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VodkaPundit

The Great Debate

December 29th, 2003 - 1:30 pm

I’ve been dared to join the battle — over cookware.

I’ll say it right out front: I’m a Calphalon guy.

Is All-Clad better than Calphalon? It certainly is. Is it worth the 25%-40% premium they usually get over Calphalon? Not a chance.

I took the (expensive) dive into Calphalon ten years ago, buying a complete set of their commercial-grade anodized aluminum cookware. The advantages of anodized aluminum are that it heats quickly and evenly (assuming an uniform thickness throughout, which the commercial stuff has), and with the triple-riveted handles, it will last a lifetime. Or two. With proper care, my grandkids will be using my stuff. Another advantage is that the anodization process creates an amazingly hard surface. It’s not non-stick — not by a longshot — but with a good Scotch Bright pad, there’s nothing you can’t clean off the stuff.

The disadvantage is, everything sticks to it. Don’t try frying bacon in one, unless you want to add extra oil or are planning on reducing them to bacon bits.

So I bought a couple of Calphalon’s commercial non-stick frying pans. They’re only double-riveted, and a non-stick surface isn’t permanent. I doubt they’ll last my lifetime, but they’re also cheap compared to the aluminum pieces. I’m happy with them for what they are — inexpensive, good-quality non-stick pans.

Then I realzed I needed some copper stuff.

Look, nothing cooks like copper. Nothing. So, semi-serious cook that I am, I started pricing All-Clad’s copper stuff last year. And I damn near had a heart attack. A copper exterior, wrapped around an aluminum core, with a semi-non-stick, non-reactive, stainless steel interior. But I’d already written a check for our honeymoon, and another check for her wedding gift — and so new copper cookware was out of the question.

Then Calphalon came out with a near-identical copper line, called Tri-Ply Copper — at about 2/3rds the price. And that was before they started offering discounts.

So far, we have a six-quart stock pot, a three-quart chef’s pan, a 2.5-quart sauce pan, and a five-quart saute pan. The only thing I’m sorry about is, I’m going to have to play favorites in my will — leave the aluminum to the naughty child and the copper to the nice one.

And All-Clad? It’s great stuff, but I just can’t see spending the money on it.

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