December 29, 2003

STEPHEN GREEN has entered the Great Cookware Debate.

By the way, I bought one of the two pans I wrote about earlier. Want to guess which one? Comments are open for a brief period, until I close 'em to stop the inevitable penis-enlargement comment-spam.

UPDATE: Answer in the comments, which are now closed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oxblog's comment on these posts: "MAKING EVEN THE DUMBEST SH** INTERESTING." Hey, a new InstaPundit motto!


I'm guessing you bought the All-Clad.

Posted by: Brent Smith at December 29, 2003 05:54 PM

It's a slam-dunk. The Emerilware.

Posted by: Dave G at December 29, 2003 05:55 PM

I hope the All-Clad. I've never liked anything better. I tried a friend's Emiril stuff. It's okay, but . . .

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at December 29, 2003 05:56 PM

Hey, when did this doohicky commentary section came from? Me guess the Emerilware version. Why bother paying for more...

Posted by: BigFire at December 29, 2003 06:01 PM

Let's make it 2:2 - the Emerilware.

Posted by: James at December 29, 2003 06:01 PM

I wish to revise and extend my remarks. When I said Emerilware, I had not yet read the update to the original post that reveals that Emerilware is, in fact, inferior to the regular All-clad. Based on this new information, my guess is now All-clad.

Posted by: Dave G at December 29, 2003 06:01 PM

I've found that you get what you pay for with this type of product. I'm guessing you went with the Emeril stuff. Please update with your results!

Posted by: Erikt at December 29, 2003 06:02 PM

I'm hoping the All-Clad, too (though I don't have any, I did recently buy some Calphalon and am amazed at the difference quality cookware makes. It's worth the extra money.).

But you probably bought the Emeril, good but less expensive.. Still not a bad choice for the money. But wait - you said the Emeril is made in China, so you probably bought the All-Clad.

I think I just hurt myself. :-p

Posted by: Barbara Skolaut at December 29, 2003 06:02 PM

Well, since you aren't getting overwhelmed with comments on this topic, I'll chime in a bit more. My favorite skillet is a nicely seasoned cast iron Lodge. It is more non-stick than the Emeril/All-Clad skillet that has a "non-stick" surface. I like that pan too but I use as much oil in it when I saute potentially sticky stuff as I do using the cast iron skillet. And the cast iron skillet builds amazing forearms when one washes it.

My favorite dutch oven-type pan is *gasp* made in France. It's a Le Creucet enamel-coated cast iron job and is very very large. I'm cooking up a batch of ham and beans in it as I type this.

And like Stephen Green, I have several Caphalon pans which I also like very much.

In case anybody is interested, I was in Aspen last year and attended a "Cooking School" type dinner that was excellent. There were about 25 "students" who sat at a long bar and we all participated in the cooking demostration by, well, eating the results. As the chef prepared to make the main course, seared beef tenderloin, he asked who in attendance had a really good expensive set of All-Clad pans (as he was holding one). My sister and brother-in-law proudly raised their hands. He then tossed the pan to a helper, and told us "Well, don't use one of those for this job. This is a job for a pan that can really do the trick - my old cast-iron skillet."

The look on my sister's face was, well, priceless. :)

Posted by: Brent Smith at December 29, 2003 06:04 PM


Posted by: fingerowner at December 29, 2003 06:06 PM

Am I the only one who thinks Lileks is preparing a 10,000 word Bleat on this topic even as we type?

Posted by: Devin McCullen at December 29, 2003 06:11 PM

If as you said, there's no re diff between the two other than the brand names, I'm guessing you got the less expensive one. I would have.

But the real question is.. who the heck would spend $150 U.S. on a frying pan in the first place? I got a full set of heavy duty Revere Ware a few years ago for a couple of hundred, and I'm sure they'll last longer than I will.

Posted by: joe at December 29, 2003 06:11 PM

I'm guessing Emerilware -- but what I think is most interesting about this debate is the fact that men are now so into cookware, both using it as talking about it. Most of the men I know love to cook, and many of us are pretty serious about it. Almost no men of my father's generation cooked a damn thing, unless it was on the grill. What this says about America or sex roles I'm not sure, but it may explain our expanding waistlines more than any "false advertising" at McDonalds. Flambe for everyone!

Posted by: Darren Cahr at December 29, 2003 06:11 PM

I second Mr. Smith. My favorite cookware is my Lodge cast iron skillet(2), Dutch oven, wok, and griddle. Dirt cheap, incredibly effective heat retention and non-stick properties (if correctly seasoned and maintained), and it lasts forever. It is heavy, though. I have a Le Creuset saute pan, but don't think the enamel coating is worth the extra (considerably!) dollars.

Posted by: Hogarth at December 29, 2003 06:13 PM

I was faced with a similar dilemma at Christmas--I bought my wife the All-Clad; my in-laws got the Emeril-ware, as they don't cook as much, and I get to use the All Clad. My money says you got the All Clad.

