POTS,  PANS, and OLIVE OIL



TRUTH, SOME PANS HAVE GONE TO POT!  

My equipment mantra is the three C’s of cooking, and they are Cutlery, Cookware and Contraptions.  This page addresses the second and third parts of  Cookware... I have lots of pots and pans.  Last count was 16+.  Maybe twice the average household and they all get used since I like to cook.  

But the average kitchen reviewer doesn’t also write reviews on food, restaurants and products, host groups, or parties.  I do, both worlds and I connect them. Here is truth...The average kitchen guru today on TV is a chef highly paid for the use of his name with half a dozen or more helpers making cooking on HSN and others so simple.

The Chef is on TV pitching and selling pots and pans.  And it’s nothing but sell, sell, sell.  It’s funny, I get a chance to see what does really get used backstage in the commercial kitchens, not necessarily the best solution for casual home cooking but a good kitchen does in one day what a home might do in a year.  

If you would have access, some of the pans you would see after usage in the commercial kitchen look like they were stolen from the Chernobyl kitchens.  Gas stoves can do that.  But the kitchen in a business is hidden you don’t see it, and we like to show our tools off so we like pretty.

There are many sources of pots and pans, here are just a smidgen with a few antagonistic comments thrown in.  I owe no one so truth will prevail, so will a few insults. I will simply tell you what I found, you decide for yourself.

Yes, we can all go broke using the excellent fairly expensive All-Clad products which are probably one of the best high end cookware made and then rationalize the purchase by the fact it will probably be the last stainless you ever buy.  I own a few.  Superb quality and I know they will outlast me. That justifies the difference and you get to know the temperatures and other characteristics by using the same tools.

Or, we can go to real expensive named pots and pans signed by members of the prestigious Michelin Group.  I call a 300 dollar pan a collectors item and fools errand, make that a rich fools errand.  

And thats the problem, endorsed brands,  I tend to stay away from.  It’s a pan, nothing more, nothing less, few pans wind up in the Louvre.  The Mona Lisa is smiling she just discovered non-stick.  None of my pans are in the Louvre but they are good quality and they work.

The bigger sellers with addicted buyers are on TV.   You have to sift through house brands, celebrity chef brands, HSN, NBC and the CIA who all seem  to have their answers to the worlds cooking needs though I will guarantee none have ever tasted your Chocolate garlic spinach spiced bourbon infused guacamole soufflé with Devils Heat Salsa.  And I hope they never do.

I include the usual unreal cooking shows, like Rachel Ray, Chef Black, Wolfgang Puck, Tyler and that Southern Belle whose vocabulary, consisting of lots of  “You-all’s and scads of butter” even though she was a Diabetic and now has a line of pots and pans, mostly banged out in the sweat houses of China which for some reasons reminded her of home.  When she got in trouble with a few racially bad statements, Target had her stuff off the shelves in two days.   They are all celebrity chefs and many have unique agendas.


TV - BUT WAIT!  
“BUT WAIT” is the battle cry of the ignorant.   This is a clue to change channels when you hear “ BUT WAIT”  That piece of junk you are looking at isn’t worth what they are telling you. Two for one just decreased the products value by half and just pay the shipping and handling for 39.95 just to find both came in the same box.  Screwed!  Twice!  And they are making a ton. 

The real value is determined by the additional fee for that second piece, the shipping is the same, flat rate by the shipper so if the second piece is only eight dollars more, you just got a five dollar item and they made three dollars more because they got a flat rate on shipping.

It comes with a collection of totally cheap Chinese molded probably contaminated plastic valued at 40.00.  Actual value, I deal with China regularly, value under two dollars and it was probably included in the product to begin with when they dreamed up the equation.  And you will get it free.  Actually the junk was free to begin with.

Lets do the math.  You buy the pan for 10.00 dollars, then they hit you with 7.95 shipping. So you get the bonus pan and pay a second 7.95.  Thats 25.90 for two cheap pans you'll be able to get at Bed Bath or Target, Wal-Mart or Amazon for 8.00 each in two months.  Now who's the jerk.


DEAR TODD COMMENTS
THE TOUTING GAME HSN 

READER COMMENT ON HSN:   Someone wrote on HSN, "Sorry folks,I won’t purchase cookware with a  TV chef’s name attached to the bottom or sides…to feed their already rich pockets and egos.  Chefs with  no manners, wiping their nose, dirty fingernails, drooling over the crap they just cooked. 

READER COMMENT: I recently purchased the expensive “ Copper-fused" Green pans. I certainly hope that the quality of these are much higher than the regular Green pan nonstick pans. I hate to say it but I think the only thing higher is the price.   

The last time Joy and Todd were on, when they were presenting the copper-fused green-pans, a caller asked them if they could explain how to properly season the green-pans. It looked like the question caught them off guard. The caller was promptly cut off after that and Todd sort of mumbled, "You shouldn't have to with these pans." Then they quickly changed the subject.

