replacement cookware saves the day

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A long time ago, my chemical engineer boyfriend scienced me into buying anodized aluminum cookware, and I’ve always used it since.  In fact, I’ve used the same set since.  Starting with a few pieces before my wedding and the full set soon thereafter, I gathered a moderate amount of the stuff.  My ex-boyfriend’s ended up in the San Francisco Bay; well, one piece did.  That’s another story altogether.  But mine went forth and multiplied.calphpot2

Soon after I bought one of the saucepans, it “silvered” or de-anodized, which means the dark coating on the inside wore off because of something I had cooked in it.  Supposedly safe, we used it for years to make popcorn, since I thought I had ruined the pot doing so, and didn’t want to ruin another.

One day a few months ago, I thought I’d check the claim that it actually was OK to eat de-anodized pot popcorn or whether we might go blind with science.  I discovered something that rendered the question moot: the silvered pot was covered under the lifetime warranty Calphalon has for its anodized cookware, and not only that, but the other pieces in the set, which were not silvered but had tiny pits in the coating, would also be covered under warranty.

As equally quick to seek out new cookware as I was suspicious, I sent in a couple of the worst pieces for evaluation and replacement.  A few weeks later, eureka!  I received brand, spankin’ new saucepans from the latest line, Calphalon One.

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Little by little, I swapped out the old set for the new.  There were a few glitches when a piece was no longer being manufactured, such as my 2.5-quart Windsor saucepan or my 12-inch paella pan, but I worked it out with a kind, patient, and generous customer service rep, who put the ‘service’ back into customer service.  She went through the entire line, describing possible replacements and even offering whatever upgrade I wanted so I’d be satisfied.  And all this for cookware that was about a dozen years old.

Finally, I mentioned that I had one major piece left, my big stockpot and pasta strainer.  I told her that really wasn’t in bad shape, so I felt greedy about even mentioning it.  There are a few pits, I told her, but it’s still very useable.  She told me to send it in and they’d recycle and replace it, just so I would have a complete set of the new stuff.

Yay!

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Calphalon has come a long way since the days in which I bought my set — the handles are stay-cool now, and ergonomic, and the pots are handsome.  Still work as well as the old ones, probably better (I hope, at least, in terms of de-anodizing).  I just wanted to let everyone know that their customer service is commendable.  I’m thankful I decided to go with Calphalon, and I love my new cookware.   It’s not often I recommend a product or service on this blog, but I’m so happy with what happened, I have to share it.

10 thoughts on “replacement cookware saves the day

  1. Mike 8 August 2009 / 7:05 pm

    Wow, I’ve had most of my Calphalon since our wedding 18 years ago, I think I’m going to look at it a bit closer to see if it has pitting, cause my wife has always hated the stay-hot handles. Thanks for the tip!

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  2. Erin 8 August 2009 / 7:18 pm

    Nice. Extremely timely posting for me, as I’ve been fretting over what kind of cookware to register for. Copper? Anodized Aluminum? Stainless Steel? And I love that they recycle the old stuff.

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  3. Eugenia 8 August 2009 / 7:41 pm

    Mike: My worst pieces (the wok, the most often used 1.5Q pot) had tiny pits all over the bottom. They say this is a rare condition, but I dunno.

    Erin: Definitely go for premium cookware over moderately priced stuff. It’s the only time in your life people will buy it for you. If you spend time at a kitchen store and pick up the pots and pans, you’ll be able to tell which one feels good in your hand.

    You know what I’d choose, but to be fair…stainless is lovely and has some benefits (you can put it in the dishwasher, for example) but also minor problems (it discolors on the outside, scratches, brushed exteriors smudge easily). I wouldn’t buy copper; it’s a total pain to polish and easily damaged. The All-Clad stainless and the other premium stainless lines are great, especially the C. I. A. 7-ply line (http://www.ciacook.com/main.taf?p=1,1,1 ), but so expensive it makes your teeth hurt. Calphalon isn’t exactly cheap, but more reasonable than the others. I’ve also heard that All-Clad doesn’t have good customer service (I have no personal experience with the company, however, so can’t confirm this.)

    One thing about anodized aluminum. It is not, as Calphalon claims, non-stick. I’ve never used it as a non-stick line, so it doesn’t matter to me, but it seems that those who do are greatly disappointed.

    We also have several cast iron skillets (for eggs, mainly), a single non-stick pan (also a Calphalon), and a non-stick grill pan (ditto). Our Le Creuset dutch oven, which I recommend for stews, is used frequently in the winter, but enamelized iron is too heavy for regular use, imo.

    If you want non-stick, check out the Swiss Diamond, which I like best of all the next generation non-stick surfaces. They have a cool “breakfast pan” that is half-crepe pan, half-skillet: http://www.swissdiamond.com/products_view.html?c_id=7 .

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  4. Eugenia 8 August 2009 / 7:43 pm

    And good god, how did I get so many pots and pans?!!

