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Episode 422 - Pot Luck
Pots and Pans
Get the gear...
In thinking about pot luck, I figure it is not luck when you are looking to purchase your first set of pots and pans; rather, it is about going to an expert, like Sandra Bowring from William Ashley Limited.

The first thing Sandra likes her clients to tell her is what kind of cooking they do. Do they like to do a lot of soups, pastas, or sautéing? Some starter sets will include all three of those pots. But once you become more of an expert in the field of cooking, you will probably want to add pieces that are specific for a certain dish or recipe.

While two similar pots can appear to be pretty much the same, according to Sandra, they are often used for very different, specific purposes. It is great to be able to go to a store and learn about the different options from an expert. In this way, you will begin to discover your own favourites, such as the Italian belly pot for hearty stews and sauces.

Heat conduction is also an important feature of pots and pans. According to Sandra, certain pots, such as a contemporary design from Finland, consist of aluminum, which is sandwiched between two sheets of stainless steel. The heat conduction, therefore, happens not only in the bottom of the pot, but also up the sides. Thus the heat distribution is wonderful, which ensures that everything is cooking at the same temperature. Often these pots are part of a line, so you can slowly purchase new pieces, as you need them.

A favourite line of Sandra's and mine is an industrial line made of anodized aluminum, which is 30% stronger than stainless steel. This company makes a great mixture of different kinds of pots: a paella pan; fish poachers and French roasting pans. Also, there are various sized omelet pans with non-stick surfaces and stay-cool handles. There is a lifetime warranty on this line of product. If I was a chef in a hotel or restaurant, I would most likely be using something like this. It is often a good idea to go with what the experts are using.

If space is a concern, Sandra's advice is to purchase a stack of French-made nesting pots. Cleverly designed, every pot you could ever need "nests" together, one on top of the other: a frying pan; a saucepan; a steamer; a double boiler, etcetera. With the same-sized rims, there is only one lid, but you can purchase extra lids depending on how many you need and how much cooking you think you will be doing.

Whether it is the set that you create yourself, specialty design pots, professional pots and pans or the kind that you can fit into the tiny corner in your kitchen, I wish you pot luck as you purchase your first set.

Special Thanks - Sandra Bowring, William Ashley Limited, 55 Bloor St. W., Toronto, ON (416) 964-2900 or www.williamashley.com