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View Full Version : What brand of cookware do professional chefs generally use?


Carnac the Magnificent!
12-16-2003, 10:12 PM
After watching several cooking shows on television (the kind that profile full-time chefs in their kitchen, not those hosted by a celebrity chef), I've noticed that almost all of them use really banged up, cheap looking, possibly aluminum sautee pans--certainly not the gleaming All-Clad wonders that would be far more photogenic.

I've heard many "experts" agree that All-Clad are among the best performers on the market.

How do you reconcile this inconsistency?

dwyr
12-16-2003, 11:18 PM
Well, my brother the chef really likes the All-Clad himself. He cooks at home with them.

But at the restaurant he uses the banged-up, cheap looking stuff as you described. He's told me that that's what you'll find in most restaurant kitchens because the owners don't want to pay for expensive cookware which the help will beat up. And the employees aren't too concerned with gentle handling when they're trying to keep up with the dinner rush. Also, they didn't have to pay for it.

Ergo, the cheap aluminum pots.

Moirai
12-17-2003, 12:25 AM
"At home" cookware is almost always nicer than the stuff used at restaurants.

Brands depend purely on taste. I like All-Clad, cast iron, Emile Henry, depending on what I'm cooking.

I also have a no-name, heavy, non-stick pan that's unbeatable for eggs that my mom got at Marshall's (a pretty hideous discounter out west), and you will have to pry it from my cold, dead, hands.

Max Torque
12-17-2003, 01:02 AM
The type of cookware a TV chef will use for a given task depends on a few factors, the first being whether a cookware manufacturer is a major sponsor of the show. Assuming that's off, they'll use whatever is adequate for the task at hand. If the chef is just hard-boiling some eggs, there's no need to break out the stainless-clad, aluminum-cored, highly-polished saucepans, because even heat distribution is not a concern.

Speaking of which, my folks still have (and use) some stainless steel aluminum-core cookware that they got as a wedding present nearly 35 years ago. It's still in excellent shape, despite near-daily use during that time, but it's certainly not as polished and shiny as it once was. Perhaps the chefs you're seeing are using their old tried-and-true pans that they've used for decades: quality construction, but the appearance has faded a bit.

Keep your eyes on their sauté pans. That tends to be where they use the good stuff.

rackensack
12-17-2003, 08:51 AM
You also shouldn't assume that the banged-up, cheap-looking stuff, either on TV or in a restaurant kitchen, actually is low-quality. The restaurant-grade heavy guage aluminum saute pans and skillets used in most commercial kitchens are still better for cooking than a lot of what you'll find in many home kitchens, even if you wouldn't want to hang them from the pot rack over the work island in your $80,000 custom kitchen. They're less expensive than All-Clad or Calphalon, because the manufacturers aren't concerned with making them appealing to the eye or with ensuring that they retain their appearance; they also aren't spending money on marketing. I've been stunned at the junk that's being passed off as high-quality cookware, with a celebrity chef's picture and a well-known manufacturer's name on the packaging, over the last few years: thin, light stuff that superficially looks like the good stuff (which is all that a lot of people want it for anyway).

Doomtrain
12-17-2003, 09:13 AM
Is Calphalon really a "pro" level manufacturer? I assumed the Pro part of the name was a quaint thing.

Doomtrain
12-17-2003, 09:15 AM
Is Calphalon really a "pro" level manufacturer? I'm asking, seriously, cause I snagged one for $35 new and I assumed the Pro part of the name was a quaint thing. Not that I don't love the pan, it rules.

DeadlyAccurate
12-17-2003, 09:24 AM
I bought a couple of Calphalon pots as gifts this year, and I thought the quality to be far inferior to the Circulon pans we bought from CostCo. Our Circulon pots and pans rule. But then again, the Circulon pots and pans we got were the commercial grade kind and not their cheaper ones, so I'm guessing that Calphalon is the same way and the ones I bought for my in-laws is the cheaper version.

lissener
12-17-2003, 01:46 PM
I scour junk stores for old cast iron and cast iron enamelware, and for heavy aluminum. My best tools are usually my oldest tools, with some exceptions.

even sven
12-17-2003, 05:42 PM
I bought all my cookware at a restraunt supply store. Most of them are open to the public, and they are all a lot of fun. The stuff is cheap, durable, ugly as sin and works like a charm. All my knives have big ugly white plastic handles, and all my pots have horrid blue rubber sleeves on the handle. And just about everything costs less than ten bucks and completely awesome to cook with.

