Sunday, December 4, 2005

Overpriced Cookware by Classica and Regal Ware

Classica Cookware Salesman

Until last Saturday, I have never heard of Classica cookware by Regal Ware.

Two weeks ago, my friends Matt and Kristin went to Chandler Balloon Festival. At the festival, one of the booths was advertising in-home cooking demonstrations in exchange for free hotel-stays. The cookware company would send a sales person to your home, cook your family dinner, and try to sell you their cookware. Regardless if you decide to purchase the cookware or not, the company would pay for 3-nights resort stay at a Mexico vacation spot.

Matt and Kristin were interested in the free hotel-stays, so they decide to give it a try. They have also invited their friends Teelk and Sammie from Lake Elsinore, Calfornia for the cooking demonstration.

Jay from Classica cookware shows up at Matt and Kristin’s house at 7pm. Apparently Jay is a Star Gate SG1 fan. When he was introduced to Teelk, he mentioned that there is a character on the show is also named “Teal’c”. Knowing Teelk would not like that comment, Matt told Jay that Teelk, who is Korean originally from Maryland, has heard that comment since the television show started.

After few minutes of small talk, Jay started the cooking demonstration. First, he mentioned that Americans are getting fatter because their cookware derives the food’s natural taste. In order to compensate for that, more fat and seasonings are added into the food to make them taste better.

According to Jay, Classica cookware is made by Regal Ware in Wisconsin, USA. The reason they are the superior cookware is because they are made from T-304 surgical grade stainless steel.

That is a lie.

T-304 is the most common type of stainless steel. For surgical use, only T-316 grade of stainless steel can be used.

To uniformly transfer the heat, the cookware is made from 5-layers of metals sandwiched together. Outer layers are T304 stainless steel, then 1145 aluminum, and the center layer is 3004 aluminum-alloy.

That was lie number 2.

Since thermal conductivies of T304 stainless steel (16.2 W/m-K), 1145 aluminum (230 W/m-K), and 3004 aluminum-alloy (163 W/m-K) are different, sandwich them together would not improve thermal conductivity, rather it will create thermal gradients.

While the food was cooking, Jay also demonstrated a vegetable/fruit peeler (similar to an apple peeler) and a hand-cranked cheese-grader type of tool called "food cutter".

Food Prepared by Classica Cookware

One and half hours have passed by, the dinner is now been served. It consisted of skinless chicken breast, potatoes, broccoli, onion, and carrots, the typical American meal without seasoning. The chicken was a bit dry, the rest of the food tasted like if they were from hospital’s cafeteria.

After dinner, Jay asked Matt to put in a promotional DVD about the company as well as the cookware, and he stayed in the kitchen to clean up.

Since everyone has been fed and Jay’s cookware has been cleaned, it is time for the sales pitch. Jay pulled out a movie poster sized pamphlet which featured every single piece of cookware from Classica. The whole set consisting of 55 pieces is called the “Galaxy Set”. When he revealed the price, it was so overpriced that it is truly laughable!

Classica’s 55-piece stainless steal cookware made by Regal Ware is $6,895, excluding tax!

Of course, a young couple without children would not need that many pots and pans. Classica also offers a set of 12-piece essential cookware for $1,599. If you don’t have any cash on hand, a 48-month payment option is available with 18% interest rate.

Jay then offered them to “think about it”, while he is preparing the last demonstration – the baking soda test.

The baking soda test is basically boiling some water with baking soda in it. Two of the pans belong to Matt and Kristin, and the third pan is from Classica. The baking soda water from Matt and Kristin’s pans was very bitter, and it was not bitter from Classica’s pan. Since Jay was in the kitchen alone, while the rest of people were in the living room, therefore there is no way to know if the test was fixed or not.

After three hours of demonstration, dinner, DVD, and baking soda water test, Matt and Kristin declined the sales pitch by telling Jay there is no good reason to justify Classica’s outrageous price.

Soon after Jay left, they found a 7-piece cookware by Regal Ware (the same manufacturer of Classica cookware) on for $90, and the vegetable peeler is only $24.99.

Update 1: Teelk has emailed me with the following:

To be fair, Jay [salesman] was a good guy. We had nothing against Jay personally, but the price was just laughable.

At one moment he did almost lost his cool with "How much did you expect this would cost? Have you been to Dillard's lately?!" when Kristin told him there is no logical reason to justify the $7,000 price tag.

Jay took the rejection pretty well.

He even offered to recruit us to become “Classica Representatives”. By then, we realized this could be another pyramid-scheme type of scam.

Update 2: Thermal Resistance Theory

One other claim Classica has on their website is that their cookware will decrease energy usage. Also, some readers have commented that cookware with layered construction does improve uniform surface heating.

Since I personally do not own any cookware that is constructed in such way, I can only rely to a textbook called “Heat Transfer, A Practical Approach” by Yunus A. Cengel, ISBN 0-07-011505-2.

