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Q&A -- Understanding Stovetop Cookware

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Gentlemen:

Sincerest thanks for your kindness, and your helpful suggestions. I'll get that 11 inch saute when I get a chance, and I'll dwell on the choice of a second saucepan or evasee. When a sauce cooks up properly, the enthusiasm for learning more, grows exponentially, as you both surely know. Tools and good ingredients are critical, and it's always a delight to learn more about how to find both.

Whatever I decide, I'll keep you posted. I can't tell you how delighted I was, to stumble upon this website. I have heard it said that chefs are among the most gracious of all people, because they are expected to make people they don't even know, feel comforted and cared for.

My gratitude for your advice is most sincere.

Best wishes,

Greg in Chicago

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Thanks for your kind thoughts, Greg. Welcome to eGullet and I hope you decide to stick around and poke your nose into a few of our other forums. We have a strong, expert and informed group of members from the midwest -- so you might try asking around the midwest forums about places to buy cookware in Chicago, etc. You never know what these guys can turn up. Even a lot of long-time New Yorkers don't know about Bridge Kitchenware, for example. I recently read on the forums about some great places in the Twin Cities to buy salt water fish, which is something I might not have expected in a city so far from the ocean and something I bet many Minneapolis-dwellers don't know about either. Who knew? That's why this is a cool place to hang around. :biggrin:

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Hi, Gentlemen-

Just a few comments tonight, nothing of great import. I've compared prices everywhere on that Mauviel 11 inch 2.5mm copper saute pan, 4.6 liters. I haven't ordered it yet, although I may do that in a day or two, because I'd like to think I might still be able to sneak off to France for a few days before year's end.

Artcopperware.com has the lowest price, 105.5 Euros, although shipping is 59 more. Seems like a lot for shipping. Cunillexport only wants 44 Euros to ship that pan to the U.S. I would imagine that the outlet store at Mauviel, in Villedieu, would be heaven, if they sell factory seconds.

Dehillerin's website quotes 108.45 Euros for the same pan, although their Email quote has the price 3 Euros higher now. Naturally, I could kick myself for not buying it when I was in Paris last June, although I had tons of stuff to lug home. Their shipping fee is 66 Euros, 10 or 12 more for priority shipping.

On a variation of the same topic, I was surfing the Web earlier tonight, and I noticed that costco.com has sets of Sitram Profiserie, stainless, for sale so cheap, it's hard to believe.

If you go to costco.com and search for "cookware", you can link to a set of Sitram Profiserie for $180 that has 11 pieces. As I recall, there's an 11.6 quart stockpot, a fait tout, two saucepans, two small skillets, and a saute pan, with 3 lids and a steamer insert for the stockpot. Some lids fit more than one pan.

The cookware is 18/10 stainless, 7 mm aluminum disc, and seems too cheap to be true. It's hard to imagine, even though we've discussed the reasons to avoid buying sets of cookware, a better deal than this. Few pans beyond this would be needed, it would seem. Could there be something wrong with this offer? I haven't been to Costco to see if they have any sets in stock. Might be mail-order only, not sure.

For an amateur like myself, 11.6 quarts is a big enough stockpot, and you could use one of the skillets only for omelets, as some chefs recommend.

I'm unlikely to run out and buy this set, because I have plenty of cookware already, but it seems like a terrific bargain.

I hope that all of you are enjoying the approaching holidays and cooking up a storm, as I'm trying to. May your Bordelaise and Bolognese be the best. God bless you all, be well. Best wishes.

Greg in Chicago

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Greg, the only thing I'd be careful about is that Sitram seems to be fairly variable on the names of their various lines of cookware. AS I noted upthread, the name "Profisserie" doesn't even appeat on the Sitram web site. So, the "Profisserie" sold by Costco may not be the same "Profisserie" sold at Bridge Kitchenware.

Just something to keep in mind if you're thinking about the Costco deal. Does Costco claim that the aluminum bases are 7 mm?