Posted by: Bill N at December 29, 2003 06:14 PM

Which pan did you buy? But it's so simple! All I have to do is divine from what I know of you - are you the sort of man who would buy the name-brand cookware or the made-in-China alternative? Now, a protectionist would buy the name-brand American-made cookware. You are not a protectionist, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of...

oh. sorry. um, I guess the All-Clad.

Posted by: Katherine at December 29, 2003 06:14 PM

I went with the All-Clad myself, after getting advice from professional chefs and others, and testing what I could. Even after the BAM set came out, I will still go All Clad for the quality and heat dispersion. Welded discs are nice, but they won't take real cooking for a long time. They tend to deform and debond, and make cleaning interesting.

Calaphon and Le Cru are good pots, and they may work for you. A lot depends on how much and what type cooking you do.

As for alternatives, I recommend going to a good restaurant supply store for pans. One of the best stock pot makers is Piazza, Italy, and they are about the best you can get.

BTW, I did an internship this summer with an award-winning restaurant to improve my cooking skills. The only thing it did was confirm that you want the best quality you can get in a pan. And to have someone else do the dishes. :)

Posted by: Laughing Wolf at December 29, 2003 06:14 PM

My wife works at Bed, Bath and Beyond is the housewares queen ... and of course, we get all of this stuff at a tremendous discount ... we have a significant collection of All-Clad, and it is great cookware. I'm going to ask her to weigh in on the all-clad vs. em-ware debate.

Posted by: Howard Owens at December 29, 2003 06:14 PM

Good point - Cookware is to the man of the 00's what power tools were to the man of the 90s.

Posted by: Director Mitch at December 29, 2003 06:15 PM

As if there's any doubt. Geeky gadget-hound with high disposable income will take the more expensive version with small marginal gain in performance every time.

Posted by: Ernst Blofeld at December 29, 2003 06:16 PM

It's probably too late, but (having been a professional cook and butcher) has anyone mentioned to you that the cheap professional cookware from restaurant supply stores is a much better deal? For example, knoves for butchers are as good (keep an edge etc) as the really good stuff, can be washed in a dishwasher, and costs about one-fifth as much?

Posted by: Charlie at December 29, 2003 06:17 PM

Emerilware is made in Korea, while All-Clad is made in the U.S.

Parisians, however, will never buy the less expensive cookware. They believe that Emerilware is made by juvenile Uruk-hai since Koreans look so much like dwarf Orks... minus the tusks.

Posted by: don at December 29, 2003 06:17 PM

I'm guessing Emerilware, if only so you can annoy others by shouting "Bam!" a lot while you cook.

Posted by: Cam at December 29, 2003 06:20 PM

Well, are the Mazda and the Thanksgiving legs of lamb paid for?

All-Clad, no doubt.

Posted by: SamAm at December 29, 2003 06:22 PM

I think the concensus so far is:

* You get what you pay for when seemingly simlar goods have vastly different prices.
* You don't have to pay a lot to get something that will do the job.
* Always check with the pros to see what they use. And note that they don't wash their own dishes.

Posted by: Brent Smith at December 29, 2003 06:24 PM

I'm an All-Clad guy, although Mr Green is right that that copper stuff totally rocks. Lately, though, I've been getting more seriously interested in proper cutlery. The Mrs. got me (well, us) a set of Wustof steak knifes for Christmas, and I'm pretty jazzed about those.

Posted by: Andrew at December 29, 2003 06:26 PM

I'm a big fan of Calphalon, except when I really need to get something properly browned; just no substitute, IMHO, for thick cast iron for that.

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at December 29, 2003 06:27 PM

I started switching to All-Clad as I got more interested in cooking. I went slowly over several years and now I have 12" Saute, 8" Saucier, a tiny 5" pot, and a 20 Qt Stock pot. The stock pot has the welded aluminum bottom but the others are fully 3-ply. All told, it's about $350 worth. Combined with my own Gram's cast iron skillet and a le Creuset dutch oven, all bases are covered.

A 9" Wustof chef's knife is also indispensable.

Let me take the opportunity to thank you for your blog. It's my first stop daily since March of this year. USS Clueless and Orson Scott Card's WarWatch are my weekly and monthly reads. I imagine that all the mainstream journalists and editors are in a 1200" All-Clad trying to avoid getting sauteed over their sad and so transparently partisan commentary.

ahh, now I feel like a man! ;-)

Posted by: Rob Withers at December 29, 2003 06:27 PM

Duh, you said the cheaper one was better quality. You don't strike me as someone who would buy a brand name product for no reason, especially since a frying pan isn't usually publicly displayed. You got the Emerilware pan.

Posted by: Mike Rentner at December 29, 2003 06:28 PM

Enlarge Your P*nis With Big Bre*st Debt Consolidation! Just kidding.