Steady one-dimensional conduction heat transfer is simplified to Thermal Resistance Concept (pg. 131):

Q = (T1-T2)/Rtotal;

R = L/kA

For this calculation, a positive Q value is the energy used to increase maintain a set temperature; T1 and T2 are the temperatures at inner and outer surfaces of the cookware, R is the cookware’s thermal resistivity, or conduction resistance, L is the cookware’s thickness, k is thermal conductivity, and A is the cookware heating surface area.

Assume we have two pans; both are 12” (30.48 cm) in diameter and 5 mm thick. One is made from the 5-layer construction described via Classica cookware’s website, with each layer 1 mm thick, and the other is a plain T304 stainless steel.

Let T1-T2 equal 10 C. In other words, we are looking for how much energy is needed to increase maintain 10 C in the pan.

From my own calculation, approximately 2,400 W of energy is needed to cause an increase of maintain 10 C in the plain stainless steel pan. Close to 5,300 W of energy is needed to achieve the same result in the 5-layer pan by Classica cookware.

Therefore, to maintain same amount of temperature increase, Classica’s cookware requires more than double the energy than an ordinary stainless steel pan.

Where is the energy saving?


  1. <...snip...>
    ..., the rest of the food tasted like if they were from hospital’s cafeteria.

    That's where the surgical steel came in....


  2. heh, heres a clip you can use for that post

  3. Be careful with those cooking demonstrations. I went to one and didn't eat the chicken because they used the same cutting board to cut the raw chicken and fresh chicken. I don't minding if my wife infects me with salmonella, because at least that food tastes good.

  4. Time shares make lots of sense to people that are bad at math and don't know about amortization. That's why my sister bought two of them.

  5. I'm curious about Jay's general demeanour throughout. Was he friendly? How did he take the rejection? Did he seem slimy or just a guy doing a pitch? Was he good at what he was doing (apart from the company-provided lies)?

  6. To be honest, Jay was a good guy. We had nothing against Jay personally, but the price was just laughable.

    At one moment he did almost lost his cool with "how much did you expect this would cost? have you been to Dillard's lately?!" when Kristin told him there is no logical reason to justify's $7,000 price tag.

  7. Not to mention that all the regal ware classica stuff looks hideous. If I'm going to spend $7000 on pots and pans (which I'm not) they better at least look like $7000

  8. This is the reason why Classica cookware never posted any prices on their website, instead they would send a "Classica representatives come into your home and prepare for you and your friends a heart-healthy, delicious meal at no charge."

    I am curious how many people actually got suckered into buying these overpriced cookware.

  9. In fairness, sandwiching a conductive metal inside the pots does improve thermal conductivity in the lateral direction. That is to say, it prevents hot spots from forming in the bottom of the pan, by dispersing heat across the surface of the pot. (There will of course be thermal gradients in the direction through the material of the pot, but that doesn't matter so much for uniform cooking).

    We went to some of those demos. Decided to get all-clad instead, which has a nice uniform heat and a lifetime guarantee. My favorite is still the wagoner cast-iron skillet, though.

    The RegalWare waterless cookware had a nice gimmick (the lids make an airtight seal, so it's easy to steam stuff using the moisture in the food itself) but it just didn't seem to be worth the insane price tag.

  10. this is like the cutco demonstrations, who use guilt and your family friends' pity to get them to buy shit.
    i mean the knives are pretty good, but enough to justify the price premium?
    they taught us that tactic too, to start off with a astronomical priced set (1 or 2% actually go for them, i think), then step down little by little until they cave and buy SOMETHING.

  11. brilliant... props to your friends for using common sense and skepticism.

    where's your Atom feed?

  12. Actually, it's true that good pots and pans (like the ones from All-Clad, which have an excellent reputation) are often made of a sandwich of aluminum and stainless steel, in order to improve thermal conductivity. That part is not a lie.

    The reason this works is that the aluminum (with higher thermal conductivity) provides most of the mass and thickness of the pan, and the stainless steel (with miserably low thermal conductivity) can be reduced to a very thin shell that is easily penetrated by heat.

    It is true that you can still get thermal gradients. It is claimed, for example, that if the aluminum inside your clad pan doesn't extend up the sides, you can easily get a big temperature difference between the bottom and the sides. That's why truly expensive clad pans, like the All-Clads, have aluminum all the way up the sides as well as inside the bottom.

    Of course, none of this changes the fact that this cooking demo is a total and utter ripoff. You can get a 5-pan set of All-Clad pans for $540 from Amazon. Those pans are great (I lust after them) and five is probably all the stainless-steel pans you'll ever need, except for maybe a roasting pan. Nobody needs 55 pans, unless they're running a restaurant.

    For reasonable pot and pan facts, I recommend Alton Brown's book and/or Cook's Illustrated...

  13. Lordy!

    For $7000, you could buy one of everything Calphalon makes, and then have money left for a really nice vacation.

  14. These are the same guys who advertise in wedding related events and try to rip off engaged couples.

    My wife and I went to one of these demos as we were offered $500 gifts. We got a coupon and were directed to a website that was selling a calculator watch for $250.00 + $75 shipping and handling (that we had to pay out of pocket).

