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Cuisinart vs. All-Clad vs. XXX Cookware


lzrandall
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The time has come to finally replace the set of crappy Farberware pots I've had for more than 15 years. I'm interested, I think, in a cookware set b/c of better value. However, I find I use 1q and 3q saucepots, 10" saute, and 6q stockpot the most.

I have several specialized pieces of All-Clad, which I think are excellent, esp. the large braiser. I also have 4q and 9q Le Creuset, which really heat evenly. My 8" Berndes non-stick fry pan is superior to the Le Creuset, and my 10" Calphalon non-stick fry pan is utilitarian.

Sitram is intriguing and unbelievably well-priced. How about an 11-pc set from Costco.com, of all places, for $179.99! All-Clad sets are extremely expensive and often filled with pieces I just won't use. In reading a 2002 thread on this forum, I saw some folks mention Tramontina, carried by Sam's Club.

What to do, what to do? May I have your comments and/or comparisons of Sitram, All-Clad, and Tramontina?

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The Costco Sitram set is an excellent value, but bear in mind you're not getting the same Sitram that restaurants use. Costco sells the Sitram Profiserie line not the Catering line. Still I think Profiserie is a great value compared to All Clad, even if it's not quite as beefy.

My preference, though, is to steer clear of sets and just acquire the pieces you want, over time, as they go on sale and as you find just the right thing. That Sitram set has a lot of pieces in it that you may never use. You might be able to assemble a set of the Catering line or Bourgeat or another excellent line, just encompassing the two saucepots and the one saute pan that you use most often, for a couple of hundred dollars, and then you can buy a less fancy stockpot because, basically, an expensive stockpot is a big waste of money. The $30-something one we've been recommending on other threads, from Target, is totally sufficient.

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've never used Tramontina, but a close examination convinces me that it is pretty close to Farbeware Millenium in construction and quality. This is not meant to be disrespectful to either line, because I think Farberware Millenium is a good value, especially if you're on a budgetr. You could do a lot worse, especailly if you can get it at an outlet -- Farberware has quite a few of them.

I'm with FG on Sitram (a home cook really can't go wrong with either of their lines), but as long as you're in the neighborhood, check out Demeyere. They have a comparably priced line called Apollo that (I think) rivals Sitram in quality of material and perhaps exceeds it in construction. If you're lazy like me, you'll appreciate that Demeyere is the only major top-of-the-line manufacturer that actually recommends the dishwasher.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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The Tramontina stockpots appear to be similar to the Chefmate "Professional" line F-G mentioned, except that Tramontina tempered glass lids do not have steam vents. They both have aluminum discs on the bottom. I picked up both the three stockpot set from Chefmate (Target) and the 8 qt stockpot with both pasta and steaming inserts from Tramontina at Wal-Mart. All made in China and an incredible bargain.

Chefmate also has a similarly clad 3 qt saucepan for about $20-25 at Target. (Chefmate products not labeled "Professional" line are stainless only without any aluminum at all --- no sandwich, no disc.) Chefmate pans that are sandwiched seem to me to have a slightly thinner layer of aluminum compared to All-Clad. I have not tried the ones with the disc on bottom (except stockpots), but they appear to be thick and hefty.

And you should be able to pick up a 1 qt All-Clad saucepan for $20 and a saute pan (2qt - 8 or 10 inches?) for about $80 --- still on sale at Williams-Sonoma (and other places I assume).

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i was amazed recently when i had to replace my small stockpot. the one i'd had was a real cheapy (thin stainless) but it had served me well for more than 10 years. then one day .... well, let's just say it's a bad idea to steam potatoes and play chess at the same time. when i started looking for a replacement, it was almost impossible to spend less than $50 and there were an amazing number for more than $100. this is a stockpot for god's sake, you use it to boil water. conductivity has nothing to do with it! i finally found an offbrand online that i'm pretty happy with, but it was still around $50.

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Williams-Sonoma, of all places, has a good, inexpensive stockpot with lid, pasta insert and steamer basket. It's 18/10 stainless, with a tri-ply bottom (I don't necessarily agree that this is worthless on a stockpot; the hefty base has a useful capacitive effect).

Their usual price for the 12-quart is $69, which is not bad. But at least twice a year, they put it on sale for about $50.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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capacitive effect

What's a capacitive effect? It sure sounds useful!

It is.

A battery is a capacitor; it's helpful to remember that batteries used to be called storage batteries, and therein lies the key to understanding. Capacitors store energy, and release it under certain conditions.

If you've got a thick-bottomed pan, the mass can be thought of as a battery that stores heat. When the environment becomes cooler than the mass, the mass releases energy (Newton had something to say about this). If you're making stock, it's good to keep the temperature even, and this effect helps smooth out temperature dips and bumps.

