A Wise Old Chef, Pots, Pans & Even a Cauldron


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A Wise Old Chef, Pots, Pans & even a Cauldrons

Image source - ChrisPots-n-pans - //flic.kr/p/2VCDRb

My two favourite cooking pots at my house are my wok & my cast iron casserole pot.

I like my wok because it's just so versatile. I use it for stir fries, curries and I've even been known to knock up a pasta dish in it.

If I'm cooking lamb shanks or beef casserole, then I use my cast iron pot. It's a pity it's so heavy!

They're not so flash for cooking a rump or Porterhouse steak.That's when I grab the frying pan.

I used to live next to an old chef. He was always going on about using the right tool for the job.

I used to go over to his place to watch him cook.

He had been retired for a long time, but still loved working in the kitchen and giving a master class. He spent many years training overseas in France & Belgium.

He always seemed to cooked with such flare. I was impressed by his knife skills. His blades were just a blur.

His kitchen was huge. There were pots & pans and something that looked like a cauldron. I'm not sure what he brewed up in it, but it looked cool.

I remember asking him why he had so many different pots & pans.

He replied,"what do you expect? I used to own a restaurant & these are what l have left,""

He was a bit of hoarder, so his kitchen put Peter's of Kensingston to shame.

It looked like a smorgasbord of copper, aluminum, stainless steel & cast iron pots.

They were hanging on hooks attached to a beautiful black wrought iron frame suspended from the ceiling.

Pots & Pans hanging Black Wrought Iron frame

Image source - Gina Jones - //flic.kr/p/EiJx4

So over a couple of months, he would pick a pot or saucepan and a knife and explain what he used them for.

It was a fascinating experience; an old master passing on the secrets of the kitchen.

I was like a sponge, soaking up his years of knowledge.

He was well into his 70's and not a well man, but when he talked & shared his love of cooking his eyes twinkled & the years just seemed to melt away.

So I thought I might share some of the lessons he shared with me. I will always cherish those moments.

I miss our chats & the passionate cooking lessons he shared with me.

A Wise Old Chef, Pots, Pans & Even a Cauldron

The wise old chef's pearls of wisdom on buying Cookware:


Forje Stcokpot

Your stockpot is ideal for handling stock, soups, stews, blanching, boiling, steaming and some sauces.

My chef friend once grabbed a high-sided stainless steel sauté pan with a lid and explained that you use this for deglazing sauces, frying, braising small items like vegetables, cooking rice pilafs and risottos, whipping up sautés and fricassées & more.

Another time he beat a stockpot with a wooden spoon like a drum. “So you know what these are used for?”

He lifted the lid and the stockpot had a simmering batch of his homemade basil & tomato pasta sauce. Oh, the smell was divine and the taste glorious. Other times he would have a seafood bisque on the stove.

So he would go on & on about making sure you got good quality pots & pans made of the right material, as this would make you a better cook.

Heavy gauge cookware delivers more even heat. If you go for the thinner gauge stuff, you’ll be disappointed because the spread and hold of heat is uneven. And there is a good chance the bottoms are more likely to dent and warp. So you’re probably going to scorch your food.

He once offered a good tip. He would sit a pot or pan flat on an electric stove. He would then rap his knuckles on the base & sides of the pots & pans. When he got a dull thud, he would smile and use that pot. If he heard a light ping, he would toss it and grab another pot.

He was like the encyclopaedia of cooking. His book shelf was crammed with thick, old fabric covered books. I opened a musty looking book and dusted it off. It was well over 100 years old. The Epicurean by Charles Ranhofer, published 1893 if I remember correctly. It had over 1000 pages. I asked him about it.

He replied, “I was given the cookbook when I was in France in the 60’s”. I didn't know much about cookbooks, but it certainly looked impressive.

After this detour, he went back to explaining the difference between the cookware materials.

Which just made me want to listen and learn more from him.

“When you cook, your pots & pans have to be good heat conductors.”

Aluminium & copper are great conductors. Stainless steel a lousy conductor.

Aluminum Cookware

Aluminum Cookware

Image source - chrisjtse - //flic.kr/p/q9mazw

  • Aluminium cookware is an excellent heat conductor & is lightweight...
  • It's prone to staining and can discolour light colored foods and makes sauces taste bitter. To overcome this, they coat by anodising to prevent these side effects...
  • Aluminum cookware pros: Affordable, lightweight, and strong...
  • Aluminum cookware cons: Can discolour some foods and impart a bitter taste. Aluminium is a soft metal and can scratch and dent easily. Reacts with acidic foods...
  • Copper Cookware

    Copper Cookware

    Image source - Ben Salter pots n pans - //flic.kr/p/dTGaVz

  • Copper looks good & provides quick and even cooking and cools down quickly, so you get maximum control...
  • Copper cookware pros: Ideal for everything from high heat searing, sautéing, frying and also gently simmering delicate sauces...
  • Copper cookware cons: Expensive. Can dent easily. Copper is a reactive metal, and cookware is often lined with a non-reactive metal such as tin or stainless steel. They are not suitable for induction cooktops. Copper can take on a patina over time that requires removal with a copper cleaner. Not suitable for washing in a dishwasher, so hand wash only...
  • Enameled Cast Iron Cookware

    Enameled Cast Iron Cookware

    Image source - Franklin Heijnen - //flic.kr/p/rw7CdT

  • Great for searing, sautéing, browning, and frying, they usually come in bold colours...
  • You can seamlessly move them from your stovetop or oven to your dining table...
  • Adding a lid is perfect for braising, stewing, slow cooking, and roasting meat...
  • Enameled cast iron pros:  Heats slowly and evenly and retains heat well. The durable coating doesn’t react with acidic ingredients. Dishwasher safe, corrosion resistant, and oven safe to 260°C...
  • Enameled cast  iron cons: Damn heavy, and they get even heavier when filled with food. They have small handles which make moving from stovetop to oven a bit cumbersome. Enamel chips easily. A pain to hand wash because they are so heavy...
  • Stainless Steel Cookware

    Stainless Steel Cookware

    Image source - Didriks - //flic.kr/p/gjHp3M

  • Stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat all by itself, but it's without a peer as a surface metal...
  • It's easy to clean, durable, shiny for good visibility, and completely non-reactive...
  • Stainless steel cookware is your kitchen workhorse tackling everything from pickling to pasta sauce...
  • Stainless steel cookware pros: Durable, easy to care for, does not react with foods. Provides rapid, uniform heating, when you add a Aluminium base. Often magnetic and compatible with induction cooktops. Dishwasher, oven, and broiler safe (depends on the handle material.)...
  • Stainless steel cookware cons: It's a poor conductor of heat, unless it has an alumiunim or copper base. If you choose uncoated stainless it's harder to clean
  • To get the best of both worlds you’ll find the that most stainless steel cookware comes with an aluminium base. So you get a durable cooking surface with a base that conducts heat evenly.

    If you're looking for the perfect stainless steel cookware you can't go past Förje.

    Förje Cookware

    The Förje range of cookware is designed for professional cooking. Designed with the high expectations of professional chefs in mind, Förje cookware is known for its robust construction and heat diffusing performance. With two grades of stainless steel (AISI 304 & AISI 430), encapsulating a 5mm aluminium heat diffuser, this leading edge cookware is ideal for use on all heat sources, including induction.

    Check out the Förje Range of Cookware

    Discover How A Combi Oven Can Increase Your Profits Without the Headaches...

    Inside you'll find how to save money on your Food Costs & Wage Bills using a Combi Oven...

    Click here to get a copy of our Combi Oven Guide

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