I’ve had a Calphalon hard-anodized 12″ sauté pan for some years now, and it’s served me fairly well. It came with a clear tempered glass lid which I’ve used on a few occasions (to my surprise), and the pan heated food evenly enough, I guess. I’ve never worked with high-end kitchen equipment so I suppose I can’t really say. I got it as a gift from my parents, and it was one of the nicer pieces of kitchenware kit I’ve owned. That, and the J. A. Henckels bazillion-piece knifeware set I bought a decade ago – a mistake, actually; nice knives, but I’ve found that I only need a Chef’s knife and a paring knife. At least the knife block has horizontal slots. But I digress.
The non-stick qualities of “non-stick” cookware always leave me thinking there’s much room for technological improvement in this area. Let’s start with this: “Non-Stick” is aspirational, not literal, in that it does not mean nothing will stick. When I caramelize onions or fry up some cubed animal meat I can guarantee there will be sticking and lots of it. Besides that you can’t heat it much above 400°F without ruining it, you can’t scrub it with anything aggressive, be it chemicals, tools, or even intent. Even with care the surface will erode, which is what started to happen to my Calphalon pan.
I sent it back to the manufacturer for warranty repair, and, to their credit, I just got an email from their Customer Service department which says they’re going to ship a replacement within a month Sure, this whole process is taking two months from start to finish, but I really didn’t expect them to honor the warranty. I thought they’d deny it on the grounds that I got it too hot or abused it in some other way. I thought I took pretty good care of it, and apparently Calphalon agrees.
In the meantime I’d already bought a replacement: the WearEver 12″ Stainless Steel Sauté Pan A8340765 (2100065552). I thought about getting cast iron but I didn’t want to mess with seasoning it, as seems to be a thing with them. I’ve never quite understood how you’re supposed to clean it and keep it seasoned, since cleaning removes the seasoning. Also I surely didn’t want to have to use a mitt every time I had to grab the hot handle (what a PITA). What I liked about this WearEver pan is that the handle is reasonably insulated, it should stand up to some harsh cooking and cleaning, and it’s a nice bright! shiny! silver. Also, I have an aluminum WearEver colander which was my grandmother’s, and after her years of use, and my years of use, I’ve found it to be sturdy and longlasting. It has outstanding performance characteristics (i.e., lightweight, keeps the food in, lets the water out, doesn’t melt or break, which is pretty much all I expect from a colander). Based on my experience with that colander I was favorably disposed towards their product line, so they got my business.
After I got it I gave it it’s first job: a pound of bacon. Yay, Bacon! A treat for me, too since bacon has doubled in price since the financial crash of ’08. Well, as expected this Wearever pan surely isn’t non-stick, but between the sheen of fat on the cook surface and a pair of chopsticks I was able to manage, in that it did stick but not like it was glued. It just needed some persuasion. I can do that. I also got a metal spatula to supplement the trusty plastic one I’ve been using forever, so that should help matters along.
Cleanup was only a little more problematical but I have an ample supply of Bar Keepers Friend which did the job just fine after a soak in hot water. Oh, and as a bonus, the lid from the old Calphalon seems to fit adequately well, so there’s that.