    These guys use Regal cookware, Royal Prestige and other names and are a bunch of frauds.

    Ask your friend to be careful. If you do a google search "regal cookware fraud", you can find more info like here

  15. Others have pointed out that the stainless/aluminum sandwich really is good for cooking over just stainless, so I won't belabor that point. I can't imagine the need for the five-layer construction, unless it's to try to reduce the mismatch in thermal expansion between the aluminum and stainless steel. Copper is also commonly used for this purpose; my Cuisinart monster saute pan uses a stainless/copper/stainless construction.

    The composition of the side of the pan is really unimportant. That's not a cooking surface, so thermal conductivity through it is not relevant. If anything, better thermal conductivity there would lead to more heat loss, and poorer cooking.

    The difference between 304 and 316 stainless is really negligible, for most applications. The corrosion resistance of 316 is slightly better, but this is cooking we're talking about, not spacecraft design.

  16. Something I don't understand. The guy lied about the pans being made of surgical steel. Let's assume this is not a lie. My question is: SO WHAT?
    Why does this sort of thing impress people. In exactly what way is cooking food the same as surgery, and why would material that is optimized for one task be optimized for the other task?

    And yet we see this sort of nonsense all the time. We're supposed to be impressed that a computer case is made out of the same material used to build submarines, or that chemicals plants use to protect themselves from being eaten by insects are in shampoo. Just how moronic is the average person?

  17. Years ago, my husband and I sat through a two-hour in-home demonstration of an $800 vacuum cleaner. We were promised a "3-day Mexico vacation" in return. "Amazingly," at the end of the presentation, after we declined to purchase the overpriced vac, the salesman claimed he had "just run out" of the vacation certificates. Aw, gee whiz! Moral of the story: get the certificate up front!

    As to the poster who referenced Cutco knives: this is not a scam. Cutco has been in business since at least the 1950s. If you have priced a high-quality knife set recently, you know that they can run over $1000. My Cutco starter set cost me roughly $600, and I love it. My mother recently broke her 50-year-old Cutco paring knife while using it to pry the lid off a container, and they replaced it immediately with no questions asked. Plus, Cutco salespeople (usually students) don't promise gimmicky rewards for allowing them to demo the product.

  18. I'm 55 years old, and they have been selling Regal Ware with that approach as long as I can remember!

    I find that a $ 70 set of stainless steel Revere Ware is just as good if not better.
    That's what I use.

  19. As to the poster who referenced Cutco knives: this is not a scam. Cutco has been in business since at least the 1950s. If you have priced a high-quality knife set recently, you know that they can run over $1000. My Cutco starter set cost me roughly $600, and I love it.

    You can spend over $1000 on a knife set, but almost no one needs to. I use a Forschner chef's knife (mine is twenty years old, holds an edge like you wouldn't believe, and is perfectly balanced), and you can get one of those for $30-60. All you really need beside's a good chef's knife is a serrated knife (I like the offset kind) and a couple paring knives. A 7-8" utility knife is good to have too, as is a boning knife. You can assemble all of the above for $100-200.

    To spend $600 on Cutco knives is foolish. They are stamped, not forged. Straight edges are more useful and versatile than serrated edges. You can't sharpen a micro-serrated blade yourself. And they're not carbon steel.

    And how is it relevant how long they've been in business? Amway's been around forever. That doesn't make their business model any more ethical.

  20. When you sandwich aluminum between layers of stainless, you allow heat to travel efficiently in the aluminum, while retaining the superior surface cleanliness and hardness of stainless. An all stainless pan has poor heat conductivity and will support thermal gradients much better than one with an aluminum core, which transmits heat around much more uniformly.

    Also, there is a little misunderstanding about 'surgical' stainless. 316 is used for food service and miscellaneous medical apparatus, but none of the 300 series stainless steels are used for cutting edges; things like scalpels are made of 400 series stainless,(like 440C) which is heat treatable and hardenable.

  21. Allclad is great and you can buy the pots one at a time (we give'em to each other as christmas presents).

    There is no such thing as "Surgical Stainless Steel" beyond the fact that surgical tools are made of stainless, the important stuff is in the heat treatment and passivation, not the alloy.

    Cutco is mass produced stainless steel crap, a $600 cutco set is like a $30000 Yugo, just 'cause they charge a lot dosen't make it good. Stamped blades, flammable plastic handles, soft stainless steel - eecch, not in my kitchen. (I have one Stainless "French Chef" Chefs knife which cost around $100, not bad for stainless, A couple of Sushi knives from Japan (hundreds of dollars new, I got'em for $10 each at a flea market from a vendor who dosen't like to research) the rest I made myself from 1095 (Standard high carbon) steel. The 1095 will tarnish if you don't take care of it but I heat treat them hard (about 60 rockwell) they are hell for sharp and hold an edge for a long time.
    Cutco. Don't get me started on cutco. Sigh.

