All-Clad or All Crap?

I was watching the Today Show this morning, and Bittman was explaining to Lauer that we do not need to buy expensive kitchen stuff. He said one can go to any restaurant supply store and buy cheap stuff. I do see his point that chefs cook thousands of meals and abuse pots and pans, so restaurant supply is the most durable and long lasting.

I go to TJ Maxx, Marshalls or Daffy’s to buy clothes, but I have to admit I buy my kitchen stuff almost exclusively at Williams-Sonoma. I drool over their All-Clad collections, cry a little imagining life with their margarita making machine, dream about owning the full Global knife set and shout a little when finding a new shiny color for Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I shouldn’t go there after eating escolar, that’s for sure.

In terms of teflon coated pans, yes, I do buy a cheap one and throw it away once it starts sticking onto my food, but everything else is All-Clad, Le Creuset and all my knives are Global. I have a billion gadget from OXO, Microplane this and that. Is this bad? Am I a sucker for consumerism? Do I watch too much Food Network? Do I need an intervention? Over the years, I collected many pieces of All-Clad, and I don’t regret any of it, but are restaurant supply store items as good, or better than high end brands? Is this like me bitching about the German oven? What about Japanese knives using the same method as samurai sword making techniques?

I want to hear people’s opinion about this. By the way, Emeril cookware is made by All-Clad, but I do NOT consider his crap to be the same quality as my loving All-Clads.

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4 Responses to “All-Clad or All Crap?”

  1. tmonkey Says:

    Speaking as a true kitchen hardware geek and former restauranteur-esque-person (having bought kitchenware and set up the kitchen for Bao Noodles), there are certain things a home cook needs industrial strength sometimes and there are times when you’re probably swatting a fly with a machine gun.

    1. Blenders/food processesers/anything with a motor: in restaurants, these things get daily (sometimes more than daily) usage and the motors just die really fast. Especially if you grind things like ice and other hard objects on a regular basis. Most home cooks don’t need that. At Bao Noodles, we actually cheaped out and used a Cuisinart to puree things for sauces and even stuff like taro root every single day (that’s 7 days a week, not 5). And well, it just wasn’t meant for that kind of punishment. It died repeatedly and we eventually sucked it up and got the real deal. Ever heard of a PacoJet? (Go to Chickalicious and find out.) Chances are you probably won’t get one of these for your house unless you liquify almonds every day and have $3000 lying around.

    2. Pots and pans: I bought a set of All-clad pots and pans awhile back NOT because they had Emeril’s name on it but because they had Joël Robuchon on the box (NOT engraved on the metal). All-clad is awesome (pro) quality that you can use in your home. Cuisinart makes pretty good stuff too, adequate for most home cooks.

    3. Knives: I personally find the Japanese knives (like Global) too light. I like me a heavy piece of steel when I’m cutting. Ceramic knives break easily too. Don’t get those unless you just want to cut for the day.

    High carbon steel is what you want, but it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg and it doesn’t have to be Wusthof. The Henckels sets are pretty bad though. Don’t get those. At the French Culinary, the standard is called “Chef cutlery” (that’s the brand) and it’s pretty good and sturdy. Also, you are supposed to be able to do pretty much everything with a 7″ chef’s knife so I’d spend most of my money on that and skimp on the rest if you’re really pinching pennies.

    Speaking of doing everything with a 7″ chef’s knife, at the restaurant in the heat of battle, you would see cooks and prep cooks hacking away at the lids of huge tin cans of hoisin sauce and veggies. That was after someone had the wise idea of getting an electric can opener (one of the stupidest gadgets next to the garlic peeler, IMHO) which promptly broke after one week of service. Good thing they were using the semi-crappy no-name chef’s knives you can get on Bowery at any of the supply stores. They’re the ones with the white blades that come sealed in hard plastic. They’re actually servicable and if you keep them sharp, a cheap alternative.

    I could go on, but I have to work now.

  2. tmonkey Says:

    Speaking as a true kitchen hardware geek and former restauranteur-esque-person (having bought kitchenware and set up the kitchen for Bao Noodles), there are certain things a home cook needs industrial strength sometimes and there are times when you’re probably swatting a fly with a machine gun.

    1. Blenders/food processesers/anything with a motor: in restaurants, these things get daily (sometimes more than daily) usage and the motors just die really fast. Especially if you grind things like ice and other hard objects on a regular basis. Most home cooks don’t need that. At Bao Noodles, we actually cheaped out and used a Cuisinart to puree things for sauces and even stuff like taro root every single day (that’s 7 days a week, not 5). And well, it just wasn’t meant for that kind of punishment. It died repeatedly and we eventually sucked it up and got the real deal. Ever heard of a PacoJet? (Go to Chickalicious and find out.) Chances are you probably won’t get one of these for your house unless you liquify almonds every day and have $3000 lying around.

    2. Pots and pans: I bought a set of All-clad pots and pans awhile back NOT because they had Emeril’s name on it but because they had Joël Robuchon on the box (NOT engraved on the metal). All-clad is awesome (pro) quality that you can use in your home. Cuisinart makes pretty good stuff too, adequate for most home cooks.

    3. Knives: I personally find the Japanese knives (like Global) too light. I like me a heavy piece of steel when I’m cutting. Ceramic knives break easily too. Don’t get those unless you just want to cut for the day.

    High carbon steel is what you want, but it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg and it doesn’t have to be Wusthof. The Henckels sets are pretty bad though. Don’t get those. At the French Culinary, the standard is called “Chef cutlery” (that’s the brand) and it’s pretty good and sturdy. Also, you are supposed to be able to do pretty much everything with a 7″ chef’s knife so I’d spend most of my money on that and skimp on the rest if you’re really pinching pennies.

    Speaking of doing everything with a 7″ chef’s knife, at the restaurant in the heat of battle, you would see cooks and prep cooks hacking away at the lids of huge tin cans of hoisin sauce and veggies. That was after someone had the wise idea of getting an electric can opener (one of the stupidest gadgets next to the garlic peeler, IMHO) which promptly broke after one week of service. Good thing they were using the semi-crappy no-name chef’s knives you can get on Bowery at any of the supply stores. They’re the ones with the white blades that come sealed in hard plastic. They’re actually servicable and if you keep them sharp, a cheap alternative.

    I could go on, but I have to work now.

  3. tmonkey Says:

    Sorry, I meant to say Robot-Coupe instead of PacoJet. A Robot-Coupe is a commercial food processor that costs around $2000 that basically whizzes the shit out of anything. A PacoJet is a commercial ice cream maker that, if you talk to any dessert maker, pastry chef type, will tell you is the best thing since the Kitchenaid.

  4. tmonkey Says:

    Sorry, I meant to say Robot-Coupe instead of PacoJet. A Robot-Coupe is a commercial food processor that costs around $2000 that basically whizzes the shit out of anything. A PacoJet is a commercial ice cream maker that, if you talk to any dessert maker, pastry chef type, will tell you is the best thing since the Kitchenaid.

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