Thursday, August 7, 2014

Calphlon versus Tfal

High end pots and pans cost a lot of money but might not work as well as more pedestrian gear.  This inexpensive Tfal set works better than a Calphalon set costing ten times as much!

When Mark worked at Williams Sonoma, the "must have" cookware set at the time was Calphalon.  It sounds all high-tech, but what it really is, is just aluminum cookware, like the stuff used in restaurants, only with a dark-grey anodized coating.  It was staggeringly expensive, too - several hundred dollars for a basic set.  But if you got the matching pot rack to hang from the ceiling, everyone would know what a "serious cook" you were, in your "gourmet kitchen" what with the Calphalon pot rack hung with an array of rarely used Calphalon pots.

Status again - rearing its ugly head.

Recall that Julia Child had her pots and pans tacked up on pegboard in her kitchen.  Granted, she had some nice French pots and pans in her kitchen.  And there's nothing wrong with Le Cruset, of course.  But does the average person need to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on gourmet kitchen accessories (not to mention the professional grade stoves, etc.)? 

I think not.

Recently, we were rehabbing the condo and we furnished it cheaply with stuff from IKEA.  We then sold the furniture after living there a month, for about what we paid for it.    That's about what IKEA is good for.   While at the wholesale club, we bought a Tfal cookware set for the astounding price of $69.99.   We have since moved most of it to our camper, along with a Lodge cast-iron "spider" (a Maine term for a cast iron frying pan, which is needed for certain things).   The Lodge spider was pretty cheap, too - $14 at Wal-Mart.  Once seasoned, they are perfect for making egg pancake.

What was amazing is that the Tfal stuff, which cost about 1/10th what the Calphalon set did, works a lot better.   Raw aluminum cookware is fine and all, but teflon does have its advantages.  The Tfal was easier to cook with, and cleaned up a lot easier.  Oh, and the plastic coated handles resulted in less burns.

Would I throw away the Calphalon at  this point?  Well, I might sell a few pieces at a garage sale.  I never much liked it myself, as it seems to get food stuck onto it more easily, and thus is far harder to clean.  And of course the high price is really the clincher.

Sometimes less is  more.  Sometimes it is better to be a plebe and live the Wal-Mart lifestyle.   High-end gear isn't always better, just more expensive.   Built-in refrigerators and "Professional Grade" stoves cost five times as much as what you can buy at the Lumberteria.   The "Sub-Zero" refrigerator my neighbors bought needed service almost every month, it seemed.  And the Wolfe range another friend bought, would bake them out of the kitchen, due to its lack of insulation and incredible heat.   And yea, both friends spent most of their kitchen time using the microwave to re-heat restaurant entrees or thaw frozen meals.

Once again, however, it takes 20 years to see the light.   Less is often more.  Consumer-grade is usually more than adequate.  Going high-end costs five to ten times as much and doesn't result in five to ten times as better an experience.  Often the experience is worse, as esoteric high-end equipment is fussy, needs constant maintenance and constant repair - and was designed for extreme duty conditions that you will never see.

Just buy consumer grade, put the balance in your 401(k) and don't worry if your friends snicker at your "lame" non-gourmet kitchen.  The real proof is in what is made in the kitchen, not what the kitchen is made of.

Ron White said it best.  There are features a Dodge Van has, that a Mercedes Benz does not!