  22. In answer to the person who wondered
    how many $7,000 cookware sets they sell,
    I'm betting it's quite a lot.

    It's a classic psychological trick
    used by salesmen, called the
    reciprocity principle. Give someone a small
    token (the meal) and they feel indebted
    and will irrationally "give" something
    back, even if that is $7,000 for a load
    of overpriced junk.


  23. About 20 years ago I was recruited through a newspaper ad to sell these pots. I don't remember what the brand name was, but we were all brought to a motel for a 3 day training. Most of us were college students or recent high school grads.

    The whole thing was very rah-rah. The "owner" or whatever drove up in a brand new corvette, and had a slick oil hairdo. There was a lot of drinking, a lot of money thrown around by the company.

    We were told to target low-middle income classmates (women) that did not attend college. We were supposed to go through our high school class lists and think of women specifically that might like to "invest" in cookware that will last them a lifetime and they can take with them into their marriage, etc.

    There was a whole prepared presentation that we had to follow word for word- the whole cooking routine, the benefits, the 5 layer, etc. etc. (it hasn't changed in 20 years?). The financing was a BIG part of it, that was the hook. we had all sorts of lines to overcome the objections.

    I did one presentation and bailed. It wasn't for me. Reading this post brought back the memories though....

  24. Narc said
    "The composition of the side of the pan is really unimportant. That's not a cooking surface, so thermal conductivity through it is not relevant. If anything, better thermal conductivity there would lead to more heat loss, and poorer cooking."

    Narc has obviously never cooked custard, scrambled egg or anything similar in a saucepan. The food bakes onto the edge of the saucepan because the sides are *hot*.

    Heat is conducted through the metal (just touch the rim of an all metal saucepan if you don't believe me) and while the temperature of, say, boiling water won't/can't get over 100C (at standard pressure), the sides of a saucepan can get *much* hotter, so when you swirl water in a metal saucepan you'll hear it flash to steam as it hits the sides above the standard water level (where the metal is over 100C).
    Since heat transfer is proportional to the temperature difference, having hotter sided saucepans means more heat being transferred to the liquid within (as there is more surface area than just the base)

  25. So many suckers, so little time...
    If just 100 sets of these are sold,
    Regal grosses $700,000. So whats the profit? About 90% of the purchase price on each set.
    Yes, that's right, each 54 piece set is really only worth about $700, the rest is pure gravy.
    THAT is why they don't sell in stores. THAT is why the salesman comes to your house, THAT is why you get the free three day hotel vacation in Florida.
    Like I said, so many suckers, so little time...

  26. You're confusing heat capacity with rates of heat transfer. Aluminum has a lower unit volume heat capacity than steel (2440.8 KJ/m^3/kg for Al, 3485.4 for steel), so a given volume of steel will take more energy to heat up than the same volume of aluminum. Also, watts == power == energy/time (1 W = 1 J/s).

    The numbers you calculated tell you what the energy input needs to be in order to maintain a 10 deg.C temperature difference between the two surfaces of the pan. The clad pan requires more than twice the energy input to maintain that thermal gradient because it's a lot better at delivering the heat to the food. Or, the steel pan presents a higher resistance to the flow of heat, so it doesn't require as much energy input to maintain the gradient. Which is not what you want.

    Not that this justifies $7K for a set of cookware.

  27. Cutco knives are over-priced stamped sheet-metal crap. Hey - buy a $9.95 stamped, unhone-able blade for $100. Whadda bargain. A $20 Forschner stamped chef's knife will perform better and you get to keep eighty bucks.

    I have a set of Henckles' forged knives - full tang, riveted handles, full bolster, taper grind. Got it on sale a number of years ago for $150. 8" chef's, 6" utilty, serrated bread knife, 4" paring knife, and a boning knife (which is mostly useless) with block and steel. Still razor sharp.

    The in-laws bought a set of Cutcos from my sister-in-law about eight years ago, and I can saw on my wrist for an hour with them and not draw blood.

    A set of chefs/santoku, utility, paring, bread, and shears with block and steel shouldn't run you more than $300 - real forged carbon steel blades. If you pay more than that, you're a sucker.

  28. In the spirit of the thread, I have opted to upload more clips dealing with this practice... They come from South Park which always has great comedic take on oddball issues like this

    South Park Episode 602 Clips

  29. Man, this sounds like Townecraft Cookware. Same spiel (including the baking soda test) and same high prices. But Townecraft only does their demos for couples -- no singles allowed. And the sales rep talks to each couple one-on-one. That way, you can't make excuses like "I'll have to talk to my wife first."

  30. Hilarious. Just this weekend I was subjected to one of those sales pitches by the West Bend company (a division or Regal) because a naive friend of mine was excited about the "free trip" and dragged me to it. The setup was that she had been entered in the "Southern Bridal Registry" (or something like that), so the prospective buyers were all engaged couples, except us. My friend is not engaged, nor was she ever (not that that mattered), and she wanted to me to go along.

    At my session, they pitched not only pots and pans, but china, flatware, and knives also, as part of a big package. The china, flatware, and knives seemed to be as suspect in terms of quality as the pots and pans.

