A trusted kitchen store for more than 30 years, Kitchen Conservatory is St. Louis’ premier spot for kitchen tools and cooking classes. Locally owned, the store has more than 6,000 products available.
SLHL: If I am looking for new pots and pans, what are my options? (nonstick, cast iron, copper, etc.)
Anne: Since some electric cooktops require certain kinds of cookware, find out what pots you can safely use on your stove. Gas cooktops can use any cookware: aluminum; copper; stainless; cast iron; enameled cast iron; carbon steel, and nonstick.
SLHL: What are the advantages and disadvantages to each option?
Anne: The best cookware is made from an aluminum core clad in stainless. Aluminum conducts heat beautifully, and the stainless interior does not react to food and is super-easy to clean. Copper cooks great, but it is heavy and expensive. Cast iron is not expensive and it is easy to maintain, but it is very heavy. Every kitchen should have one good non-stick skillet for sticky foods. At Kitchen Conservatory, we use All-Clad stainless, Le Creuset enamel cast iron, Lodge cast iron and Swiss Diamond nonstick.
SLHL: Should I buy them as a set or individually?
Anne: Companies put together sets that sound great – 10-piece set! – but sets usually include pots that are never used. Buy pans in the size that you will use on a regular basis, and avoid wasting money on sets.
SLHL: What pieces would you recommend for the average weeknight family cook?
Anne: A 12-inch and 8-inch stainless or nonstick fry pan, a 4-quart and 2-quart stainless saucepan, and an 8-quart stainless or enamel cast-iron stock pot.
SLHL: What would the culinary connoisseur appreciate most?
Anne: Pans for special occasions: Asian carbon steel wok; Moroccan ceramic tagine; Spanish carbon steel paella; French enamel cast-iron Dutch oven; large aluminum roasting pan, and carbon steel crepe pan.
SLHL: Do you need to use a different type of cookware for gas cooktop, electric and induction?
Anne: Most definitely. Any pot can be used on a gas cooktop, but electric cooktops only heat where the pan is in direct contact with the surface. I recommend pots with flat spun-disk bottoms because they are less likely to warp. Cast iron cannot be used on glass tops. Induction cooktops require pans that are magnetic, such as cast iron or stainless. Aluminum pans will not heat on an induction stove.
SLHL: What is one item people don’t typically buy, but you find necessary to have?
Anne: I love my pressure cooker and use it several times each week. Dinner is ready in one-quarter the time.
SLHL: Can you give some cleaning tips to make your pots and pans last longer?
Anne: All quality pots can be cleaned, no matter how badly abused. Use a stainless scrubbie with a paste of stainless cleanser for cleaning stainless and aluminum pots. Enamel and copper cleansers are available. Cast iron and carbon steel pans are designed to be seasoned. Clean off any rust or particles, but don’t soap those pans – just re-oil and they are ready to use!