Chef Dave
The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook by Diana Shaw



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News and Views

Chef Dave would like to tell you a few things he thinks are important to him.  Here's what's on Dave's mind. 

                                                                                  June 24

 Pots and Pans Don't Make the Man

           There sure are a lot of expensive pots and pans being sold these days.  Are they worth the money?  That depends.  I think that a good cook can adapt to working with any type of cookware.  Sure Calphalon is great, however they won't make me or anyone else a better cook.

            There are 7 cookware categories; Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Hard Anodized, Copper, Glass, Cast Iron and Enamel on Steel.  The biggest sellers are Stainless, Aluminum, and Hard Anodized and that's what I will discuss here.  Several of these are either nonstick coated or not.  These coatings will last longer by avoiding utensil abrasion and overheating. 

           Nonstick coated cookware uses a plastic material called "PTFE".  It is the most slippery substance in the world which is what keeps food from sticking to the cookware's surface. If you are interested in coated cookware, you will do well going for top of the line, triple coated pans such as Dupont's Autograph or Whitford's Excalibur. Silverstone's Select and Xtra are triple coated, but they are a lesser quality cookware.  DuPont invented and named their coating Teflon. They produce the best known brands of nonstick cookware in several grades, or qualities, ranging from Teflon 2 to the top of the line Autograph.

          Generally, I prefer the thicker, nonstick cookware.  My experience is the thinner the cookware the higher the chance of food sticking and burning.  I'm not too impressed with stainless steel cookware.  I've had a chance to work with some All-clad, and although I don't like how they cook, they do look nice. 

           It seems that many cookware brands want to rise to the supreme level of their Calphalon competitors.  Calphalon (produced by Calphalon), Circulon (produced by the Meyer Corporation) and Analon (produced by Dupont), all use the same process to make their cookware nonstick.  This process, called Hard Anodized, allows the nonstick coating to permeate the surface and be locked in permanently.   This process give the pans long term food release ability and are 100% more durable than aluminum pans.

Farberware, T-Fal, Wearever and Revere have been making cookware for years, but my exposure to them has been limited or nonexistent, which may say something right there.  More recently I see that others have jumped into the cookware market  such as KitchenAid, Cuisinart, and if you can believe it, Emerilware.

I had a set of Revere copper bottom pans years ago and what I remember most is trying to keep them looking good.  For me they were too thin.   Recently I saw a great looking set at a Sam's Club that is being manufactured for them.  They look like Calphalon clones, and are only $99.95.  They look like a good deal.

Wearever makes what I feel is the restaurant industry's standard sauté pans.  They come coated or not.  They also make many other pots and pans. You can buy them and much more at any of the 3 locations of Ace Mart.  Ace Mart is a cash and carry store full of everything a restaurant uses.  It is open to the public and is like a candy store for the home cook.  You can visit them at

I believe that temperature control is the key to working with any type of cookware.  Rule of thumb, the thinner the pot or pan the lower the temperature should be.  Obviously a thicker pot or pan can absorb the heat without warping or producing hot spots.  The thicker pans are able to distribute the heat better for more even cooking.  Generally, you would want to be able to preheat a pan until quite hot to do most cooking, especially sautéing.  This is hard to do in thin pans as once you start adding ingredients they will tend to darken and burn before they cook.  The word sauté means "to jump", in French, and you must have a hot pan to accomplish that.    

With so many choices available these days I recommend that you go with what fits your needs and budget the most.  I'm sure with proper use and care any of the above mentioned sets will last for years.

Chef Dave