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December 2008 - Buyer Tips: The Well-Appointed Kitchen

Buyer Tips:  The Well-Appointed Kitchen
By Lynn Clarke, CEO of MetroKitchen.com

As cooking becomes a more popular hobby and a frequent topic at holiday parties, the two questions I’m most commonly asked, especially by men,  are “Who makes the best knife?” and “What do I really need for a gourmet kitchen?”

Cocktail chatter aside, the choices are confusing and endless.   A multitude of cookware and knives from “celebrity” chefs now compete with brands used by pros for 40 or more years.    Here are my suggestions for making sure you have the best cookware, knives and other kitchen essentials that an entire family can enjoy using, and most importantly, will enjoy the results!

Cookware and knives are the most important basics in outfitting a great kitchen. Concentrate on these tools and you’ll have 95% of what you need.  

Let’s begin with cookware.  

There are two questions can lead you to the right cookware decision:

  1. What type of stove or hobb do you have?
    a. Commercial-rated for home, such as Wolf, Viking
    b. Commercial-rated
    c. Traditional home brand, such as General Electric or Kitchen Aid

    d. Induction
  2. Who cleans up after you’ve “created” in the kitchen?   In other words, do you:
    a.  Wash cookware by hand
    b.  Use a dishwasher

If you have a commercial-style stove top, it’s imperative you select cookware which can handle the power of the Wolf or Viking or similar brand cooktop. If you have a traditional home brand stove, my recommendations will work for you as well. A cook top heating trend new to the U.S. is induction. (more on this later). My recommendations cover induction as well.

These three recommended brands are top quality, look great and come with lifetime warranties, a rare plus.  They are All-Clad Stainless cookware, Viking brushed stainless cookware and  Culinary Institute of America Masters Collection cookware.  All three brands are dishwasher safe, so they cover your answer to question 2.

Here’s a comparison chart so you can quickly see the differences:

 
 
All-Clad
 
Viking
 
Culinary Institute of America
 
 
Stainless
 
Brushed Stainless
 
Masters Collection
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Exterior finish/appearance
 
Stainless, mirror-like finish
 
Stainless, brushed so wear/tear shows less
 
Stainless, mirror-like finish
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Exterior materials
 
Magnetic stainless steel
 
Magnetic stainless steel
 
Magnetic stainless steel
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cooking surface
 
18/10 stainless steel, non -reactive to food
 
18/10 stainless steel, non -reactive to food
 
18/10 stainless steel, non -reactive to food
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Internal construction
 
3 layers of metal, including 2 layers of high performance stainless steel, made specifically for All-Clad PLUS a third "core" layer of aluminum for quick heating
 
7 layers of metal, including stainless, aluminum and special alloys
 
7 layers of metal, including stainless, aluminum and 1 layer of copper
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fully clad
 
YES.   All 3 layers of metals extend from the bottom to the top edges of the pan for optimal heating control and consistency
 
YES.   All layers of metals extend from the bottom to the top edges of the pan for optimal heating control and consistency
 
YES.   All layers of metals extend from the bottom to the top edges of the pan for optimal heating control and consistency
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Induction compatible
 
NOT 100% - if fully clad YES, but some specialty items are not fully-clad
 
YES
 
YES
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dishwasher safe
 
YES
 
YES
 
YES
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Manufactured in
 
US
 
Belgium
 
China
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
10 piece set price
 
$676.95
 
$1,049.95
 
$499.95
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Oven safe temperature
 
up to 500 F
 
up to 700 F
 
up to 500 F

 

 

Three other cookware essentials

In addition to a basic cookware set, I strongly recommend three other products.
First, a very good non-stick sauté pan, made by ScanPan from Denmark.  Its best features are that you can use metal utensils on it without being concerned about flaking and it can also go into the dishwasher.  It is perfect for eggs

Second, every kitchen should also have at least one cast iron pot - for slow-cook foods such as chilis, soups and large roasts.   I recommend an 8 quart Staub enameled cast iron coquette sometimes called a Dutch oven.    This quality cast iron is made in France and is superb, in both design and performance.  Staub comes in a variety of rich colors with a European flair, though basic black and grey are equally beautiful and, most important, very functional.  

