All-clad levels of money on what I buy.

So I basically have two questions. First, I know when buying knives (which I'm more experienced with), it's always better to build up piece by piece, getting 1 quality item at a time. Is this the same with cookware? Should I be getting things pot by pot and pan by pan, or would I get equal quality and save money by getting an 8-piece or 10-piece set all at once? As for my second question - keeping in mind that a) I do want seriously good-quality cookware that will serve me well, b) looks do matter somewhat, since I do a lot of entertaining guests, and c) I can spend a good bit of money, but not allclad levels of $, what are some good brand choices?

Also, considering I'm essentially starting my collection up from scratch, if you have any other pointes, it would be greatly appreciated. Hope to hear from y'all soon, and thanks in advance for your responses!

- Rossodio


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Old 09-04-2006, 07:24 PM   #2
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Buying a set of cookware is similar to buying a set of knives. You will usually end up with some that you don't need, in which case you have wasted some $$$. This is not always true, but speaking in generalities it is.

Take a serious look at what you cook and which pots and pans you really need. That will help you decide if you should get them piece by piece or get a set.

Another reason I am not a fan of buying sets when it comes to pots and pans is that it is beneficial to have certain things made of certain materials. In my kitchen I have some All Clad stainless steel, Lodge cast iron, Calphalon non stick, Le Crueset enameled cast iron, and a few other things. Each serves it's purpose in my kitchen and they all get used. If I am cooking a steak inside then I reach for my Lodge cast iron (cost me all of $15). If I am making a grilled cheese then I go for the non stick. If I am cooking chicken and will be browning it and possibly making a pan sauce then I use the All Clad SS.

All Clad is great stuff and worth the money, but it certainly is not the only quality cookware out there. You can save quite a bit and still get cookware that performs close to or as well as All Clad. What you want to look for is Clad cookware. This will be your more expensive stuff, but it does not have to be as expensive as AC. If the clad cookware is too much then you will want to look for stuff that has a disk on the bottom. You want cookware that has some weight to it as well. Weight is good as it holds onto the heat and prevents hot spots.

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Old 09-04-2006, 07:39 PM   #3
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Check the prices on www.amazon.com for all the good things GB recommends. Usually free shipping, no tax.

Buy good stuff -- it should last a lifetime.

Don't try to buy it all at once. Even if you can afford it, you probably don't know what you really need or like best (e.g., nonstick vs. stainless vs. anodized vs. cast iron), and you'll need different things for different purposes.

Start with a basic set and add pieces as you can and as the need arises.
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Old 09-04-2006, 07:44 PM   #4
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In addition to just Amazon, shop the Friday Sale on Amazon.
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Old 09-04-2006, 10:01 PM   #5
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Not that this is a set I'm SERIOUSLY considering at this point, but what do you think of this set from the cuisinart chef's classic line? It's a 22-lb set, definitely more than cheaper lines (T-Fal's avante line 10-pc set is 14.5 lbs), but about 35% lighter than All-Clad... http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-Clas...&s=home-garden I just don't know how much difference that kind of weight will have, and don't know what to think here.

Oh, random but perhaps important, but I will be using an electric range for at least the next 2 years (more likely the next 5-6 years).

I'm planning on getting a relatively cheap iron skillet in addition, and a non-stick pot and pan for things like cream of wheat, grilled cheese and the like (as you said), and other stuff prone to being hard to pull off of stainless. I definitely see where you're coming from on that one.

Any other thoughts? What do you think of that set I put a link up for? Thanks again for your help.

- Rossodio
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Old 09-04-2006, 10:01 PM   #6
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Here is a website that sells cosmetic seconds of All-Clad. You can get really good prices here and a full warranty.

I'd go with A-C for high heat applications. Skillets and saute pans, fr example.

Check out LeGourmet Chef at the outlet malls. They have good quality stuff at surprising prices.

Also, consider checking out Costco for a clad set they carry in some parts of the country. Excellent quality with a low price.
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Old 09-05-2006, 06:00 AM   #7
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Before I got married back in 1983 I was given a bridal shower. Personally, I think every kid who ever leaves home should get a shower of some sort..

Personally, I think you are much better buying your cookware and bakeware one piece at a time. Start with the size you know you'll use the most often, and then add one at a time. I don't see the need for everything to match any longer. It's more important that the piece be functional to you and your needs than look like everything else in the cabinet.

Go to a good store. William Sonoma is sooooo overpriced. My personal favourite for cookware and bakeware is Chef Central. There is one in Paramus, NJ. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful, too. I imagine it's going to take you a few years to build up your cabinets, but that's okay. The better you buy, the longer you'll have it.

I've since ditched everything I got back at that bridal shower. Now I have a combination of Farberware, Cuisinart and cast iron pots and pans. Most of my bakeware products are European, with a couple of basic pie and cake pans thrown in.

I'm still adding to my collections, making a Chef Central purchase about every other month. Have fun, talk to the people at whatever store you shop at. Buy books, watch shows. Good luck.
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Old 09-05-2006, 07:56 AM   #8
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I am still have pans from university too, I left about six years ago. I just buy single pans etc as and when I see them, and like them or need them. I also have a thing for vintage cookware and serving stuff, so I consider it an interior design investment as well. I get vintage stuff or interewsting shaped moulds/tins for baking etc as presents....husband and mother are both very good at that, I lay heavy hints, lol.

I also get stuff at designer outlets, I have some Le Creuset that way. I admire your systematic approach!
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Old 09-05-2006, 09:02 AM   #9
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I agree with many: don't buy sets, buy the items you know you'll use. Knives: chef's knife, santuko, paring, serated bread knife (also good for tomatoes) slicer. For pans: All Clad, Calphalon (in both cases the pricey stuff not their lesser brands) Le Cruset, etc... 1 qt, 2 qt, 3 qt sauce pans, 4 and 5 qt caseroles, 3 qt saute, 10 and 12 in fry pans, roasting pan, 8 qt stock pot:
these are common sizes...do you need all or half of them...

look on line for specials as advised. look at TJ Max or Marshalls, Le Gourmet Chef or such, cooking.com or chefscatalogue.com

I like the "hunt" so I've scourered all such places to get my kitchen full of goods. Save money? maybe, but sure had some fun over time. However, if you need it all now...or hate to shop ...there are lots of good suggestions here.

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