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Actually, the Costco site does aver that a 7 mm aluminum disc comes with the cookware, on the base. I'm not even a Costco member, but they have some nice deals, and the store is cleaner and much nicer than Wal-Mart or Sam's Club. I'll check it out if I join. $180 just seems cheap for that many pieces, is all.

They give you a return privilege, of course, but that'd be a hassle, you'd pay shipping, and it isn't clear if they have the cookware in-store. I haven't phoned because I don't need anything. I intend to get the copper saute from France, just to enjoy comparing it with what I already have.

Actually, I've wanted to try one of those copper pieces ever since I saw it onscreen in Babette's Feast, one of my favorite food movies. I thought, by the way, that Dinner Rush was one of Danny Aiello's best performances, and I wondered why the movie didn't do better.

If I learn more about the Sitram cookware, I'll post details. It's hard to imagine that it isn't good quality, if it's 18/10 stainless with the 7mm disc, tho.

Whatever the case may be, you're giving good advice, telling people to buy good cookware without being eager to get a matched set.

I think that people are reluctant to throw out cookware. I had a couple of pieces of Revereware that my mother had for decades. It's junk, the frypans warp, it lets food scorch, it's ugly to look at, but I still hated to throw it away.

Better to get good quality stuff, even if it's not a bargain.

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Wrt. Bang for the buck

I ordered a Mauviel catalogue the other day and found the professional "Durminium" series:

- pretty thick (4-5mm) polished aluminium outside

- non-stick coating inside

- massive iron handles like the copper sereis (indestructible but getting pretty hot, so you need a tochon (piece of textile) all the time like a "real" chef)

Prices seem to be nice: 22 euro ($28) for a 11"inch fry pan or $50 for a 11" sateuse evasee.

Here the complete series and prices:

Mauviel Durminium

Unfortunately, nobody seems to be willing to export/import this stuff for the US.

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Thanks, Boris. I didn't get into nonstick coatings in my article because so much of the quality and durability relies on the formulation and application of the nonstick surface. Of course one has to have good thermal materials -- which the Mauviel pieces would seem to provide -- but there's a lot more to it. That said, one assumes quality from a manufacturer like Mauviel.

Personally, I have to admit that I hate nonstick coatings for just about everything. I have two 12" Calphalon Commercial Nonstick fry pans for the few times I am cooking something extra-sticky or delicate. I got them for 30 bucks apiece on sale from Amazon.com, and the experiences of people whose judgment I trust indicates that the nonstick coating is among the most durable. Still, they are likely to be the least-used pieces in my kitchen.

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Greg,

Thanks for the pointer on the Sitram at Costco. Not sure what Costco in Chicago is like, but they only have the 5-ply copper bottom cookware at my Costco in Livermore, CA. That set also looked pretty good, although the Sitram seems more "professional" and is also dishwasher safe.

One other note, it appears the correct spelling is Profiserie, not Profisserie. I had some trouble searching for the former, but the latter turned up a bunch of hits. Certainly is counter to what my limited French intuition would tell me, though.

Walt

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One other note, it appears the correct spelling is Profiserie, not Profisserie. I had some trouble searching for the former, but the latter turned up a bunch of hits. Certainly is counter to what my limited French intuition would tell me, though.

Hmmm... that's interesting. You're certainly right that there are a lot more hits for the one "S" version. I have always gone by the two "S" spelling at Bridge Kitchenware. They have been dealing with Sitram longer than just about anyone else in the US and I figure they'd know. On the other hand, as I posted upthread, "Profisserie" (and its one "S" cousin) do not appear on the Sitram web site.

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I keep seeing in various recipes to use a heavy-bottomed pot.

All of mine are fairly lightweight, but before I go out and purchase something, which one(s) are the best?

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A closer reading of the fine print at Costco.com indicates that good sold at the Costco.com website are meant to "complement" the goods in stock at the Costco warehouses (stores). I think they're telling us that you can't go into a store and buy this set.

However, they do say that it's made in France, with a 7 mm aluminum base, dishwasher safe, guaranteed, all of that. It is indeed spelled "Profiserie", but spelling errors are everywhere, especially on the Internet.