    The pots and pans weren't the 7-layer metal sandwich advertised on the web site. No, my salesman touted a new 9-LAYER SYSTEM!! They had put in every metal in existence it seemed. Copper, stainless steel, surgical steel, carbon steel, different kinds of aluminum, even a layer of cast iron. It was ridiculous, in the same way that four blades on a men's razor is ridiculous.

    Also, there was a prospective groom who brought his mother along with his fiancee. She said she had owned a similar brand and swore up and down that it was the best thing that ever happened to her kitched, agreeing with everything our salesman was saying. She was so effusive that I'm fairly sure she was planted in the audience by the company.

    Finally, it was sad that the audience seemed to be composed of the type of people who could least afford to blow $2000-$3000 on a set of mediocre pots and pans, and beyond all the pseudo-science and lame salesmanship, that's the truly shady part.

  31. Make a list of the three restaurants you most frequently enjoy. Find out what cookware they use in their kitchens. It won't be any off the cookware mentioned here. Real commercial cookware (not all-clad) is cheap, ugly, and available at any restaurant equipment supply store in your area.

    The decision to buy All-Clad or Calphalon is equally stupid, just not to the same economic degree.

    The biggest limitation to good cooking is the knowledge and skill of the cook. No cookware makes a bad cook any better. Spend your money learning how to cook. $7,500 worth of cooking classes with $500 worth of equipment is sure to produce a better result with a motivated student than any purchase of equipment alone.

    Here's my advice for cookware. Buy a $60 four quart stainless-steel with aluminum core pressure cooker with modern spring valve. A good pressure cooker will beat the performance of any other pot of the same size, EVEN WHEN NOT PRESSURE COOKING. The heavy construction required for pressure cooking also provides uniform heat distribution. Pressure cooking dramatically reduces cooking times. Everything that can be done in 6+ hours in a slow cooker can be done in less than an hour in a pressure cooker. Rice takes 4 minutes. Mashed potatoes take 5 minutes, prepped by cubing or slicing. Stews take 25 minutes with cubed stew meat. Fagor brand pressure cookers are a good value that are easy to find. Stay away from ultra-cheap aluminum pressure cookers with weight valves (Presto). Kuhn-Rikon are the Swiss made top-line models.

    A $60 pressure cooker and a little research and practice using it will provide greater practical benefits to a typical family kitchen than any expensive cookware set. There's no other kind of pot that can cook rice or fresh mashed-potatoes from scratch in 5 minutes.

    It will save much more energy than any other kind of pot, although this won't add up to much in any significant savings since cooking energy rarely accounts for much family spending. It will keep the kitchen cooler, which is its own benefit in many kitchens with poor circulation/cooling or in hot climates. Tight fitting lids do NOT have the same benefits as a pressure lid. Steam WILL blow by the lid unless trapped under pressure.

    Pressure cooking is a major benefit in high-altitudes because it completely eliminates the increased cooking times normally needed. It's no cooincidence that pressure cookers are popular in the Swiss Alps.

    I don't sell cookware. I could never make a living selling high quality pressure cookers for $60 that will blow away any regular pots. That's why I'm posting my opinion here. I use my pressure cookers more than any other cookware I own. They save me countless hours. They are slow cookers without the slowness.

  32. hurrah for the pressure cooker plug! You are sooo right! I have had one for 10 years (the fagor brand) and it has saved me countless hours and made the most delicious and nutritious--nutrients don't get boiled or cooked away--meals.
    If I had room in my tiny kitchen, I would get another one.
    Regal, shmeegal.
    And what is with this falling for the 3 day vacation promises? What possible fun could those cheap things be anyway?

    Buy a pressure cooker. Cook well. Be happy and healthy!

  33. What?!? Is that true about pressure cookers - they cook rice in 4 minutes?

    Since they're heavier than a regular pot, don't they take longer to heat up?

    My mom used a pressure cooker when I was little, and my dad told me not to go near it because it might explode and destroy the house. I've been terrified ever since...

  34. When I started out in industrial sales 30 years ago a great many applicants for jobs with my company had been "cookware" salesmen. This described groups of individuals who descended on small midwestern towns with a truckload of "cookware" sets like this parked near the town. They would cover the town's homes and businesses in a blitzkrieg type of operation. They "bought" the "sets" themselves from their "manager" and whatever they got over that price was theirs. The cookware sets were in those days Korean or Chinese. So are these. This is simply a variation of that scam that was even then an old trick. I knew guys who traded cookware sets for drinks, sex, and meals when they either couldn't sell them ot were too tired to go on. My guess is that this salesman's commission on $7,000.00 with 24 monts at 18% is $5,000.00. I am serious about this number. I doubt that the cookware sets cost more than $200.00 for the salesman.

  35. The way multi-layered bottom works has nothing to do with the one-dimentional heat transfer, of course. Anyone who tried to cook pot stickers / gyoza / pelmeni without immersing them into oil (as called for by the traditional Russian way) cat tell you that pelmeni on the outide of the pan cook slower. This is why you rotate them with those in the center.