My third and final cookware recommendation is, at a minimum, one copper pot made by Mauviel of France.    A copper pot is ideal for melting chocolate, sugar and butter because it heats up quickly and cools down equally as quickly.  This is critical for temperature- foods such as chocolate.  Even if baking is not often on your personal cooking menus, one great copper pot is essential for a complete gourmet kitchen.  Mauviel, a 4th generation family-owned business is the standard for French chefs.   Copper’s other advantage is its looks.   A kitchen fully outfitted with copper is truly spectacular.   But, we will tell you more about the requirements for a full copper kitchen in a future issue.  For now, we wanted to give you a few basics.

Let’s talk Knives

The key question that will lead you to the right decision on knives for your gourmet kitchen is:
What do you most frequently cook?
a. Meat
b. Fish/Chicken
c. Veggies

If your diet has significantly more meat than fish or poultry, German-made Wusthof knives are the best choice.   If you tend to cook more fish and vegetables, then a Shun brand, Japanese-made knife set is the proper choice.    Why?   Just think about the typical Germans and Japanese diets and it’s easy to see why what you eat indicates the type of knife you should purchase.   

If your answer was “a,”  I recommend a basic German set, with steak knives plus 2 Japanese knives-- a Santoku for vegetables and fish and a paring knife.    The basic German set would contain:
• 3" Birds Beak Peeler
• 3-1/2" Paring Knife
• 4-1/2" Utility Knife
• 4-1/2" Steak Knife (6)
• 5" Sausage Knife
• 5" Boning Knife
• 7" Santoku Knife HG
• 8" Carving Knife
• 8" Cook's Knife
• 8" Bread Knife
• 9" Sharpening Steel
• Kitchen Shears
• 17-Slot Oak Block

If your answer was “b or c,” my recommendation is a Japanese set plus a set of German steak knives, and three all-purpose German knives.
• 2-1/2" Bird's Beak Knife
• 3-1/2" Paring Knife
• 4" Alton's Angle Parer
• Six - 5" Steak Knives
• 6" Utility Knife
• 6" Alton's Angle Utility
• 6" Boning Knife
• 6" Chef's Knife
• 6-1/2" Carving Fork
• 7" Santoku Hollow Edge
• 7-3/4" Chinese Cleaver
• 8" Chef's Knife
• 9" Bread Knife
• 9" Carving Knife
• 10" Chef's Knife
• Sharpening Steel
• Kitchen Shears
• 22 Slot Bamboo Block

I also suggest at least one Kyocera ceramic blade knife, primarily for chopping and slicing lettuce and fruits.  Metal can discolor these foods and many people are becoming more concerned about using metal with fruits and vegetables.  

The last knife decision is on handles.   I view this as primarily an esthetic decision – which style goes best with your kitchen?

 

 

 

About MetroKitchen.com.  Metrokitchen.com is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year.   It's as old as Google!  It was the first website in the world to sell only the top brands of cookware, knives and small kitchen appliances.   In fact, the premier cookware line, All-Clad, selected MetroKitchen.com to be its first on-line retailer.   The Culinary Institute of America also chose MetroKitchen as its exclusive on-line retailer when it introduced its full line of master chef-designed cooking essentials.

MetroKitchen quickly ships to you.  Since it stock 98% of the brands it sells, it can ships within 24 business hours or less, so your Christmas gifts can be on time!   MetroKitchen's customer service team is ready with friendly, expert service on the phone at 888-892-9911 or  at  cs@metrokitchen.   Your questions about cookware, knives and "kitchen stuff" can be answered by MetroKitchen since every employee is trained by the manufacturers of the brands sold on the site. 

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