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  5. Alison 8 August 2009 / 9:01 pm

    I’ve heard rumors that all the new Calphalon stuff is made in China and is not good. Could you see where your new items were made? And do you have to pay postage when sending damaged items back to them? That seems like it could get quite pricey. Thanks!

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  6. Eugenia 8 August 2009 / 9:18 pm

    Alison: The rumors aren’t true. As I said above, they’re very nice and I’m very happy with them. I don’t think my line (Calphalon One) was made in China, but even if it was, you can’t necessarily take that as an indication of quality. I’m sure you could confirm the origin if you call customer service. And yes, you do have to pay postage. I think I spent about $30-40. Not bad for an entirely new premium cookware set.

    I should add that this is a warranty claim, not a free offer. They have every right to inspect the cookware for defects, so you can’t just call them and tell them you need new pots. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to expect the consumer to foot the bill for postage on the way there.

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  7. Mary R 9 August 2009 / 12:29 pm

    When I bought cookware, I purchased multiclad stainless pieces because I knew that at one point, I would be extremely tired and extremely lazy and just throw everything in the dishwasher. I really wanted the Calphalon One line, though. It is lovely.

    In my cookware collection, I purchased All Clad and Viking for the pieces I use very frequently, but I filled out my ‘set’ with Cuisinart Multiclad, and I have to say, I really can’t notice much of a difference between the Cuisinart and the others. The lids of the Cuisinarts are definitely thinner, but the performance of the pots and pans themselves are definitely on par.

    And the Cuisinart Multiclad line is much, much less than All Clad…and way less than Viking. If you wanted multiclad stainless but not the price, the Cuisinart line is definitely one to look at. The Calphalon Contemporary Stainless also performs on par with the All Clad (Its my roaster. Love that roaster!), but is a bit more expensive than the Cuisinart and harder to find discounts on.

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  8. Clayton 11 August 2009 / 11:08 pm

    Swiss diamond uses a Teflon knock-off that’s chemically identical to Teflon. I’ve owned one for a year, and the cheap handle already moves independent of the pan itself, and it seems only a matter of time before the two part ways. I’ve read that Swiss Diamond will not cover this in the warranty in spite of it being a fairly common problem – the handles are crap. The other problem is that the diamond coating stains very easily. Not that I care all that much what color the inside of my pans are, but there’s a reduced functionality associated with the areas with carbon deposits. The brown/carbon areas are less non-stick than non-brown areas, by a significant margin. And being teflon pans, you can’t use metal utensils and expect your pan to last as a non-stick pan for more than a short while. I’ve had mine for just over a year. It cost several times comparable Teflon non-stick pans, and a year out from purchase has less or the same non-stick capacity as my well-seasoned cast iron.

    And for perspective, I take OCD-level good care of my cookware. I’m a few botched egg’s over easy away from tossing my Swiss Diamond into the recycling

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  9. Eugenia 12 August 2009 / 9:06 am

    Thanks, Mary and Clayton!

    Clayton, interesting discussion (and disappointing) about your experience with Swiss Diamond. It’s my understanding the SD coating removes something that is bad in Teflon (I don’t have time to look up the confusing acronyms right now, but there’s a good article in Cook’s Illustrated this month that compares non-stick coatings). Also, they say you can use any utensils with SD — that’s not true, in your experience?

    FWIW, when I was working for an upscale kitchen store, the SD got better informal reviews about the coating, size, weight, ergonomics and quality than the Scan Pan, a similar pan rated by Cook’s Illustrated. I thought the Scan Pan looked and felt cheap. Does this mean the SD is worth it? I dunno.

    As I mentioned, we have one non-stick pan. I’m sure it has a Teflon coating. I don’t care much about that. We rarely use it, and use it only occasionally for eggs and a few highly sticky fried cheese recipes, so it’s in excellent shape. I might be the ideal market for a non-stick pan, ha. But for people who are buying entire sets of non-stick cookware, I think you’re absolutely right that they should beware — for all the reasons you mentioned above.

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  10. Clayton 12 August 2009 / 4:52 pm

    Hah, My girlfriend actually bought the pan while working at a high-end cooking store after hearing so much informal praise.

    I can’t remember the chemical, either. They claim there’s much less of it, and that the layer of PTFE (teflon – i looked that one up) is much thinner due to the inherent non-stick properties of the diamond nanocomposite. Perhaps the thickness of the PTFE is at the root of the pan’s short shelf life. Who knows.

    But I buy into all the praise, completely. It was my favorite pan for at least 6 months of heavy use. Like you said others had mentioned, it felt great in the hand, not too heavy, sturdy, etc. But then the visible scratches and dents from metal utensils started showing, shortly before the above mentioned carbon deposits. I even pressed a fork on the outside edge to see how easy it dented and it didn’t take a lot of pressure to make a mark.

    Ugh. I guess I’m the worst market for non-stick. I can’t help it, I love barely cooked eggs.

    Anyway, no more rambling from me. Congrats on your new pans.

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