    Frankly, I have no idea why a 5-layer or 9-layer may be needed. It may help solve the problem with different expansion coefficient. The old good 3-layer copper sandwich is good enough for me.

    This is not to say that Classica is not a scam. Nobody cut their sandwich to see what is actually inside, or did they?

    Europeans have their own Classica, which is called Zepter, complete with the sales pyramid, and the 1810 stainless steel. I have to say, I was quite impressed with their wares, though they did not use any type of sandwich when I encountered them (ignoring how much they cost).

  36. I'll endorse pressure cookers as well, but when it comes to knives, I have to plug (from any number of good manufacturers) a large chinese meat cleaver as well. Heavier than than a chef's knife (which is indispensable, of course), they are terrific for dismantling large poultry, and I also find it preferable for finely chopping vegetables and herbs. After receiving one as a gift many years ago, I soon found myself using it far more often than I ever anticipated, and continue to do so today.

  37. I remember that once my mom talked about the time a cookware salesman had come to her home just after she was married and sold her some pots. She said, "I think I paid too much, but oh, he was nice."

    Then she mentioned which pots they were, still in continuous use in our kitchen over thirty years later. (It's now been forty years and she's still using them.) I told her that she probably DIDN'T pay too much.

    In her defense, though, they were nowhere near the price scale of the Regal Ware. She was talking overpriced as in 20-30% more than she might have paid, not 200-300%.

  38. As others have pointed out, "surgical stainless" conveys no information. Many grades not relevent to cookware are used for specific applications. Load-bearing implants are typically 17-4PH or a non-steel nickel alloy, others may be Nitronic 50, a 22-13-5 nitrogen hardened stainless. I've had a hoop of Nitronic 50 in my ear for over 20 years without irritation, whereas the previous 316 earring (safety wire to a QQ-W milspec) needed a touch of isopropyl every couple of months.

    By the way, a stainless blade in the above mentioned 440C or some of the modern bearing alloys will retain an edge at least as well as the best carbon steel.

  39. It's amazing what peple will buy when it's sold to them as a prestige good, whether it's the Regal pans, Cuto's unsharpenable- really, disposable- knives, or what have you.

    I've managed to cook dinners for 2 to 30 using a stockpot, a few Calphalon saucepans, a cast iron skillet, a couple of cassaroles and roasters, and three knives. I don't think I spent over $35 on any piece.

  40. There are many professional kitchens that use clad pans, even all-clad. Those companies have a utility line that is much cheaper - they just look like crap. Not to mention that commercial ranges and such are quite a bit different than home kitchens, they can get away with many things both because thier equipment is MUCH hotter and much of thier stuff is disposable (for instance, you will either see very high end knives that are VERY well taken care of and belong to the chef - no one else touches them - or very cheap that are replaced several times a year). They are not going to be used "in my favorite 3 resturaunts" mostly because my favorite three are cheap hole in the wall places that use cast iron. Nor are the very likely to be used at Outback or such - though they may. They *are*, however, used many times in top end resturaunts where the consideration isn't on price but totally on food quality (such as two and above star resturaunts).

    Many, if not most, resturaunt supply stores will happily sell you tri-ply (all the way up the sides too) for 40-50 or so dollars. They just are not shiny, in fact they are generally unfinished raw stainless which it is generous to call the look "industrial". They also stain something terrible - though that is just cosmetic.

    Some of how much gain you get from them is also based on your home equipment and what you are making. For people with electric range (such as me) you can tell a HUGE difference. When I had gas, not so much. VERY big difference on delicate things where a few degrees difference results in burned in the middle and raw on the edges (such as crepes). For simple browning of meat, not so much - in fact none at all. These pans really shine when you are trying to do "fancy" homemade stuff on less than ideal conditions, though they do make it somewhat easier in perfect conditions also.

    Having the clad go up the sides was *really* nice on a sauce pan, it was only useful on very specific food with the skillet (things like some apple desserts do better with the side transfering heat also).

    For most home kitchens, based on how much you gain, the all-clad are over priced. If you have everything else and have enough money they are a decent thing to purchase (well, assuming you cook a lot). There is a raeson for the money. Like most items that fall into that "luxury item" status - nice but not needed (and many people consider one "stupid" for purchasing them). I wouldn't give my skillet or sauce pan up for anything, though those are the only two peices I have.

    However, the pans in the parent blog post are obviously not something to purchase. Based on the amount of disinformation (more than just what was listed - things like the baking soda test, the "healthy" cooking from stainless, etc) I even suspect that thier clad process is less than stellar (improper bonded layers can split when the pan gets hot).

    As for the cutco knives - way over priced. While they are quite a bit better than most that you purchase they are fairly cheaply manufactured. A Whustof Classic or Henkels "S" grade is a MUCH more durable knife and will take a much finer edge. To me Cutco occupy a niche that isn't worth it, they are close enough to the high dollar forged knifes that you might as well get them, or if you can't afford it get a cheaper brand and replace it every few years. Both will be cheaper for a good edge/knife in the long run. Though if you purchase one of the good forged knife it is imperative that you learn to properly take of it (steel it, keep it sharp when it needs it, proper edge geometry, no dishwasher, etc) otherwise you might as well purchase a cheaper one as you will ruin what makes the knife worth the money.

