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T-Fal Ultimate and Anolon


essvee
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Hi all. I have always, without any evidence for or against except for price point, looked at T-Fal and Anolon as inferior to the All-Clads and Capholons of this world. How surprised was I to see that Saveur recommended an Anolon saucepan and a T-Fal nonstick saute pan in their most recent top 100 issue!

Can anyone speak to the quality/durability of these brands? Are there different lines within each brand that are more worthy than others? How well do they stack up to the top of the line brands?

Thanks.

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I have several Anolons. They have thick aluminum construction and a 'autograph 2' coating developed by Dupont (basically the top Teflon coating). They are pretty sturdy, nothing facy. I can't imagine how much better a Calphalon pan will be. I will recommend shop for price among these brands. As a matter of fact, I might just pick one up from a restaurant supply store for cheap. As long as the aluminum is thick, and the non stick coating is not basic Teflon (such as Teflon select), then the pan should last you a while. Besides, technology has advanced so much and most of the brands have developed decent quality nonstick product. When shopping, pay attention to the contruction (heavy? sturdy?), and nonstick coating (multicoating?). Are you using a convection cook top or gas? That might be a deal breaker for some selection. If you need a set, get the Kirkland from Costo, it's similar to Anolon to my eyes, and I bet it's cheaper than you get Anolon from LNT or BBB.

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I did a double take when I saw that in the Saveur 100, especially the bit about T-Fal. The text of the T-Fal recommendation says, "Unlike Teflon-coated pans, it has a hard surface, made of a plastic-based resin called PTFE, that is virtually scratchproof and stands up to metal utensils." But my understanding is that Teflon is PTFE. My problem with T-Fal pans is that they're too thin. Perhaps there's a line of them that I haven't seen yet, though. With respect to Anolon, I think it's pretty good stuff. I even like the entry-level Anolon (I bought some for my mother and it's quite similar to Calphalon), but the fancy "ultra clad" Anolon should be functionally similar to All Clad. I wouldn't use it, because it doesn't have all-metal handles and I like to be able to put my cookware under the broiler and in the oven at any temperature without worrying. But it's good enough.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I have mostly All Clad and Calphalon at home but cook on T-Fal at a friends house. The thinness of the T-Fal makes for uneven heat distribution although the non stick surface is slightly better than my Calphalon and as goos as my All-Clad. I feel that the T-Fal would not withstand any type of abuse where as I could hurl by All Clad or Calphalon into my sink and later use them for brake rotors without incident.

Although I cannot comment on the newer Calphalon I see at the stores. Very thin edge and flimsy looking stamped handle.

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Thanks all. I looked around online and saw that T-Fal Ultimate looks like their high-end line. Gordon, do you know which T-Fal line your friend has?

Has anyone used that T-Fal Ultimate saute pan?

Does Anolon have different lines as well?

Thanks for all replies.

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Anolon has lots of different lines. I have several pieces from the "Advanced Clad" line and I love them. I have a large stock type pot with a steamer insert (perfect for potatoes, tamales, artichokes etc.), a small two quart pot, a mid-size saucier (three or four quarts?), and a 10" skillet that has a second handle. Unless I have something like a soup going in a Le Creuset pot, one of these gets used nearly every time I cook. The heat transfer and evenness is great on my gas stove, the lids are tight, they are nicely designed, and I like the silicone handles because I am able to pick up the pans without remembering to grab the hot pad first. So for me, they are great. If you keep an eye out, you can find them at places like TJMaxx or Marshalls for very little money. You just have to be willing to sort through a lot of chaff.

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Steve is right. Teflon is a brand name for PTFE. The marketing B.S. has succeeded in bamboozling the Saveur food writers. All nonstick surfaces use teflon in one form or another. All will lose their magic powers sooner or later. Sooner, if you use them a lot and don't handle them with kid gloves. And they all do a lousy job at many cooking tasks.

Moral of the story is to use nonstick only when necessary, buy cheap ($30 for a frying pan should be the upper limit) and expect to replace and recycle fairly often.

Notes from the underbelly

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paul, my big problem is that both my All Clad and Calpholon saute pans, over ten years old the both of them, have basically stopped releasing food. I eat a lot of chix fricassee, and both pans will not release the skin no matter what I do. Heat the pan first, whatever. They both used to release better; the All Clad always better than the Calpholon.

I have a Calpholon non-stick saute pan I bought at Macy's as a loss leader for 100 bucks a couple years ago. It is doing OK, but the idea that I could use metal utensils on the T-Fal Ultimate seems seductive.

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Whether you pay $20 or $100, they will all stop releasing food. Sadly, Teflon coatings are not long for this world. Some of them have hard particles embedded in them (ceramic, diamond, kryptonite, whatever) to let you get away with metal utensiles, for a while. But they'll start sticking, just like everything else. I'd rather pay $20 than $100 for something that comes with an expiration date.

But it also sounds like some other questions are in order. There are very few foods that warrant a nonstick surface. Eggs, very delicate fish, and ... I'm not sure what else. If chicken is sticking to your pan, this is a matter of technique. Even with the skin on it. If you refine your methods, you'll never have a problem getting chicken to release from a stainless steel surface.

There will be other benefits, too: the meat will brown faster and brown better. The drippings will adhere to the pan surface, which allows them to brown and develop deeper flavors. And which allows you to pour off extra fat without losing the drippings, and which allows you to deglaze and get more flavor into pan sauces and fricassees. The bright surface makes it much easier to judge the level of browning. And you get to buy a pan that isn't disposable.

Final benefit: if you keep a nonstick pan around and use it purely for the few things it does well, it will last much longer than it would as an all-purpose workhorse.

paul, my big problem is that both my All Clad and Calpholon saute pans, over ten years old the both of them, have basically stopped releasing food. I eat a lot of chix fricassee, and both pans will not release the skin no matter what I do. Heat the pan first, whatever. They both used to release better; the All Clad always better than the Calpholon.

I have a Calpholon non-stick saute pan I bought at Macy's as a loss leader for 100 bucks a couple years ago. It is doing OK, but the idea that I could use metal utensils on the T-Fal Ultimate seems seductive.

Notes from the underbelly

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Here's the only reason to ever pay full retail for All-Clad or to pay a lot for a nonstick pan: If you buy it from Williams-Sonoma, they will replace it if it "breaks" at any time, no questions asked. All you have to do is bring it back and say, "this isn't nonstick anymore" and they will give you a replacement. I have a friend who has done this through several generations of All-Clad nonstick pans.

--

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