Q: I'm looking to turn in an old set of cookware for new and am really out of the loop. Am looking for something along the line of high end consumer to professional. I've looked at Calphalon, Analon, Circulon, Kitchen-Aid and have some LeCreuset. Any recommendations on the above or other makes? Also does anyone know what the [other] CIA uses?
A: I have a few pieces of Calphalon - a 5 qt. round pot,, a 3-qt pot, and a 2 qt. pan (I love the 2-qt. pan and use it quite a lot as I'm usually cooking for two - perfect for 2 chicken breasts, 2 fish fillets, 2 small steaks). I've only had the Calphalon for a couple of years and am pretty impressed with it. I like that you don't have to baby the surface at all, it can all go into the oven, and it's pretty affordable when on special. Easy to clean, too. LeCreuset - I've had my 3-qt oval Dutch oven and 5-qt buffet for 8 or 9 years now, and of course they're great. The buffet is good for big batches of risotto, especially. Then there's my wedding set of copper-bottom Revere ware...I don't feel like I'm lacking anything in the cookware department. I haven't tried any of the other brands you've mentioned, but if I were to need any other pieces I would definitely buy Calphalon again because it has worked well for me. You cannot have all your cookware of the same brand. Even the highest quality brands differ, and what's good for one task is not good for another. Pan frying steaks? Gimme that cast iron. Reducing sauce? Falk copper please. Cooking pasta? RevereWare is fine. Tomato sauce? Circulon is great. Frying eggs? A Berndes nonstick is perfect. You get the idea - match the pan to the task.