  41. A few years ago my wife and a friend took a cooking class. It was legitimate and they learned things but the chef also happened to sell a line of cookware and talked them into buying some pans. His claim was their unique design distributed heat so uniformly with no "hot spots" that food always cooked evenly. We have since discarded those pans and I don't remember the brand but I do recall that they were quite expensive and food stuck to them like cat hair to Duct tape. I pointed out to my wife when she brought them home that in our years of marriage not once had we thrown out any food because it was unevenly cooked nor had we ever noticed that to occur. The pans were a good example of "a solution searching for a problem". Every once in awhile I still remind her of it.

  42. Back to the pressure cooker...
    No they do not explode. Cheap ones can only if you are stupid and try to force the lid off and if you don't follow directions. Buy a good pot and they will make your meal making a joy.

    A heavy pot is a pot that cooks well and keeps the heat so you don't use that much energy.

    Pressure cookers make delicious and nutritious meals in minutes instead of hours. Think of the energy that saves...

  43. > I use a Forschner chef's knife (mine is twenty years old, holds an edge like you wouldn't believe, and is perfectly balanced)

    Can someone please explain to my why I can't buy a shaving razor (not a straight razor, a modern safety model, better yet, an electric) with that kind of steel in it?

    Why am I stuck with disposables which continually get dull?

    I find it hard to believe I can't just spend US$20 for a blade that is proof against the worst my hair can throw at it for 20 years.

    I mean, it's not like I'm using it to cut bone.

    I understand *why* the current razor business model exists -- I just don't see why someone, somewhere, doesn't compete by offering what I've suggested. I think there are lots of people who would be happy to have one of those things lying around in place of the use-5-days and toss models that cost something like US$1 each.

  44. Everyone seems to have been warned about the dangers of pressure cookers. After World War II, many military manufacturers tried to shift production to consumer goods. Most weren't successful. Many pressure cookers made by these manufacturers were indeed dangerous due to poor quality control, lack of product safety testing, and consumer ignorance about safe use of pressure cookers.

    It seems that true horror stories from those times have become the myths of today. Modern pressure cookers are not responsible for these problems, since multiple safety systems have been incorporated into current designs to effectively prevent problems.

    This is why you don't buy used pressure cookers, particularly the ones frequently found at garage sales, since they are likely missing the modern safety features.

    With a little due-diligence to understand the basics of pressure cooking, modern pressure cookers are safe. Cooking under pressure carries greater inherent risk and requires more care to avoid accidents due to negligence. But this risk can be managed to be completely safe.

    The benefits of pressure cooking are worth the little extra effort to learn how to do it safely.

  45. I have a set of Classic Cookware - the "basic family set", about 20 - 25 pieces..... I absolutely love it!

    I got it about 3 or 4 years ago, and since have gone on to buy extra pieces - single burner griddle, double burner griddle, the bakeware, extra large skillets, french skillets - I just can't get enough.

    I even bought the pieces my parents needed - and yes, if you want to you can buy JUST 1 piece at a time - so that my parents would finally stop using the nasty stuff they had.

    When our salesman did the baking soda test, I was a HUGE skeptic - like nobody's business..... so I watched him like a hawk. We had 1 teflon, 1 "Revere Ware" (made by Regal in the past, but totally different materials I guess), and even 1 porcelain (spelling?) pan.....

    Let me tell you - the salesman put in nothing but water and baking soda - all in the exact same amounts (I am a long time computer support engineer, and skeptic of all that I cannot see or prove!). All of ours were VERY bitter - even the RevereWare. The porcelain was the worst of all! Classica was not....

    As for their quality.... I love them... I have no problems w/stuff sticking... and the things I have burned (my fault for walking out of the room w/stuff set too high and then not coming back) has cleaned up so the look like new.

    I have since met people w/similar sets of many different brands from 10 - 50 years ago. They all agree it was always very expensive - but worth it.

    I wouldn't give up mine for the world - I would live in a cardboard box first!

  46. Here is another opinion to consider.....

    Just a thought....

  47. Regarding the baking soda test...

    Point #1: Baking soda water IS SUPPOSED TO TASTE BITTER. Put some baking soda in distilled water and taste it. It will be bitter. If it isn't bitter, there's something wrong with your sense of taste.

    Point #2: What's this test supposed to prove? That it'll somehow take the bitterness out of food? BS! BS!! BS!!!

    Point #3: I'd be willing to bet that most people targeted by these salesmen don't know enough about cooking to know the difference between baking powder and baking soda, nor how they work chemically.

    Point #4: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Arthur C. Clarke

    When confronted with an apparently magical demonstration, consider that a scientific explanation probably exists for it that is beyond your current level of knowledge and comprehension. -- Anonymous ME

    I would LOVE to see one of these cookware salesman arrive at a house to do a demonstration, only to get ambushed by a "surprise" tag team coven of Queer Eye Amway, Mary Kay, Tupperware, and Pampered Chef representatives. This would be a damn good pay per view event.

