What’s the best cookware out there? Seems like a different answer from every person you ask. Many will say All-Clad. Some cooks clutch tightly to their beloved 60 year old cast iron pans, some love copper, and others cant live without non-stick coatings.
I spent a long time considering what cookware I want to invest in. I personally don’t believe in buying cheap things over and over again. I want cookware that I can use for the rest of my life. I also want to be able to achieve restaurant-quality results.
Edit: Since I’ve been using this cookware, I’ve now seen it pop up everywhere on TV… Bitchin’ Kitchen and Chopped are the latest shows I’ve seen it used on (though not named or endorsed specifically). I still love the stuff and have collected a few more pieces I should write about soon!
First, I ruled out what I don’t want:
- Copper because, no matter how awesome it is (and it is awesome), the tin lining eventually melts or wears away and it’s very hard to keep it in good condition for many years.
- Non-stick stuff because it’s not durable enough. Eventually the coating does wear away. I don’t want chemical coatings flaking into the food and non-stick pans are often not thick/heavy enough for a good even and sustainable heat. (although one non-stick is great to have for eggs and delicate fish)
- Cast iron because it’s incredibly heavy, can rust and the handles get as hot as the pan itself.
- Carbon steel because it also gets really hot, is heavy, can rust and can be very difficult to clean.
Eventually I settled on stainless/ply cookware. It’s the most durable material and almost impossible to damage beyond repair. Stainless can be cleaned fairly easily, put in the dishwasher and won’t rust. It may not have the looks of copper but there are some stylish stainless sets out there.
So, for me, the answer to the question “what is the best cookware out there?” turned out to be Demeyere’s Atlantis line of stainless steel pots and pans. I started small with the saute pan (for browning, braising and, uh, sauteing) and a small conical saucepan. I have ordered the Proline frying pan and hope to have that soon. Some day I’d love to have a larger conical pan and a casserole from the line. For now I fill in the gaps with my 30 year old stainless pans inherited from my parents.
Demeyere is a somewhat little-known company making pots and pans in Belgium. They don’t have the flashy name or the deal with Food Network. They are quite expensive. They are heavy. So why did I choose Demeyere’s Atlantis line to be my cookware for, quite possibly, the rest of my life?
- The handles are large and comfortable.
- The edges of each pot are a “pouring edge.”
- The handles are welded (no rivets) and the pans are easy to clean.
- Each pot is made to suit its function.
- Serious weight, quality metals and construction quality.
- Incredible induction performance. (I use gas, but this is nice for future-proofing)
I also did, as always, thoroughly Google the matter and found that on most discussion forums and cooking communities, Demeyere is very highly regarded for cooking quality – even heat, responsiveness and durability.
Another thoughtful detail is that Demeyere constructs each pan according to its function. Where some manufacturers rely on a single trick (All-Clad comes to mind) for making every piece, Demeyere matches function to construction method. For instance, the frying pans and conical saucepans are clad because they are designed to reduce moisture and use the entire surface of the pan to cook the food. The saute pans, casseroles and straight sided saucepans are made with a copper disk bottom, because these are intended to have extremely even heat and preserve moisture. It is sort of hard to determine all of this from Demeyere’s own web site, so hopefully this explanation is of use to someone out there.
Above is an example of the saute pan construction. A nice, thick copper disk sits in the bottom of the pan. I wouldn’t suggest this cookware for the weak-armed among us, or those who are unwilling to lift significant weight during cooking and washing. In that area I will give the nod to All-Clad which is much lighter. Demeyere (at least this Atlantis line) is heavy stuff. Part of the reason it cooks so well!
That’s the illustration of the frying pan and conical saucepan layers. As you can see, this is more of a clad construction designed for cooking all over the surface.
If you’re interested, Sur La Table carries Demeyere Atlantis, but 125west.com and cookware.com are sometimes cheaper sources and have coupons from time to time. Ordering from 125west takes up to three weeks because the stuff comes right from Belgium.
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