A tri-ply bottom is not as good as cast iron (after all, it's a compromise between conduction and diffusion, with not much thought given to capacitance at all), but it's better than single-layer rolled or stamped steel -- and it doesn't weigh as much as cast iron.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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[A battery is a capacitor; it's helpful to remember that batteries used to be called storage batteries, and therein lies the key to understanding. Capacitors store energy, and release it under certain conditions.

If you've got a thick-bottomed pan, the mass can be thought of as a battery that stores heat. When the environment becomes cooler than the mass, the mass releases energy (Newton had something to say about this). If you're making stock, it's good to keep the temperature even, and this effect helps smooth out temperature dips and bumps.

i like your explanation dave, but is the difference detectable when you're dealing with 8 quarts of water? my assumption was that a) since there was nothing to scorch with a thin bottom, and b) that volume of water would ensure even heating through the column. but it sounds like you know a heckuva lot more about it than i do.

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i like your explanation dave, but is the difference detectable when you're dealing with 8 quarts of water? my assumption was that a) since there was nothing to scorch with a thin bottom, and b) that volume of water would ensure even heating through the column. but it sounds like you know a heckuva lot more about it than i do.

No, I don't think it makes a huge difference when it comes to a full pot, though I'm sure it makes some -- the thicker the liquid, the more you appreciate it. And when it comes to recovery for cooking pasta, I'll take any advantage I can get.

But the practical advantage -- for me -- is that it makes the pot more of a multitakser.

For instance, the way I make stock (recipe here), I do some sauteeing first, and it makes more of a difference there. However, I have my limits. For instance, I'll spend $50 or $60 on a stockpot in order to get a sandwich bottom. But the capacitance of a fully clad stockpot, while more useful for your scenario, carries a ridiculous price tag. All-Clad's 12-quart S/S clad pot is $310.

Edit: By the way, Russ, I've learned far more from you than you will from me. How to Read a French Fry by Russ Parsons has an honored spot on my shelf between McGee and Root.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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For boiling water, it makes no difference, but if you start working with more viscous stuff like stews and soups you'll find that too thin a stockpot can be pretty disastrous in terms of burning crud on the bottom in a shape almost identical to the ring of flame on your burner! Also, as Dave says, if you want a gentle, even simmer, a thick bottom helps to regulate that. That at least is my anecdotal experience. You can also use a good stockpot to brown meat so it doesn't splatter.

That Target stockpot looks great, and I've handled it and can't imagine most home cooks would need anything more. For $30, how could you go wrong with a relatively heavy 16-quart stockpot with sandwich bottom? My personal choice, however, is one of the stainless stockpots from A. Best Kitchen (abestkitchen.com). The 20-quart, which is what I use, is $59 and it is restaurant-quality.

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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As Fat guy noted, a stock pot is for making stock and may at any time have solids as well as some sort of sediment that settles at the bottom. A tea kettle is for boiling water. I haven't given much thought to this, but I'll bet hot spots on the bottom of the pan are not an advantage when cooking pasta.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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If you want to see the future of stainless steel quality pans check

here

Search the site a bit. This stuff is awesome.

Edited by inventolux (log)

Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

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Try this link for some discussions about Sitram, All-Clad, Paderno etc.

The link leads to some old dicussions on Usenet's rec.food.equipment group. I've been looking at cookware for awhile now, and these have been the most through discussions concerning Sitram that I've come across. It's amazing how much information there isn't on this subject.

Don't know who the guy is, don't even know if he knows what he's talking about, but if nothing else he's very opinonated about his cookware.

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Try this link for some discussions about Sitram, All-Clad, Paderno etc.

Don't know who the guy is, don't even know if he knows what he's talking about, but if nothing else he's very opinonated about his cookware.

You are kidding, right? I might add that it's not the only thing he's opinionated about. There are a lot of usenet vets about the place....

regards,

trillium

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Try this link for some discussions about Sitram, All-Clad, Paderno etc.

Don't know who the guy is, don't even know if he knows what he's talking about, but if nothing else he's very opinonated about his cookware.

You are kidding, right? I might add that it's not the only thing he's opinionated about. There are a lot of usenet vets about the place....

regards,

trillium

Thanks for noticing... I think... :hmmm:

I try to not have opinions about things that interest me, but they keep on coming up anyway. Maybe I'm addicted to having opinions. :wacko:

Oh well... it's interesting to note that, until I got rid of that AOL account, I used to get email on a regular basis from people who had read those rec.food.equipment discussions.