I'm almost tempted to buy a set to check it out. I have a 5 quart Matfer stainless Rondeau/casserole pan, two opposite handles and no stem, no lid either, which cost me $45. It's a terrific, versatile piece, perfect for boiling pasta for two people, simmering Bolognese or slightly larger quantities of soup. I'd be elated to have a set of smaller saucepans and a frypan or two of the same quality.

The Costco Sitram set only has one saute pan, medium/small size (3 quarts), and you might need a larger one from time to time, but I still have a tough time imagining a better deal than this set, if it's what it appears to be.

I wish we could find someone who's bought the set. Sitram is not as well-known, you never see it in the Sunday newspaper like you do All-Clad and Calphalon and Cuisinart. Hard to imagine why they don't try to educate the public more thoroughly about this.

I always enjoyed my set of Calphalon, but food sticks to it, you can't throw it in the dishwasher, and it leaves a lot to be desired. Sitram is leaving a lot of money on the table by not advertising, it would seem.

If any of you would care to go to www.costco.com and type "cookware" into their site search engine, you can look at the set and share your thoughts. Best wishes to all.

Greg in Chicago

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I wish we could find someone who's bought the set. Sitram is not as well-known, you never see it in the Sunday newspaper like you do All-Clad and Calphalon and Cuisinart. Hard to imagine why they don't try to educate the public more thoroughly about this.

Greg, at those prices you can hardly go wrong! I say you should be the test subject, buy the set and report back. :cool:

Seriously, though, Sitram is one of the best-known and most respected manufacturers of cookware for the professional kitchen. The reason they are not as well known to home users is that I think their outlook (and perhaps their main profit base?) seems more geared towards professional use. Unlike All-Clad, Calphalon, et al. they don't spend a lot of money on slick advertising for home users. But, then again, neither does Mauviel... and they are perhaps the oldest, most legendary and most respected manufacturers of cookware out there. All this is to say that I wouldn't be concerned that you haven't heard of them as much as some other companies.

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I keep seeing in various recipes to use a heavy-bottomed pot.

All of mine are fairly lightweight, but before I go out and purchase something, which one(s) are the best?

Take a look at the class for some beginning ideas.

For just about any serious home cook's budget, it's hard to go wrong with Paderno Grant Gourmet and Sitram Profisserie.

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Okay, I actually found the Sitram stuff on costco.com, open stock. If you click the "Business" tab and search for sitram they have a good chunk of the whole line. As an example, the 22 qt stockpot, with lid, is $102. The 11" frying pan is $37. Big catch is you need to have a $250 order. I'm looking into whether I can buy this stuff off the shelf at the Business Costco in Hayward, CA.

Walt

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wnissen-

The $179.99 Sitram Profiserie set is on the "personal" costco.com site, just for clarification. Open stock purchases are not available there to my knowledge, and I joined Costco recently. I saw no Sitram stuff in the store, but I had nowhere near enough time to look at everything. I myself find it hard to comfortably buy clothes and kitchen things online, without seeing it first.

Sam Kinsey, and Boris, and other chefs-

One other question about copper, if I may bother you yet again. I have no intention of buying tin-lined copper cookware, ever, but Dehillerin and Artcopperware.com in Villedieu both have a much larger selection of stuff in the tin-lined version.

Is this to serve the wishes of French professional chefs? Doesn't the commercial heavy use of the cookware scratch and wear out the tin quickly? I would avoid tin because I know I'd put it on a burner, forget it momentarily, and return to see that the tin melted.

For example, the 11 inch Mauviel saute pan, 4.6 liter capacity, stainless lining, is the largest saute pan of its type. However, with tin lining, several larger saute pans are available in copper from Mauviel. Why is this?

Just another trivia question, I'm struggling to learn as much as I can about cookware and cooking. Thank you in advance for any thoughts on this. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, best wishes.

Greg in Chicago

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Tin is the traditional treatment. Stainless steel lined is much more expensive, and there are some technical limitations in terms of sizes and shapes that may be produced with the stainless/copper bimetal. For making delicate sauces where high temperatures are not a concern, it is possible that tin's greater thermal conductivity may offer even more control.