READER COMMENT: I have emailed Todd English and was told Ingenuous designs would contact me -- hasn’t happened. I want my money refunded, I don't want an exchange for a so-called defective set. My next step is to try the Good Housekeeping route. Although, I doubt I can find my original receipt. What a disappointment and waste of money. Dang, fooled again by the overhype and the oversell.

READER COMMENT: So hard to believe Todd English got involved with this ***. I truly hope HSN, Joy and Todd do something about this -- customer service is EVERYTHING in business. And why do they keep pushing these pans once a month or so as a T - Special?  Todd, Joy and HSN please refund the money of people unhappy with these products... These products are not performing at all as they are promoted! Restore the trust of your customers! The truth always comes out and it hurts your business ultimately.

SPIN ON ENGLISH  
Todd English is facing another lawsuit accusing­ the celebrity chef of failing to pay rent at one of his restaurants — this time at the flagship Olives in Charlestown. English owes about $723,000 in back rent to the landlords, Carey Realty and City Square Holdings, according to a claim filed in Suffolk Superior Court.

Olives, where English built his reputation two decades ago, reopened in April after an extended closure because of a grease fire that had caused an estimated $200,000 in damage. In their complaint, the landlords blame the fire on a lack of maintenance by the restaurant. 

“The fire was caused by Olive’s negligence in failing to clean the grease from the duct work that served the premises, allowing it to accumulate and become combustible,” they said. 

The legal trouble comes four months after English’s former landlord at Faneuil Hall Marketplace filed a separate lawsuit against the restaurateur for allegedly failing to pay nearly $1 million in rent and other charges on his now closed restaurant there, Kingfish Hall.  

English did not make good on back rent despite a judgment entered against him more than a year ago in Boston Municipal Court, according to a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court in May by the company that used to operate Faneuil Hall.  At least six lawsuits have been filed against him related to claims of unpaid bills and the closing of several restaurants. Earlier this year, JW Lopes LLC filed a suit seeking $34,000 from English for goods it provided to Kingfish Hall. Who’s stupid? Any idiot letting a restaurant run up a 34,000 dollar bill on credit need to have his head examined.


NOTHING IS WHAT IT APPEARS

The shows that tell you it’s only thirty minutes and doesn’t tell you it took hours to prep or get the right ingredients some of which you never heard of and not available in your neighborhood.  It’s all a fairy tale. Backstage there are fourteen professional people putting this montage of edibles together. 

Like the Martha Stewart show, she’s Americas darling of what’s right in culture, entertaining, lifestyle and cooking.  That’s why it takes 75 people to produce the one-hour show plus another 25-50 in vendor support.  Fresh herbs from the garden, why not when you have twenty acres and plenty of gardeners.

Somehow our host does the twelve-course meal in thirty minutes all endorsing some form of stainless polished bright and absolutely perfect stainless in 18-10 for six payments of 39.95.  After all they don't do the cleanup and thank God for Bar keepers Friend.

The right handed Fresh Pepper Twist.  God help us if we used ground pepper from a can.  The mandatory fresh ground pepper twist is a required exercise. Looks professional!.  When you cook for 300 you don’t hand grind the pepper and you prep the garlic with a four pound wooden hammer on a heavy wooden block with heavy saran wrap both sides in one mighty smash, pull the flakes away, then mince. Or cheat with the powdered, minced or flaked stuff soaked a day earlier.

Knowing what I know about the industry, one example.  A full line of Wolfgang Pucks stainless sold at SAM’S had handles so weak I could bend them as they would bend at the pans edge.  It probably contributed to a small roast on the floor more than once.  They were priced accordingly but not of any quality.  Same with some of the Rachel Ray lines.  Improved  somewhat last couple months but not quite as good. In truth most endorsements are for the money and not because of you.

Then there’s box retailers with selection, Macy’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, Penny’s, Sears, K-Mart, Target, Wal-mart, Crate and Barrel, and a host of others on line. Slightly better but not the top end of any lines.   I tend to gravitate to Williams Sonoma, and Sur La Table for small items and sale items as they tend to go higher end in the quality of the lines they carry.  

I buy for the long run, passing on cheap stuff that rusts, breaks  peels and falls apart.  I best described half the stuff in the stores.  Only once I bought  a set relying on individual designs suited for me.   I buy something just like I vote. I go NPA, no political affiliation, I vote for the person not the party. I buy the pan not the set.

We have a great mall not far from us with a Crate and Barrel for the classy tabletop arranging when called for and while my friend is shopping dresses and stuff, I am in Williams Sonoma getting lost in looking at everything, mostly better quality lines which is directly across, no more than fifty feet from the Apple store which is Mecca to me.

I am an Appleholic and suffer from Mac-itus and I gladly take her shopping and vanish to satisfy my selfish needs.   Many times since I know what I am buying, I use several vendors on the web.  A partial list is on the first page.