Opengrave
12-17-2003, 06:05 PM
Originally posted by dwyr
But at the restaurant he uses the banged-up, cheap looking stuff as you described. He's told me that that's what you'll find in most restaurant kitchens because the owners don't want to pay for expensive cookware which the help will beat up. And the employees aren't too concerned with gentle handling when they're trying to keep up with the dinner rush. Also, they didn't have to pay for it. Bingo! My family sells restaraunt and kitchen equipment and I've been in tons of kitchens. I have never seen Caphalon, All-Clad,etc... Polarware (http://polarware.com/Foodsvc.html) is extremely common (click on #6 in the upper right).

haardvark
12-17-2003, 06:50 PM
In Kitchen Confidential (which I highly recommend if you have not read it), Anthony Bourdain describes pots and pans flying through the air into overflowing sinks all throughout service, just getting absolutely beat to hell against one another. He also describes throwing pots away because they have been scrubbed so much the metal has developed thin areas. Based on this I would assume it behooves a kitchen owner to not buy cadillac if chevy will do.

(The book also talks about the rampant theft in restaurant kitchens -- this could have something to do wtih the choices they make as well).

Bad News Baboon
12-17-2003, 06:52 PM
Originally posted by DeadlyAccurate
I bought a couple of Calphalon pots as gifts this year, and I thought the quality to be far inferior to the Circulon pans we bought from CostCo. Our Circulon pots and pans rule. But then again, the Circulon pots and pans we got were the commercial grade kind and not their cheaper ones, so I'm guessing that Calphalon is the same way and the ones I bought for my in-laws is the cheaper version.

As you noted, Calphalon has a wide range of products. You can get their "cooking" (I think this is the name) at Target, as an example. It no where remotely compares to their commercial line. All clad, I believe, also has a lower line of stuff, but they usually market it under a different name. I am pretty sure that they are the ones that make Emeril's line.

When I got my pans, I picked Calphalon over All-clad because after comparing the two, I felt that Calphalon was manufactured with higher quality. The All-Clad, as an an example, has only two rivets on their handles as opposed to Calphalon's three.

However, for the most part, the high level Calphalon and high Level All-Clad are about equal.

When I have watched cooking shows that feature Chefs in their restaurant kitchens, they appear to be using really old All-Clad pans. You can usually tell by the handle and rivets.

SmackFu
12-17-2003, 06:58 PM
So, they don't use copper pots or pans?

dwyr
12-17-2003, 07:30 PM
Originally posted by haardvark
...(The book also talks about the rampant theft in restaurant kitchens -- this could have something to do wtih the choices they make as well).


Oh, another good point.

My brother has his own set of knives and various utensils that he takes with him, fairly high-quality professional cutlery. He's threatened the immediate amputation of extremities to anyone who touches them at work and he brings them home with him every night.

Bad News Baboon
12-17-2003, 07:48 PM
Originally posted by SmackFu
So, they don't use copper pots or pans?


I don't recall seeing any chef using copper, but that doesn't mean that they don't.

On cooking shows, the only copper I have ever seen used is a copper mixer liner. For example, whipping up egg whites in a Kitchen-aid type mixer copper liner.

Moirai
12-17-2003, 10:13 PM
My favorite set of sauce pans/pots is an old set that my MIL got when she got married about 40 years ago. They are still the best pots I have.

Elenfair
12-17-2003, 11:48 PM
I am not a chef - however, I come from a family of people who really enjoy their kitchen. My dad should have been a chef, but he enjoys cooking too much to make it a career ;)

Like in all things, keep in mind that many manufacturers of cookware have a few different types of lines that bear their name. Some of the Calphalon stuff ain't that grand. Their professional series, however, are.

I personally quite like using creuset pots and cast-iron pans (some of mine are over 30 years old now), especially when it comes to cooking meats.

Knives are tricky - go German, but make sure that they are their TOP OF THE LINE stuff, not their lower grade "made in China" stuff. You'll be paying upwards of $100 for a pro-quality knife.

Elenfair
12-17-2003, 11:50 PM
On the topic of copper: copper bowls are the best if you're trying to whip up some egg whites into meringue. :) There's just something about the egg volume to air ratio n' all. Honest.

rabbit
12-18-2003, 12:33 AM
Based on personal first hand experience on the business end of the dishwasher at various restaurants :D I have to agree with the point that the pots get beat to hell. The chef/cooks are moving as fast as they possibly can during a rush and any given pot or pan can easily get used, washed then used again several times in a matter of minutes. Thats not an exageration. The chef uses it, hands it off to be washed (which at least in the places I worked at involved some heavy cleansers, bleach and lots of steel scouring pads before being tossed into the washer) This usually takes less than 5 minutes before it's back to chef, etc etc till rush is over. Definitely not gentle treatment. Mind you I didnt work at any particularly expensive/fancy restaurants, but I imagine similar theory applies

BiblioCat
12-18-2003, 07:58 AM
Originally posted by DeadlyAccurate
Our Circulon pots and pans rule. .. I have a set of basic Farberware saucepans in graduated sizes that I got 12 years ago and they're in great shape. I'll probably have them forever.

I've also started buying some Circulon pieces and I love them. They do indeed rule.

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