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Hello,

Just a follow-up to my earlier post, I went to the Hayward, CA Business Costco today during lunch, and you can indeed buy their selection open stock. It was good to finally see the vaunted Sitram Profisserie in person. I was a little put off by the fact that the clad disk did not cover the entire bottom of the pan, but it was basically as shown on the Costco Business website. I walked out of there with a 1.1 qt saucepan, 2.4 and 3.3 qt saucepans with lids, and a 9.4" fryer and 11" saute with lids. They were out of the 7.9" fry pan. With tax, $157. I decided against the set because I really don't need a stockpot. I already have a non-aluminum model that works fine for liquids.

Next step is to get some of this washed in time for Thanksgiving! Thanks for the help from the folks on this board.

Walt

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Mr. Kinsey,

I noticed a line of enamelled cast iron cookware at Macy's today. It was new to me and, from what I could tell from the eGullet search engine, it hasn't been mentioned here. The line is La Campagne and I believe it's in the house Tools of the Trade label. A search of the Macy's site and the web in general proved fruitless. The pans look pretty darn good and are ridiculously cheap. e.g. the 7 quart French oven was $70 regular price, less 10-15% with newspaper coupon (at least for today). To my eyes it looks as good as any other enamelled cast iron, though the lids lack a knob and would require two hands. They're made in China. I was all set to buy one until I noticed that the sides round slightly where they meet the bottom, so the bottom surface area is not nearly as large as the equivalent staight sided Le Creuset or that dutch oven-shaped All Clad 8 qt. stockpot. I declined since I'm holding out for the perfect multi-function pot - able to brown large batches then braise/stew, plus serve as deep frying vessel - though now I'm thinking of purchasing it despite the shortcomings in shape. (Re: my quest. What do you think, enamelled cast iron like Le Creuset French Oven or equivalent, or a large rondeaux, like the Paderno 7.4 quart?)

Another note: Fogive me if this has been widely discussed already, but I thought I should recommend Caplan Duval in Montreal for cheap Le Creuset. They recently had 8.75 Quart French Ovens for $93 which seems worth it, and they seem to often have similar deals.

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Thanks for the tip! It is very hard to evaluate differences between lines of enameled cast iron. So much of it is tied up in the integrity of the enamel coating -- how many layers, how applied, chip, crack and stain resistance, etc.

In re to your quest for an browning/braising/deep frying vessel... both an enameled cast iron casserole and a disk-bottom rondeau would work very well. The enameled cast iron is definitely best for low/slow braising, but is not great for browning meats and vegetables and probably not as versatile as the rondeau. Either one would be a good choice. It all depends on what you're looking for.

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Sam, and Fellow Foodies-

I just Emailed an order to artcopperware.com for that 11 inch, 5 quart, Mauviel 2.5mm copper saute, stainless lining, no lid.

This price (factory, in Villedieu), was 105.71 Euros for the pan, another 55.80 Euros for shipping, total of 161.51, and American Express will gouge a few dollars for the currency exchange fee. With luck, my cost will be under $200 US. The factory says that "two-week shipping" will be used.

I received a quote also from Dehillerin in Paris. Their price for the same pan was 111.48 Euros, and 66 Euros additional for "economy post" shipping, total of 177.48 Euros, although faster shipping was available for 12 additional Euros.

So, it seems that the factory price was about 16 Euros cheaper. Dehillerin wanted me to confirm my order by fax, whereas the factory was willing to accept the Email order. I have no idea whether there's a variation in quality between one source or the other. I'd guess that Dehillerin's stock is purchased in volume from the same factory.

I would love to know what this pan costs at the factory store, or what one pays for a factory second, in Villedieu Les Poeles.

Perhaps some might find the price comparison interesting. I'm eager to cook with copper, and to see if the desire to acquire more of these pans persists. It will be interesting to see how long the shipping takes.