    Slam that cookware boy with the old-school multi-level cult tactics.

  48. Thin coating of vinegar or citric acid on the surface of the demo pan to neutralize the bicarbonate? Hehe.

  49. To the knife fiends out there, why not buy a couple of ceramic knives? they start sharp, stay sharp, and should last in excess of 7,000 years, no corrosion, no tarnish, no taint. better than surgical steel.
    And no, I don't make them or sell them, Kyocera's one manufacturer, google them. Steel was okay, until something better came.

  50. I second or third or whatever the suggestion of a pressure cooker. Very useful pot, quick to cook, holds in nutrients. I would disagree with the caution never to buy a used one at a tag sale, etc., though. Unless it's a very old one, they've been safe for a very long time. You're much more likely to find that it's either missing its pressure cap or that the gasket needs replacing, making it a poor bargain unless it's just about free. But if you get a Mirro or a Presto or other decent brand of recent vintage, it won't kill you. Just make sure it's in good condition. Look for a pressure relief plug (usually rubber on the newer ones) and some kind of interlock that prevents you from opening it under pressure. This is usually a little plug that pops up when the pressure rises, and locks the lid from turning.

    And don't forget the thrift stores. I just found a nearly new stainless steel Presto at the Salvation Army store for about 6 bucks, just in time to replace my wife's ancient aluminum one which needed a gasket and was developing a bit of a bulge at the bottom.

    Actually, if you're patient and you don't mind mismatched cookware, tag sales and thrift stores will eventually get you a superb collection of very classy cookware one piece at a time. It's amazing what people throw away or give away.

  51. Wow, what a lot of garbage! I bought a set of waterless stainless steel cookware at a trade show about 25 yrs ago and they have been excellent. I spent around a thousand bucks for the demo set. It is hard to burn things in them but if you do they will clean up to new condition. The waterless keeps in the flavour of the food-you are not throwing the nutrients down the sink. We have a large family and lots of friends so these pots have been used 2or 3 times a day at least and the only trouble I have had is with the handles. They only last about ten years but the company replaced them once and now I am looking for new handles again. As for Cutco, my daughter sold them for a while in university and didn't like the pressure to sell to family and friends so quit. But, they are great knives. You learn to treat them with respect cause if you touch one it will cut. I had Henkele and they don't hold a candle to cutco. Take it from some one who has been there and done that.

  52. My fiance' and I had Jack over to give us the sales pitch....I had gone to a wedding expo and got hooked by the free two night stay. Jack was a nice was his wife that came along for the ride. He did the dinner, got me thinking (since we are trying to eat healthier) and then he pulled out the price sheet. HOLY! My eyes almost popped out of their sockets. NOT worth it! We only need about 5-7 pots and pans anyway and most of the time we BBQ. Then he asked me to send him to my friends house..... made me feel like the sleezy salesman. He gave us the whole thing about teflon and how bad it is for you. I agree, however, I can by a 17 peice stainless steel set from Target for $99.00. Classica? Blah!

  53. $7000 dollars is a crazy price! Townecraft has wonderful cookware that will last you FOREVER and is quite cheaper. I never thought I would pay $1500 for cookware(pretty big set), but I would do it all over again. Knowing that me and my family are eating out of safe cookware is priceless. This stuff is wonderful!! It's waterless, greasless, and teflon-free(that stuff is gross). If you DO use teflon, THROW IT OUT! There are reports that say it MAY cause cancer/tumors. I don't feel it's worth the risk. Aluminium pans MAY cause alzheimer's. If you don't use Townecraft pans, the next best would probably be cast-iron. Yes, it's dirty, but it's safer than the other alternatives!

    Links to check out:

  54. i just went to a saladmaster demo (regal owns saladmaster) their cookware is stainless steel 316Ti and is an impressive demonstration. but it is way too expensive: $3500 for the "essential set"

    i have two questions, however, related to the "baking soda test"

    (i) baking soda water boiled in saladmaster 316Ti pan tasted like salt, i.e. normal.
    (ii) in a copper bottom pan, tasted like copper
    (iii) in a stainless steel 304 pan, tasted like metal,
    and (iv) in a non-stick pan tasted absolutely horrible.

    questions: #1) why? (i.e. are metals, etc. leeching into our foods everytime we cook in non-saladmaster pans)

    and #2) is this important healthwise or not?

  55. to Anonymous:

    "In exactly what way is cooking food the same as surgery, and why would material that is optimized for one task be optimized for the other task?"

    I think the rationale is that surgical steel would interact with the food less than ordinary steel. Whether this is true or false is irrelevant, but surgical instruments are supposed to do the least possible harm to the flesh they cut. So the analogy is that a pot made from surgical steel is to ordinary steel as scalpel to ordinary knife, and if you are as careful to your food as to your own body, then you need "scalpel" of the cookware.