--

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Try this link for some discussions about Sitram, All-Clad, Paderno etc.

<snip>

Don't know who the guy is, don't even know if he knows what he's talking about, but if nothing else he's very opinonated about his cookware.

You are kidding, right? I might add that it's not the only thing he's opinionated about. There are a lot of usenet vets about the place....

regards,

trillium

Kidding about what?

I specifically said, "Don't know who the guy is, don't even know if he knows what he's talking about", thus leaving it up to whoever clicks the link to decide if he was worth listening to.

I merely filtered the search on his name because just about any discussion of length concerning Sitram includes him as a participant. As all links on that page lead to a discussion, it's just as easily to read the replies of those who disagree with him and choose your side, or choose no side at all.

...and hey, congratulations on being a Usenet Vet!

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Try this link for some discussions about Sitram, All-Clad, Paderno etc.

<snip>

Don't know who the guy is, don't even know if he knows what he's talking about, but if nothing else he's very opinonated about his cookware.

You are kidding, right? I might add that it's not the only thing he's opinionated about. There are a lot of usenet vets about the place....

regards,

trillium

Thanks for noticing... I think... :hmmm:

I try to not have opinions about things that interest me, but they keep on coming up anyway. Maybe I'm addicted to having opinions. :wacko:

Oh well... it's interesting to note that, until I got rid of that AOL account, I used to get email on a regular basis from people who had read those rec.food.equipment discussions.

I had always wondered if that person was on this board as well.

If you wonder why you got mail, simply search the web for Sitram, it's mostly pointless. Even this board has nothing more than a mention or two. A bit on Epinion, and then a whole lot of advertising and not much else.

Heh, I probably would have sent you an email, but you said pretty much everything you had to say in your posts, so I didn't really see the point.

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If you wonder why you got mail, simply search the web for Sitram, it's mostly pointless. Even this board has nothing more than a mention or two. A bit on Epinion, and then a whole lot of advertising and not much else.

Yea, I have never understood why you don't hear more about Sitram from home cooks. It really is some of the best cookware out there. Built for the professional kitchen but very much useful in the home kitchen (which is not always the case).

The ironic thing is that I don't have all that much Sitram myself, even though my writings on usenet may make it appear as though I had Sitram pans up to my ears in the kitchen. Mostly I was championing Sitram Catering (among other brands) as truly top quality cookware among the tide of fanatics who had bought in to all the advertising from heavily hyped products like All-Clad or Calphalon or Demeyere or whoever.

--

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[snip] Mostly I was championing Sitram Catering (among other brands) as truly top quality cookware among the tide of fanatics who had bought in to all the advertising from heavily hyped products like All-Clad or Calphalon or Demeyere or whoever.

What a tremendous response, and thank you! The replies have been very insightful.

The comment about "heavily hyped products" prompts me to ask whether All-Clad is worth the money or whether it's the next Calphalon: over-promoted and overrated.

Adding to the stockpot discussion, I recently had to replace my workhorse 20q pot after about 10 years b/c the bottom warped. I, too, balked at All-Clad's $300+ price tag for an equivalent pot. I went to the local kitchen store and bought a nice heavy-bottomed pot for under $100.

Finally, I don't want it to seem like I'm looking for inexpensive pots. I'll gladly spend the money on good pots. I'm mostly interested, as we all are, in getting the best value for the dollar. Pots from Target??? :hmmm: I just don't know.

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Pots from Target???    :hmmm:  I just don't know.

All-Clad loves you!

Seriously, take a look at the discussion we had about the stuff Target is selling:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST&f=3&t=16259

And yes, All-Clad is overpriced and overhyped. It's good stuff, but unless money means nothing to you I don't see the point. If a piece goes on sale for a special promotion, or you find something at Marshall's or whatever, great, grab it. At 70% off, it starts to be a good value. Same with Calphalon. When Amazon puts a Calphalon piece on sale, if it's a piece you want, it's worth getting -- and it's worth waiting until that happens because it always does. Build your cookware collection one piece at a time, as good stuff becomes available cheap. It'll give you a story to tell about every pot.

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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CHefmate stock pot. I have a big one. I left something simmering on the stove for a couple of hours (it was somewhat thick and creamy) while I went to retrieve a sick kid from school, and the both the pot and contents were just fine.

I base my cookware purchases on feel. I'm not above taking a pan out of a pan, going over to the utensil aisle and pulling off a wooden spoon or something and pretending I'm cooking.

I have an odd, and small assortment of cookware. Some of it is over 80 years old, some of it new. Each piece has been purchased or saved with care. If I don't use it frequently, and really love it, it has no place in my kitchen.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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