I'm not sure why shipping costs are so brutal, because the pan and box only weigh about 10 pounds, but the moral to the story, I suppose, is that one should load up at Dehillerin when in Paris on business or pleasure trips.

Sincerest best wishes to everyone for a festive and safe holiday season.

Greg in Chicago

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There's a regular eBay vendor named ACityDiscount that is offering these pans for $172.25 plus shipping. It would be $12.94 to send one to my place in the SF Bay Area, for example. This vendor offers a number of Mauviel 2.5mm/stainless pans, usually with "Mauviel Extra Thick" in the eBay title. I haven't purchased anything from them so I cannot vouch for their service.

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Hello Sam and all,

I am a new member. And first, I would like to give a big Thanks to Sam on the great article on cookware. Second, Sam, what happened to the ferret???

Next are questions:

1. Has anyone ever heard or used Scanpan Steel? It's the stainless steel line from Scanpan. I have never used any of their products, but I am looking for a good quality, thick Al based, stainless steel pots and pans. I have seen and touched the non-stick ones.

2. During my research on replacing our cheap pots and pans that have warped, I came across Sitram and Demeyere. After reading as many posts I can find on eGullet concerning Sitram, Demeyere, Paderno (Canadian and Italian), I still can't decide on which one to get. I don't want something too expensive such as Demeyere or Paderno Grand Gourmet. But I don't want buyer's remorse either. I have read some bad reviews on Sitram Profis(s)erie and Cybernox lines. I still can't tell what the real difference between them are. One bad point I read is that the lids are light and useless. Is that true? And how are their frying pans?

3. And how are the lids of the Paderno and Demeyere Apollo brands?

Any info will be greatly appreciated. :smile:

Thanks,

Amy

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Ed-

Sincerest thanks for mentioning A City Discount. That's a website I expected to find, but never did. I couldn't imagine why someone hadn't found a way to import Mauviel copper in quantities large enough to amortize the transportation cost and make it available for sale at a price which would yield a profit but still be attractive to Americans. $10 for FedEx/UPS shipping to me in Chicago from Atlanta, or $12 to you on the west coast, is exactly what shipping ought to cost. I truly can't understand why it costs $72 to ship that pan on a slow boat from France.

Sur La Table and other yuppie or blueblood stores want, in some cases, as much as $450 for that commercial-grade copper 11 inch saute pan with stainless lining.

A City Discount seems to have a website more current than either Dehillerin or Artcopperware.com

They list a curved sauteuse evasee in 2.5 mm copper that the French vendors do not list. I can't imagine why anyone wanting to buy this cookware wouldn't phone ACD in Atlanta and buy from them. You're kind to share this information. If I decide to buy any of the other Mauviel pans, I will certainly buy them stateside.

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1. Has anyone ever heard or used Scanpan Steel? It's the stainless steel line from Scanpan.

I haven't used it, but you can see some nicely detailed specifications here. The important ones, to me, are:

  • Aluminum wall-to-wall base disk
  • 5 mm encapsulated aluminum disk
  • Optimum sandwich base thickness of 6.8 mm
  • 1.2 mm pan body

These are very good, if not great specifications. In general, top commercial lines like Sitram Profiserie and Pagerno Grand Gourmet feature a thicker aluminum base and a heavier body. That said, if you feel it is important to have an absolutely edge-to-edge disk bottom (which I don't feel it vital in most applications) then this line might be very attractive if the price is right.

2. During my research on replacing our cheap pots and pans that have warped, I came across Sitram and Demeyere. After reading as many posts I can find on eGullet concerning Sitram, Demeyere, Paderno (Canadian and Italian), I still can't decide on which one to get. I don't want something too expensive such as Demeyere or Paderno Grand Gourmet. But I don't want buyer's remorse either.  I have read some bad reviews on Sitram Profis(s)erie and Cybernox lines.

You think Paderno Grand Gourmet is expensive? I think it's one of the most reasonably priced lines available.

Demeyere is very, very interesting cookware but personally I don't think it's worth the astronomically high prices they charge.