The All-Clad is likely more expensive to allow true foodies a way to buy the same thing that the declasse jerks buy, except without the tacky "Emerilware" logo that all the declasse jerks are looking for. The Emerilware is probably just as good, but capable of reaching a much larger market due to its declasse, jerky association with Emeril - much like the declasse jerks might buy $7 bottles of Les Jamelles merlot, citing it's Wine Spectator Score of 93.

In contrast, the folks who buy the All-Clad liked REM when they were good.

Posted by: Al Maviva at December 29, 2003 06:30 PM

You have it all wrong.

I just finished baking a jalepeno cornbread in a cast iron skillet. Its naturally non-stick when you treat it right with crisco, etc. All this fancy shmancy cookware is for the wussies.

Give me cast iron or give me death!!!

Posted by: rrsafety at December 29, 2003 06:33 PM

I hate to say it, but the best pan I ever owned was a Le Creuset omelette pan. It pained me to buy Frog cookware, but it really was superb. It languishes in storage in England, quietly pining for me.

Posted by: David Gillies at December 29, 2003 06:34 PM

All-Clad. It's a guy thing.

Btw, I wished you had comments on regularly. I understand the annoyance of spam, but even a brilliant blog gets much more fascinating with reader comments.

Posted by: Jan Haugland at December 29, 2003 06:36 PM

I don't know why those All-Clad pans are such a big deal. They don't even have the teflon on the inside that makes stuff not stick. Screw that.

Posted by: Reek Stankleberry at December 29, 2003 06:37 PM

For as little as the price of a cup of coffee you can feed a child in...oh never mind screw that! I want a PAN that is worth over a hundred dollars..

Posted by: gijoe at December 29, 2003 06:37 PM

Smart guy like you? This is easy. I KNOW you bought the Emeril version.

Thanks for your great work, by the way. I check in with you several times a day to find out what's going on in the world.

Posted by: Zeb Trout at December 29, 2003 06:38 PM

I vote Emerilware. A $60 pan from a reliable brand name has to be good quality (even my $20ish Farberware rocks) anyway, and I'm guessing you wouldn't end up bothering with a $120+ pan.

Posted by: Elizabeth at December 29, 2003 06:39 PM

Hmmmm! @_@

Based on the way you were thinking out loud at the end of the earlier piece I suspect you went with the Emilware.

Posted by: Small Pink Mouse at December 29, 2003 06:43 PM

hoping it was all-clad, as there really is a difference

you're getting truly prodigious amounts of comments, even over what is rumoured to be the dinner hour for non-professionals, on a blog that "never" allows comments

all-clad or lodge, it's a "good thing" tm, despite the fact that she has her own line

Posted by: hey at December 29, 2003 06:44 PM

The price difference may result from the common practice of putting cookware on gift registries. All-Clad focuses on the market where people register their preference for specific brand items. For the marrying couple, the price difference between Emeril and All-Clad is zero, so they pick the slightly better brand. Additionally, All-Clad may get more purchases from professional kitchens, where chefs charge the items to an owner. In both these cases the price difference results from the user not paying for the difference.

Posted by: JC at December 29, 2003 06:50 PM

This calls to mind a quote from the redoubtable Winston Churchill: "My tastes are quite simple; get me only the best."

All Clad.

Posted by: Joe Roberts at December 29, 2003 06:52 PM

Call me Churchillian! Actually, the deciding factor is the two words in my other post: "gift card." With the 20% off coupon I had, the All-Clad exactly matched the card. If I'd been paying out-of-pocket, I would have probably bought the EmerilWare. But I took the coupon thing as a sign.

I've switched from nonstick to stainless because the Insta-Wife has trouble with the no-metal-utensils thing. Most of my stainless is the Calphalon stainless that Stephen Green mentions, which seems quite good and which is a lot cheaper than the All-Clad.

I do have a cast-iron skillet, which I used a lot back when the Insta-Wife was suffering from a touch of anemia, but it takes a long time to heat up on the electric stove, probably because it weighs about as much as my car. The results are good, unless someone puts it in the dishwasher and has to reseason.

I'm a fairly good cook (I do most of the cooking), though no gourmet chef. I like to cook, and I do enjoy it more with decent pots and pans. You can cook good meals in cheap WalMart pots, but it's easier, and more consistent with good stuff. I think that All-Clad's past the shoulder of the price-performance curve, though.

And it is interesting that so many of the commenters are men. I don't think that would have been the case even ten years ago. But as I said in an earlier post, it all makes sense once you realize that cookware is just another kind of tool.

Also, there's the advice I gave my nephew, age 13: "If you learn to cook, and to give good backrubs, even your ex-girlfriends will love you." I think I'm not the only one who figured that out. . . .

Posted by: Glenn Reynolds at December 29, 2003 06:58 PM