TV COOK REQUIRED SEGMENTS

GREASY CORRUPTION  
  

The required and regimented 1/4 inch diced onion chopping scenes followed by close-up dicing and mincing of fresh herbs most of which the store didn’t have.  Then the hand twist “fresh ground pepper demonstration” as explained above using right hand twist only.

And the finale when they are  all sloshed together with “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” which isn’t in most cases isn’t really as tested  by the fine folks at UC-Davis has just published an extensive report on the fraudulent labeling of extra-virgin olive oil. Imported olive oil has been known to often have fraudulent or misleading labels, now certain US brands have been found to be mislabeling their olive oil as well.  

“More than two-thirds of common brands of extra-virgin olive oil found in California grocery stores aren’t what they claim to be, according to a report by researchers at UC Davis, “ said the Los Angeles Times in the story linked to the tests to determine extra-virgin oil (acidity, peroxide level, etc.) are listed and described.  Their lab tests cast doubt on specific brands of olive oil’s virginity using scientific techniques (aka DNA).

BAD RATING:   Whole Foods, Rachel Ray, Safeway, Newman’s Own, Colavita, Bernoulli, Filippo Berio, Pompeian, Star Carapelli, Mezzetta, Mazola.

GOOD RATING:   Kirkland Organic, Corto Olive, California Olive Ranch, McEvoy Ranch Organic.


STAPLE POTS and PANS
FOR THE STABLE

I don’t buy cheap forty piece pots and pans set for $39.95.  I also see little difference in a two hundred dollar skillet and my fifty dollar one, the Salmon will taste the same.  Most manufacturers copied the old Sears Roebuck mantra of Good, Better, Best and have several lines. To see if better is better you can bet,  I’ll go that way.

Calphalon UNISON - I find the value in for the dailies eating ritual, great quality, they are always on sale somewhere, and hold up well to my style of cooking.  Fast and easy cleanup and the Unison is a lot tougher than their less expensive branded Calphalon lines.  They hold up well to heat distribution, and even cooking because of their thickness.  Just let them cool and they clean marvelously.  Use silicon tools and they’ll never scratch.

Its time to spell out what’s going on. Calphalon like any large corporation occasionally shifts things around by offering different levels of quality or features and they also brand their products to specific outlets so there is a unique style for each outlet. 

This sometimes confuses the buyer sitting there with their Apple smartphone and using the bar code reader to find a better deal.  You cannot make a clear choice based on price as the components might not match up and neither will the quality of the coatings and finishes. Fortunately they are about fairness and their website does explain things better than the rest of the competitors. 


BRAZILIAN
 TRAMONTINA
AND ALL-CLAD
For seared dishes and fond scrapping I prefer stainless and I have for dishes that do better needing sear and temperature control in the Induction Kitchen.  It’s a tough choice buying pots and pans but Tramontina are well made, with a ton of experience in the commercial cooking establishments. MyTramontina’s and  All-Clads are beautiful works of art.

Heavy duty and virtually wear proof, easy to take care of.  They too offer differing levels of price, quality, assortments, selling points, rebates and so forth.  Commercially two good features of Tramontina, they are carried at COSTCO at ridiculously low prices and Costco has a good assortment of their line. And everything they make is commercial grade or better.  NO junk.

I also own two ALL-CLAD sauciers, because I got the lids for nothing and make a nice impression when cooking intimate dinners as many of my guests wind up in the kitchen with me.  I also have larger stock pots by TRAMONTINA. The two TRAMONTINA stockpots I have are heavy duty and priced quite right. Stock-pots double for spaghetti boilers when needed because of their price points for large pots and I have inserts for strainers, their advantage is I can use the steel pots on my Burton Commercial Induction.  

A large All-Clad stockpot costs as much as a TV.  The Tramontina’s hold up well, and last as long, I have had them in the restaurants and stock pots which never or rarely get turned off, we just keep adding and adding.  

Stock-pots get destroyed any way if being used all-day on a daily basis, might as well not go broke using them. We could get some even cheaper but they fail.  A fifty pound loaded pot with a weak handle is a burn risk.

I do have an enameled  Green Pan domed griller which I keep under my pillow at night and I do not allow anyone near it. I love that pan which is more like a Moroccan Tajine but it’s not, it’s a domed griller, fits on my Burton Induction and does an incredible job on steaks as the dome imitates a oven.  It was made by the original Green PAN Co. and I never found another one. 

NOTE:  The most common complaint I hear about of any pot or pan is that the pan warped.  If you use electric you will find that the pan can warp because electric is uneven heating but nine times out of ten it’s the coils on the electric that have warped or bent with time and use and that ruins the pan.   Most of the newer pots and pans with heat conduction rarely need to go over medium heat.  I still keep one cast iron monster for outdoor or on the grill cooking.


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