I am surprized you found bad reviews about Sitram Profiserie. I think it's a quality line at a very reasonable price.

I am not surprized you found bad reviews about Sitram Cybernox (Sitram's "not-quite-nonstick" line). It's not very good.

I still can't tell what the real difference between them are.

The differences are explained fairly well in the eGCI class section on different pan designs. Here they are in order from least expensive to most expensive:

  • Sitram Profiserie: disk bottom design with a heavy SS body and 7 mm aluminum base -- least expensive
  • Paderno Grand Gourmet: disk bottom design with a heavy SS body and 7 mm aluminum base (slightly heavier/more reinforced body, heavier lids and more ergonomic handles than Sitram Profiserie)
  • Sitram Catering: disk bottom design with a heavy SS body and 2 - 2.5 mm copper base
  • Demeyere Apollo: disk bottom design with a heavy SS body and 5 mm aluminum base
  • Demeyere Sirocco: casseroles, sauté pans, saucepans and stock pots are an encapsulated disk bottom design with a heavy SS body and 2 mm copper base; woks, “conical sauteuses and simmering pots” and frypans are straight gauge pans of aluminum fully clad with SS havind an aluminum layer of 2.3 mm, 3.0 mm to 3.3 mm , and approximately 3.9 mm respectively.

See the eGCI class for more details. Sitram Cybernox is useless crap and you should avoid it IMO.

One bad point I read is that the lids are light and useless. Is that true?

3. And how are the lids of the Paderno and Demeyere Apollo brands?

How heavy do they need to be in order to be useful? I think the whole "lid fit and heaviness" thing is a marketing ploy used by some companies to justify higher prices. A heavy and/or tight-fitting lid is only important in things like enameled cast iron casseroles.

Most pans do not require a lid anyway. I prefer to buy my pans without lids, as I already have lids that fit most any pan and would rather not pay the additional money for yet another lid. That said, Paderno Grand Gourmet lids are my default "all purpose" lid. But, Amy... no lid is worth an additional hundred bucks.

And how are their frying pans?

As stated, stay away from Cybernox.

Personally, I prefer a straight gauge frypan over a disk bottom frypan. That leaves out Sitram, Paderno and Demeyere Apollo. Demeyere makes good ones for the Sirocco line, although extremely expensive. For that money, you might as well get copper. For less money you might also seek out a good deal on an All-Clad MasterChef frypan. Or, really, think about getting a nice carbon steel or black steel frypan if you don't think you'll be putting a lot of acid into it. You can't beat it for the price.

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Sincerest thanks for mentioning A City Discount.  That's a website I expected to find, but never did.

Oh yea... those guys. One of their guys shilled on rec.food.equipment several years ago and I' afraid I blocked it out of my memory.

I couldn't imagine why someone hadn't found a way to import Mauviel copper in quantities large enough to amortize the transportation cost and make it available for sale at a price which would yield a profit but still be attractive to Americans.  $10 for FedEx/UPS shipping to me in Chicago from Atlanta, or $12 to you on the west coast, is exactly what shipping ought to cost.  I truly can't understand why it costs $72 to ship that pan on a slow boat from France.

There are companies that do that. They are based in America and called things like Bridge Kitchenware and Falk Culinair. Kep in mind that acitydiscount's prices aren't always that great, either. They offer a 1.0 quart stainless lined heavy copper saucepan from Mauviel for 208 dollars whereas a 1.6 quart stainless lined heavy copper saucepan from the American distributor of Falu Culinair is only 115 dollars. The saute pan and frypan prices do seem pretty good.

Sur La Table and other yuppie or blueblood stores want, in some cases, as much as $450 for that commercial-grade copper 11 inch saute pan with stainless lining.

This is an atypical price, if true, and a total ripoff.

They list a curved sauteuse evasee in 2.5 mm copper that the French vendors do not list.

It is a product that, as far as I can tell, no other vendors carry. This always makes me wonder a little.

I can't imagine why anyone wanting to buy this cookware wouldn't phone ACD in Atlanta and buy from them.

I'd say it's worth a try, for sure.

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