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Shopping: Best Pots & Pans

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New York's superstar chefs may differ over ingredients and techniques, but they're in surprising accord when it comes to the pots and pans they use when cooking à la maison: it's All-Clad, iron skillets, and Le Creuset. The lone Calphalon devotee is A-list restaurateur and cookbook writer Danny Meyer. "Just about every skillet I own is All-Clad," he says, "but every pot is Calphalon." He likes not only the quality but the company's generosity. Each spring and fall, it contributes $5 of the purchase price of its newest pan (this year it's an "everyday" ten-incher) to Share Our Strength, an organization that feeds the hungry.

Mention quantity, and these pros are in total agreement: There's no need to invest in dozens of pots and pans in different sizes and shapes, or any of those "master" ten-piece sets. While they've all accumulated vast amounts of cookware over the years, most items remain in the cupboard for months at a time. At home, four-star chef Daniel Boulud creates his culinary feats with two sizes of sauté pans and sauciers, a cast-iron skillet, a pasta pot, two sizes of roasting pans, and Staub's cast-iron braisiere. Peter Hoffman (of Savoy fame) works wonders with two skillets (one cast-iron, one All-Clad), a small, nonstick omelette pan, a saucier, a Griswald Dutch oven, and a pasta pot. And it needn't be state-of-the-art: Star chef Anne Rosenzweig of the Lobster Club is passionate about her mom's Le Creusets: "I may be imbuing them with qualities they don't have, but everything comes out with a wonderfully crusty exterior and nutlike flavor."


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